The robots are back, and this time they're noisy

TERMINATOR SALVATION<br /><strong>Cert: 12A</strong><br />DESPITE the hi-tech sci-fi and bone-crunching, metal limb-crushing action sequences, the excitement of the first two Terminator movies came from the simple thrill of the chase. The execrable T3 pretty much did for that element, and it&rsquo;s hardly been revived for the fourth instalment (though a chase sequence does account for the film&rsquo;s best set-piece). Instead, we get war. Or rather WAR, of the apocalyptic mega-carnage kind that are perfect for tie-in computer games. As if to re-iterate the transition, the famously taught synth theme-tune is reborn with orchestral sweep, complete with hammer blow effects that&rsquo;ll shatter your eardrums while the opening credits are still rolling.<br /><br />It&rsquo;s 2018. Judgment Day, the nuclear holocaust wrought on humanity by the machines, has been and gone, and John Connor (Christian Bale) is leading the resistance, as prophesied in the earlier films. And instead of a robot from the future, we get a human from the past &ndash; an ex-inmate of Death Row named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), cryogenically maintained post-execution, and suddenly released into a terrifying future. <br /><br />This spectacularly loud movie is essentially a non-stop action frenzy, in a Mad Max-meets-Transformers mould. As well as androids armed with machine guns, we get the full panoply of robot evilness &ndash; flying Terminators, water-bound Terminator critters, motorbike Terminators, and a Terminator the size of an office block who would give Optimus Prime a run for his money. <br /><br />The plot&rsquo;s a formless mess of contradictions and narrative cul-de-sacs, and the script&rsquo;s rather too full of specious guff about destiny and man&rsquo;s fight for survival &ndash; but really, with a director who calls himself &ldquo;McG&rdquo;, we should hardly expect to be in the realm of intellectual seriousness. As aimless, superficial, effects-heavy blockbusters go, it&rsquo;s relatively entertaining, and a whole lot better than its predecessor. Bale mostly grunts and looks angry &ndash; remember when people took him for a Serious Actor? &ndash; but Aussie newcomer Worthington proves himself a watchable action hunk, who just about manages to invest his character with a bit of soul. Plus there&rsquo;s a nice cameo from the Governor of California, in the shape of a CGI-created prototype of the first film&rsquo;s Terminator, yet to be sent back in time. It&rsquo;s a shame T4 gets so jolly pompous in places, but it&rsquo;s fun stuff nevertheless. Take earplugs.<br />Timothy Barber<br /><br />LAST CHANCE HARVEY<br /><strong>Cert: 12A</strong><br />If this isn&rsquo;t a feel good movie, nothing is. The problem with feel-good movies, however, is that they are often tarnished with &ldquo;feel-bad&rdquo; dollops of cliche, one-dimensionality and shamelessly contrived plots. Last Chance Harvey, however, has a premise charming enough to take it (by and large) above the cringe-factor. <br /><br />Dustin Hoffman plays the shambolic but genuine jingle-producer Harvey, who is about to lose his job for being too old-hat and not cutting edge enough. His colleagues aren&rsquo;t the only ones who see him as an embarrassment. His ex-wife and daughter do too. When Harvey flies to London for his daughter&rsquo;s wedding with a sleek futures trader, he&rsquo;s all but ignored. His daughter even chooses her debonair step-father (James Brolin) to give her away.<br /><br />No matter, Harvey&rsquo;s heading back to New York straight after the ceremony and before the reception. That is, until he misses his plane and meets Kate (Emma Thompson) &ndash; who works for an airport statistics office. She&rsquo;s all stiff upper lip and used to being let down or ignored by men, and he&rsquo;s all brash American charm. He works hard to get her, and it&rsquo;s a sweet and successful endeavour, and there&rsquo;s the pleasure of watching two greats working on each other like this. Needless to say, everyone ends up happy, though the frequency of the corny moments increases drastically towards the end.<br />Zoe Strimpel