AWFJ Women On Film – “Terminator: Salvation” – Susan Granger reviews

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Pow! Blast! Annhilate! The action-packed, bullet-riddled popcorn pictures have officially arrived.

Re-imagined and re-branded, this fourth installment in the “Terminator” series begins in 2003, when a death-row inmate, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), is executed after granting his doctor (Helena Bonham Carter), a geneticist for Cyberdyne Systems, permission to use his body “for research.”

Skip ahead to 2018. Los Angeles is a bleak wasteland after Judgment Day as Skynet, the artificial intelligence network, dispatches a fearsome variety of robots to scour the post-apocalyptic landscape, collecting or killing the few surviving humans. As part of the Resistance, time-traveler John Connor (Christian Bale) is searching for teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who, according to Terminator mythology, will turn out to be his father in the future. Sound confusing? It is, particularly when “reborn” cyborg Marcus Wright inexplicably emerges from the rubble. Part-man/part- machine, he’s Connor’s only chance of succeeding in his mission. But can this hybrid-seeking-redemption be trusted?

“What are you?” Connor asks. “I don’t know,” Wright replies with total candor.

Under the aegis of McG (“Charlie’s Angels,” “We Are Marshall”), building on a script by John Brancato & Michael Ferris (and, allegedly, many others), the plot is punctuated by so many loud, fiery explosions that there’s little time for character development. Combat production designer Martin Laing and special effects supervisor John Rosengrant owe more than a few nods to ‘bot’ technology from “Transformers” and “Matrix.”

Meanwhile, trapped in the crossfire, are subsidiary characters played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Jadagrace Berry, Michael Ironside and Jane Alexander. In a cameo appearance as the T-800, Arnold Schwarzegger’s face is digitally grafted onto bodybuilder Roland Kickinger’s torso. Shane Hurlbut’s cinematography is stunning, making one wonder why, during filming last summer, Christian Bale spewed so much profanity at him in an embarrassing spat that was leaked on the Internet.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Terminator: Salvation” is a fast-paced, destructive 7, emerging as the first in the series to get PG-13 rating.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.