Radio 05.22.09
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on two films opening today at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
“Terminator:  Salvation” is a step backwards in the classic series, because the logic is so inconsistent.  Yes, it’s the same set-up:  the robots gained self-awareness and decided that the greatest security threat to the planet was the humans.  So they proceed to systematically wipe out the human race (except the ones that they capture and imprison, but what would they gain from that?).  The humans are isolated in pitiful little bands of survivors that gradually coalesce into a resistance, led by John Connor (Christian Bale), who isn’t all that remarkable, except that he gets on the radio to encourage every one else (reminiscent of Winston Churchill’s radio addresses during the Dark Days of the Battle of Britain in World War II).  He’s helped by a kind of bionic man named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who donated his body to research while in prison on Death Row, in exchange for a kiss from the (terminally ill) lady who asked him, which prompted the best line of the movie, “Now I know what death tastes like.”  The future is really bleak here: burned-out landscapes, rusted automobiles, razed buildings, humans living like animals in the wild (and no wild animals at all), the entire human race haunted, hunted, and on the verge of extinction.  The only thing that separates the humans from the machines is their emotions, but somehow the screenplay doesn’t take enough advantage of that difference; instead portraying the humans as more resolute and resourceful, which really doesn’t compute.  It’s all so grim and humorless.  Sex and love don’t seem to be important any more, either, or playfulness of any kind.  Terminator needs salvation, all right:  from its obsession with nonstop explosions.
            In yet another sequel, “Night At the Museum:  Battle of the Smithsonian” is Ben Stiller reprising his role as Larry Daley, the night watchman who gets to see the museum exhibits come to life after dark.  This time, it’s a little less charming and a little more interested in developing a romance between Larry and Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams).  Miss Adams does indeed add some spark to the screen, but the rest seems less intriguing than it could have been:  as if, once they brought to life the likes of Teddy Roosevelt, Napoleon, and Al Capone, they couldn’t figure out what to do with them, other than make them lackeys of a wise-cracking miniature cowboy and a bombastic Pharaoh.  It’s cute and harmless, and non-objectionable for children, but maybe someday they’ll figure out how to portray those historical giants and make them anywhere near as interesting as they undoubtedly were.
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93-5 KICK-FM