Christian Bale as John ConnorWhen James Cameron directed Terminator back in 1984 he not only put himself on the map but by putting “Schwarzenegger” above the film’s title he launched an Austrian bodybuilder into the stratosphere. When the two reunited in 1991 for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day the magic was recaptured, and a new standard was set for breaking a film’s budget.  But the story does not stop there, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, which saw a new director but the same cybernetic strongman.

Now we are into the fourth installment of the series and a wide divergence from the original trilogy.

Set in the future year of 2018, mankind is at war with the machines. John Connor (Christian Bale) is the leader of the resistance, in spirit, if not in total command.  He is based somewhere in the US west leading gorilla attacks on the evil machines.

Sadly the plot is just shallow enough that discussing it any further would lead to some disappointing spoilers.  So suffice it to say the focus of thismovie is about 80% action 20% story.  It totally a bad thing, as Director McG provides some excellent camera work, and visual effects.  Most of the action is spectacular.  The explosions come early and often, causing some of them to land just on the far side of over-the-top.  McG seems to have studied in the Michael Bay school of film making, but lack’s Bay’s creativity in coming up with a new way to blow things up.

While moviegoers familiar with the franchise will expect to see a lot of John Connor, large sections of the movie are more focused on the newly created character Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) and Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin).   Reese has not been seen since the first film in the series, so his origin story is interesting (if not somewhat contrary to the story told in the recently canceled Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles).

The story does get predictable at multiple points and the writing borders on the cheesy, however none of this really results in Terminator: Salvation being a bad movie. On the other hand, James Cameron would have found a more creative way around some of the less imagined elements in the film.

One thing that is for certain is that this movie could not have been made until this point in the franchise history.  The film relies heavily on computer generated effects, most of which come off quite well.  There is even a computer generated version of a former star of the series.

Terminator: Salvation does a passable job at continuing the series.  This is a whole next level for the series that, like it’s namesake, is seemingly unkillable.

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