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Terminator Salvation

June 3, 2009

At a splodge under two hours, Terminator Salvation (you don’t really want a précis, do you?) is striving for the lean actioner tag. Lots of bang for your buck, speed, noise, the whole nine yards. I think we all know what we’re talking about.

What you actually get is Arthur Dent’s cup of tea from the Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser; a movie that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike a proper film.

It’s hard to deny that it has many things going for it: a proper, and let’s call him determinedly focussed, star (Christian Bale); a long-standing franchise to hang its shit from; a gazillion dollars’ worth of top-notch CGI; a loyal fanbase, and…the most bafflingly inept, bloodless, soulless and downright hopeless direction imaginable. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a fucking mess.

McG (McG, fercryinoutloud) helms the thing like a child throwing toys around his backyard. He chucks items and people about with happy abandon, creating admittedly some eye-popping images (although, ILM and the many other visual effects organisations, really get that nugget of kudos, surely?), but what he manages to create isn’t an interesting, challenging or even fun take on the man vs machine story. No, it’s a bucket of pebbles with ideas written on them, shaken up and down to see what flies out and what makes a noise.

McG (I’m not going to be able to write that anymore now, sorry) is the man who managed to wibble away so uselessly on Charlie’s Angels, if you care to recall, so he really knows how to fuck things up. Given the keys to the kingdom and allowed free rein, he pisses the whole thing up the wall like an unloved ginger ASBO lacking his Retalin shot.

There is no structure, no helpful narrative, no style or finesse, no consistency. Brief, flat, uninflected reactions between so called characters move the story along a little, but it’s essentially one slam-bang action sequence after another. The interaction between actors is executed in the same way that children make their GI Joe or Barbie dolls talk to each other before segue-ing to the next mud fight; yada yada bang bang.

Throughout, I felt insulted. The audience I watched it with was similarly dislocated and hostile. People talked constantly. The laziest parade of uninterested punters ever trooped in, barely looking at the screen it seemed, some almost 40 minutes after it started. When the expected boxes were ticked (the sadly predictable litany of, “I’ll be back,” or “come with me if you want to live,” and “there is no fate but what we make,” trotted out as supercilious bullet-points) it raised a titter. But this is the cinema of ‘They Will Come’. It is a triumph of expectation and arrogance.

A smug and ignorant waste of time.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 3, 2009 11:31 pm

    I thought the action sequences were impressive. The robots looked pretty damn good. Certainly not the best Terminator, but I was satisfied.

  2. June 4, 2009 11:37 am

    Hey Dan, thanks for stopping by.

    As for the visuals, w-e-e-e-e-ll, I guess. But you know, the ‘bot designs are just leeched off Cameron’s movie.

    The action sequences…you can do anything on a PC these days, but that’s all the movie is. One long action sequence interrupted by a bunch of guys trying to sound gruffer than one another.

    Considering the absurd and frankly insulting ending, I feel confident in saying the movie had no heart.

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