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3.7 out of 5 stars
Terminator Salvation [DVD] [2009]
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86 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2009
The first thing to say about T-4 is that, for good or bad, it breaks the straightforward Terminator mould in which a target is hunted by a Terminator and protected by a guardian from beginning to end. Varied elements of this remain but that absolute pattern which remained unchanged from T-1 to T-3 is gone, and that might disappoint a lot of fans. I found the change refreshing, and the film has plenty of twists and turns from beginning to end, but the old trilogy is gone now, and often it feels much more like an extension into a new incarnation of the franchise rather than a sequel.

On the negative side, the acting is not uniformly great; I am not a big fan of Christian Bale, and would have loved to see Nick Stahl reprise his role from T-3. Most of the minor characters turn in fairly bland performances too. Anton Yelchin on the other hand is not just a good actor but an excellent mimic; it is absolutely obvious that he is Kyle Reese from the first moment he opens his mouth. He has captured Michael Biehn's range of facial and vocal expressions stunningly well.

The film has also attracted criticism for inconsistencies in the plot. Most of these will wash over you if you are watching to enjoy rather than criticise. It irritated me a little that the resistance seem much better equipped and situated than in Kyle Reese's memories from T-1; but perhaps over the course of this new trilogy that gap will close through losses to the machines as he approaches the age he was then.

Technically the film gets the full 5 stars for the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, great effects and pulsating traditional Terminator music (including 'You Could Be Mine'!) and unlike in "Public Enemies" the sound and dialogue are properly balanced. Visually the film clearly can tap great resources of sharpness and depth, but these are dispensed miserly at times given the grim post-apocalyptic look the director has gone for. Perfect reference shots in Full HD are not always aesthetically right for a director. The quality is there, but not always on show, and never flaunted, unless in some of the close-ups on Worthington fairly late on. Colours and contrasts are also usually very good, if one takes into account the generally grimy look cultivated.

On the cover it says "extended version", but this means you have a choice between the theatrical AND extended version; I would have to say I preferred the latter since I couldn't find any material which really seemed deserving of cutting, and the film, if anything, still seems a bit on the short side given the amount of ground covered. Other extras include good, if somewhat short, documentaries on everything from making the Moto-terminators and the Terminator factory to the work done for the "Return of an Icon" - if I say what this means it could be spoiler-ish! My only extras gripe: only one movie trailer and that for T-3! There is a leaflet advert for "District 9" in the box, how about a trailer on the disc?

One final technical note is that some have reported disc problems. I can report that the Sony BDP S 350 will play it based on factory settings having never been updated! And my 5000 ES updated Spring 2009 also plays it and loaded very quickly.

I think the film is a clear recommendation. It is a satisfying new beginning for the Terminator series (wait until you unexpectedly sight an old friend!) But it falls short of five stars due to too much bland acting, too much weak dialogue, and the eventual snowball effect of a few too many liberties and inconsistencies with previous Terminator history. Nevertheless, roll on T-5!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2010
Terminator Salvation is a very different movie compared to the first three, however this doess not mean it ruins the saga as many people have claimed. Besides, most fans feel that Terminator 3 already did that job. You would be best off thinking of this as the first in a new line of Terminator movies, a bit like the new Star Trek picture. Salvation is a basically a post-apocalyptic action movie based on the Terminator film, and a very good one.

The movie starts by introducing an interesting new character called Marcus, played by Avatar's Sam Worthington in fine broody form. Marcus is about to be executed for murder charges when he agrees to donate his body to medical research, not knowing of course that the research company "Cyberdyne" end up using his body and hundreds more to develop living machines we know as Terminators. The story then cuts to the future and an explosive assault on one of the Machines' bases led by a team of soldiers including John Connor, Christian Bale. Connnor discovers a location underground where some of Cyberdyne's genetic modifications have been carried out (including Marcus'). His team are attacked and he narrowly escapes after a hard fought and intense battle with a couple of machines. In the wake of this battle, Marcus emerges from the underground site and sets off to find out what the hell is happening.

The film then follows two very different plots which end up coming together towards the end. Connor and his team work to develop a new technology that the army can use to shut down the machines and win the war while Marcus struggles to survive along with his new allies Star (a 9 year old girl) and Kyle Reese (well played by Anton Yelchin). The film rages on with massive explosive action sequences, some well acted but perhaps poorly scripted scenes, some touching character development and lots of new technologies unseen in other movies. Some of the machines like the moto-terminators with 360 degree turning capabilities in the blink of an eye seem a little far fetched, but some of the others such as the enormous machine that attacks Marcus' band are just an incredible sight. There is however one cringe-worthy bit late in the film where a CGI version of the Schwarzenegger model appears for a fight, but don't be too put off by that.

The film received a lot of bad publicity, mainly due to the imbalanced story line, the director (for some reason that I can't really see) and the heavy reliance on special effects. However, how on earth were they going to make a futuristic, world controlled by living machines without such huge effects. Besides, in my eyes this is one of the film's main virtues. Terminator Salvation may not be perfect, but if you can show me a more exciting, entertaining action thriller set in a futuristic war zone then I'd be surprised. And as for the director McG, apart from the stupid name, the fact that he made the Charlies Angels films and the fact that he's not James Cameron, I felt that the direction was fine. The story is interesting, engaging, entertaining and enjoyable. Nowhere near as good as Terminator 2, but then it wasn't going to be.

In short, if you've not watched this yet and enjoy yourself a good futuristic action film then I think you'll really love Terminator Salvation.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
After 2003's mildly diverting but dumb third installment in the Terminator franchise 'Rise of the Machines' failed to match the box office success of its predecessor, it seemed that the franchise that made Arnold Schwarzenneger a household name was dead and buried. However, despite the recent cancellation of spin-off TV series 'The Sarah Connor Chronicles' after two poorly received series', and in an age where rebooting redundant franchises (Batman Begins, Superman Returns) is de rigeur; part 4 has finally hit cinemas, controversially helmed by the director 'McG', best known for lighthearted fluff such as the Charlie's Angels films.

Set in the year 2018, the film stars Christian Bale as a grown-up John Connor beginning his rise to prominence as iconic leader of the resistance. The movie serves as both a sequel and a prequel to the other films, although it's the first in the series to ditch the time-travelling aspect and instead focuses on the actual war mentioned in previous films between the humans and Skynet, the computer programme that enabled machines to rise up and conquer humanity. The film also follows the fortunes of Marcus, a convicted murderer on death-row, who agrees to donate his organs to the shadowy Cyberdine Industries represented by Helena Bonham-Carter. Little does Marcus know the use his body parts will be put to, or the impact that this will have, both on himself and on the whole of humanity.

The film certainly works for me as an all out action movie; its blistering pace rarely lets up throughout and the almost monochromatic picture lends the film a suitably bleak and washed-out feel. Despite its change in tone the movie has several nods to its predecessors, retaining the character of Connor's school friend Kate from T3, (now married to John and expecting his child), and using the miracles of CGI to resurrect another more iconic face.

Christian Bale was perfect for the rather one-dimensional Batman, however he occasionally seems ill at ease as John Connor; particularly bearing in mind the supposedly charismatic figure he is playing, although he is well-suited to the action sequences and generally plays second fiddle to the character of Marcus, who is really the linchpin in this installment. John's father Kyle Reese is also involved, as a freelance resistance fighter who is this film's primary target for the insidious Skynet.

The design in the film is particularly impressive; especially the sinister T-600 and T-800 Terminators, their iconic death's head features and blazing red eyes are still as chilling as ever. The tone though treads a fine tightrope between gravitas and being too po-faced for its own good, and the complete lack of humour is noticeable at times.

The movie also feels a little too much like it's been made with the Christmas toy market in mind - a host of new Skynet machines that appear during the film include Terminator motorcycles buzzing down wreck-littered highways, Terminator eels swimming in the rivers like mechanical piranha, Terminator robots the size of buildings that pluck humans and drop them in travelling cages, flying Terminator carriers and so on; a whole food chain of robot killers designed to hunt humans and look cool doing it.

Ultimately, Terminator Salvation is an engaging but slightly flat action movie, that despite not having the raw energy and relentless tone of the first Terminator film, nor the wit and character of T2, is very much of its time, and at least acknowledges its heritage without slavishly adhering to it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2010
This review is for the extras, not the film (plenty of film reviews already). The extended version of the film contains mostly extended scenes rather than new scenes, but on the whole I liked it. The behind the scenes featurettes are interesting (I loved Sam Worthington's accent).
What I found incredibly ANNOYING was the commentary. Being all-singing-all-dancing with in-picture storyboards, featurettes etc, to watch it you need not only an SD card to increase memory but also broadband internet access! I can't be the only person without broadband who therefore can't watch with the commentary! And how many people have their computer linked to their blu-ray anyway.
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on 2 July 2010
It is plainfully obvious that the self entitled 'McG' director as noted in the films intro, is mostly praised as a music director than film maker. His previous efforts weren't so well applauded eg Charlie's Angels, and the focus here is on action here rather than storyline. Explosions, explosions, explosions, everything flying through the air - you could have slammed a backing track on to the first half of the movie, and have barely lost any idea of what was going on. It actually does feel like a music video!

The first 40 minutes without a plot drags on very slowly despite all the effects. There are no shocking or dark moments of hesitation as you might expect from such a film, other than when I pause to contemplate whether to switch off or not. Christian Bale is the least interesting of all as John Connor, thankfully with next to no screen time (he has under 10 mins in total according to some viewers) with a monotone voice that would better fit a stereotypical emotionless superhero on a Playstation videogame - yes, John Connor is poorly acted. Perhaps from the actor that gave us American Psycho (arguably still his best work) that's the most shocking thing of all.

The film feels out of place as a Terminator movie. It has more of a futuristic Mad Max tv series feel to it. If it had been cut down to size with decent editing, it would have been a more welcome no-brained action flick, which T3 succeeded in, despite being nowhere near on par with initial movies, but then, it's hard to compare to films that appear consistently in 'classic action movie' lists of all time.

Thankfully, the second half of the movie really does pick up, with actual focus on some of the characters. The films saviour is Sam Worthington, who grabs most of the screentime and puts in a good performance - but the addition of characterisation, and more interaction from the rest of the cast would have been a plus. As far as the computer effects go, I liked the motorbikes shown with with the Guns n' Roses nod to T2, although as I know T1 and T2 off by heart, at times I did feel like the Ah-nuld quotes ripped from the previous movies were a little too much and unnecessary.

Ignoring the fact that it was supposed to be a Terminator sequel and stopping my constant comparisons, it actually turned out to be an enjoyable movie. If this was not cinema, the critics may have given more praise, but then again, movies today are becoming more like tv shows anyway with neverending 'episodes' for the most successful (Fast and the Furious surely being the most obvious with not much of a gap between each film). Taking in the fact that this movie is essentially T2 set in the future ('a mechanoid helping the good guys out'), I can't help feel there is no where else for the series to go after this, even if they do try and focus on John Connor. Fans should hope they swap Bale for someone more worthy. The most devoted original 80s fans are going to slam this one hard - yet despite it's slow start, it was not anywhere near as bad as I expected.
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Everything I'd heard about this film had been bad so I wasn't expecting much from it - but I was pleasantly surprised, it wasn't that bad at all, in fact it was pretty good!

The first Terminator film was an accomplished work of both action and science fiction, more surprisingly it generated a sequel which was also a high calibre film which impressed on all levels. A third film some years later fell a bit flat and this movie was quite literally a salvation of the Terminator franchise, and I think it succeeded. It's not as cerebral as the first two films with their mind-bending tackling of time travel but it's certainly not a brain-dead action flick. It ties in nicely with its predecessors to create a comfortable cycle of films.

Set in the dystopian future hinted at previously and dealing with an adult John Connor trying to save the young man who would eventually become his dad, we see the hardships of life in a world in the iron grip of the Skynet organisation. The film is essentially a struggle for survival, but instead of fighting against a single cyborg there's a less identifiable baddie as both civilians and the resistance movement attempt to either evade or infiltrate the robot governed system. The film is probably guilty of focusing on action effects at the expense of building genuine suspense, but unlike the CGI saturated blockbusters like Transformers, the action somehow seems more real. The film has a greyish tint to it which saps colour to give it a unique look which adds to the futuristic feel and enhances the gritty urban visuals of a civilisation destroyed during Judgement Day. The CGI blends seamlessly with the live action so that it doesn't look too polished or over-produced.

Though I like Christian Bale, he is hardly the life and soul of the film, thankfully Sam Worthington injects some life and teen actor Anton Yelchin ensures there's a strong enough human element to balance plight of humanity against the machines. I was absolutely convinced that he was the same character from the 1984 film which started it all.

In a nutshell: It doesn't do anything new, but it still does it well and it benefits from the pedigree of being a sequel to two of the best film of the last 25 years - this makes it a worthy watch. If this were a standalone film then it would struggle to be anything better than average, but it's part of something cemented into modern culture and makes various nods to it's history - after all, what better a phrase for the adult John Conner to say when leaving to battle other than "I'll be back"?
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I found Terminator Salvations to be enjoyable for the most part purely from an action stand point. If you don't like mindless action films don't apply - this won't be for you. But at times that is exactly the sort of thing I want to watch and this film did not fail to impress me in that regard. The special effects are impressive for much of the film and whilst the 'plot' lacks everything you would probably expect it to, if you watch this expecting a finely woven thread of a story you probably deserve to be a little let down. The Terminator films are based on science fiction - as a consequence you can't apply standard logic to it and say 'that doesn't make sense' - the story may not be very believable but that is the whole point of science fiction - the impossible can happen. If we are going to be overly critical of this film in this regard then why not any film that defies human capability as we currently know it? The real issue here is the fairly weak story. Had this film been given a plot with more depth I believe many would be patting it on the back.

If I were to be critical of one area in particular it would be the performance of Christian Bale. At times I felt it was embarrassing. Shouting 'Connor' into his radio when only he manages to survive an attack (which in itself was difficult to believe). I am a Bale fan but this was probably the worst I have seen him in any film in my own opinion.

If there is to be another Terminator film, and I imagine there is, I truly hope it is given the story it needs to allow those watching to become immersed. CGI alone can never replace a well thought out and executed story. Without the narrative the film is a load of action scenes cobbled together with some hackney-eyed words. It could have been fantastic. It isn't.
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on 16 February 2010
Having read a couple of the negative reviews here, i am a bit confused. the arguement seems to be - its an action film therfore there are lots of wicked explosions and futuristic fight scenes - bad. there is no arnie (ok il agree a bit with this)- bad. there are lots of robots - bad. there arnt enough robots bad.
Im sorry but with the 4th film in this series i feel tehre are certain things that you can expect, those bieng lots of robots and technology, lots of big explosions and , yes, arnie.

Ok so the big guy shows up in a cgi form (which is by the way superbly done and looks just like the 1980's version, so good in fact i had to pause it to determine it wasnt actually him!). i dont want to spoil it too much for the reader but its a great scene.

the plot this time centres around a moral question can a man be saved? And what does it mean to be human? to me it reminds me of the cartesian idea "i think therfore i am" with the main charecter thinking one thing does that mean he is what he thinks?

Christian bale has done for this series what he did for batman and has brought a gritty john connor to a clever plot twist. some superb acting about the resistance leader who knows the ending but needs to follow all the right steps toget there, and of course doesnt trust anyone. far better than the wimp in the last film.

special effects well at the cinema terrific , on my new surround sound system , well it sounded like ww3 had literally occoured in my living room. truly spectacular.

the rest of the story. not too many time traveling headaches this time, but now we are looking back in time rather than what WILL happen, and its how to fit in the events told for the last 2 films into a new reality. it does this brilliantly.

For me the biggest relief of this film was a return to a machine way of thinking. the machines in this film think like machines. cold calculating efficient. the sound effects for the movements of the machine are great as well. no more feminatrixes boosting thier boosems or prefering one thing or another. they are now cunning and efficient, just like the t1000 in t2 or the origional terminator in t1+2

If you thought that t:3 killed this series off think again it has returned and is fantastic. its not as good as terminator 2 but it is about as good as the origional. and twice as good as t3 - which was rubbish.

shame about arnie though....
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on 17 January 2010
I will admit, upon hearing the news that McG (Charlies Angels 1 & 2) was going to be directing this I wasn't sure it was a good choice but I decided to give him a chance (after all look how many people doubted the choice of Heath Ledger as the Joker) and after seeing Terminator Salvation in the cinema I thought it was decent enough but nothing great. I decided to give it another chance on DVD and I enjoyed it a lot more, maybe its one of those that needs another viewing to appreciate it.

As soon as the film starts you know it is going to be nothing like the previous films and it has a totally different feel. We are introduced to Sam Worthington's Marcus Wright in a 2003 prologue which is very intriguing and before we know it we are in 2018 with Christian Bale as John Connor with the resistance trying to infiltrate a Skynet base.

These openings perfectly set up the films two leading men but it's Worthington's Marcus who emerges as the main character, he has most of the screen time and a much fuller story arc. It is well known that more story was added to Connor when Bale expressed an interest so maybe its not entirely surprising. Anyway, the opening battle sequence at Skynet is fantastic and McG creates a gritty war atmosphere that James Cameron hinted to in the previous films. Overall the production design of the destroyed landscapes are fantastic.

Other great action sequences include Marcus being ambushed by a T-600 in post-apocalyptic L.A., Connor's team wrestling with some Hydrobots (think mechanical anacondas) but the stand-out has to be an extended chase scene with Marcus, Kyle Reese and the young Star (Jadagrace Berry) facing back-to-back encounters with a spinning disc-like tracker, a massive Harvester, awesome Moto-Terminators and a Hunter Killer (seriously!). The whole sequence brims with exitement and kudos to McG for producing such a great scene.

TS also thankfully has a winning cast, Christian Bale brings his usual growl and intensity to John Connor and adds something totally different from the previous two films to the role. Anton Yelchin is perfect as a young Kyle Reese and is perhaps the most anticipated character to see in the next one, Moon Bloodgood deserves a mention as pilot Blair Williams as she makes a big impact for the amount of screen time shes given, her and Worthington also build a good chemistry. On that note, Sam Worthington as the mysterious Marcus Wright is my favourite character in the film, the Avatar man brings charisma and vulnerability to a role thats quite difficult to play because he isn't allowed to give too much away but he never comes across bland, there are also a few interesting twists along the way with him. Michael Ironside is good as always as the Resistance commander and has some fun exchanges with Bale. Unfortunately Bryce Dallas Howard and rapper Common don't really add anything, although they should get more screen time in future installments.

There are also tributes to the earlier entries which are good, there are many but to name a few are the use of "You Could Be Mine" by Guns 'N' Roses at a very apt time, the usual "Come with me if you want to live" delivered well by Yelchin and Bale utters the line "I'll be back" which is pure genius and totally unexpected (I remember the reaction at the cinema).

OK the film has a couple of minor hiccups such as the final sequence, don't get me wrong it's not bad but nowhere near as good as the big chase scene. Sorry if this is a spoiler but I wasn't that impressed with Arnie's CGI cameo, it seemed a bit of place and not really necessary. Just a thought but how much better and creepier would it have been if Bale stumbled into a production room and there were hundreds of Arnie's Terminator on a big production line not yet activated and ready to launch... would've been cheaper to do as well because they would just be still figures and in my view a much more effective way in introducing us back to the iconic original Terminator.

These are minor gripes however and huge credit must go to McG for bringing the Terminator franchise back to life and I can't wait for him to explore it even more (who were those figures behind the glass panel in the human camp? Is there human involvement in Skynet!?). I can't understand why this film got such a negative reaction in America and under the circumstances I think it is realistically the best film we could've asked for, if not very close. For the record it is way better than T3.

I wondered what was next for Terminator when Halycon went bust but Lionsgate are apparently close to obtaining the rights and if they do I hope they let McG and his team continue their trilogy and not do a pointless reboot of this one or the original. The future is in their hands now.
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VINE VOICEon 22 July 2009
As a fan of the entire Terminator movie series, you would be forgiven for assuming that I would hate this movie. The truth is that I didn't watch this movie hoping it would match the brilliance of the original movies as I knew that simply wasn't going to happen. What we got was not a film that captured the terrifying doomsday essence of what made Cameron's two Terminator films so brilliant. We also didn't even get the cool and slick looking destruction heavy style of the third Terminator film. What we got instead was, what I felt, to be a perfectly captured post-apocalyptic world which contains a marvellous depiction of the human race when faced with what seems as the impossible fight for survival. Director McG has received a lot of doubt about his ability move the Terminator saga into the post-apocalyptic world which we first gained a glimpse of in the first Terminator movie. That doubt had no foundation and what McG presented in the finished piece, although the plot could do with some polishing, was a fantastically frightening environment with some cool effects and worthy acting throughout.

The plot sets John Connor in the year 2018. The machine uprising has begun and only small pockets of human resistance movements exist with the soul purposes of surviving and destroying the machine threat. John Connor has finally entered the position he was fated to enter since before he was born and is now the leader of the human resistance. He has encountered the machines before which gives him and his teams the advantage when knowing what they will be put up against as the human/machine war continues. As the resistance fight continues Connors father, Kyle Reese encounters Marcus Wright who we see at the start of the movie receiving lethal injections on death row just before the war begins. Marcus doesn't know what's happened as he woke up in the post-apocalyptic world with no memory of the machine initial attempt at destroying the human race. Marcus quickly partners up with Kyle Reese and a child we know as Star who are also on a mission to find the resistance leader and join the fight. The mystery eventually unfolds and we find out whether Marcus was sent from the future or is merely a survivor of the past and he becomes pivotal in the fight against the machine threat.

The film itself was very touch and go throughout. Some parts worked where others didn't but the entire piece presented an enjoyable action movie that doesn't go too much into the fight for survival on the psychological end of things but does retain the aura of desperation that the humans feel in their fight. Christian Bale was surprisingly awful in this and I honestly expected more from a man taking the reigns of the legendary John Connor. Bale presented an ultimately one dimensional character and you had to question his motives of taking the role of this infamous movie character. The mysterious Marcus Wright character, played by the brilliant Sam Worthington is a movie saving character from start to finish. His whole performance is brilliant throughout and manages to drive the plot along successfully with very little to work with in terms of original character depth. Kyle Reese played by the brilliant up and comer Anton Yelchin is also a delightful addition to the movie and adds again a bit of depth to the movies plot. Other supporting cast include Moon Bloodgood as Blair Williams and Bryce Dallas Howard as Connor's wife Cate. Also, a cool little cameo piece goes to the delightful Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Serena Kogan who is a Doctor for Cyberdyne Systems and actually turns out to have a more pivotal role.

The action is brilliant throughout and with the apparent unbeatable nature of the machines this manages to present quite a daunting aspect to the theatre of the battles that ensue. The scale of the machine warfare is quite disappointing as when we first glimpsed the human/machine war in the first movie, we gained a glimpse of what seemed to be a constantly chaotic battle which left us wanting more. This film doesn't use Cameron's image as McG takes away the futuristic lasers and hoards of machines lined up executing human after human and he exchanges it for the odd flying scouting machine, a large harvester robot which merely collects the humans for what seems to be mass slaughter and of course, the T-600 machines which are a less advanced model of the T-800 machine which we all know as the 101 machine or Arnold Schwarzenegger who we all miss from this movie. This is probably what the movie is lacking the most as the absence of Arnie is certainly a drag for the Terminator franchise and I'm sure that if the effort were put into the writing, they could have found a role for the older Arnold in this film.

There's not denying that Terminator Salvation lacks the charm and excitement of its trilogy of predecessors, however, there's a lot that this film brings to the Terminator universe. The possibility of John Connors son, the look at the early models of the Terminator machines and the new machine concepts make it quite enjoyable. Had the acting been a bit better and the supporting cast a higher level of significance, this film could have been on par with the original 3. It's still a good film and a worthwhile waste of just under two hours.
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