I finally figured everything out.
Unless you've been living in a cave, you already know that Christian Bale, long recognized as one of this generation's top young actors, had a meltdown on the set of "Terminator Salvation" when the film's Director of Photography stepped in the wrong place and ruined the actor's concengration. The widely distributed audio tape proved the talented young man to be a rather pretentious ass.
Okay. Okay. McG, the film's director, took ownership of the whole thing by stating that he'd intentionally heightened the emotions on set that day. Oh, and McG also pointed out that the two were fast friends who were fine by day's end.
Actually, I don't think Bale was upset about the blocked shot at all.
My guess? I think it suddenly occurred to the notoriously disciplined actor "Wow. This film really sucks."
He would be right.
"Terminator Salvation" is, by far, the worst of the four "Terminator" films and, rather surprisingly, much of the blame can be placed upon Bale's terminally serious, dry, plodding and occasionally laughable performance in taking over the role of John Connor.
"Terminator Salvation" actually kicks off with the film's only decent performance, that of Sam Worthington ("Rogue") as an executed convict brought back to life in the film's present date of 2018 with some sort of redemption set to occur.
Worthington provides "Terminator Salvation" the film's only true life given Bale's jarringly emotionless performance as the film's alleged hero. Bale is widely known as a Method actor who will stay in character for entire shoots in order to serve up a convincing performance.
All I can say is this must've been one humorless, disconnected set.
Of course, this is the director McG we're talking about...you know McG? He's the director who brought us the "Charlie's Angels" films and "We Are Marshall."
In other words, any potential life in the film is sucked out by Bale's soulless performance and McG's unimaginative, predictable direction.
The essential back-and-forth storyline of "Terminator Salvation" involves Connor going back in time to protect the teenaged Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, "Star Trek"), who will, if he survives, sire Connor and, well...who really cares?
Throughout "Terminator Salvation," I found myself laughing aloud at the ridiculous storylines, absurd dialogue, uncomfortable romance between our ex-convict and a female soldier in the resistance (Moon Bloodgood). Bryce Dallas Howard is completely wasted taking over the Claire Danes role as Connor's love interest. While Yelchin was the weak link in "Star Trek," a much better cinematic revisiting, he's actually one of the stronger players in "Terminator Salvation."
In what is turning out to be a rather horrid summer so far for originals cores, Danny Elfman disappoints with a mind-numbing, thundering score that is nearly as emotionless as Bale's performance. Shane Hurlbut, the Director of Photography who captured the wrath of Bale, paints the film in sepia tones that are at first electrifying but quickly become tiresome as there's little variation by film's end.
Into this bleak, hyper-serious and stoic universe McG tosses in a couple nods to the film's history but the laughs they produce feel almost out of place in film that is only brings forth laughter when we're forced to buy into a romance between Worthington and Bloodgood.
Now, that's funny.
Scripted by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who also penned the vastly superior "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "Terminator Salvation" is an exercise in cinematic excess for no rhyme nor reason. The machines are, on a certain level, awesome to behold but they do little we haven't already seen and seem to disappear as quickly as they arrive.
It's clear at film's end that McG intends "Terminator Salvation" to revive the series, perhaps much in the way "Star Trek" has revived that legendary series. Instead, McG puts the series on life support with its only hope of revival a return to the screen by Ah-nold himself.
Who would've ever thought I'd be writing a review saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger would be preferable to Christian Bale?
Salvation? Nah, this must be the apocalypse.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic