Andrew Branca

MOVIE REVIEW

While “Terminator Salvation” has a lot to offer its audiences in the way of special effects and large screen robots that seek to destroy mankind, sitting in the theaters it seemed to me that it lacked the one element that made the other films shine: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold, with his famous lines like “Hasta la vista, baby” or “No problemo” paved the way for Christian Bale to leave his mark on this film franchise.

So how did Hollywood honor the great man? They used stock footage in a short on-screen cameo. Not cool. The whole cameo came across as a last minute thought on the cutting room floor.

Bale’s role is that of John Connor, the leader of the resistance in the war against the machines. His portrayal, to me, was just a mirror image of how he presented the character of Bruce Wayne in the last two Batman films.

Deep throaty voice, built-up anger, a single common enemy to fight and a loner with a sordid past – sounds like Batman to me. Just a change of costume and scenery and you have a whole new film.

The other Terminator films focused more on the character development of Connor; you don’t have a whole lot of that here. This film is centered on bringing the fight to the machines. The look and feel is gritty and conveys a “Mad Max” type of atmosphere.

Set in 2018, years after Judgment Day, Connor is working to find out what Skynet has in store for its new line of Terminators. During his quest for information, he runs into Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who used to be a human, but turned into a machine. During the course of the film, Connor has a choice of whether to trust him or not as they go on a journey to end the machine’s reign of terror. 

“Salvation” also introduces the audience to a character that has not been looked at since the original film: Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin). The film touches on the relationship he has with him and the choice Connor has to make to send him back to the past so that Connor can exist in the future.

Another part of the film focuses on a signal obtained by the resistance that turns the machines off when played – and is a key to ending the war.

While the plot is thin, the real stars of this film are the graphic artists and visual effect people that make Bale look good.

With all of the money spent on special effects, the action is high paced and sometimes almost seamless. You can tell “Salvation” was made to compete with J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek.”

All in all, “Terminator Salvation” is worth seeing just for the special effects alone as they are worth the price of admission. I have a feeling that Bale “will be back” for a next installation.

The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, action and language. 

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com