Unsurprisingly, considering it’s a McG film that’s clearly more focused on cool visuals and action than Shakespearean character focus, Terminator Salvation is getting McGangraped by critics, 20 reviews in on Rotten Tomatoes so far and only five positive. Like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, though, this fourth Terminator flick is one of those warm-weather blockbusters that’ll surely act like successful Teflon against reviews, so a 25% rating doesn’t mean shit for its impending money-earning. Look no further than the fact that I’m totally seeing it regardless of damning word, at a midnight showing tomorrow night nonetheless. Can’t say that the onslaught of hatred isn’t a tad bit discouraging, though. Especially when the reviews come from critics that I highly respect.
Amidst the bile are some written jewels. Sample some of the terminating slights after the jump:
New York Magazine’s top-notch critic David Edelstein deserves to go first:
“In Terminator Salvation, machines have exterminated most of humankind and run the planet; I think they made the movie, too. This isn’t storytelling, it’s programming—inorganic matter passing for life…..With McG’s migraine-inducing jerky-cam and monochromatic palette (livened only by splotches of rust), Terminator Salvation puts the numb in numbskull.”
Next up to bat, Emmanuel Levy, on his own self-titled website:
“As was clear in his two “Charlie’s Angels” films and in the even more disappointing “We Are Marshall,” McG can’t sustain dramatic momentum or narrative flow for more than a few seconds, resulting in a structurally messy plot that is overwhelmed by machinery and some spectacular special effects but is seldom involving or making sense on any level…..Compared with James Cameron’s [writer-director of the first two Terminator films], McG’s direction is mechanic and impersonal, functioning more as a traffic manager than as a director with a singular vision and a sense of mise-en-scene. I am willing to bet that you could rearrange the special and no one would even notice because they are like stand-alone set-pieces, often beautiful to behold but serving no function other than delivering the expected goods of a popcorn summer flick.”
Third and lastly, pimp-slaps left and right from The Village Voice‘s Nick Pickerton:
“To hear director McG tell it, this is nothing less than Terminator Salvage, a mission to “re-establish credibility” (a/k/a consumer confidence). The obvious models are Chris Nolan‘s po-faced Batmans. McG, who started off directing videos for frosted-tip bro bands, is stripping down, getting “dark.” He’s stricken color from the screen and book-clubbed his cast with copies of The Road. The visuals cite a checklist of 20th-century catastrophes: Worthington, in a Soviet-issue greatcoat, walks a Dresdened L.A.; oilfield fires à la Kuwait darken the horizon; human tissue is harvested in Holocaustic cattle-car roundups. There’s even one of those simple nudges at contemporary commentary—”We are not machines, and if we behave like them, then what’s the point in winning?”—that industrial-filmmaking liberals honestly believe alchemize entertainment into Art, like lead into gold……Judgment Day alloyed pathos and explosions by matching Arnold’s impassivity with Eddie Furlong‘s silent film-dolorous reaction shots—for those of a certain age, it’s impossible to remember the sentimental gambit of that final thumbs-up without getting misty. Salvation, terminally gray, all macho bark, doesn’t do contrasts. This means monotony—as predictable as, when the movie tanks, McG telling an interviewer it was “too dark” for the multiplex.”
Of course you’re still going to see Terminator Salvation, despite these harsh lines. Just don’t be surprised when what you see turns out to be all flash and flesh.