FILM REVIEW: TERMINATOR SALVATION: GREAT MEN OR GREAT ROBOTS? FILM Rating: B- .
Do Great Men Create Events Or Do Events Create Great Men? What About Robots?
This film, directed by McG, is in bleached color to give to it a grainy noir look but the film itself never achieves that atmosphere or feeling . Its model, like most of these films, is the dystopian noir created by Ridley Scott in Blade Runner. Sorry sports fans there is no one who even comes close to Deckard, Roy Batty, Rachael or Gaff here. However the film is more like Transformers which is about robots, the sequel to which is due out shortly.
It takes place in 2018, not too far away buckaroos, just after Judgment Day when the machines rose up to eliminate the humans. John Conner played by Christian Bale (who appears to be more robotic than the robots) is the leader of a human guerrilla movement made up of a central command cadre and many isolated groups surviving despite the fact that HK (hunter killer) robots are searching for them directed by drones and the machine overall command, Skynet. Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) is in one of these isolated bands but in radio contact with central command.
There is no love interest or even and expectation of romance in this film Although Conner appears to have a wife or girlfriend the relationship is not developed. The film is more of a robot vehicle than a human one.
The humans are organizing into a resistance against the machines and they even have fighter aircraft at their disposal. The machines are perfecting their cyborg models. We see a prototype model of
Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is a former executed killer whose body parts have been assembled into a machine with a stainless steel frame, but with a human head, heart, brain and senses. He is obviously an early experimental type that will be later developed into the
Conner meets Kyle but doesn’t know who he is and is unaware that he will some day be his father. To him Kyle is just another snot nosed kid in the ragtag army he is assembling.
The driving force of the movie are the action scenes in a destroyed world and the fact that the robot man, Wright, who happens to be the only empathetic character, saves the lives of Conner and Reese to fight another day.
This is primarily an action film with a PG-13 rating (the original had an R rating) designed to appeal to the comic book set and not for adult consumption unless you have had a prefrontal lobotomy in a previous life. Since this franchise grosses more overseas than in the U.S. (expect the current one to gross around 500 milllion worldwide with box office split one third U.S. and two thirds overseas) the film was probably made more with the overseas audience in mind than the U.S. audience . So it was targeted at the lowest common denominator for the broadest appeal world wide. That said, the James Bond franchise with a similar boxoffice break down, except for the sci-fi factor, seems to put out a better film, at least lately, and the material I don’t think is better just the writing, acting and direction.
This film has none of the hooks, verve, originality, damsel in distress or drama of the original film and we would not be talking about it if there had been no original. It probably would have gone straight to DVD.
Given all this one wonders if Kyle Reese was killed would it make any difference who went back to save Sarah so long As he was young and virile. All the strong qualities we see in Conner are those we see in Sarah.
Then again we may ask do great men emerge to meet the demands of trying times which gives them a chance to exhibit their hidden strengths. So if Conner never lived would there be some one else to take his place of equal or better ability?
If the Civil War had not occurred would Ulysses S. Grant have remained a drunken
If World War II had not occurred would Major Dwight Eisenhower have retired as a Lt Colonel of no particular distinction or would George S. Patton been allowed to distinguish his previously checkered career. This list goes on and on where men condemned to tedium rise to greatness when events offer them their chance.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
So one wonders if another great leader would emerge if John Conner had not been born. Probably so. Too bad Conner aficionados. What about the robots? Will a great robot leader emerge to lead them? Young Darth Vader where are you? Sharpen your pencils screenwriters… or perhaps your minds and get to work.