Collider Goes to the Set of TERMINATOR: SALVATION

     December 10, 2008

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Right before the July 4th holiday this summer, I got to go to New Mexico, along with a number of other online journalists, to visit the set of director McG’s “Terminator: Salvation” movie.

When I first heard McG had been given the job of returning the “Terminator” franchise to greatness…I’ll admit to having plenty of doubts. Not only did I think he shouldn’t have gotten the job, I also thought there were plenty of other directors that had a much better shot of making a kick ass movie.

This is where I say I was wrong.

After visiting the set and learning about the production, I came away thinking the franchise was in great hands and I couldn’t wait to share what I thought about the movie. But we were embargoed. Until now.

Since this is a preview piece and Warner Bros. has asked us not to reveal too much… I’ll tell you a few things and sometime next year you’ll get a full report.

The thing you need to know about set visits is…sometimes the filmmaker and the studio are really guarded with what they show you while on set…and sometimes they are like an open book, where any question gets answered and whatever you could want to learn gets explained.

This was one of those.

One of the best parts of the set visit was getting to visit a room which laid out almost the entire movie from beginning to end. We were given a tour where they explained what each storyboard meant and what new Terminators were in the movie. And when we had a question, they weren’t afraid to answer it. If we wanted to know about one of the new Terminators, they explained who they were and how they came to be. Not only were all our questions answered, but they laid out the entire movie – except for the ending.

And that’s why I can say with a lot of confidence that “Terminator: Salvation” is going to kick ass. I know the story, and while I can’t share the details, just trust me when I say it’s intelligent and thought out and it features tons of action that furthers the plot. Also, the movie explains a lot of what was just talked about in the previous films. Trust me, a question you may have had from the first “Terminator” movie is explained in this sequel.

Another great part of the set visit was being taken around and shown all the sets that had been built. This wasn’t some green screen production. They had tons and tons of practical sets and each one felt lived in and real. One of the highlights was walking around John Conner’s bunker. I examined the books on the bookcase and the batteries carefully arranged. After all, this was the future, and supplies like batteries need to be taken care of.

Of course visiting soundstages and blown up gas stations is cool, but it’s nothing like watching John Conner (Christian Bale) fight a Terminator up close. Yup, all of us on the set visit got to go into a Terminator factory and see a big action scene get shot. And not only was that as cool as you might imagine, we got to see a MAJOR event happen. Let’s just say John was not as pretty when he left the building.

Another of the great moments on the set visit was getting to watch almost 10 minutes in McG’s trailer. He first showed us the not yet seen teaser trailer, and then he showed us what are called “selects”. That’s the term for when they cut some cool scenes in a sort of montage and they either show it to studio people or friends visiting the set. Out of all the set visit’s I’ve been on, this was the first time a director showed me anything like this and I have to say, it was an awesome experience. Not only was McG super cool to talk with, he genuinely wanted to know what we liked and disliked. Again, that is not the norm.

And those selects are why I left the set completely at ease with McG in the director’s chair, as the footage he showed us was really great and none of it had special effects that were finished! And now that the trailer is online and you’ve seen some of it for yourself….I think a lot of you agree with my take.

“Terminator: Salvation” arrives in theaters May 22nd. You can expect a very detailed report a month or two before that date. And for those that haven’t yet seen the kick-ass trailer…watch this!

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