I’m back…So is The Terminator, somewhat.
I headed to the local cinema early this evening (I’d never been to the Electric down ‘bello in all my years of living so far) with my biggie me – that is, my father – and checked out number four in the Terminator series which was released in the UK two days ago.
I hold quite an affection for the Terminator series, I literally grew up with it.
I saw the first film on VHS before I’d reached double digits, one of the first few 18 cert (now reclassified 15) films I’d caught in my childhood (thanks again, Dad), fell in love with it and saw the second on VHS as I was still young to see it at the cinema on release.
Fast forward ten years (or rewind about six years back) and Terminator 3 came in to resurrect the genre. Sequels are usually very bad (T2 wasn’t), but a third instalment let alone further ones seem like Hollywood necrophilia.
When I first saw T3 I was appalled as it was big on stunts, thin on story (yet another Terminator sent back in time – how unsure was Skynet of it’s assassins?) and basically a panto re-run for one beefy future American governor. It did however do a not bad job of re-opening the closed wound of T2 and providing a dark ending to allow further films.
But the progressive loss of original writer/producer James Cameron, original heroine Sarah Connor and finally the big Governator himself didn’t bode well. It seemed like Queen feat. Paul Rogers and that ended like a wet fart.
But I will say that Terminator Salvation isn’t that bad. I can honestly say it’s not a patch on the first two bonafide classics, but it’s better than T3 as it’s not another ‘killer-and-hero-go-back-in-time-in-order-to-kill-or-save-future-hero’. With T4 the war is on, this is it. And Edward Furlong of T2 has grown into Christian Bale.
Where T4 is bad is that it is quite thin on plot. It’s there but it’s undoubtedly padded by stunts and eye candy, while the first Terminator had very little and was electrifying. I thought the character of Marcus Wright was a nice new twist to progress the story and compensate for Arnie, but couldn’t help thinking, as Bale once hinted, that Sam Worthington (Marcus) and Bale should’ve swapped their given roles. Also given the more interesting conflict for Marcus, I’m surprised Worthington’s face wasn’t featured more prominently in advertising for it.
Undoubtedly there will be a T5, but I think that should be the end of it. Mugs like me go because they’re interested out of respect for the first two, and some of that is satisfied in a cliché way (I.e. “I’ll be back.” is used, as is a likeness of Arnie in a cameo and a few other things for Terminator fans to spot).
The star of the show is young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelcin). To me he looks nothing like Michael Biehn but he marvellously captures the mannerisms of the original character and you are sold that this is Reese as a teen, and it’s satisfyingly perverse when Connor meets his much younger father.
Other losses though is the complete loss of humour from the first three and perhaps a strong female character (first two films and somewhat in the third). The one strong female is merely a cutout.
Helena Bonham Carter has an interesting token role in the film though.
It’s a ‘fun’ brainless film and being a nut I will likely buy the DVD, but I don’t think T3, T4, or indeed a T5 will be up there with the originals. This is just about money now, but it could’ve been much worse.