Starring Christian Bale and Sam Worthington. Rated 14A.
It’s now been a quarter of a century since James Cameron started the Terminator franchise, and 90 years since Karel Capek wrote about the annihilation of humans by robots in R.U.R., the Czech play that invented this particular science-fiction theme. Although Cameron signed off after Judgment Day, the saga’s second installment, series star Arnold Schwarzenegger hung around for The Rise of the Machines (after which he became an only slightly less mechanical governor of California). Thus, Terminator Salvation is the first episode that must get along without an Austrian accent emerging from a mountain of muscles (well, almost—and no, I’m not going to tell you what I mean by that).
Watch the trailer for Terminator Salvation.
This time out, John Connor (Christian Bale) must try to save the life of his father (who is currently less than half his age). The year is 2018, and most of humanity has been eliminated, but small rebel bands still exist here and there. The question is: will Connor accept the help of a mysterious stranger (Sam Worthington) whose heart might not be in the right place?
While T:4 isn’t particularly original, it’s certainly an energetic film. The evil agents of Skynet (a computer network suspiciously like the Omnius system in the Dune novels) are capable of assuming all sorts of shapes (Transformers!), even if most of them look more like Cylon “toasters” (Battlestar Galactica!). As for the backgrounds and homicidal toys, they’re strictly video game, which might be seen as a plus in some eyes.
So, even without Arnie in the lead role, Terminator Salvation isn’t boring. To be sure, it lacks the nightmare quality and lowbrow humour of T:1, but with things going kablooey every 30 seconds or so, how many people are even going to notice?