Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: Hang In There, John Connor

By Alec Horowitz

Two and a half stars

When I go to a used bookstore, I like to go through boxes of different series of books. It can often be hard to find the right kind of book, because the series of books are often out of order or missing books, and you can’t start a book series in the middle, or you will have no idea what’s going on in the book. The same could be said for the new Terminator film, “Terminator: Salvation”, which sounds like a franchise reboot. Don’t be fooled. “Terminator: Salvation” is not a franchise reboot, in a movie season chock full of them like “Star Trek” and “Friday the 13th”.

If your going to see “Terminator: Salvation”, you better know something about Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, the smart but short lived show on the Fox Network to know what’s going on in Terminator: Salvation. Even as I check the Wikipedia page for Terminator Salvation, it says under plot: see Terminator 3.

Terminator: Salvation is directed by McG, who starts the film off with a man on death row named Marcus (Sam Worthington), who is convinced to donate his organs to charity. Year’s later; he wakes up as a Terminator himself. He meets John Connor (Christian Bale, cashing in his new status as a nerd icon). Connor is still leading the revolution against the machines. He doesn’t know he is a machine yet. He travels with a little girl who doesn’t speak and a man through the desert of deserted Los Angeles. There’s a scene where they go to an abandoned 7-11 (worst product placement of the year). As cool as the scene was, watching the giant robot attack, when one of the human fighters is talking, it’s hard to take him seriously when in the background; it says, “Try our New Slurpee." 7-11 shares honors with Sony for worst product placement. The world is in total ruins and Sony is still in business?

Anyway, the film can be fun. The giant robots chasing humans, as they try to escape slaughterhouses run by the robots. The romance between the death row inmates who’s now a robot and the human women who feels he is more than a machine and he has a soul. John Connor running, trying to get everyone out. McG is a good choice for this assignment. I’m glad this wasn’t a Michael Bay product. Fun, fun, fun but only if you understand the plot. There is a scene where Skynet is explained to Marcus by a computer. Still, they can explain as much as they want. If you don’t know the first few films or the short lived television series or both, your not going to get this film. It even has a fun but campy cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger, which serves as fan service. Most of this film is fan service.

Yes, it’s a good try at introducing a new generation to The Terminator, but while ‘Star Trek’ successfully re-booted the francise, this film is for followers and fans only. Maybe you should buy the video game before seeing this film. The truth is that either way, the experience will be about the same, and to have that experience, you don't even need to know a thing about the backstory. Just know how to aim your gun at a giant robot. You know, like the video game Call of Duty, except with a human/robot war instead of World War II.

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