Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation

RT sits down with the much-maligned director planning to make good.

Exclusive: McG Talks Terminator Salvation

The news that one of the greatest sci-fi franchises of all time was to get a full-fat reboot predictably sent cyborg fanboys into paroxysms of joy. For about 10 minutes. That Arnie, otherwise engaged running the world's fourth largest economy, wouldn't be back was partly compensated for by the casting of Christian Bale. But the revelation that McG was to be at the helm put an abrupt stop to the celebrations. Recently, though, the tide's been turning with trailers and longer assemblages revealing a gritty war movie with more in common with Mad Max and Children of Men than Charlie's Angels. RT talked exclusively to the much-maligned McG about the rise of his machines...

Terminator Salvation
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Pitch Terminator Salvation to us.

McG: The whole idea for doing this movie is to honour the first three movies but begin again. The big difference is we're post-Judgement Day, whereas the other pictures were all contemporary, with Terminators coming back in time. It's deep post-Judgement Day, it's a new beginning, and because the future is malleable, there are a great many places to go.

One of the joys of this picture is it explores the space between Judgement Day and the becoming of the T800. So we get to see all the research and development that went into the proficiency of the T800. It's like an Apple computer; the first ones you got 15 years ago had 2 megs of memory, and they weren't so fast. And now today it's the Macbook air and it does back flips. You know, it's the same thing with the Machine world. And it suggests a world that's less based in science fiction than it was when Jim Cameron was making the movies.

How do you mean?

McG: Well we live in a time where if you have an arthritic shoulder, they'll give you a new one. We can make a 70-year-old woman pregnant, and deconstruct the human genome. And certainly the days of talking to a psychiatrist about your mommy and daddy issues are over -- they just want to manipulate your serotonin levels. And therefore it's real -- it's here. It's now. That wasn't the case when Ridley Scott made Blade Runner, or the first Terminator pictures, or even when the first Matrix came out. So in response our film was designed to have that tactile reality of Children of Men, or even the Bourne franchise.

Terminator Salvation Christian Bale and Sam Worthington in Terminator Salvation.
Click here for more Terminator Salvation images.
Are there obvious elements in the previous movies that have to come back into play in yours?

McG: Certainly. We pay off a great many things that are established -- particularly with Kyle Reese. We talk about the mythology of his shotgun strap, his proficiency for stealing cars, and we see where he learned a lot of these skills. And it wasn't from Connor, it was from the Marcus character, which is one of the joys of the picture. We cite "Pain can be controlled, you just disconnect it," you know, and we realise where he got that, and there's a great many tidbits for the hard-core fans out there. But it's designed as well for people who don't know that much about the ins and outs of the first films.

Any "Hasta la vista, baby" moments?

McG: We're working on a few. But I would never be so bold as to say we'll have that good fortune of, you know, stuff sticking around to that degree. [Laughs]

You've got a really talented team of writers on board.

McG: Yeah, we wanted it to be written with the deftest pens possible. There's a writing team called Ferris and Brancato that wrote the original draft. Then when I got involved, I brought in Paul Haggis, we worked for about 2 months on the script, with Christian as well. He taught us a great deal about character. Then we brought in Jonathan Nolan -- who wrote the Batman pictures, Prestige, and largely Memento. So it's a very cerebral bunch that's here to make a film of the highest quality.

Continue onto the next page as McG talks about the challenges of shooting the film, his approach to CGI and whether he could take Linda Hamilton in a fight.

Comments

thereign

lance berry

Pretty decent interview. I don't think the questions asked were the greatest, but McG gave more than he got, in terms of responding thoughtfully to them. I have my fingers crossed that he comes out with a solid movie not just for us, the fans--but which leads as a more serious connecting thread from Cameron's films than T3 did.

Mar 26 - 06:34 AM

arendr

Arend Anton

Hmm...didn't know Jonah Nolan was involved. That's cool.

Mar 26 - 10:41 AM

matt d.

matt dub

did he say christian bale helped on the script?

and only 800 cgi shots that seems pretty darn low for f/x blockbusters nowadays...

Mar 26 - 11:03 AM

Chee

danielle jancarole

I think Christian was the one that "forced" McG to change up the script, like adding more depth to the characters and whatnot, or he wouldn't do the film.

Mar 29 - 01:31 AM

opTIMus Nerd

Tim Ahlberg

This kind of talk and dedication and involvement of of the "cerebral types" does give me a lot more hope for this pic then I had last year. That said, you watch the special features on AVP Requiem and they sound quite the same...

Mar 26 - 12:18 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

gotta agree with 'Nerd; most of these guys come off as competent, even likable in these interviews. They talk a good game. And I have to say, I (like many others) am starting to believe in this project. But the only thing that matters is the product, not the sales pitch.

Mar 26 - 12:39 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

gotta agree with 'Nerd; most of these guys come off as competent, even likable in these interviews. They talk a good game. And I have to say, I (like many others) am starting to believe in this project. But the only thing that matters is the product, not the sales pitch.

Mar 26 - 12:39 PM

TombstoneLawDog

Daniel Klein

Have to add that I FREAKIN LOVED This exchange:

Do you deliberately do as much physically as you can? George Lucas would shoot the whole thing on a green screen, with guys wearing ping-pong balls...

McG: I say with respect to George Lucas, who I adore, I don't like that at all. This is why Stan Winston's team is here. We do as much practically and in camera as possible. I want the machines to be real and we built all the machines. We built all the prosthetics. And then they're accentuated and added to, certainly.

Dissing on Lucas and loving on Winston does INDEED amp up my respect for this project....

Mar 26 - 12:41 PM

800 Pound Tuna

Dave Ray

My hopes are up, based on what McG said about trying to match the film style of Children of Men along with capturing the atmospheric feeling that Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

The filming on Children of Men is amazing, if you disagree then just watch the 5 minute long action sequences with only 1 cut. And if you haven't read The Road, then you should.

We'll see.

Mar 26 - 01:40 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Linda Hamilton pwns all!

Mar 26 - 03:11 PM

Glenn W.

Glenn Welsh

with Bale as Connor, Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah (even if just as a voiceover) and Haggis and Jonah Nolan writing, it does sound like one ambitious picture and McG is trying his damnest to show fanboys that he isn't f-ing around and that this won't be Charlie's Angels 3: Rise of the Dancing Kung Fu Machines, but i'm still a little skeptical. it's still the movie i'm looking forward to the most out of this summer's "meh" film line-up.

Mar 26 - 05:20 PM

MountRussmore

Russ Reilly

I've never seen one of this McG guy's movies, but his talk sure gets my vote. He's taking the picture in exactly the direction I would want- no b*llsh*t, no artificial humor injected. I like my apocalyptic action films played straight.

I'll be the first to guess the Tomatometer: 73%. I think there will be a good handful of critics who don't like the film simply because it will take itself too seriously- which I love. I think it will be a huge success for the true fans...

Mar 26 - 06:04 PM

collex

Alex D.B.

Let's face it: everybody is sceptical because of the director, and McG knows it. He knows he only have one chance to prove himself. He knows that if he pull a Batman & Robin on us, his carreer is finished before it even really started. Having said that, with all I've seen up to now, he seems to have delivered something solid.

I'm all behind you McG. Don't disappoint me, or you'll regret it.

Mar 26 - 06:19 PM

BMS1234

brandon sideleau

Christian Bale can take ANY movie and make it worthy.....remember 'Reign of Fire'? I enjoyed that movie thanks to Mr. Bale's intense performance. His commitment to the material (no matter what is is) shines through in all of his performances. The most recent preview for this movie makes the film look amazing....possibly ranking up there with the first Terminator (the best, if you ask me.) The second Terminator was a blast, but a bit too cutesy and comedic for my tastes, this film (judging from the previews) looks darker in tone ala the original. That being said, my ONLY concern is the dialogue and character development....there has been no evidence to the contrary thus far...but I don't know if someone like McG can pull that off. Hopefully Bale will prove again that he is an artist, true to his form.

Mar 26 - 08:26 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

LOL I enjoy Reign of Fire because how cheesy it is, was Bale really intense in that? But yeah that is kind of a fun guilty pleasure movie I think. I'm looking way more forward to Public Enemies then this though. I still really wish though that the trailers didn't give away that Marcus was a machine story away, that could have been a great WTF moment in the theater I bet.

Mar 26 - 08:56 PM

BMS1234

brandon sideleau

Also...I wish they would have just pretended T3 never existed....that movie was an awful money grab and shouldn't even be considered part of the story.

Mar 26 - 08:29 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

LOL I enjoy Reign of Fire because how cheesy it is, was Bale really intense in that? But yeah that is kind of a fun guilty pleasure movie I think. I'm looking way more forward to Public Enemies then this though. I still really wish though that the trailers didn't give away that Marcus was a machine story away, that could have been a great WTF moment in the theater I bet.

Mar 26 - 08:56 PM

JUDGE DREDD

idle one kenobi

I too liked Reign of fire, they spent what little budget they had on a very great, no, the best Dragon put on film to date.

I dont judge Mcg badly based on 2 popcorn flicks for chicks that he made years ago. The test of a mans metal is when he tries to do something that he wants, rather than what studios want him to make. As an artist myself, i get payed to make things that i have absolutely ZERO interest in, but it pays the bills. But if my skills were judged based on one single piece of work like that, I have many skills to my bow, and visions. Any director should be judged the same. The guy may be a genius for all you know, but just because he only has Charlies Angels to show us, doesnt mean thats all he is capable of.
I do worry that T4 could be just a lot of hot trailers though, I remember this kind of talk prior to AVP-R, All the signs of respect and how they were going to better the first one. Well, wow, how that turned out for us huh. I thought i was watching another scream film.

Anyway, i hope this film turns out ultra-cool.

Mar 27 - 02:52 AM

emily l.

emily lee

It is intersting...PS: Looking for a hot&beautiful girl or a handsome millionaire? Well, r i c h p a s s i o n . c o m will give a surprise! Don`t miss it!

Mar 27 - 04:10 AM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

And suddenly I respect the guy a great deal more. Like Tombstone said, big props for dissing Lucas and praising Winston in the same breath. And I really like his approach to the mythology, hiring cerebral writers to work on the script. See that is what I've been talking about?!

Give sci-fi the sci-fi treatment and you can mine gold. Don't treat it as just another pop-corn movie, journey for where the story can transcend mediocrity. This is the kind of approach I was hoping from the get-go that they'd assign to the development of Transformers; the sci fi treatment. Instead, they seldom thought outside the distinction of 'toy movie'.

So yeah, McG, with your silly name, you've got my attention. I can say without prejudice, I hope it all works out.

Mar 27 - 05:29 AM

wevc

Wanda Veloz

I hope this movie rocks, but McG talks too much for my taste at times, as if he's trying to convince me he's good enough to make this movie.

Mar 27 - 08:11 AM

willywonkanobi

Evan Godbold

McG doesn't exactly have the best track record. I think it is good that he is trying to convince us. It shows that he cares about the material.

Mar 27 - 01:46 PM

willywonkanobi

Evan Godbold

McG doesn't exactly have the best track record. I think it is good that he is trying to convince us. It shows that he cares about the material.

Mar 27 - 01:46 PM

the_don_of_yreka

Francisco "Kiko" Gomez

I am also gonna agree with Tombstone, the only thing that matters is the product, not the sales pitch. I am liking trailers and the way McG is trying to gain respect with the fans who like the Terminator saga. I giving McG a shot. If this film sucks badly, all I ask in return is that leave Terminator saga alone. I'll be happy if they keep the story going in books form if the film doesnt do to well.

Mar 27 - 06:53 PM

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