Mr. Movie

'Terminator Salvation' terminal

Didn’t George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels prove that not all complex sci-fi plots need to be completed?

The Wachowski brothers might agree after their two disastrous Matrix finales.

Some thought Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines sealed the franchise’s fate and brought it to a terrible end.

Apparently, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s famed line from the first film is prophetic: “I’ll be back.”

Again. And again. And again. We haven’t even begun deciding whether we really care about Terminator Salvation and already T-5 is in pre-production.

-- Times, theaters.

Hollywood is definitely in an originality dry spell. An industry out of ideas is desperate. That’s how we got Terminator Salvation a film moves the franchise out of the present and to 2018.

John Connor is now a grown-up prophet and soldier. The war against the machines is raging. Humans, with their backs against the proverbial wall have found “the” weapon that will end the conflict and shut down the machines forever.

Connor is assigned to do the test.

At the beginning of Terminator Salvation, Marcus Wright signs the rights to his body away just before being executed at a U.S. prison in 2003.

Flash forward to 2018 and some war sequences and presto — there is Wright wondering how the hell he is and how he got there.

This is where you need to understand the full-circle premise of complex sci-fi features. Irony is heavy throughout their stories.

Marcus hooks up with Kyle Reese, Connor’s soon-to-be-best-friend. He’s the guy who travels into the past, fights the original film’s machine and gets his mom pregnant, fathering Connor, who is the savior of the world.

Connor — of course — because his mom told him the story, knows that Reese, who he hasn’t met up until this time, is going to be his father.

Past, present and future are inexorably linked and very important to Terminator plots. Both Connor and Wright have reasons for keeping Reese alive. Terminator Salvation came along at just the right time for the economically struggling pyrotechnics industry. Fourth of July celebrations are being canceled. Baseball and football teams are skimping on hometown home run and touchdown revelry. It looks like at least half of the production money went into pyrotechnics. I’m not exaggerating. It really does seem like there’s at least one explosion per scene. Every other scene for sure. Some scenes have dozens.

Eliminate the dynamite detonations and the arsonist-inspiring fire that accompanies them, and the CGI generated motorcycle fight scenes, the CGI-inspired air battle scenes, the CGI-created helicopter crashes, and the CGI-developed human-looking machines trying to kill humans and you have a 10-minute movie.

For humor — in a film in deep need of some laughs — a very buff computer-created Schwarzenegger shows up in a couple of late scenes. It gives the Terminator Salvation its only lift.

Like his two Batman movies, Christian Bale, as John Connor, has little to do but act as the story’s fulcrum. The more interesting character and most of the plot emphasis is on charismatic newcomer Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright, who is seeking personal salvation.

In the end, he finds salvation, and in a way, saves himself but, alas, is not able the film.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars

Rated PG-13 for violence, mature themes. It opens Friday, May 22 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.