How do you know you’re at a Terminator Salvation panel led by the director, McG? The word “balls” is mentioned 50 times, an awkward (and unanswered) call is placed to Christian Bale’s house, and lots of unfinished CGI effects are flashed in front of your face in hopes that you’ll stop asking the question: do we really need a Terminator 4?
If you haven’t already guessed, McG thinks the answer to that question is a resounding yes and he’s been on a mission to get everyone to agree with him. While this is understandable — what director openly invites derision of his work, after all? — it’s led to convention panels that, while certainly entertaining, have been filled with cringe-inducing moments that are only forgotten when the clips start rolling.
The panel at WonderCon was no different. After rehashing, once again, his talks with James Cameron and Christian Bale about his desire to do another Terminator, McG attempted to drum up more enthusiasm from the crowd by calling Bale on speakerphone. Though the call went unanswered, the assembled were soon treated to appearances by Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, and Common. Yelchin, who plays young Kyle Reese, gave his official opinion on the movie, saying, “I think it’s fucking awesome shit. It blew my mind.”
Of course you could also go with McG’s prediction that “It’s going to knock your fucking balls up your ass.” Either way, the panel seemed revved up about the production despite the fact that much of the film’s CGI hasn’t been finalized as of yet — hell, even the rating hasn’t been finalized. As The Movie God discussed here (see WonderCon 09: ‘Terminator Salvation’ and the Return of the PG-13 Debate, there’s been a battle over cutting the movie for a PG-13 rating versus an R. And the best way McG found to argue for the latter was to ask the crowd, “Do you want to see Moon’s boobs in the movie?” I’ll let you guess what the response was.
But McG doesn’t want you to think that this Terminator is just about boobs or explosions. What places this film apart from the rest is the character of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) who, as seen in the newly released trailer, is slightly less than conventionally human from the outset. “My goal is to truly put story first — to truly put character first,” asserted McG. “Where does humanity lie? At what point have you gone over to the side of the machines?”
Though the themes are lofty, initial clips leave some room for doubt as to presentation: an extended sequence involving the destruction of a gas station and subsequent chase given by one of the Harvesters was more mundane than menacing, and the face-to-face meeting between Wright and Bale’s John Conner devolved into a competition over whose voice could get more gravelly. (If you’ve seen The Dark Knight you know who won, though that’s not a good thing.)
Despite this, McG seems committed to pleasing Terminator fans when the final product is finished. “Our goal is to truly put story first, truly put character first,” McG explained, adding that “a great idea had lost its way” and that he wanted to come in and restore order. “None of us want to be a part of a disaster.”