Q: How do you (almost) ruin a movie franchise whose need of the hour was to break away from the hangover of the Star Actor who has been its face for the past three instalments?
A: You include a bad CGI version of the actor in one of the fight sequences! That’s what McG has resorted to, likely as an homage, probably as an after-thought. In case you’re wondering about which movie I’m talking about, its Terminator Salvation.
The fourth instalment in the Terminator series takes us into the future – 2018 – when Skynet has become all-prevalent and the human resistance forces have had to stay hidden in small pockets across the world as the bots and machines take over the planet.
John Connor (Christian Bale) is waging two battles – one with the machines and one with his fellow commanders, who choose to ignore him as the ‘leader’ of the resistance and pay no heed to aid him in looking out for someone. Into this mileu comes in Marcus (Sam Worthington), a survivor, a man on a mission…one that he himself isn’t much too sure about. Is he a friend? Is he a Foe? Only time will tell.
The resistance have managed to lay their hands on a potential weapon that will destroy skynet and its upto John Connor to stop the attack until he gets out the human prisoners out safe….and take the help of the mystery-man Marcus. Trust and belief have to be placed in the very hands that might bode the doom for humanity…..and that is a difficult choice that John Connor must make. To ensure the survival of the human race. To ensure the struggle against skynet doesn’t end tamely. To ensure that the sacrifices and actions of Sarah Connor aren’t wasted. To attain…Salvation!
Action-wise, this movie isn’t a patch on Judgment Day, maybe because the fights were more believable in JD whilst in Salvation, its all metal, metal and some more metal. Its also one of the most loudest movies in recent times (Transformers 2 might still beat that!) and almost all the fights are at a humongous level. The machines are mostly believable, save the water-borne metal alligators-like creatures. Skynet has managed to make waterproof electronic machines! And not only waterproof…as the climax nears, one gets to see lava-proof machines, cold-hydrogen-proof machines as well. So, Skynet has learned from the past….wherein the T100 nearly ‘froze’ to death and finally succumbed to molten lava!
There are few humans across this one but the emotional quotient is still at a high. Particularly the bond that Marcus manages to build, first with a lady member of the resistance and then with John Connor himself. While it was a Bollywood-esque save-the-gal-from-the-baddies which wins the gal’s trust, its more bravado and choice that wins over John Connor. And the actor playing Connor’s wife is Bryce Dallas Howard!!! The same cutie who was in Spiderman 3? (y’know, the model gal who gives spidey the key to the city and also a kiss) She does look a lot old here!
Helena Bonham Carter’s role is explained at the end but that is still much too less to fathom. It seems like after 1 and half hour of watching, the AI comes on screen to explain what just happened in that time frame. Yeah, explanation’s needed but that should be part of the narrative, not like a classroom lesson! Then there’s Arnold’s appearance! The franchisee’s seeing to get away from the Arnold Hangover and bam! the director decides to include a CGI-modelled Arnold in the midst of it all….just for the heck of it! And pray, when Skynet has billions of machines, only *one* shows up in the climax to fight against John Connor and Marcus? Were the others bust guarding the perimeters?
In spite of these minor drawbacks, Terminator Salvation is still a spectacular summer blockbuster and is a must-watch-big-screen experience. That’s why even though there were bootlegged versions swarming on the web, I chose to wait till it hit the big screens to catch it up. There does seem to be some room for a fifth part…but please, no more Arnold innit!