Sunday, August 02, 2009

Terminators



Recently, hubby and I saw the fourth film in the Terminator series, and I was reminded that the original film was more horror than science fiction. We both agree that the second film, a/k/a Judgment Day is the best of the series, and that the third movie was forgettable. So much so, that we did not plan to see Terminator, Salvation, until daughter recommended it. When this action packed, tense, dark dystopia came to a close, I laughed and asked, "Why do all of these futuristic films feature folks in ragged motorcycle clothes?" Really, I do believe the costumers for such films just rob the trash from behind biker bars and make darned sure everything fits skin tight.

That said, the entire Terminator series exemplifies the concept of man vs. machine as it evolves from an attempt to make the world better, resulting in a monumental screw-up. That theme, one of the core themes in science fiction, is known as Utopia/Dystopia. The Mad Max films are dystopias, as are classic science fiction yarns such as Brave New World and 1984. Despite warnings from these more literary authors, as well as lesser known script writers, we still have folks believing that the way to make the world better is to change everything. Of course, that observation is belongs in the realm of social commentary, so I'll leave it to political pundits and get back to Terminator, Salvation.

In the latter, the special effects are top notch, and Christian Bale brings a brooding strength and determination to John Conner that has been lacking in previous films and television iterations of the character. Daughter said that she missed Linda Hamilton, but Hamilton's voice is used to help frame the character, as Bale's John Connor hovers over an old fashioned cassette player, listening to words of maternal wisdom.

Although Star Trek and Terminator fall into the same general genre, that of science fiction, they present opposite views of the future. In Trek, man's future is not without problems, but a certain amount of optimism is in order. In any of the Terminator films, the march toward the future is mostly a downward spiral. However, in each series, conflict abounds, and watching characters solve conflicts is the reason we keep coming back to the theatre, or renting those DVD's.

By Christmas, these futuristic tales will be available in stores or via Netflix, if you missed these summer sci fi films.

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