I went to this highly-anticipated sequel with PCR Youth Nation member Mason Troupe last Friday. Due to a work schedule switcheroo, however, I wasn't able to post my thoughts about it until now.
To put it simply, I was disappointed. Not that I'd necessarily turn anyone away from this film as a loud, faced-paced summer action picture, but I'd sure let them know that as a Terminator sequel, it was weak, had some pretty big script problems, and displayed inconsistencies with the original movie and its sequels. Kinda like I said about Wolverine.
"The Future Begins" the ad campaigns say, but it begins with a lot of confusion. (Mike Smith's review of the film is recommended to get the main plot elements.) CAUTION: before proceeding, there will be some mild spoilers following, some necessary to comment on the action, but nothing, hopefully, to ruin the picture for anyone still planning to see it.
There's a guy you see in the trailers for Terminator Salvation, someone John Connor (Christian Bale) must confront. It is a man who, until that moment, is unaware that he is a machine. That much you see in the trailer. What was a little disconcerting, is that upon viewing Terminator Salvation, the story turns out to be just as much about this man, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), as it is about John Connor and the resistance. Maybe more so. So, like so many others that came before, a new character was created that was unnecessary to contrive a new storyline which was unnecessary, to create a new unnecessary subplot that added nothing to the mythos except some ham-handed soapy elements having to do with "second chances". Additionally, if you're thinking that this human-cyborg was meant to infiltrate the resistance (even that you can get from the trailer), you'd be right, but it was mishandled and made no sense. Robocop did a much better job at showing the conflict between human memory and computer programming.
The CGI effects are well done and very colorful, but that's hardly a surprise. There's a borderline rip-off of the Transformers, where larger-scale Terminators can break off into smaller machines. Odd, since a Transformers sequel is due out in just a few weeks. Also, is it me, or does the SkyNet headquarters look like Mordor (from Lord of the Rings) from a short distance? Mason and I continue to argue over whether the "cameo" by Arnold Schwarzenegger as the just-invented T-800 was partially or totally CGI (the few seconds it was on). As far as I can tell there is no cameo by Linda Hamilton. A voice recording of John's mother sounds more like the girl from The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
The movie would've been totally inaccessible to me had it not been for the presence of Christian Bale as John Connor. His intensity and screen presence tend to glue what there is of the movie together. And I liked the kid who plays Kyle Reese (same actor who played Chekov in Star Trek). The age difference between him and Connor is inconsistent with the first two movies, but he does have a passable facial and vocal resemblance to Michael Bein (the original Reese).
I won't give away the ending, except that it hints at future entries. I gather that at this point in the timelime that time-travel hasn't been invented yet by Skynet or anyone else, but it's getting closer. The Kyle Reese that falls in love with Sarah Connor's photograph is also a ways off yet.
But they'd best get on it. Terminator Salvation didn't even take the weekend as far as box office grosses, Night at the Museum 2 did. A quick fall-off with the weak word-of-mouth for T4 is virtually guaranteed. That's a shame for a franchise with such a colorful history, practically iconic ("I'll be back"). I can only hope the next chapter of the series can re-capture some of the magic of the first two films (I was not a big fan of the third one). Or else.....John Connor and company may not be back.
The fine folks at Shocker Toys saw fit to send me a sample of their new line of super-hero action figures, and honored at the invitation, I shall give the sample its just due.
Shocker Toys is an independent company out of New Jersey that began in 2000 with a line of what they call a "unique hyper-articulated block action figure system known as the Shockini." Those figures, about 3 inches high, were extremely popular and regular sell-outs.
Katchoo without her weapon, still ready for action.
Gun back in her hand ready to take you out.
Fast-forward a few years and they broke into the equally popular super-hero line, these figures, a wee bit taller, are based on characters from independent comics, graphic novels and the like. The Toxic Avenger and the rock band GWAR were just two out of dozens I can recall produced in the early years.
I'm happy to say that the company continues to produce an excellent product, nicely sculpted and molded figures that to these eyes indeed seem "hyper-articulated" and very realistic. One of the boxed sets of characters currently available include ShadowHawk, Scud, Kabuki, Katchoo, The Maxx (I was a big fan of his MTV series), Scud variant Sol, and ShadowHawk. These can also be purchased separately. I was presented with "Katchoo" from the comic books series "Strangers In Paradise" by Terry Moore.
Katchoo is Katina Marie Choovanski, a 26-year-old artist and wildcat featured in the comic. She comes with a gun in one hand and pink fairy "Isz" (this character comes with other heroes in the set as well). Her gun hand is detachable and interchangeable with one that is unarmed.
The figure is pretty and solid and...well, pretty solid! All articulation performed well (I don't think Isz articulates, but he's cool anyway). I had no problem switching out Katchoo's gun hand.
The dark enemy of The Maxx (he being the big purple guy in the picture at left), Mr. Gone, ships separately. A Dick Tracy figure is expected to ship in June and they're taking pre-orders for him and the second Indie Spotlight series (the first has already sold out).
The figures range in price from around $18 for single figures to around $135 and up for boxed sets. In my opinion these are recommended collectibles.
I thank Shocker Toys for the opportunity to examine the figure and learn about Shocker's company and affiliates.