Today was the highly impressive panel for Terminator Salvation from Warner Bros. and I will say if the fans weren’t on board before they are now as director McG managed to turn this room from dead and quiet to raving loons. Along with McG, in attendance were stars Common, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin and Sam Worthington.

They were also accompanied by the endoskeleton of a T-600 the Terminator model that will be featured in Terminator Salvation. He compared it to the first Mac’s and how large they were and then how much more compact and advanced they got through the years. So the T-600 is a much larger version than we have seen. McG referred to its creation in comparison to a Soviet tank.

Prior to introducing the footage McG addressed the rumor that the film would be PG-13. To get to the point he said, “I have been given the blessing to make the movie – just make the movie. If it’s rated R, it’s rated R.” The audience cheered the idea and personally McG has done a lot recently to impress me including addressing the issue of his name, saying how he also knows it can sound silly, but he revealed the history of his name. He didn’t need to do it, but when he did it pretty much gave the fanboys nothing more to argue about leaving the perception of the film up to the film itself.

Following his small introduction McG then revealed an expanded look at footage, which David has described for us below:

McG and friends are still out filming Terminator: Salvation in the desert, but for a reel of footage without any computer-effects, it was impressive. Lots of shit blows up real good. These guys must be scorching the desert out there. Also there seems to be a Gatling gun fetish in this flick. And that’s not a bad thing. All the stuff in the teaser was here, but there was definitely plenty of new stuff.
The footage opens with a crashed helicopter. Over the radio someone asks Christian Bale how many survivors, and he screams, “One!” Of course it’s an intense scream since Bale is an intense guy. There are desert vistas with dead terminators spread across the landscape. And then back to the explosions and gunfire involving Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin (the young Reese). There were no real close ups of terminators, other than destroyed ones. We get some in the background with glowing red eyes, a few few shadowy medium shots (and you can definitely tell these are older terminator models) and a terminator foot stomping human skulls.

As for the post-apocalyptic tone, it doesn’t appear to be breaking any new ground (although that‘s rather difficult for a setting that’s been seen hundreds of times), and it owes some of its design to The Road Warrior. The only shot that felt cheesy was a dirt bike flying through the night sky. Too Evel Knievel for me. I mean you almost expect the ride to have a cape billowing behind him.

It seems there may be a serious twist to the mythology based on a series of dialogue beginning with John Connor saying, “This is not the future my mother told me about… something has changed.” Kate Connor (Bryce Dallas Howard) replies, “If you saved us once in another future you can save us in this one.”

Two great moments of dialogue–intense dialogue since it’s delivered by Bale–involve Bale in Worthington’s face (who seems to be in restraints) screaming “You tried to kill my mother. You kill my father. You will not kill me!” The other, which closed the trailer, shows exoskeleton hands clawing at Bales faces while he yells, “You son of a bitch!” before screaming in agony.

Overall, the film feels gritty and I’ve got some faith in this movie now.

Following the footage McG said he was going for something a little different from what you have seen before in terms of visuals. They will be “treating it with a little silver to give it a slight black and white feel, something I hope you saw in the footage we just showed.” The look of the footage was definitely different from what we have seen. It has a more raw, dusty and real feel. The film is still in production in New Mexico but McG described the film saying, “It is indeed a war picture, but there is also an issue of this taking place in 2018. SkyNet is not there yet and the machines haven’t come to a point of proficiency. We see the space between the contemporary films and 2029.” An idea that certainly opens up a realm of whole new possibilities including new machines. For example, if you have seen the teaser trailer (featured at the bottom of this article), the big claw that grabs the guy through the building belongs to a machine called a “Harvester” which should give you a good idea of the sheer size of the machine.
Of course, there is still the question of the T800, the Terminator model made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger so many years ago. When asked by a conventioner whether we will ever see Arnold in the Terminator franchise again McG said to give that information away would ruin the experience of seeing the movie… a definite allusion to his intentions of getting Arnie into the picture or seemingly one of the three proposed films in the new franchise.

In terms of design, of course, a lot of it started with the original designs of the late Stan Winston, but McG also referenced how he wanted to bring to life a new and original world much like H.R. Geiger and Ridley Scott did with Alien. McG also referenced the cast make-up and the diversity included saying, “We didn’t want a bunch of lily-white people running around calling the shots,” of course in reference to Moon Bloodgood who plays Blair Williams and Common who plays John Connor’s (Christian Bale) right hand man Barnes. The idea is that in the future people of all ethnicities come together to fight the war against the machines.

After questions ended they played the preview footage again to a rather loud and raucous crowd, a crowd that really seemed to feel the energy McG brought to the panel. He really did a great job selling the product before saying the full trailer for Terminator Salvation will be attached to Quantum of Solace on November 7.