“Terminator Salvation”
Warner Bros.
At Showcase Cinemas and Quality 16

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2.5 out of 5 stars

The beginning of the fourth installment of the popular “Terminator” series introduces us to the familiar post-apocalyptic wasteland of Skynet, a self-aware global network created by the fictional company Cyberdyne Systems. John Connor (Christian Bale, “The Dark Knight”), the protagonist of the series, listens obsessively to the tapes his mother Sarah (voiced by Linda Hamilton, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) left him in order to assist with his role as leader of the human resistance against a hyper-advanced race of humanoid robots. The plot focuses on Connor, his father Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, “Charlie Bartlett”) and inexplicably resurrected death row convict Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington, “Rogue”).

Though “Salvation” was marketed as director McG’s effort to revive the once iconic series, it seems more representative of a half-hearted attempt to capitalize off the work of James Cameron, the writer and director of the first two “Terminator” installments. Comparing Cameron to McG is, like comparing apples to oranges. Cameron won dozens of awards with his film “Titanic”, which swept the 1997 Oscars by winning a total of 11 awards, including Best Picture, Director, and Cinematography. McG? Well, he directed Charlie’s Angels.

In all fairness, the film does have several action scenes that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. However, the original purpose of the “Terminator” films was not simply to provide a means for mindless, shoot-‘em-up entertainment. The first film in the series was a pro-fem statement that depicted a single pregnant woman’s rise from vulnerability to independence. There was a significant amount of dialogue in the earlier films to supplement the series’s back-story and to promote character development. McG’s methodology is much simpler: Abandon character development, engaging plotlines and thoughtful dialogue in favor of bullets and brawn.

And, if it doesn’t already seem audacious to demand that your cast and crew refer to you as “McG,” it’s even more annoying when one considers how much lucrative work has been endowed to such a mediocre director. He currently has development rights to nine upcoming productions, including another new “Terminator” film. It’s only a matter of time before his entire career is satirized by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (“South Park”).

Unfortunately, the “Terminator” series is not the only casualty of this film. It also contributes to the ongoing typecasting of Christian Bale. Since he successfully embodied the role of Batman, he’s been increasingly cast in parallel roles. In fact, one can almost hear Batman’s throaty voice perfectly mimicked by Bale as he plays John Connor. It would seem that Bale is destined to share the same alpha-male typecasting as Kurt Russell (“Stargate”) and Vin Diesel (“xXx”), forever doomed to the “save the world” movie.

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