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Terminator Salvation
The much needed reboot of the franchise.
Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale Stars in "Terminator Salvation."
OPENING WEEKEND: $90,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $300,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 19th, 2009: In the highly anticipated new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright (Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet's operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

What to Expect: There's just something about Christian Bale, isn't there? He's popular but not a megastar, he's handsome but not so much you hate him for it, he's a good actor but doesn't show off, and he's underappreciated in a way that lets media geeks like me and thee feel superior for appreciating him. Let me put it this way: one of my daily sources for celeb/media news and gossip is a LiveJournal community called Oh No They Didn't, and the membership there is known for being harsh, like whoa. Anytime anything is posted about anyone, you can depend on them being ripped to shreds in the comments. There are very few celebs who are universally adored by the ONTD readers. Kate Winslet is one. Christian Bale is another one. He's a thinking-person's action hero, a quirky recluse, and he's Batman, for crying out loud. He's one of those actors whose presence raises the credibility of any project to which he is attached.

Article continues below

So when McG approached him to play John Connor in his new installment of the "Terminator" series, his reply was a terse "F*ck off." All righty, then. Bale, the director said, wasn't interested in pyrotechnics. I can hardly blame him, seeing as he's already attached to one high-octane franchise.

The film had been in development for awhile, since the release of the anemically-received "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" in 2003. Originally, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes were supposed to reprise their roles in the fourth film, which would depict the war that everyone couldn't shut up about in the first two films. Various writers worked on it, various versions of a script were produced, eventually Stahl revealed that the roles would be recast to reflect a significant forward time jump. In 2007, production rights passed to The Halcyon Company. At one point, MGM had acquired distribution rights in an attempt to make that studio relevant again, but eventually Warner Brothers took it over in a convoluted bout of legal wrangling that I won't attempt to comprehend. As far as I can tell, McG has been the only director attached to the project. He is a huge fan of the original films.

McG is one of those directors I don't know what to make of. On the one hand, he made those Charlie's Angels movies, which aren't horrible but kind of...mindless. He also made "We Are Marshall," which was decent if formulaic. As a TV producer, on the other hand, he's been responsible for some interesting programming, including "Supernatural" and "Chuck." There's nothing in his resume that suggests he's the man for this kind of undertaking, especially since Halcyon intended to start a three-part franchise of new Terminator films, but sometimes you just don't know. Nobody could have guessed that Peter Jackson was capable of the kind of feat he achieved with the Lord of the Rings films.

Anyway, the first script was turned in before the WGA writer's strike, at which time everything got put on hiatus, and Jonathan Nolan (brother of "Dark Knight" director Christopher, whom he often writes with) did some work on the script. This was enough to persuade Bale to sign on not just for this film, but for the entire trilogy. Score one for McG. In fact score two...the fate of this trilogy was by no means certain, but after seeing advance footage and screening about 15 minutes of the film for some writers and industry folks, the response was so enthusiastic that Halcyon immediately greenlit the fifth film and kept McG on as director.

So McG began work on the film, with the help of legendary effects wizard Stan Winston, the creator of the original Terminator effects. Sadly, Winston died before he could complete the film, but his stamp is all over what we've seen of the final product.

Aaaaaand...enter Michael Bay, director of the Transformers film, which has a sequel coming out this summer. Bay made a swipe at Terminator's giant harvester robots, as seen in promotional material, saying that certain films had tried to feature Transformers-sized robots in their ads, but naturally his were far superior and how dare anyone try and use giant robots? McG didn't really rise to the bait, calmly replying that the robots in "Terminator Salvation" were, surprise surprise, not connected to the robots in Transformers. Is Michael Bay seriously claiming to have some kind of ownership of originality with respect to giant robots? Give me a break. But we do love a good director's feud, carried out in oblique potshots taken on blogs and online forums. It's a catfight for the new millennium.

Clearly Michael Bay has insecurity issues, so let's move on to the film at hand. What are we looking at here? The story involves the aftermath of Skynet's war on humanity, always ongoing, and the development of the new Terminators, the T-800, which was the model Schwarzenegger played in the first film. John Connor (Bale), fated leader of the resistance, meets a cocky young rebel named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who will someday go back in time and father him. I seriously do not know how I'd deal with that situation if I were Connor. Meanwhile, an amnesiac man named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) shows up, and no one knows if he's from the past or the future, and could he be a Terminator himself? Bryce Dallas Howard takes over Claire Danes' role as Connor's wife, and Helena Bonham Carter (yes, you read that right) turns up in a brief role as what's described as a villain, although I'm not sure how that works with the villains mostly being, you know, robots. Bale is pretty much bulletproof these days, as well as apparently tireless, seeing as he seems to be showing up in every movie of note. Twenty-year-old Anton Yelchin is a newcomer to big-time films despite having a number of smaller films to his credit and an impressive array of TV appearances. His big news is that he's also featured in another huge summer release of 2009; he's playing Pavel Chekhov in "Star Trek." I can see why he was cast; he bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Michael Biehn, who of course played the role in the first film. The role of Marcus Wright sounds like it may prove pivotal to the film, and Sam Worthingon is an actor I confess I'm not familiar with. He's on the rise quickly for sure; aside from this film he's also in James Cameron's long-awaited mega-pic "Avatar" which opens this summer, and he's signed on for the new "Clash of the Titans" remake.

But these aren't the casting choices we care about, are they? What about Arnold? Well, as you may have heard, good old Arnie is a bit busy governing California these days, but he has been tangentially involved with the film. Based on the rumors I'm hearing, there may be a cameo, done a bit untraditionally. Nobody seems to want to confirm this, not McG or the Governator himself, but Arnie lookalike Roland Kickinger, who already played Schwarzenegger once in a 2005 TV movie, is listed in the cast as a T-800. Rumor has it that McG may have scanned Arnold's face and voice to digitally superimpose them on Kickinger's body. That'd be a novel way of getting around the fact that Arnold is, well, 61 years old and doesn't exactly look how he looked back in the day. Kickinger has said that the film contains a very strong scene in which Connor sees a T-800 (played physically by Kickinger, with possible digital alteration) and isn't sure if he's good or bad. That isn't the only throwback to the glory days. It has just recently been confirmed that the film will be bookended by voiceover narration by Linda Hamilton, which is supposed to be the tapes she made for John while pregnant with him at the end of the first film.

McG had a very definite idea for how he wanted the post-apocalyptic world of the film to look and feel. For the color-desaturated images with a patina of cold metallic despair he wanted to achieve, he used intentionally heat-damaged film stock, then processed it with three times as much silver as you would normally use, which gives the image a sharp-edged quality with a metallic overlay, much as the images in "Saving Private Ryan" had a sepia tone with almost jagged edges to the shapes. Another iconic aspect of the original films, the haunting music with the underscore of that driving beat, is being reimagined by Danny Elfman. Using the original composer, Brad Fidel, was considered, but McG wanted to reimagine everything and see it through the lens of this new setting and time period.

McG has described the ending as "elliptical," which it'd have to be to lead into definitely one and possibly two more sequels. Bale is signed for an entire trilogy should one be made, and McG is already prepping to shoot the next film even while post-production continues on Salvation. He's said that they definitely plan to screen the film for Governor Schwarzenegger.

In Conclusion: My ambiguity about McG aside, I have a really good feeling about this one. He's certainly a geek for the material, and that never hurts. The trailers and preview screenings have generated nothing but positive buzz, and if we know anything in Hollywood, it's that advance buzz is usually right. Christian Bale can do no wrong, and an exciting new chapter in this venerable science-fiction juggernaut might be coming at the right time, if we can all just forget the milquetoast third installment.

Similar Titles: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day
May 21st, 2009 (wide)
December 1st, 2009 (DVD)

Warner Bros. Pictures


Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Common, Jadagrace, Helena Bonham Carter, Roland Kickinger, Terry Crews

Total: 315 vote(s).

Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and language.

130 min




Terminator Salvation at Trailer Addict

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