A select group of press was invited to the set of Terminator Salvation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last June to tour the sets, interview the cast, and watch some live filming. We've been sworn to secrecy up until this point, but today we can offer a brief preview report from the set.
An exuberant McG was our guide for much of the day, showing us the elaborate sets and inviting us to view a reel of early footage from the film. The director is well aware of the skepticism from fans regarding his ability to handle the project and sees it as a personal challenge to prove them wrong. "We all know how much more fun it is to spit venom online than to celebrate anything," McG said. "You just sort of take that and you keep on moving."
The first piece of proof came in a short reel of footage the director showed to press. The clips were almost all action based, with the exception of a brief hint at a romantic sequence in which Moon Bloodgood goes topless. Otherwise, a gruff-voiced Christian Bale (not as gruff as Batman, thankfully) leads the beginning of the human resistance as the machines seek out the remaining survivors in order to complete the last steps of their destruction of humanity.
"This is post Judgment Day," said McG. "The whole movie is just designed to be a thinly veiled cautionary tale. The idea of machines becoming aware gets more and more real every day as we deconstruct the human genetic code and make 70-year-old women pregnant and clone sheep. This movie is meant to be an expression of those concerns coming to fruition."
All in all, the footage reel we viewed was very exciting. The action was top-notch and the visuals were impressive, although this is to be expected from the director of the Charlie's Angels films. The real question is how strong the more dramatic moments and heavy themes, which McG likened to Holocaust concentration camps, will come across. With the notoriously choosy Christian Bale as John Connor, fans should be encouraged. After all, Bale is one of the finest actors of his generation and is rarely in a bad movie.
Unfortunately, Bale was the sole cast member we didn't get the chance to speak to during the course of our visit, but we did get to chat with the man who sort of plays Connor's father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), as well as Connor's pregnant wife, Kate, portrayed in this film by Bryce Dallas Howard. Moon Bloodgood and Sam Worthington, who play Blair Williams and Marcus Wright respectively, also spoke with press.
For those who follow the Sarah Connor Chronicles on television and are curious about the connection between the fourth movie and the show, the answer is very little. McG elaborates: "That picture is following its own mythology and a lot of it is shared, but I think that people can make the distinction between what this [is] and what that [is]."
The visit ended with the filming of a crucial action sequence, in which one of Skynet's primitive cyborg models, a T-600, searches for Marcus Wright outside of Skynet and a truck smashes through a concrete wall. Such a scene takes very careful prep, as you might imagine, and press were invited to observe as McG meticulously set up the scene and shot multiple takes of the moments right before the truck crashes through in order to assure it required only one take. The filming lasted well past midnight, but when we finally witnessed the big moment, it was worth the wait.
Unfortunately, that's about all we are allowed to say about our day on the set of Terminator Salvation at this point. We'll bring you more details from the set in the months to come, including interviews with the aforementioned cast members, McG, and production designer Martin Lang, who offered an extremely detailed look at the film's complicated storyline and the impressive visuals that will bring this post-Judgment Day world to life on screen. Stay tuned.
Terminator Salvation will hit theaters nationwide on May 22, 2009.