Blu-Ray Review: Forgettable ‘Terminator Salvation’ Gets Supreme Treatment on Blu-Ray

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CHICAGO – The “Terminator” series is not one of the great modern movie franchises. The films have mainly served as ideal vehicles for the limited acting range of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose muscular build and Austrian accent were perfect for the role of a formidable, oft-mute cyborg. A “Terminator” picture without him is like an “Alien” picture without Sigourney Weaver. The best entries of both franchises were their second installments directed by James Cameron. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”’s tireless invention and energy were a real kick, and the filmmakers came up with some unforgettable images, such as the shape-shifting T-1000.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0

“Terminator Salvation,” the fourth (and hopefully final) entry in the series, attempts to reboot the stale franchise by setting its story in a post-Judgment Day wasteland, where much of humanity has been destroyed by their machines. This supposedly fresh approach to the material is derivative of every post-apocalyptic thriller in recent memory. Shane Hurlbut’s desaturated cinematography even attempts to mimic Emmanuel Lubezki’s jaw-dropping unbroken takes in “Children of Men,” yet is far less successful at hiding the obvious digital effects. The terminators themselves are either lumbering, unstoppable zombies or towering transformer-sized monsters that sprout motorized robots resembling “The Dark Knight’”s Bat Bike. And when a human-like terminator gets half of his skin singed off, he’s a dead ringer for Two Face.

Terminator: Salvation was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 1st, 2009.
Terminator: Salvation was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 1st, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers Home Video

Just as J.J. Abrams’s “Star Trek” turned a character-driven series into a routine action blockbuster, director McG has turned the “Terminator” saga into a routine thriller about armageddon. Yet while “Trek” was zippy and fun, “Salvation” is loud and joyless. As John Connor, mankind’s supposed savior, Christian Bale may be attempting to portray his character’s burden and loss, but he just comes off as grouchy. The method actor seems ready to break into an embarrassing tirade at any moment, and his low growl (recycled from “Batman”) is laughable. He’s easily upstaged by fresh-faced Sam Worthington, who makes his robotic character more three-dimensional than any of the humans onscreen.

Terminator: Salvation was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 1st, 2009.
Terminator: Salvation was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 1st, 2009.
Photo credit: Warner Brothers Home Video

There’s also a sexy female A-10 pilot (Moon Bloodgood, a name destined to be in Stephanie Meyer’s next novel) whose gleaming white teeth look hilariously out-of-place against such a desolate backdrop. The ever-versatile Anton Yelchin plays Connor’s teenage father, while “Jadagrace” plays a little girl whose sole purpose in life is to provide characters with the right weapon at the right moment. A lot of the film verges on self-parody, particularly when Connor stops a speeding moto-terminator by tripping it with a rope (Wile E. Coyote would’ve scoffed at that). And when an animated Schwarzenegger rears its Hulk-like head in the final act, “Terminator Salvation” clearly demonstrates that the franchise is not only dead, but has become as cold and calculated as its villainous machines.

“Terminator Salvation” is presented in 1080p High Definition (with a 2.4:1 aspect ratio), accompanied by English, Spanish and French audio tracks, and comes with a digital copy of the film’s theatrical version. An entire disc is devoted to the film’s director’s cut, despite the fact that it’s only three minutes longer and isn’t much different (except for a brief topless shot of Bloodgood). The second disc houses the film’s theatrical cut, which comes with the option of being viewed in “Maximum Movie Mode” (a feature available on other Warner releases, such as “Watchmen”).

This “mode” offers one of the most thorough dissections of the filmmaking process ever presented on Blu-ray. It includes storyboard comparisons, a helpful “Terminator” mythology timeline, picture-in-picture featurette links and behind-the-scenes footage. The best moments occur when a professorial McG materializes and breaks down key effects sequences. His enthusiasm is rather infectious, though he does sound somewhat bloated. He compares his desert footage to a “David Lean expanse,” and says that Worthington’s face-off with a bloodthirsty terminator was “designed to echo the heroism of firefighters on 9/11.” Such lines make you question whether McG is watching the same movie.

‘Terminator Salvation’ is released by Warner Home Video and stars Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard and Helena Bonham Carter. It was written by John Brancato & Michael Ferris and directed by McG. It was released on December 1st, 2009. The theatrical cut is rated PG-13; the Director’s Cut is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com staff writer Matt Fagerholm

By MATT FAGERHOLM
Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
matt@hollywoodchicago.com

Anonymous's picture

What moron wrote this?

What moron wrote this? Stale franchise?!?!?!?

Anonymous's picture

At the end of the day its a

At the end of the day its a great film. Not in spite of the “bad” points this journalist raises but in many cases BECAUSE of them. I hate reading a sloppy review that is slanted with personal gripes from cynical ditractors. Sure it is by no means a great movie, but it is a good movie. It is not on a comparable level with say Shawshank, the Godfather or Star Wars Empire in terms of greatness but it was NOT unnecessary and was indeed well worth checking out. Don’t let the hack naysayers con you out of an enjoyable scifi action adventure.
For those who maybe would have watched it if not for this review, take a review from a regular joe instead - Good action film and a worthwhile addition to a time honered franchise. Some will like it, others will not but there is something there. Go watch and be your own review…

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