Who would have known that Batman turns out to lead the resistance to save humanity? Although I wasn’t a fan or even veteran viewer of the Terminator series until last week, there was plenty of enjoyment, awe-inspiring shots, and deep drama in the new blockbuster Terminator Salvation to have me wanting more. The story takes begins minutes before the end of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Marcus Wright, a man sentenced to death for murdering two cops and his own brother, isn’t looking for his second chance, but just for the sweet release of death for the crimes he has committed (a very creative character decision). Before his execution however, he signs up to donate his body to science. Moments later, the bombs are dropped as part of Judgement Day when Skynet became self aware. 15 years later, John Connor is regarded as a prophet to the resistance. To some he is the wise leader, to others he is a false prophet destined to be the end of the rebellion. On the other side of the apocalypse, Marcus Wright wakes up in the terrifying new world completely lost and confused as to where, who, or WHAT he is. The movie convenes the two storylines expertly together, never focusing on one more than the other to eventually convene upon the plot to destroy Skynet’s US Headquarters and to rescue the teenage Kyle Reese (Because John Connor has to make sure he was enough candy to make it through the apocalypse…. Sorry, couldn’t resist.) If you’re a fan of the Terminator series, there is something here for you to enjoy, even if it is in the ridiculous attention to detail in the movie. I might be wrong, but I do believe the gas station Wright, Reese, and Star travel to about 1/3 of the way into the movie is supposed to look like the same one in #3. Also, all of the clothing, gear, and weapons used by these survivors, among all of the thousands of environments surrounding the resistance fighters is filled with extra thought. The atmosphere provided feels so used, so devastated you truly believed the area had been leveled by Judgment Day as it had. For 2 hours you are immersed in this war torn world and the shattered hope of humanity’s last hope for survival. From the barren landscapes to Connor’s war-torn, bleak radio broadcasts, you realize the shape they’re in. The special effects work is also awe-inspiring with noticeable advancements compared to the 1984 original. Great detail and work also goes into the new series of Terminators, including some that scarily reminded me of certain Decepticons. The performances of the movie are all very well done, from Bryce Howard’s rendition of Kate Connor to Sam Worthington’s dual portrayal of a man torn apart by his two egos, even including the superb performance by Anton Chekov as a young Kyle Reese. Even Christian Bale, who is kinda gravelly at times, does a fine job at recreating the scarred veteran. The drama dynamic between Wright and Connor is well thought out and thought provoking, however wasn’t really as fleshed out as I wanted, especially going into the final climax. The idea that John Connor doesn’t trust Wright simply b/c he is a terminator and is simply facing the reality of having to fulfill and ensure his life is incredibly captivating. The ending of the movie and the final conflict just feel a little rushed and too chaotic compared to the first 1/2 to keep me grounded. Overall, if you’re a Terminator fan, this is a must-see adventure for you to take a chance with, even if it is just for the brought to life atmosphere of the war-torn future resistance led by John Connor only glimpsed at briefly in past films. The 4th installment packs enough punch, enough pursuit, more than enough fine performances and deep drama, and enough of an excellent cameo from the Governor of California to keep any Terminator fan satisfied.
4 1/2 out of 5