Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 21
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE: One of the army of cyborgs that have invaded from outer space is attempting to carry out the army’s mission of eliminating humans from the face of the Earth. Fortunately, there is a small band of fearless resistance fighters led by John Connor (Christian Bale, not shown) who are determined to foil the cyborg’s mission.

Terminator Salvation: “Terminator” Sequel Is Plagued by Lack of Character Development

Kam Williams

When you decide to shoot a Terminator sequel without Schwarzenegger (sorry, a cameo of Arnold‘s head atop a body double doesn’t count), and with an entirely new cast, it would be a good idea to develop the characters in order to give your audience a chance to become familiar with, and thereby give them some reasons, to care about the protagonists. Unfortunately Terminator Salvation (T-4) suffers from this lack of development and is merely a series of special effects scenes that include fight sequences, chase scenes, pyrotechnics and techno-wizardry with little emotional depth.

The movie’s plot is as soulless as the defoliated expanse of barren landscape on which it unfolds. What’s worse, the movie abandons the series’ trademarks in favor of a lot of nondescript computer generated action sequences which feel interchangeable with scenes from movies like Transformers and Doomsday.

The movie is directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol, aka McG, who has made a transition to movies after directing award-winning music videos for both Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray.

However, McG’s stock has gone done since his promising feature film debut with Charlie’s Angels in 2000. The star studded cast includes Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Alexander, Common, Terry Crews, and Bryce Dallas Howard.

T-4 begins in 2003, the year in which T-3 was released, but the story soon shifts to a desolate California in 2018 where we find a decimated population cowering in caves and makeshift shelters.

A swarm of invading terminators, Skynet’s T-600s, have practically eliminated the humans. With less than four days until total annihilation, it falls to an army veteran named John Connor (Bale) to organize a resistance movement. Its goal is to get close enough to the cyborgs to shut down their computers by jamming their radio frequency with the help of a top secret weapon provided by General Ashdown (Michael Ironside).

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially since the aliens have a decided military advantage and a “take no prisoners” policy. But Conner is desperate and puts together a group of volunteers to assist his heroic endeavor. The posse includes his pregnant wife, Kate (Howard), a downed fighter pilot (Moon Bloodgood), Barnes (Common), a teenage soldier (Anton Yelchin), a mute toddler (Jadagrace), and Marcus Wright (Worthington), a mysterious stranger whom Connor has good reason not to trust.

However, keeping the various players straight is never as important as simply sitting back and appreciating all the fireworks which appear in this explosion filled blockbuster. T-4 is at best a concatenation of special effects that amount to the cinematic equivalent of bubblegum.

To quote Shakespeare, the film is “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I couldn’t put it better myself.

Fair (1 star). Rated PG-13 for profanity and intense violence. Running time: 130 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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