This is Ron
Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my
commentary on two films opening today at The
Majestic Theater in
Salvation” is a step backwards in the
classic series, because the logic is so
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
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
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
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
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