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New Terminator 4 Footage Shows John Connor Out Of His Depth

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Terminator Salvation will be "a dirty, difficult, grimy, [H.R.] Giger world," says director McG, who showed some new footage in London yesterday. The assembled journalists, who'd just seen 20 minutes of Star Trek with J.J. Abrams a few days earlier, came out of the screening optimistic about T4's chances of competing with Trek next May. With Dark Knight star Christian Bale and scribe Jonah Nolan on board, McG was very keen to compare his movie to this year's biggest - and darkest - film, but will the movie live up to the comparison? Spoilers ahead. The contrast between the T4 and Trek footage was pretty apparent to the assembled journos. Terminator 4 is going to be a gritty world of killer robots and embattled resistance fighters hiding like rats underground. Trek, meanwhile, is shiny and optimistic.

Another contrast: J.J. was a bit brash, making a point of mentioning at every screening that he's never been a fan of Star Trek. McG, meanwhile, went out of his way to be humble, admitting he has a silly name and that Christian Bale told him to fuck off when he first asked him to be in Terminator 4. (Bale changed his mind when McG convinced him it could be a serious drama as well as an action movie.) Also, McG addressed the ongoing James Cameron controversy, saying Cameron didn't give the film his blessing, but "didn't shit all over it either." In fact, McG admitted he didn't think the world needed another Terminator movie, until Nolan came up with the idea of making it a Batman Begins-style origin story of John Connor, who becomes the hero he's supposed to be. McG also compared his new movie to the Daniel Craig James Bond films, which reinvented the character. So, about the new footage. First, McG showed the featurette about the special-effects work of Martin Laing that we posted a while back. Then, he brought up special effects supervisor John Rosengrant to talk about how the film's effects are a mixture of CG and real special effects. The primitive T-600 model will have a "gritty, nasty Soviet look," says Rosengrant. Also, McG wouldn't say whether Arnold Schwarzenegger would find a way to show up in the movie, but did say the T-800 model will have a big role.


Then he finally showed about five to seven minutes of new, unfinished footage, which had a Transformers-meets-Matrix vibe. Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) opens his eyes and asks what date it is. Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) replies that it's 2018. Wright asks, "What happened? Judgment day?" And then Wright and Reese are being pursued by a giant Harvester Terminator, which smashes up a gas station in the desert. Then the Harvester chases them across the desert in a sequence full of explosions and "fairly standard Hollywood action."


Meanwhile, there's drama for John Connor, because he tries to step up as leader of the resistance, but there are more experienced military leaders (including one played by Michael Ironside) who don't want to let this young non-soldier take over. Connor discovers that the machines are collecting DNA and stem cells from humans to help create the human-looking T-800, and he warns that if the T-800 comes online this soon, then humanity has already lost the war. Also, there's the scene shown at Comic-Con, where Connor confronts up a chained-up Wright and says Wright killed his mother and his father, but won't kill him. Crucial dialogue: Connor says, "This isn't the future that my mother told me about." And resistance pilot Blair Williams (Journeyman's Moon Bloodgood) replies, "If you saved us in another future, you can save us in this one."


Besides the John Connor stepping-up storyline, the film is also about where humanity ends and the machines begin, says McG — probably a reference to Marcus Wright, who's apparently a decommissioned Terminator. McG said the rumored ending of the film, in which John Connor turns out to be a robot or is replaced by a robot, is completely false. Also, Christian Bale says the famous catch phrase, "I'll be back." But the context is 180 degrees reversed from the way it's said in the original. Bale is already signed up for two sequels, and McG and friends already have the next two movies "arced out." Terminator set pics from VideoETA. [Channel 4 and Guardian and IGN]