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“Terminator: Salvation” -Director's Cut {Blu-ray}-(Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Brothers
Genre:
Sci-Fi
Release Date:
12/1/09
Special Features:

Maximum Movie Mode, featurettes, BD-Live exclusives, mini-featurettes ---

Review:

Salvation for the movie audience was nowhere in sight during the summer of 2009 except for “Star Trek”. We got junk like the latest “Transformer” flick a mess of a movie and candidate for one of the worst big budget action flicks during the year. While “Terminator: Salvation” didn’t deliver the way the first two installments much less the TV series or the entertaining if less than creative third film in the franchise did but director McG still managed to create a diverting movie that was better than the worst (“Transformers: Rise of the Fallen”) but couldn’t quite scale the heights of the best (“Star Trek”). ***

The saving grace of “Terminator: Salvation” remains Sam Worthington bringing a strong, charismatic performance that seems like it was destined for a better movie. The fourth film isn’t horrible but it doesn’t quite hold together with the fingerprints of too many writers working on a story that clearly went through too many drafts and changes in the direction for the story. Still, “Terminator: Salvation” has its moments and although it was disappointing when compared to the first two installments or even the third taken on its own as if the first three films didn’t exist, it would have been an entertaining better than average and occasionally memorable action film about, yep, salvation. ***

Before his execution for murder prison inmate Marcus Wright (Worthington) decides to donate his body to Cyberdyne for scientific research after a convincing talk from Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter in an interesting cameo). After his lethal injection, Wright wakes up as if he had just awakened from a good night’s sleep. He discovers a world in the grip of a nasty war between man and machines. As he’s about to be taken out by a Terminator and is saved by Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin who played Chekov in Abrams’ “Star Trek” reboot)part of the Los Angeles resistance movement (which consists of Reese and a kid). When Reese is abducted by Skynet John Connor (Christian Bale) must discover a way to infiltrate Skynet’s base, disable or destroy the AI and save Reese to save himself. Wright volunteers against his better judgment to help Connor. ***

While inconsistent with the third film “Terminator: Salvation” does dovetail somewhat with “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and the change of the timeline in that plot (I don’t want to provide too many spoilers). The original script by John D. Brancato (“Surrogates”, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”)and Michael Ferris (“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine” and “The Game”) had extensive rewriting by Jonathan Nolan (“Memento”, “The Dark Knight”)and I’m sure other uncredited writers as well. Nolan enlarged the story involving Marcus Wright making it the main focus of the story. ***

Any post apocalyptic thriller runs the risk of looking like a “The Road Warrior” also ran. Parts of “TS” has that typical look and while the best scenes were hinted at in brief scenes from the first three movies it’s probably best that we saw only “hints”. “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” did a better job to me of envisioning Cameron’s imagined post-apocalyptic thriller than McG’s film although the CG looks fine it just lacks the imaginative scale of what Cameron imagined at 1/10th the cost with “The Terminator” or even “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. McG does set up some imaginative action scenes particularly in a scene focusing on a stand-off between Wright and a Terminator prowling the decimated streets of Los Angeles. There’s also a very imaginative and well done scene where Marcus and Kyle are attacked by giant robots that destroy enclaves of humans while taking prisoners for experiments back at Skynet’s home base. Worthington and Yelchin are far better than the material they’re given and make the best of it. They make the film watchable. The main plot twist here is something that you can see a mile away and the conclusion seemingly comes out of left field and while interesting just doesn’t pay off because of the lack of dramatic gravity. I should note that this is the director’s cut of the movie and while there are some minor extensions to some scenes, unrated action, etc. it’s nothing that improves the movie in any big or small way. I should note though that McG shouldn’t totally take the fall for the film and while pieces of it are worthwhile it just doesn’t hold together all that well. ---

Image & Sound:

The de-saturated look of the film arrives intact with a fairly accurate representation of how this bleak looking film appeared in theaters. We have solid blacks, nice (although bleached) skin tones. Detail remains strong throughout the presentation with remarkable clarity and sharpness. ***

The 5.1 DTS-HD transfer sounds marvelous with a nice, full presentation nicely capturing the active theatrical presentation. Dialogue remains clear throughout the film. ---

Special Features:

“Maximum Movie Mode” essentially combines a visual and audio commentary track along with photos, storyboards and brief interviews that you can watch in this interactive mode. Interestingly, actor Christian Bale bad mouths “T3” which really surprises me given how much of a disaster this film was seen as. Jonathan Mostow’s “T3” had its own tone and established its own identity outside of Cameron’s films an entertaining package that did move the story forward something that “TS” really doesn’t do. ***

“Cine-Chat” is a BD-Live feature allowing you to interact with other people while you’re watching the film. ***

The poorly titled “Reforging the Future” is a high def behind-the-scenes presentation on the making of the movie. It duplicates much of what you’ll see in the “MMM”. ***

“The Moto-Terminator” gives us the CGI background on the motorcycle Terminators that appear in the film. ***

“Focus Points” allows us to get a glimpse of scene-specific information on various sequences including the gas station attack by the giant Terminators, the explosion of the lab, the scene where Arnie makes an “appearance” as the Terminator and other key scenes. ***

We also get a trailer for T3” and also additional BD-Live material that you can access. ---

Final Words:

Although it isn’t the car crash that many critics initially accused it of being, “Terminator: Salvation” brings the franchise to a screeching halt. McG does a solid job with the action set pieces but the cut and paste screenplay that went through many hands (some of whom weren’t credited) just lacks the scale I was hoping for with this film and the dramatic meat fans needed to see to keep this franchise alive. Feeling largely mechanical “Terminator: Salvation” has its moments primarily courtesy of Worthington and Yelchin.

 

 
 
 
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