Terminator Salvation director McG showed up at the New York Comic Con yesterday to present a reel of never-before-seen footage from the unfinished film and to hold the geek equivalent of a town-hall meeting in the long campaign to win over the existing Terminator fan base.
In the process, he cheerfully suffered heckling over everything from his name (which is a old-hat subject by now and one that McG explained with a lot of expletives) to the recently-exposed Christian Bale blow-up. In brief, McG said that emotions running high on a movie set made freak-outs like Bale’s inevitable. Especially, McG added, because Bale’s a “very serious actor,” a line that prompted several members of the crowd to shout choice quotes from the audio clip. He went on to say that in his experience, getting in someone’s face when they’re in the middle of an explosion was never the best way to handle it, and that he and the producers had decided to simply wait for Bale to calm down.
“That remix is pretty hot,” he continued, drawing laughs from the attendees, and assured everyone that “(Christian and Shane Hurlbut) were fine that day” and that the two are “buddies” who worked successfully together for another month after the incident.
He made light of the blow-up later in the Q&A, when an audience member with a strong accent asked the first question. “What don’t you fucking understand?” he shouted. “We are done professionally!”
Jokes aside, McG made it clear that he was seeking a discussion about the film footage and impressed the die-hard Terminator fans (myself included) by insisting that he wanted to hear the fans’ suggestions on the material. He was going to take those suggestions, he said, to the cutting room floor.
The reel was about eight minutes long and contained a ton of footage of the machines that Terminator fans have only gotten to see in brief clips in previous movies. McG talked at length about the goals of the film, one of which was to portray the evolutionary steps leading to Skynet’s Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator model (the “T-800”). Another goal, he explained, was to show how Kyle Reese becomes Kyle Reese, how he becomes the man who would sacrifice himself for John Connor. And to be honest, that potential character arc alone is enough to embolden my faith in the film.
And if those eight minutes are anything to judge by, Terminator Salvation promises to be an adrenaline ride with a lot of explosions. There were some unfinished action sequences in the reel that I can only imagine will be thrilling when the effects are completed.‚
McG fielded a surprising amount of questions after the viewing and answered one of the fans’ most pressing questions about the film; namely, to what extent were the events and timeline of the lackluster Terminator 3 versus that of T1 and T2 honored in Terminator Salvation. In brief, McG assured audiences that the spirit of the film was true to Jim Cameron’s original works but that there were aspects of the third film, such as the way Judgment Day comes about, that he incorporated into his movie.‚
A representative from an Arnold Schwarzenegger fansite (who McG invited up to the stage for wearing a Cyberdyne tee shirt) asked appropriately about the possibility of an Arnold cameo. McG revealed to the audience that they were working on a revolutionary technique for “doing something with that” and that he wasn’t sure if it would even work. And while he didn’t answer the question directly, McG made it clear that they were working on getting some version of Arnold (but not the Arnold of “today,” which drew chuckles) in the film as part of Skynet’s development. Personally, a Terminator film isn’t a Terminator film without Arnold, so I hope that this revolutionary technique works.
All in all, McG was eager to convince the tough crowd that he was honoring the Jim Cameron films and that he, like us, was a Terminator fan. Based off the footage that I saw (combined with his self-deprecating and expletive-laden humor) I have to admit that I am finally starting to believe. The film looks great, the cast looks great, and all in all it seems like McG’s Terminator Salvation might actually be a true Terminator film – not just an action flick, but a movie that says something profound and makes you think.‚
So McG — if you let me down on this one, we are fucking done professionally.