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Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Common, Bryce-Dallas Howard

Director: McG

Writer(s): John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris

Cinematography: Shane Hurlbut

Original Score: Danny Elfman

Running Time: 115 Mins.

This is it, this is the moment all Terminator fans have waited for, a fully fledged film all about the future war(s) of the man vs. machines, hinted at and teased with glimpses through a trilogy of films and most recently The Sarah Connor Chronicles television series the franchise has pretty mcuh built up to this point, the only problem is with that comes a great deal of expectation, something which could never have been well and truly been satisfied but for the return of a certain James Cameron.

Of course Cameron jumped ship come part 3, a largely disappointing trilogy closer, that had very little to offer bar a rehash of number 2 and a smattering of serviceable action scenes, it is fair to say that following the so-called Rise Of The Machines very few people were itching for another weak entry in a once great franchise. But as ever, Hollywood is never one to let a money making franchise die and from the ashes of Terminator 3: The Rise Of The Machines came word that we were to expect a new trilogy focusing on the future war and showing us exactly what it is that makes John Connor the self proclaimed savior of mankind!

And the director given the job of helming this lofty task, none other than McG, he behind the reviled Charlies Angels film and its sequel Full Throttle, not the best pedigree many exclaimed but I for one would beg to differ…though Charlies Angels was ott action hokum of the highest order, it did have some of the better action scenes of that year, directed with all the bombast of a young Michael Bay, often a film cries out for some loud brash action and if a future-set Terminator doesn’t, well knock me down with a feather!

One thing many chose to forget was that McG also helmed the little seen We Are Marshall, a fantastic feel-good film that did inevitably veer towards schmaltzy on occasion but kept the focus on some really emotional performances, surely combining this and the bombast of Charlies Angels is what we want of a Terminator film, and on that basis McG very much delivers with Terminator: Salvation. 

The main gripe I would level at Terminator: Salvation is that its best plot point was revealed in trailers too long ago, that Sam Worthington’s Marcus is a cyborg would have been something best kept under wraps until the film’s release, it may have seemed obvious to some that he wasn’t human but the doubt alone would have given the film an overall air of mystery that it otherwise lacks. Apart from this it’s business as usual, except, really it isn’t. Taking the form of a war film rather than the sci-fi/time travel plots of yore there is much benefit to be yielded from seeing the machines act out their truly menacing tasks en masse.

The resistance, as led by Christian Bale’s John Connor is forever in peril whether it be in the water, on solid ground or in the air, the late Stan Winston’s design team have come up with some cracking terminators and the T-600 is truly creepy, if a little underused for my liking. It is from the snippets of past Terminator films we see the links and die-hard fans should be happy to see the origins of Kyle’s shotgun trick or the references made to “early terminators being easy to spot with their very artificial skin”. Things like this could so easily have been shoe-horned in but it is to McG and the screenwriter’s credit that they are both credible and apt helping round out the mythology for newcomers and old stalwarts alike.

With this in mind Anton Yelchin comes off best in the acting stakes, channelling a young Michael Biehn without seeming to be simply imitating him, growing into a true hero over the course of the film, similarly Sam Worthington offers proof as to why he is being hailed as the next big thing in what is a difficult role as he veers from powerful and strong to confused and, through his plight, weakened. But it is Christian Bale that the focus has been on, through his little outburst on-set, something he now claims was more than 50% John Connor, you can’t help but wonder if he takes method acting a tad too far. But as ever he is value for money growling his lines in the best Batman fashion he can and as he lets some humanity slip through in the finale you see what he really could have made of the character if he only toned the angry man bit down a fraction.

Strangely, following the strong female characters in past films, there is a poor showing for women here, Moon Bloodgood is given a fairly rounded character arc but only gets minimal screen-time and pretty much disappears once he task in the script is fulfilled and a young boy/girl sidekick to Kyle is needless at best serving only to give props at the appropriate time . The most hard done by of everyone has to be Bryce Dallas Howard, she is simply forgettable, a travesty considering her talent, all I can hope is that she is given more to do in forthcoming instalments.

As you may, or may not, expect (depending on your view of McG) the action is top notch and as with most blockbusters we would have benefitted from a little  less being shown in trailers, but all the requisite boxes are ticked, chase scene, explosions, gun fights, extended fight scenes, some shots are simply stunning and make Terminator: Salvation more worthy than some may give it credit for. Stuffed with set piece after set piece there is very little time to catch your breath, as with this summers other great blockbuster, Star Trek, it looks like another franchise is well and truly back on track.

VERDICT

McG gets the second of the Summer’s franchise’s back on track with Terminator: Salvation. It’s a big loud war film with robots and Christian Bale, what more could you ask for in a Summer blockbuster!

grade-b-

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