cast: Sam Worthington, Christian Bale, Helena Bonham Carter, Moon Bloodgood, and Bryce Dallas Howard
111 minutes (12) 2009
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Sony DVD Region 2 retail
review by J.C. Hartley
I’m no great fan of the Terminator series, due to a lifelong antipathy to Arnie that dates from Pumping Iron, but I was lured to watch this on DVD by the excellent cinema trailer; mind you even G.I. Joe looked good.
This prequel has had its detractors but I quite enjoyed it. Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington, Clash Of The Titans, Avatar) is on ‘death row’ after a cop-killing when he is approached by Dr Serena Kogan (the ever fantastic Helena Bonham Carter) of Cyberdyne Systems who wishes him to donate his body for medical research. This short tense sequence between the condemned man and the scientist dying of cancer is the nearest the film comes to acted drama and is savoured in retrospect.
Fifteen years later in 2018, after Judgement Day has seen machine intelligence attempt genocide against the human race, resistance leader John Connor is the only survivor of an attack, which reveals Skynet harvesting human prisoners to create robots swathed in human tissue.
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Connor survives a counter-attack by Skynet that also leads to the emergence of Wright from beneath the Skynet base.
The Resistance has discovered a radio frequency which effectively switches-off Skynet and Connor volunteers to test it. Meanwhile Wright hooks up with Connors’ father-to-be Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek). When Reese and mute companion Star (Jadagrace Berry) are captured by the machines, which are aware of Reese’s future, Wright is determined to save them. He meets Resistance pilot Blair (Moon Bloodgood) and travels with her to hook up with the Resistance but a revelation about his true nature threatens everything. OK, he’s a cyborg; the trailers don’t hide it why should I? And guess what, the anti-Skynet radio frequency is a trap!
Sam Worthington does quite a bit with very little to go on; he has a certain presence which means he adds dignity to what amounts to a beefcake role. Christian Bale does his mean and moody driven avenger, and even reprises his Batman voice.
There are some references to the original movies, the continuity is apparently spot-on (who cares?), and the action sequences are what director McG does best. Some of it is a bit Matrix-esque, the Resistance leaders have a submarine, and there is an AI quasi-human revelation debate thingy. Also Connor is only a leader insofar as he enjoys popular support, he has superiors and is given orders, but everyone looks to him anyway, and by two-thirds in all the other commanders are dead anyway so, whatever… It’s fine, really, and you never tire of big stuff swooping down out of the corner of the screen and snatching-up the characters.
There’s the usual crop of DVD extras. Does anyone really care how they make CGI movies post-Lord Of The Rings? Imagine the stuff you’ll have to wade through when Avatar comes out! A making-of called Reforging The Future, a feature on the motorbike terminators, and a rash of mini-featurettes about various technical aspects of the production. I have seen a crop of complaints about the extras on the basic disc, so obviously some people do care, but do expect the film to be released in a host of different formats.