Comic-Con: You've been warned -- 'Terminator Salvation' is 'not for pansies'!
The familiar guh-guh-guh guhguh music filled the air at this afternoon’s Terminator Salvation panel, where a giant T-600 loomed over stage right, its red eyes boring a hole through everyone in Hall H, as McG and most of the principal cast members took time out from shooting the movie in New Mexico to stop by and share. (Christian Bale, pictured, was M.I.A., doing Dark Knight press in Japan, but McG left him a message — that of 6,500 people screaming — on his voice mail.)
And it was McG’s show, to be sure, the Charlie’s Angels director running the panel like a car salesman — or, perhaps, the manic preacher of Terminator gospel. But it was the footage we were there to see, and footage we got: a trailer-esque clip that revealed this re-imagining of the John Connor myth is part silvery washed-out Children of Men cinematography, part Mad Max road-warring, and a lot of skull-crushing robot action. Anton Yelchin — as a young, Oliver Twist-styled Kyle Reese — gets to deliver the all-important “Come with me if you want to live” to Bale; Sam Worthington appears to hold his own as new Terminator Marcus Wright. They’ve not yet finished the visual effects, so what we saw was all tactile — crashing trucks, Soviet-style Terminator tanks, silver fingers reaching out to scratch Bale’s sweaty face...
But hey, what’s up with the Terminator franchise, people? We’ve had two James Cameron movies, a third that twisted the story up in knots, a TV show that’s got John Connor dripping around like Morrissey’s younger brother... what more is there to say? Turns out McG thinks there’s plenty, and he’s promised not to bastardize it. After consulting with the three pillars of Terminator lore — James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the late Stan Winston — he’s giving us a look at the year 2018, in the post-apocalyptic future after Judgment Day. (Please do not make me tell you the current date of Judgment Day. At the moment, I think the TV show has it set in 2011, so just mark your calendars there, okay?) In the world of Salvation, Skynet is still rising in power, the T-800 has yet to exist, and the clunky T-600 models are fallible — and therefore fun to fight. They’ve invented exciting new evil machines with names like Harvesters and Hydrobots, and they studied Chernobyl to get the nuclear-winter landscape right. And don’t believe everything you hear about the plot — McG says the studio’s happily releasing misinformation.
Salvation’s multiethnic cast — including Bryce Dallas Howard as John’s wife, Kate; Moon Bloodgood as a resistance pilot; and rapper Common as John’s right hand man — is chock full of acting chops, but they also serve the movie’s new message. While "no fate but what we make" is still in effect, McG is bound and determined to make a point about the way differences don't matter in the future, just the ability to come together to survive. "If the world would get its head out of its ass," he said, "we wouldn’t have to wait for a nuclear holocaust to get to that point." Despite that warm and fuzzy ethos, there will be probably very little hugging and/or growing in the new film. As Worthington put it, this thing's "not for pansies."
Oh, one last thing: Asked if Schwarzenegger would be back, McG was curiously vague. "The T-800 model is indeed a part of the mythology of Terminator," he said, with a glint in his eye. He fielded questions from audience members dressed as T:2-era Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick (the latter brilliantly holding up a picture of Edward Furlong and asking, "Excuse me, have any of you seen this boy?"), and invited a guy named Tim up on stage because he'd asked his question in a decent Govuhnator accent. Then he hollered at the room to freak the flip out if they wanted to see the trailer again, which they did. Guh-guh-guh guhguh.