Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Capsule Review: Terminator Salvation
Movie: Terminator Salvation
Director/Studio: McG / Warner Bros.
10 Word Review: Ehh. Not terrible, but less than sum of its parts.
Best Thing About It: The Marcus Wright character, as a concept, is a great one, and almost certainly worthy of a movie all to itself, without being saddled with the John Connor baggage. There's a fantastic article up on CHUD about a Terminator Salvation that might have been, with a nearly absent John Connor and focus on Marcus and Kyle Reese. Anyway, the whole idea of Marcus as a Terminator who doesn't know he's a Terminator is an excellent idea, and it allows us a protagonist who we haven't spent three movies and one TV series ketting bored of.
The great idea isn't executed as well as it could have been, unfortunately. We already know he's a Terminator given the opening scene, so when the reveal happens in the story, our focus should be on Marcus's reaction to it; instead we get a tight closeup on Connor, which makes it seem like McG thinks the audience is just figuring this out now. Also, the function Marcus ends up serving for SkyNet felt weak and anticlimactic. But the character -- and Sam Worthington's capable performance -- was a keeper.
Worst Thing About It: Besides the final-act cameo that elicited guffaws throughout the theater and by all rights should have Californians asking for their tax dollars back? I'm going to be the asshole and say Christian Bale (this is gonna earn me some hatred, and probably an anonymous comment or two telling me to get a life). It's not that he plays the part badly, it just that he -- and the Connor character -- are just so goddamn UNINTERESTING that it brings all the energy down to sea level every time he and Common go out to test weapons out in the desert (not a euphamism). I fully admit I've never been as big a fan of the guy as most, and I'll also admit that his on-set outburst put him in the same category as the loathsome Russell Crowe, but I promise you I'm being straight with you: Bale/Connor is a snooze.
Best Performance: Much as Worthington is getting lauded for his "star-making" performance, I remain just the slightest bit dubious. He's perfectly fine, but I'm not sure he's there yet. No, I am shocked to be here telling you that my favorite performance in the whole movie was Anton Yelchin's. I KNOW! Yes, he still looks like a half-formed tadpole, and yes, I still completely do not get people who find him in any way attractive, and I hated him in Star Trek and Charlie Bartlett and Alpha Dog, BUT! Here, he managed to play a teenaged Kyle Reese with an age appropriate vulnerability while still making you believe he'd grow up to be a bit of a badass. He's not given nearly enough to do in the film's latter half.
Oscar Prospects: The reviews have been unkind, the box-office unremarkable, and the summer-blockbuster tech category slots will likely all go to Star Trek, so probably nothing.