DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Schwarzenegger Cameo Couldn’t Save Salvation Sequel
When you decide to shoot a Terminator sequel sans Schwarzenegger (sorry, a cameo of Arnold‘s head atop a body double doesn’t count), and with an entirely new cast, you might want to consider devoting some quality time to character development in order to give your audience a chance to become familiar with and, thus, reason to care about the protagonists. Otherwise you’ll probably end up with a superficial, sci-fi saga like Terminator Salvation (T-4), a special effects indulgence in fight sequences, chase scenes, pyrotechnics and techno wizardry at the expense of emotional depth.
This post-apocalyptic adventure is as soulless as the defoliated expanse of barren landscape on which it unfolds. What’s worse, the movie abandons the franchise’s carefully-cultivated trademarks in favor of a lot of nondescript CGI action sequences which feel interchangeable with similar flicks like Transformers and Doomsday.
T-4 takes place in a flattened California in 2018 where we find the few folks still alive cowering in caves and makeshift shelters. That’s because a swarm of invading terminators, Skynet’s T-600s, have practically decimated humanity. With less than four days until total annihilation, it falls to a chivalrous army vet named John Connor (Christian 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 both desperate and game and enlists the assistance of a motley crew in his heroic endeavor. His impromptu posse includes his pregnant wife, Kate (Bryce Dallas Howard), a downed fighter pilot (Moon Bloodgood), his right-hand man, Barnes (Common), a teenage soldier (Anton Yelchin), a mute toddler (Jadagrace) and Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a very mysterious stranger whom Connor has good reason not to trust.
But keeping the motivations of the various players on the scorecard straight is never as important as simply sitting back and appreciating all the fireworks which ensue. What we have here, to quote the Bard of Avon, is essentially “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Mind under matter.
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and intense violence.
Running time: 115 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Digital copy of the film.