Terminator Is Back
This memorial day may be memorable for the congested crowd of blockbusters competing for attention on the marquees of multiplexes. Although attendance is up significantly this year, it's not at all clear whether the audience is growing or whether they're just seeing more movies. This weekend, therefore, is likely to be regarded as a test to determine whether there are enough moviegoers around to justify packing so many blockbusters into theaters all at once. The two latest ones are Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian, with Terminator getting a jump on the competition in midnight screenings at 322 theaters tonight (Thursday). Critics are also getting out early reviews of the movie, and most of them suggest that Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is occupied with the salvation of California, would likely have done a better job than Christian Bale when it comes to the salvation of humanity. (Schwarzenegger's computer-generated face does turn up on the body of another Austrian bodybuilder in the movie.) As Michael Sragow notes in the Baltimore Sun "Schwarzenegger had just enough personality and vitality as an actor to glitter as a robot. All the actors in Terminator Salvation work hard, especially Bale, but the machines give the performances." Indeed, many critics suggest that computers have taken over the entire production. Claudia Puig in USA Today concludes "The predictable story feels as if it were written by a computer program labeled 'sequel.'" Gary Thompson in the Philadelphia Daily News adds "When machines finally take over the world, they'll probably make movies that look like Terminator Salvation ." Kyle Smith in the New York Post writes "What makes this movie is the digital effects. It's got all the heart of a demolition derby." Which isn't necessarily bad, says A.O. Scott in the New York Times , who praises the film's "reasonably swift storytelling. ... [Director] McG manages speed, impact and the choreography of technomayhem with aplomb and a measure of wit." But Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle disagrees, saying that the action in the movie "isn't really action. It's commotion. It can't be action if nothing happens, and nothing can happen because the commotion doesn't advance the story. The commotion, the explosions, the fireballs function here only to delay action. ... Terminator Salvation looks busy, but it's static. The thing doesn't budge. It's an epic waste of time."