I went into the San Diego Comic Con’s Terminator Salvation panel with pretty low expectations. Sure the trailer looked alright and they have Christian Bale, but it’s directed by McG who hasn’t exactly been batting a thousand. Sure, the first Charlie’s Angels was fun, but the second one was unbearable and his recent attempt to do drama with We Are Marshall was a gigantic, clusterfuck. How could this guy possibly follow in the footsteps of someone like James Cameron? After watching him talk up his film in the panel, I’m here to tell you pretty well.
McG won me, and the rest of a somewhat skeptical geek crowd of 6500 attendees over in less than an hour. He strode onto stage, completely in control and ready to deliver from the start. He was forthright, up front, and on the level about everything. He snatched up the audience in front of him, and held it in the palm of his hand. McG came off like the kind of guy that takes charge in any and every situation. He came off like the kind of guy you’d want making the next entry in one of the most beloved action/sci-fi franchises of all time. McG knows exactly what he’s doing.
Though McG dominated the proceedings, he wasn’t the only person on stage representing the film. With McG were Terminator Salvation cast members Common, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, and Sam Worthington. They went into depth on what they’ve been up to with the movie, and below I’ve put a quick hit breakdown of all the exciting Terminator Salvation tidbits dropped during the course of the panel. Here’s what McG and his crew are up to, beware some of these items may be minor spoilers:
This picture is post-Judgement Day to get a look at those worlds the other movies only teased.
Shooting with the picture first. The rating will be whatever it is. If it’s rated-R, it’s rated-R, and that’s that.
McG: “We wanted it to be tactile, we wanted it to be real. We’re shooting with color stock, but treating it with as much silver as you’d usually use on a black and white film.”
This film speaks to the great moment that Reese talked about in the first film. It takes place in 2018. Arnold’s T-800 is from 2029. Skynet’s not there yet. They’re still doing the research and development. The machines haven’t come to the place of efficiency that we’re used to. We see the becoming of Skynet. We see what happened in the space between the contemporary films and 2029.
All kinds of new machines. Harvesters, transports, aerostats, hydrobots. Done in a greasy, grimey, brutal, soviet tank design. You’ll see giant machines stalking through the landscape harvesting people.
The film will follow the lead of the others, and continue to play with the notion of fate.
This is being used as a chance to open up the Terminator universe to characters beyond just the Connors.
Terminator Salvation is a starting over for the franchise. This is a reboot in the mold of Batman Begins. They’ll honor the mythology, but begin again and do it their own way. McG “In the spirit of time travel and no fate but what you make, you can take a little bit of license here and there to tell the most compelling story possible.”
No one knows the plot of the movie, ignore the script leaks, don’t trust what you read. McG says: “We release disinformation campaigns.”
The movie will call back to things we’re familiar with from the previous films. For example, when you see Kyle Reese in T1 shoulder a shotgun with a string, we’ll see where that came from. Some of Kyle’s lines, we see the genesis of those lines. McG: “And the irony being in this picture, some of the best moves Kyle Reese has learned, he’s learned from machines.”
We’ll see the world of Skynet, and what it means to have to live in a post-apocalyptic world. They studied Chernobyl to see what radiation does to the landscapes and buildings.
McG is trying to do with Terminator Salvation what James Cameron did with Aliens. He’s trying to honor the original picture but make his own, different kind of movie. This is a war movie, in the same way that Aliens was to Alien.
The idea of the T-600 was to make it like a Soviet tank, crushing and rolling over everything. Old, rusted, and weathered by still runs and unstoppable.
The subtext of Terminator Salvation is that all prejudice has been eliminated to fight Skynet. In the resistance there’s all ethnicities and creeds who have come together to fight a common enemy.
Common plays “Barnes”, John Connor’s number one guy.
John Connor is already married to Kate Connor in the film. They’re like Bonnie and Clyde.