SDCC '08 - 'The Terminator' is Baack at Comic-Con

The fact that “Terminator: Salvation” is only halfway thru principal photography and that it’s star, Christian Bale, is in Europe promoting “The Dark Knight” kept expectations low as far as what footage the fans could expect to see at Comic-Con.

Still, it was a packed and eager crowd that greeted director McG, as well as the T-600 model Terminator that was also onstage. Before he introduced the trailer, he made a phone call ...to Christian Bale! He’s in Europe promoting TDK and he held up the phone to the screaming crowd, then rolled the clip.

The clip shows how the future John Connor thinks is going to happen has changed, and Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) could be the key. Was he sent from the future, or pulled from the past? If you’ve seen the teaser trailer that’s out already, the footage reinforces the fact that T4 looks to be a pure war picture set in the future.

After the footage was shown, McG introduced the cast members who did make it to Comic-Con ...Common (Barnes), Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, and Sam Worthington.

McG talked about wanting to give the film a dark, gritty look similar to the dystopian vision of the future we only saw glimpses of in the earlier Terminator films.

McG agreed that it’s a war picture in a sense. It’s 2018, 11 years before Arnold’s 2029 model. The film involves the formation of SkyNet and how the war between man and machine begins.

Worthington was asked about working with Bale, and described him as “intense. He’s f&*%in’ Batman! I loved him.” He also said he was perfect for the role because the movie “isn’t for pansies.”

McG jumped in to say that statement sums up exactly why Sam was perfect for the part.

“We needed someone tough, someone who could stand up in a 2-shot with Bale,” McG said.

McG also said this film will show how John Connor becomes the legendary leader of the resistance.

As for whether a certain outdated model T-1000 will appear in the film, McG dodged the question like a politician on a Sunday morning talk show.

He did say that fans can expect a lot of hardware worship and that he can’t wait for fans to see lots of new SkyNet machines, specifically mentioning a few models like Harvesters and transporters. All are being designed in the Cold War Soviet style that McG said was a constant reference point for the film’s design. The dirty, dented steel reflects the world in which they exist.

“It’s not a pretty future,” McG said. “The machines reflect it.”

Dallas Howard says the film is about how your free will can affect destiny ..

Worthington added that the film is about the ultimate destiny of man, and that it doesn’t disregard what James Cameron created with the first two chapters of the Terminator saga (smart of Worthington to say it, since he’s starring in Cameron’s next film “Avatar.”)

Someone asked about doing a fourth Terminator film. McG said he doesn’t think Christopher Nolan thought of “Batman Begins” as ‘Batman 5’ , and he doesn’t think of ‘Salvation’ as T4.

Yelchin tipped the cap to Michael Biehn’s performance from the 1984 film when asked how he approached playing Kyle Reese.

“Biehn is awesome [in that movie]. The whole thing is to see how he became that way,” Yelchin said.

The panel took a light-hearted turn when a fan dressed up as Robert Patrick’s machine in T2 (picture the scene where he has a bunch of shotgun holes) held up a picture of Edward Furlong in T2 and asked, “Has anyone here seen John Connor?”

Huge laughs from everyone in Hall H, including the cast.

McG made two specific salutes to a pair of key figures in the Terminator franchise. First he thanked producer Gale Anne Hurd, who attended the panel.

He also said they intend to dedicate the film to the memory of Stan Winston, the legendary Hollywood special effects master who recently passed away. Winston created the iconic robotic images in the first three films.

Stan Winston studios will of course, be working on “Salvation” as well.

We heard briefly from Bloodstone, who says her character is involved with Worthington...

Howard, who plays Kate Connor, says unlike “Spider-Man 3” they’re starting over with this film. She also acknowledged that everyone involved is very mindful of trying to live up to the fans’ expectations.

McG also pointed out that Bryce gets to shoot a shotgun with one hand, ala Linda Hamilton.

Common is playing a resistance fighter named Barnes. The multi-hyphenated performer says “he’s grateful to be here and be part of this team.” Common said every time he sees the trailer, he has trouble believing he’s actually in a Terminator movie.

As things wound down, the panel became livelier. McG invited a few fans with the best costumes and one Asian kid who did a superb impression of the Governator, up on stage.

Then he worked the crowd like a pro ... saying he would only play the trailer again if the crowd went absolutely nuts. Then he joked that he wanted sheer pandemonium and wanted to hear no dialogue thru the trailer and he wanted the fans to riot and cause the end of Comic Con. He was joking, of course. But judging by the fact that the crowd seemed profoundly more excited at the end of the panel than at the beginning, it appears that Terminator fans are now genuinely excited to see the Terminator franchise rebooted.

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