It’s not often that a film or indeed any artwork/entertainment/entertainer fills me with such ferocious indignation as to beg friends to completely shun it/them before allowing impartial opinions to be drawn first. However on 3rd June 2009 I sat through ‘Terminator Salvation’.
I wasn’t expecting much after the third instalment took the franchise in a completely new direction, most commonly referred to as “popcorn fodder”. I’m not an elitist moviegoer and don’t have “a thing” against summer blockbusters. ‘Transformers’, for example, has been described as exactly that and was a film I thoroughly enjoyed on a number of levels. The new ‘Star Trek’ movie was also a prime example of how to trade-off action with characterization and story, as well as satisfying fans of a huge franchise, reinvigorating it and winning new fans at the same time. Could the fourth Terminator film follow suit?
Murmurs of a darker, more character-driven plotline gave me renewed hope that my £9 would be money well spent. This was proven unfounded very early on when the only apparent “darkness” seemed to be coming from an overly dark film grade, the surroundings of the cinema itself and the literal murmurs of Christian Bale, who now appears to growl huskily in order to create a sense of quiet foreboding at every opportunity. This can be partially forgiven in ‘The Dark Knight’ where his character utilized the technique to protect a secret identity. It would be very unfortunate for the future career of Christian if his vocal chords have been permanently damaged by his role as Batman, though judging by his infamous leaked outburst, that doesn’t seem to be the case and the gruff “macho” utterances – usually over a handheld radio- as ‘John Connor: Leader of The Resistance’ simply become tiresome and clichéd. It is ironically fortunate then that Bale’s character is massively underused. If the audience were to close their eyes (which is an all too likely scenario) they might not know he was starring in this film at all. Even with your eyes open you are hard pressed to pinpoint any truly standout or memorable moments. Sam Worthington fares slightly better (though he only has to portray a robot), but for a film which is supposedly character-driven, it’s the CGI Terminators that offer the most impressive performances. The rest of the movie is filled with incessant explosions that become so interminable that I found myself nodding off and then waking up at the shock of brief moments of dialogue. Dialogue which included “I’ll be back” and other nods to the previous movies that feel so incredibly forced and out of place in a film which otherwise takes itself far too seriously. It’s also now been four days since I viewed ‘Terminator Salvation’ and I still can’t fathom why it has been given that title.
So save your £9 for the ‘Transformers’ sequel which is coming out in a few weeks, or if you must satisfy your cravings for ‘popcorn fodder’ now, buy a packet of Butterkist and throw it at a line of toy soldiers. As a mini-game maybe try and hit the colonel with your kernels. Oh dear.