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Christian Bale helps reboot the "Terminator" franchise

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 28, 2009

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T4

Christian Bale has to be one of the most generous actors out there. He didn't let his ego get in the way when it came to sharing the screen with the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Now in Terminator Salvation, his John Connor takes a back seat to the most interesting character in the Terminator reboot, Marcus (Sam Worthington). Marcus is a robot with human parts including skin and a heart and, despite his metallic side, he's more human than some of the other characters in director McG's new film, the fourth flick in the series.

This reboot is a decent action film, far superior to the awful Terminator: Rise of the Machines, but it isn't close to the quality provided by James Cameron's original or his Terminator 2: Judgment Day. That said, T4 is a solid action film and it does finally show us the Judgment Day future that was only seen in flash-forwards in the earlier movies.

The story begins with the interesting introduction of the character of Marcus in 2003, then brings us forward to 2018 in the world that has been taken over by the Skynet machines that decided humans were expendable and nuked the planet. This theme has been presented in numerous sci-fi adventures, including the Matrix series and a low-key anti-war gem from 1970, Colossus: The Forbin Project. Terminator: Salvation, however, seems to be paying tribute to The Road Warrior more than the previous films in the series. This is particularly true with the notion that children must become warriors in the war against the machines, and in the character of a silent little girl who bonds with Marcus. She is an obvious reference to the character of the silent child who bonded with Mad Max in The Road Warrior.

Bale's John Connor is a soldier whose determination to beat the machines has made him a prophet to the few humans left on the planet. That doesn't mean he is the official leader of the resistance movement; he's a leader by his actions. When Marcus shows up -- a half-human, half machine -- Connor isn't ready to trust him. Whether Marcus will side with the machines or give in to his human side is the question that fuels the emotional component of the movie. Connor is a great fighter, but he isn't really the central character in Terminator: Salvation. Also on hand is Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the teenage prodigy who is Connor's father. If this confuses you, please rent the first two movies then get back to me -- it's a space-time thing.

I got a kick out of seeing veteran character actor and Broadway legend Jane Alexander as a survivor, and Helena Bonham Carter also shows up in a cameo role. As noted earlier, it is the interesting character of Marcus that provides the emotional hook for the new film and Worthington does a nice job of being both human and a kickass machine. Bale also has his moments, and Yelchin is the action hero co-star of this summer, having also co-starred as Chekov in Star Trek.

Terminator: Salvation is good enough to be worthy of a sequel, which is already listed as in the works on the Internet Movie Database.




'Museum' Rehash

In Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Ben Stiller wants to provide more fun and games at a new museum with old pals from history (Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt), plus a few new friends that come to life when the sun goes down. Recent Oscar nominee Amy Adams is delightful as a spunky, adventure-loving Amelia Earhart, but that's not enough to keep this movie from being a typical sequel -- a retread that retraces what was funny in the first film but isn't anymore since the surprise and delight of discovery is gone. n

Terminator: Salvation
**1/2
Directed by McG; rated PG13

Night at the Museum 2
**
Directed by Shawn Levy; Rated PG




To read more about movies and other topics covered by movie critic Lori Hoffman under her blog alias Moviejunkie, visit http://blogs.atlanticcityweekly.com/


OPENING THIS WEEK

The Brothers Bloom Rian Johnson (Brick) directs this delightful plot about a couple of orphaned brothers (played by Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody) whose latest mark is an eccentric and rich orphan (Rachael Weisz) who lives in a mansion in New Jersey. One of my favorite flicks at last year's Toronto Film Festival, Johnson has done a masterful job of combining complex characterizations with an intriguing conman plot. ***

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