2009-06-12 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'Terminator Salvation' - Arnold Is Back, Sort Of
By Robert Snyder

The latest in the "Terminator" franchise does not feature a Terminator, at least not one played by a flesh-and-blood actor.

While plenty of grinning skeletal robots roam the Earth of 2018, only a computer-generated reproduction of the original naked Arnold Schwarzenegger from the first 1984 film resembles anything close to a human thespian.

What does this say to the Screen Actors Guild? Actors can be recreated by computers, certainly when portraying robots. That means real actors are free to go into politics and become Governors of California, as the real Schwarzenegger has (at least we believe he's real. But is he?)

As far as humans go, "Terminator Salvation" features a very angry Christian Bale as the legendary messianic John Connor. Doing what he basically does in the "Batman/Dark Knight" movies (but with a beard stubble), Bale was reportedly upset during the filming, when he chewed out a camera guy in an infamously embarrassing tabloid exposé. Bale is likely annoyed because another British actor, Sam Worthington, is stealing the film out from under his pampered movie star nose, as the late Heath Ledger does in last year's hit, The Dark Knight."

The new film opens in the present with Marcus Wright (Worthington) awaiting lethal injection execution for a crime for which he doesn't seem totally responsible. Bald, cancer-ridden girlfriend/scientist Dr. Serena Kogan (Helena Bonham Carter) appears and convinces him to sign a document that, she says, will result in some kind of eternal life. He does, then "dies" on the slab.

Cut to 2018, John Connor is leading the human resistance in a war against the robots, run by the evil Skynet computer system. A bunch of humans are rescued from a Terminator prison, one of whom is Wright. Confused about what he is and where he is, Wright meets up with young partisan Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, Chekov in the new "Star Trek") and Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), a sexy warrior hinting of Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor, first seen in the 1984 "Terminator."

Fans of the franchise will notice the storylines coming together, since Reese is destined to become John Connor's dad through the miracle of time travel. However, Bale's Connor doesn't have such audience insight and mistakes Wright for the Schwarzenegger Terminator, who will jump back through the years to try to kill his mother, Sarah, and prevent him from being born. Of course, all of this malarkey is just an excuse for slam-bang action with surround-sound clanking, shooting and crashing, all orchestrated by "Charlie's Angels" helmer, Director McG, him of the three-letter name.

As for Bale, he stays angry throughout. Worthington's acting is subtle and multi-dimensional, better than necessary for a robot monster movie.

Maybe, Bale should run for Governor of California. The way the state's economy is going, Schwarzenegger may be back at his old "Terminator" job…if the computer will permit it.

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