Cine Machine Gun

Movie reviews and controversy with a vengeance
The absolute aftermath of cinematic experience
Only the Worst of the Worst

Read & Weep


Terminator Salvation (2009)

I won’t even start with the – whow about a hundred word script?? Better movies had less. I don’t even attempt to tread in this endless minefield full of plot holes and troublesome inconsistencies. The Terminator timeline already laid in a shattered loop of dismay since T3, and SCC only made things worse – all things considered, a pretty satisfying series besides this.
But here, the timeline of mishap becomes a highway to hell because the only thing that feels like Terminator in this movie is the title and the very short – but by the time it takes place, rather NEEDED BABY – CG Arnie cameo.
Although video-clipper McG does his best to make a difference here, his best is hardly enough, enough only to succumb to the also video-clipping plot. In the first two Terminators the suspense was nerve wrecking and the feeling of everything running right to a dead end was eminent. Here, this spirit is not even a suspicion. “Quick” and “easy” dough. Everything run so darn fast and easily in this movie, not in an action packed sense, but in a sense that someone – maybe McG himself or the producers or even both – tries to get it over with. “If they want this Kyle Reese, he has to be my father”. Easy. Infiltrating Skynet’s HQ? Easy. Nukes laying around for a quickie blast? Easy. Fast & easy pacing through post apocalyptic hell on earth, quick & easily proved correct assumptions that will put the story going. A story better dragged by its own hair that is. The whole easiness makes you more and more uneasy as the film progresses, leading to maybe one of the most scrawled and blown out of proportion endings in film history.
McG still tried pretty hard to prove something, proving only that he just hasn’t got neither the grip nor the experience on certain techniques and executions. He seems like experimenting in many paths, but not yet deciding which one to take, leaving the movie with bits and bytes of angles, takes and effects that do not hold on each other and certainly do not help the already loose and lost story. We witness an inner struggle between the clipper and the director he wants to become, or maybe again just the usual struggle between direction and production. Either way, DD (Director’s Dichognomy) plagues the film. Sometimes the lengthy extra full-close ups remind the viewer that a clipper is always a clipper. Other times the film zooms out to a more world-cinematic experience, but without really a good point. Sometimes the landscapes feel like taken out of some epically correct Fallout 3 artwork. Other times, they feel fake and overly stylized. Sometimes the action, the fights and the intense moments feel gritty & grind to the point that you think Pvt. Ryan will pop up and save Connor and the day. Other times the action is choppy, loose ended to the point of unfulfilled and well, all the figments, ideas and set-ups are rather silly and showing off all around without the appropriate artistic or plot incentive back up.
But even if all these were just me, there is a certain “detail” that squeezes every good intention back to the wall: PG-13. McG vs. PG, score 0 - 13. Well, PG-13 is becoming a cancerous factor for the whole movie industry by ruining realism and action integrity in countless movies, but especially for an instance such as this, it’ s like 13 nails in the casket.
Counter to my long last last expectations, not even the effects succeed totally. CGI was all over the place in WHOWs, Ka - BOOMs and too many uber – unreal CG stunts performed by humans, android and machines alike – Connor himself throws a whole volley of napalm just to kill Marcus, and, naturally, he misses. The hovering robo-ship presence is too much as well in the movie, and not very convincing either, and there are certain, and far from few, scenes where the special effects weaknesses are more than obvious. And after all this quick processed larger than life mediocrity, at the end titles the movie is dedicated to Stan Winston. I’d rather it didn’t. Really.
As the viewer is caught between momentous amazement and continuous puzzlement, so are the characters. A, by all means, not any more story driven action movie, gets jammed with what it seems to be too many main characters and none of them properly distinguished or just interesting, leading to, well, more “quick” and “easy” decisions trying to "un-jam" the whole undertaking. Is it a “duet” movie? Does “Wright & Connor” means “Denim & Leader” or something?? Everyone again seem to try their best, once more at no satisfying end.
Christian bale pulls through a pretty steadfast, resilient and appropriately doubtful John – lieutenant-to-be-leader - Connor, for the purposes of this movie, although his cocky/frisky/butchy/barky Batman accent is becoming a running joke in his performances. By the way, if you watch Christian Bale’s interview for the behind the scenes TS Making Of, you will certainly get the tip that he was at long last aware that he made a mistake signing in a pretty doomed boat. Sad to watch that one.
Cameron’s future mega star, Sam Worthington, seems worthy of his recommendations. But, for hard evidence on this, better look in to a past or future film. By all means, Worthington is absolutely right for the part. It is Marcus Wright that is wrong. A wrong, misplaced and “quick” and “easy” unfolded character that, hell, everyone knew what his “great mystery” was all about in the first place! Hunk and funk guy that both my girlfriend and my boyfriend would want to do him, wearing Mad Max trench coats and boots, lacking the Max attitude because, well, he is a shy, good and determined boy and because, oh well, he can’t be Mad Max because he is kinda Rick Deckard from the Blade Runner too. What the fuck does all these say about just how fucked up this character is?? I really don’t think that even the most “prog” of the fan base will miss this guy.
Helena Bonham Carter acts her goth/psycho self as a Cyberdyne exec and later Skynet avatar, where I certainly wanted a more cold, less talk and more calculative and domineering approach. Shit, I think I even missed the old-fart "godputer" from Matrix 3!
Bryce Dallas Howard is a good actress on her own right and a more worthy “woman behind the great man” than princess Claire Danes in T3, even if there, John Connor was far from a “great man” in every way. Howard gives the right emotional touch to now-made-man-Connor, and that’s pretty much all of it concerning her or the uh – supporting cast in general.
For the rest of the cast, is full of the usual typecast, unnecessary necessities. Everyone was there:
Michael Ironside usual overall cult tough-assness is a little bit put aside, laid back to a point of disappointment. Not tough enough, not smart mouthed, no Command & Conquer militarism, not the Richter that we all love to see in the parties.
The Common – a common black rapper/hopper that, as I stated in the past, every film got to have one just for anti-racism correctness – but otherwise “fuck him if he ain’t no hoppa ‘cause da fool hommies won’t swarm in to da theata”.
Moon Bloodgood is a not that bloody good actress or even model, but certainly a bit above the average hottie that one encounters in Maxim pages during his morning masturbation workouts. Too hot to be needless, in an otherwise needless part.
The cute little Goonie girl that, again, every movie got to have one to Stand by Me and the protagonist, playing aaalways a keeey role at the end of our tale, dad. Swarm you too kiddies! Well, I was born in the 80s too guys, but fuck me if I hadn’t enough of this crap already!
Anton Yeltchin is the only kind of “supportive” support actor. Seems he did his homework on the previous Kyle Reeses and the outcome…well the outcome just deserved a little more screen time – as a Skynet’s “public enemy number one” ought to have. After all, this wasn’t a John Connor centred Terminator movie, and just sadly enough, not a terminator centred Terminator movie.
But, why’s that… Was this really a Terminator film after all or just a film with terminators present from now and then??
When Cameron ruled the world, the terminator endoskeleton looked like a metallic, meta-human evolution infused with the humanity’s own demonic appetite for destruction, furious never ending expansion and domination. A nightmarish self-image of a scientifically gorged human being, losing control and getting controlled in fingers snapped Armageddon. The genius in Cameron’s vision was not machines destroying humans – every last sci-fucko has done that before and many more will keep on doing it – but actually humanity destroying itself through its own end-game, iron-godly image. Cameron didn’t lack the technology back then to pack his movies with all kinds of popular-to-be, flying, walking, and swimming bullshit-bots. After a decade of Star Wars, Star Treks and all kinds of shooting stars and the b-punk-culture that emerged afterwards, the “quick” and “easy” blockbuster step would have been doing another fucking creature & robo gallery movie. But he didn’t. Because this wasn’t the point. T3 made a hell of a bad start. And now T4 spoiled it all entirely. Semi-transformers, MDK like behemoths, bots, dots, flagships, flying saucers, “reptilecans”, and other fan deceptive Decepticons parade throughout the whole movie, performing all kinds of anti-physics tricks, most of the time in just better than average CGI.
And what about the today’s salvaged terminators? (Not even a decent joke that is!) Where the terminator was the out most mocking and threatening icon of humanity, the new “production line” lost all the menacing, destructive, emblematic and even metaphysical qualities – for they literally had a meta-physics status considering them over the top of common human technology and invention. Here, there are some early modelled T-600 pieces of junk, that keep on engaging in hand-to-hand combat with humans, a strategy in which iron and steel proves surprisingly incapable over flesh and bone. Sometimes ammo sweats to penetrate, sometimes the same ammo turns them into cheese, either way you can hardly be convinced that this tin-heads can enforce total human annihilation in a global scale even after a nuclear holocaust. Shooting targets. Scrap for rap and take away. But that’s really ok in showing Skynet’s own evolution and pointing out the difference later with I-don’t-stop-no-matter-shit, T-800 model. And to be the most devilish of the devil’s advocates, I owe to point out too that showing how Skynet got more and more knowledgeable on human nature, evolving its agents from petty zombie-like human imposters to Marcus’ perfection, was the one and only great idea of the film, pretty well executed.
But, even that is not the case I’m grumbling about. It is the hard boiled metallic backbone of the core concept, gone soft, weak, melted down all the way to dump and dumper resolutions. The mocking, cold, threatening but all so familiar metallic scull, had given a clear message: Humanity has all the capability to totally fuck up, and if it does, it’s done. In a total of less than five minutes of flash forwards in the post apocalyptic future, Cameron gives in T1 & 2 a sense of bleakness, dread, despair and hopeless annihilation that McFuck totally fucked up to do so in a 115-minute film. When you first see the shiny metal crushing the bleached, equally mindless human scull, then you know it: there is no turning back. Even Sarah Connor's last gaze into the stormy horizon does not give promises or raise expectations. No second chances. No prophecies to be fulfilled do fulfil and amend things. No deus ex machina. No priests to once more wipe clean your sorry, all sinful and yet again sinful ass. No fucking JCs (John Connors or Jesus Christs) to hug you firmly in your last downfall to moral darkness and mental forfeit. Every decision is a turning point that cannot be undone. That’s a hell of a difference and not a movie that any fucking kid will go see and sleep comfortably in its bed right after. The last light and pop corn instalment goes on exactly the opposite direction. No matter how hard you fuck up there is always hope and, by the way, it metaphors in the following, movie concluding, and bombastic reasoning: Connor is iron-staked right through his heart and not only survives the wound and the transfer to the HQ – oh because the transfer chopper was totally unaffected by EMP triggered by the last, totally easy, nuclear ka-boom – but taking his time, the next day Marcus gives his own heart in a tearful self-sacrifice, through a totally easy, cool and fantastic heart surgery, in ideal post apocalyptic facilities and conditions, that, of course, we don’t even get to see just how a heart is swapped like a video game cartridge. Eat your heart Magdi Yacoub! Then, when at last the good ol auntie Hope is restored, the messiah rides on his chopper in the coal-red sunset, mumbling last minute epic gibberish.
Was THIS what you’ve been waiting for six – or should I say eighteen – years?? Now think again – when you lowered your expectations with a little help from T3, was still THIS movie up to your minimum expectations??? Maybe some all-bright, hot-shot movie execs thought that if I just heard “You could be Mine” and cult past lines, and saw some old Sarah photos and a little phony Arnie, that would sent me off to shit my pants in joy and gratitude. Well, these guys and their briiilliant movies are the reason that the word “fanboys” tends to become synonymous to “retarded”
Well then, see you each other guys in the next sequel in a theatre near you, because I’ll probably download that one illegally once more.

P.S. Is there a certain feeling in watching post apocalyptic themed movies in good quality cam, or is it just me?


Mikeman said...

I like alla kai ligo ypervolikos eisai buddy-boy!!!to oti gia block-buster tou kalokairiou itan poly kalytero apta synithismena prepei na tou to dwseis!!!!to oti itan pio poly "nai se esas pou proseyxeste sta 2 prwta milaw!"kai oxi"hey,paidakia tou 2009 koitaxte ti wraia robot eftiaksa me ta dikaiwmata tou franchise!"episis prepei na tou to dwseis!kai telos,to oti itan ena kaloutsiko tribute stin oli mythologia tou TERMINATOR,kata ti gnwmi mou prepei na tou to dwseis kai ayto!

VA-Gunner said...

What can I say – είμαι άνθρωπος με πάθος!(χΑχ!) Το ότι για blockbuster του καλοκαιριού ήταν καλύτερο απ’ τα συνηθισμένα εξαρτάται σίγουρα και από το για πιο καλοκαίρι μιλάμε. Φέτος που blockbuster σημαίνει ο Ferrell να κυνηγάει δεινόσαυρους στην κοσμάρα του και ο Stiller να κυνηγάει τα κόκαλα των δεινοσαύρων του Ferrell στο μουσείο, το Terminator φαντάζει μετ’ αποκαλυπτική όαση τόσο που ίσως τελικά να πάω την άλλη βδομάδα στην άδεια να δω ξανά το Terminator στο σινεμά! Όπως έγραψα, ο τρόπος που παρουσιάζεται η σταδιακή ωρίμανση της human awareness του Skynet και το πως προσαρμόζει το production line του σύμφωνα με αυτή, ήταν η καλύτερη ιδέα της ταινίας σχετικά με τη μυθολογία της σειράς, αλλά και φοβερή ιδέα από μόνη της. Ειδικά τα παιδάκια του 2009 θα βγήκαν με πονοκέφαλο απ’ το timeline/flatline/end of the line σενάριο οπότε σίγουρα απευθυνόταν όχι απλά στους «προσκυνητές» αλλά στους «μελετητές των γραφών». Μόνο που υποψιάζομαι ότι οι μεγαλύτερες απογοητεύσεις ήταν δυστυχώς ανάμεσα σε εκείνους – γι’ αυτό και οι πρώτες κριτικές ήταν καταποντισμός, γιατί αυτοί ήταν οι πρώτοι που έτρεξαν να δουν την ταινία – σε αντίθεση με τα παιδάκια που θα πήγαν, θα κατάλαβαν λίγα, θα γούσταραν μπόμπες, θα κορόιδεψαν και λίγα ρομπότ, κι εντάξει. Δεν ήταν ένα καλούτσικο tribute στην μυθολογία – ήταν καλό tribute που πρόσθεσε αρκετά στον μερικώς ανεξερεύνητο «τρόπο σκέψης» του Skynet και στο backround της Cyberdine. Ήταν όμως tribute. Terminator tribute και όχι Terminator. So, I give them all to it, but I also give HELL! XAAAXAXAXA

Koustas said...

αι θινκ δε μουβι σακτ