Terminator: Salvation – Review and costumes

Although Terminator: Salvation came in second at the Memorial Day weekend box office behind Ben Stiller’s comedy, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the venerable sci-fi franchise pulled in a respectable $13.3 million.

With the numbers in, doubtless, you’re curious as to whether or not Terminator: Salvation lived up to they hype surrounding this next phase in the saga’s evolution. After having seen it this weekend, along with the other two purported pre-summer blockbusters of the summer, I can safely say that it was on-par with or slightly better than the X-Men Origins: Wolverine and not nearly as good as Star Trek.

This latest installment in the series takes place in the future in the year 2017 in which technology has turned on humans. Skynet is the name for the network of machines that act of their own accord and are bent on destroying mankind after a machine-engineered holocaust which decimated much of Earth’s human population. The remaining humans that are left do their best to survive in sub-standard conditions… Or join up with John Connor’s resistance and fight the machines. Terminator: Salvation is the first film in the franchise that takes place during the war between man and machine instead of in the present with Sarah Connor and her son trying to prevent it from happening.

It’s not that Terminator: Salvation is a bad film. Far from it. It’s very good. But just “good.” The effects are well-done and Christian Bale plays the adult John Connor as he should be played: singular minded and uber-focused on the arduous task that’s been laid out to him since childhood.

With John Connor’s character m.o. in mind, by that token, it’s hard to become attached to any of the characters in the film. Not much is revealed about them in a personal sense. Bryce Dallas Howard’s considerable talents are wasted as John Connor’s pregnant wife. Moon Bloodgood makes due with her role as Blair Williams, a beautiful and dutiful soldier who breaks rank to try to save the man she’s fallen in love with. It’s not a meaty role, but she does alright with it.

The most intriguing characters in the film don’t get much of a backstory. Sam Worthington plays Marcus Wright, a former Death Row convict and man of mystery who finds himself alive again, at least a decade after his death. Not much of Marcus’ backstory is told beyond the important reveal behind his character, although he is arguably, more of a main character in Terminator: Salvation than even Christian Bale’s John Connor. Worthington pretty much steals the film out from under everyone else. The only gripe with Worthington’s otherwise solid performance is his accent creeping in and out at various intervals throughout the film.

Anton Yelchin (who can also be seen in his other gig as Chekov in the new Star Trek film) does a fine job in the role of Kyle Reese, the man who will become John Connor’s father. Yelchin fits the part of the teen Reese who is in awe of the fabled John Connor… And totally oblivious to the fact that the older man is his son.

Helena Bonham Carter is excellent, as usual, and manages to be both innocuous and sinister as the film’s villain, Dr. Serena Kogan, a scientist dying of cancer whose Cyberdyne research kicks the plot into motion. She’s not on the screen for long, but her performance packs a punch.

Effects-wise, things are what you would expect from a Terminator flick, which is very good. It’s almost seamless how the effects are integrated into the film. It has a realistic, futuristic feel to it. Several moments in the film are definitely jump-worthy and make good with the element of surprise.

The action is top-notch, however, there’s a bit too much action which drags the film down. A good chunk of the film’s numerous (and sometimes pointless, or overly drawn-out) action scenes could have been eliminated to speed up the film’s pacing. It seems like there’s a requisite action sequence every 10 minutes in which stuff gets blown up. While it’s jam-packed with action, story-wise, there are a few plot holes and things that were never properly explained. However, this is only the first of a new trilogy of Terminator films and (hopefully) these will be filled in over time.

There are some nice in-jokes that long-time fans will get such as the brief snippet of Guns n’ Roses’ “You Could Be Mine” (which was a prominent part of the soundtrack for Terminator 2: Judgment Day) in a scene where Connor sets up a roadblock and Linda Hamilton actually lends her voice to the tapes that John Connor listens to for guidance. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Terminator film without Ah-nold! California’s governor lends his likeness to a Terminator in an extensive action sequence. Never fear, Terminator fans… You can always count on your mandatory dose of Arnold Schwarzenegger! Oh, and an “I’ll be back” manages to squeak its way into the script, too.

Terminator: Salvation is definitely worth checking out in the theatres, but doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set forth by its first two predecessors. However, this is just laying the groundwork for bigger battles to come.

And of course, there are new costumes associated with this round of the saga. Costumes for main characters like John Connor are available in adult and children’s sizes, as well as a standard and deluxe edition. Of course, there’s the disturbing T600 Terminator costume revealing the cyborg’s half-human and half-cybernetic portions with a glowing red eye embeded in the latex mask. Ladies may also be interested in the Blair Williams costume as a formidable member of the human resistance. And of course, you can always swing on a leather jacket with an Arnold mask to get the job done!

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