Comic-Con Report: Terminator Salvation Hints at Greatness… and Arnold’s Return?

As we already reported after the Hall H presentation for Terminator Salvation, the movie is looking incredible.  Spirits weren’t high after McG was announced as director, with fans feeling the series was doomed to extinction in a cheese-fest of nuclear holocaust proportions.  I was one of those fans, but now I’ve seen the light, or the McG in this case.  The new footage looks slick, epic, and breathtaking, and the crowd absolutely loved it.

McG indirectly commented on the universal doubt in his abilities, saying “I’m very proud of Charlies Angels, but that was a long time ago… I’m a different filmmaker now.”  Asked about the inevitable drop in quality that most sequels have to offer, he acknowledged “I made an inadequate sequel” referring to Charlies Angels 2: Full Throttle.  I’ll allow him the understatement.  When he was first approached about the film he went directly to James Cameron to ask for his blessing and opinion.  “If Cameron was like ‘Fuck you’ I wouldn’t have touched it”, he says, but instead he found encouragement.  He said Cameron had his critics when he began work on the follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien, but “you have to step in and make it your own.”

One of the important distinctions between Salvation and the previous Terminator films is that they all took place in the present day.  “Salvation shows us for the first time the world after judgment day,” and McG wanted that world to look different.  “We’re adding three times as much silver to the color stock than normal so things look a bit off,” he says.  He was influenced by Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, and wanted the world to be as gritty, dirty, and desolate as you would imagine.  “This is not a clean, comfortable future.”

Christian Bale in Terminator SalvationSam Worthington’s character, Marcus Wright, seems to be the biggest mystery and few answers were forthcoming.  The footage shown today features Bale’s John Connor confronting Wright and stating that he killed Connor’s mother and father.  So… who knows what the hell that means.  Worthington describes Wright as the connection between Connor and Kyle Reese.  “What makes Reese Reese, what makes Connor Connor… my character is a bridge to how they connect and how they grow.”  Asked about his work in Cameron’s Avatar, he replied flatly “We’re talking about Terminator Salvation.”  Shocking.

Anton Yelchin plays the young Kyle Reese and says he was “lucky to have a good script as well as a whole other film to base and build the character from.”  He was interested in Reese’s day to day life, in what he went through to become Michael Biehn.  While listing the possibilities of that daily routine, Yelchin added that maybe “every once in a while he [Reese] just wants to jerk it.”  McG stepped in at this point and removed the mike from Yelchin’s hand.  Oh that Yelchin.

There were few surprises or revelations (aside from the obvious one being that the film looks awesome.)  But McG did reveal a new machine called the Harvesters.  A brief glimpse is on display in the new footage when a huge claw rips through a roof and grabs a guy.  “That should speak to the size of the machine,” he says, adding that ILM is hard at work on the Harvesters as he speaks.  Asked where the film starts with John Connor and if Arnold will ever be back, McG replied that “answering both of those questions would deprive all of us of the joy of the release of the picture, but hopefully in that statement you realize where we’re headed in regards to both questions… the T-800 model is indeed a part of the mythology of Terminator.”  Seems like a long way to go to say ‘No’, but he also said earlier that the studio is fond of a hefty misinformation campaign… so maybe it’s a yes?

Find out when Terminator Salvation opens May 2009.

Stay tuned all this week as we bring you coverage from Comic-Con International. Not only will we be roaming the floor in search of love, but we will have the latest news Live from Hall H, great interviews with some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and random convention shenanigans, courtesy of our Comic-Con Attack Squad! To keep tabs on all of the happenings, just head over to our Comic-Con 2008 Homepage.

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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