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WonderCon: Quint on TERMINATOR panel, new footage and trailer! Info on Arnie and Robert Patrick! Plus the WATCHMEN panel!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another WonderCon report, this time covering TERMINATOR: SALVATION. I’m also going to go ahead and throw in the Watchmen panel info here, too, since there wasn’t much discussed, with over a quarter of the panel time being taken up by the first 20 minutes of the film that has been reported about all over the place for months. Let’s go Watchmen first… I have an interview with Zack Snyder that will be running in a couple of days that covers a lot of ground, so keep an eye out for that one. Here are some pics from the panel and a few tidbits of interesting trivia brought up.

On the panel were Zack Snyder, Dave Gibbons, Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Patrick Wilson. - Snyder was saying that on his European Press tour people kept asking about a sequel… he said he got that question at least 40 times… this was all brought up because someone from the audience asked about a sequel. Snyder laughed and said, “No. Not with me, anyway.”

- Snyder called the movie Depression-era cinema… It’s like a regular movie with 40 more minutes at no extra cost! - First scene they shot was a Dr. Manhattan scene, the late ‘60s Christmas moment between Manhattan and Janey, where their relationship starts to crumble. - Patrick Wilson was the first person cast, Billy Crudup the last. - Jackie Earle Haley got the movie because he recorded an audition tape of him in his living room doing one of the psychiatric scenes from the prison. He also shot the scene where he’s unmasked and screams out “Give me back my face!” The homemade Rorschach mask looked ridiculous, apparently, and he shot that scene in his kitchen, but even through all that Snyder said he instantly knew he found Rorschach. Jackie was an early choice and he informed much of the rest of the casting, which was one of the reasons why it wasn’t an “Ocean’s 11” style star-studded film. That’s about all I gleaned from the panel that hasn’t been covered a few dozen times.

Now onto Terminator! McG came out swinging, as always. He retold many of the same stories (going to Cameron for his blessing, getting denied, but saying he was headed in an interesting direction… Cameron said something like he has the privilege of the fan to wait and see it before saying if he likes it or not), all geared towards convincing us that the movie’s going to rock.

I think he needs to cut back on the hard sell a bit. There is enough footage getting out that he can move past that and let the footage speak for itself… and it will. The new trailer, which, like Trek, is premiering on Watchmen, is great and the footage they showed (two long scenes) is exciting. Let me start off by describing some of the new trailer and then move onto the footage and the panel tidbits. The trailer, which McG promised will “kick your balls up into your ass,” starts out a bit like the badass teaser trailer for TERMINATOR 2, with an assembly line of endoskeletons. I could be wrong, but they looked like T-800s… might be the T-700s we’re hearing so much about. Anyway, there’s a voice-over by Christian Bale as John Conner saying the humans are outnumbered as we see glimpses of the deserted wastelands and then what looks to be a giant warehouse sized pen with humans like cattle crammed into it. Then we see Bale speaking into a CB, continuing his speech and saying, “If you’re listening to this, you’re part of the resistance.” Then he continues on to say how humans are being captured by the machines now, studied… all in an attempt to replicate human tissue. We see the same stuff we’ve seen before, the giant robot hand picking people up Then we see some new footage of Sam Worthington badly injured, brought in to the HQ. He’s on an operating table and we see his point of view as Bryce Dallas Howard starts working on him. Her eyes widen as she cuts through his shirt, stunned by what she sees. Then Common hits us in the face with his rifle and when it fades up again it’s Christian Bale brooding at us. The next shot has Sam Worthington chained up, out of focus in the background, his chest exposed, but blurry… obviously hints of metal can be seen. Bryce is talking to Bale saying “This is something we’ve never seen before.” Worthington says his name is Marcus Wright and Bale responds, “You think you’re human?” Worthington says, “I am human.” Bale looks at him for a beat and then moves, in releasing the chain binding his head, allowing Worthington to look down at his chest. He lets it sink in then screams. Then we see a scene at a lake, which I’ll describe later as they showed that whole sequence. But Marcus is in the lake and Conner is screaming at him from the bank. “What are you?!?” “I don’t know.” The trailer is winding up for the big finale at this point, seeing scenes of Mad Max-like chase between the heroes and the motorcycle terminators that look a lot like the deathcycle Freddy Kruger turns into in one of the later NIGHTMARE films, but what I hadn’t seen before was the conclusion to this chase, taking place on a bridge as a Hunter-Killer flies overhead and blows the bridge. The tow-truck driven by Marcus with Kyle Reese onboard slams to a stop and swerves, swinging one of the terminator cycle things via the crane around and slamming into the H-K as it’s aiming its lasers at the vehicle. The coolest parts of the trailer were seeing what looked to be T-800 endoskeletons fighting. The effects looked shockingly great. I never in a million years would think that I’d like CGI terminators, but they looked fantastic… their fluid movement and types of actions the only thing giving away the effect. Like we see a throw-back to T1 with the upper torso of an endoskeleton crawling after someone, pulling itself along the ground. And in another shot we see a full head to toe shot of what looks to be a T-800 model jumping down a step in a cramped, heavily mechanized (but dirty and rundown) room. The final shot is Marcus standing in the darkness, half his face burnt away and the endoskeleton showing underneath. He looks to camera and says, “I’m the only hope you have” as the Terminator theme kicks in and we see a high aerial shot of a machine landscape… two explosions happen and we see it’s the poster art, with the explosions being the Terminator’s eyes and the landscape forming the rough shape of the skull. It looked pretty sharp and I’m warming to the idea of the “good” Terminator helping out the cause… although I’m still not convinced that a total humans vs. robots movie wasn’t the right way to go. But I am warming to the idea. Before the first bit of footage, McG called out for the biggest Terminator fan in the audience and got an immediate and resounding whoop from close to the front. McG called for the guy to come up and, amazingly, it was Tim, the Asian Arnold Schwarzenegger voice-impressionist from Comic-Con! If you don’t know who I’m talking about, click here and scroll down! Here he is:

Anyway, McG and the cast freaked out. “It’s you!” and Tim got up on stage and sat in on the panel offering up choice Schwarzenegger quotes from time to time. Gas Station Chase footage: The first thing I noticed was the score, which was very much Brad Fiedel’s Terminator music… very mechanical, a lot of clanging of metals, but ambient. It’s a quiet scene, as our heroes (Worthington, Anton Yelchin and a little girl they’re traveling with) stop at an abandoned gas station to fuel up. Even though it’s a quiet scene, the underlying score gave me a bit of a geek-boner. My instinct is that it’s temp score from the previous films and not Danny Elfman’s score from the film, but I hope I’m wrong. I’ll be very happy if Elfman delivers a score that relies so heavily on the type of music that came before it. The heroes load their weapons and investigate the store, looking for supplies. Kyle Reese senses someone is there and they’re surrounded by scavengers, human survivors aiming weapons at the group and yelling for them to not move. An old, white-haired lady steps up and says they will not leave until the little girl has been fed, showing some kindness in this world. This starts a fight amongst the group, but it’s clear this woman has some pull. A subtle vibration fills the room and a bottle shatters… suddenly, one of the scavengers is clutching his bloody throat, and the giant harvester arms shoot in, grabbing people up, starting with the white-haired old lady. The scavengers scatter, trying to drive away, but each vehicle that tries to escape gets blown to bits by the giant machine, which does indeed look a tad like Bay’s Transformers, but more real-world mechanical… Like when it stands tall, the machine lets out exhaust, like a big rig. The harvester stores the people in itself and after it thinks the escapees are all dealt with, it puts the humans into a Hunter-Killer that lowers out of the sky. Reese stops Marcus from driving away in an armored tow truck, seeing that everybody who tries gets blown off the road immediately. So, the hit up a tanker that still has gas left in it, and they devise a plan… Knocking the cap off and spilling gas in their wake, they charge the tanker through what’s left of the gas station at the feet of the giant harvester as it’s unloading the freshly plucked humans and dumping them into the H-K. I guess the tanker was attached somehow to the tow truck as they ram it into the machine and then drive away, Kyle Reese shooting at it, but it doesn’t explode. The harvester has recovered from the impact and is trying to free itself from the crumpled tanker and the little girl, sitting between Reese and Marcus, offers up a flare. Marcus throws it out the window at the gas trail and it ignites, setting off a huge explosion that takes the gas station with it… Not sure what happened to the people, but I assume they didn’t just say, “Fuck the humans being put into the H-K… kablooey!” Anyway, their victory is short as the Harvester walks through the fire, not damaged much, but giving them enough time to speed out of range. Two of the moto-terminators branch off of the harvester and give chase. Oh, and we see Terminator vision earlier on in this scene as the Harvester targets the escaping vehicles… red and graphicy, like in the original movies. Anyway, then we get the big chase scene, including one of the big shots of the new trailer, which is a car hit by the tow truck flipping over and into the path of the chasing moto-terminators. We see Terminator vision again as the moto-termintor scans the car about to hit crash into it and lays down almost flat, the front wheel swinging around back and the back wheel now front, narrowly avoiding the wreck. Kyle Reese shoots at the chasing robots with this shot gun as the little girl loads another weapon (I really liked this aspect… gotta love kids taking action in these kinds of movies) that Kyle eventually uses to blow one of the pursuing moto-terminators. The other is taken out by the hanging tow chain, which has a large ball on it… it’s released and Marcus swerves, causing the ball to get caught in the moto-terminator. Now it’s dragging behind them, unable to regain control… then they get to the bridge and the scene I was walking about at the end of the trailer, where the tow truck is confronted with an H-K and it slams to a stop, sending the moto-terminator on the chain at the H-K, damaging it. There was some language in the footage, but I don’t remember if there were any F-bombs, just some “shits” and a “goddamnit” or two. Scene #2, the water terminators: This scene takes place at night, a stark contrast to the chase scene, which was in harsh sunlight. John Connor is in a helicopter as they approach a small lake. On the shore is a small strip of trees that are on fire, illuminating the scene. Somebody leans out and drops a red flare into the water. Connor calls out, “Do you see them?” as the guy leans outside the chopper looking down, seeing the redness of the flare bright under the water. A long, squid-like machine jumps out of the water and clamps onto the guy leaning out, sending the chopper into a spin that ultimately has it crashing into the water. We get a Wilhelm Scream from the guy attacked by the hydrobot, by the way. Connor’s side of the chopper is above the water. He reaches in to the water for his co-pilot, who is taken by the water terminators, leaving only a bloody pool where he once was. Connor jumps out into the waist-deep water, trying to get to the shore. He has his automatic rifle up in an instant, swinging around and shooting at the surface of the water as a half-dozen of these machines come for him. The angle cuts back and forth from above the water (over Bale’s shoulder) and below the water (behind Bale’s legs) as we see these terminators taken out by his fire and sinking dead in the water, while more swim up. He nails all but one as he runs out of ammo. The hydrobot is almost on him when Marcus jumps out of nowhere and wrestles it into submission. This is Marcus from the end of the trailer, half his human face gone. Bale has a pistol out. He doesn’t trust him. “I know what you are, even if you don’t!” Marcus replies, “That gun isn’t going to stop shit!” Connor says, “No one’s shot you in the heart and I see that thing beating a mile a minute.” I couldn’t see it, so maybe that’ll be in post, that Marcus has a human heart somewhat exposed in his chest cavity. That makes sense. I’ve heard that his character is a kind of hybrid terminator/human thing. Before Connor pulls the trigger we find out from Marcus that Kyle Reese is captured and is in Skynet. If Connor kills this terminator he’ll never be able to rescue him. Marcus says he can get Connor in and we get the “I’m the only hope you have” line from the new trailer. He says he needs to find who did this to him and Connor lowers the pistol as Marcus backs into the water. “What are you?” “I don’t know.” So now lets get onto the panel. - It was McG, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common and Moon Bloodgood. - McG said he wants to know something about Moon and she replies immediately with “34C” - Turns out she’s not far off. McG wanted the audience to cheer on whether or not we want to see her tits in the movie, which I can only imagine was incredibly uncomfortable for the girl. Apparently, he was trying to show the WB people that the crowds and fans want boobs (ie R-rated) in their Terminator movie. - McG is dedicating the movie to Stan Winston - To much laughter, Anton Yelchin talked about worshipping Terminator growing up and that that he hopes this new film “honors the legacy of the two films.” I’m with him. Terminator 3 doesn’t count.

- McG dropped that Skynet is gathering all these people in order to rip their stem cells out of them, using that as their main study for replicating human tissue. I didn’t attend the roundtable, but I hear McG dropped a lot of info there, regarding the Governator (he was very unspecific on the panel) and his involvement as well as a possible involvement of Robert Patrick in the next film in McG’s Terminator series. I’ll let Randy of fill you guys in on what was discussed in the roundtable:

Hi Herc and Harry (Harry, ABking says hi), I was also at the WonderCon T4 roundtables. I might have another very cool exclusive for you. spoke with McG at Wondercon and McG told us he loves the CG Arnold and it's good to go in the film. He also told us that Robert patrick will be in T5 as a 60 year old scientist! McG at last gave confirmation that Arnold will be in T4 and that he is blown away by the ILM Arnold footage by academy award winner Charlie Gibson. TheArnoldFans: Let's talk Arnold. What's the latest with the ILM footage. How does the young CG Arnold look? McG: Ah, it looks reeeeeaal good. (McG confesses and sounds totally impressed and proud at last). Arnold just saw the movie two nights ago. That's right Arnold fans, you heard it; because Arnold liked very much what he saw with Terminator Salvation and his CG likeness, he scheduled a call-back for the director. Arnold wants to do business! McG: I'm going to see him AGAIN shortly and we're going to discuss what he wants to do and to what degree. TheArnoldFans: And he'll possibly record more dialogue? McG: yeah! Our next big exclusive comes from asking about the return of the T-1000 played by Robert Patrick! We will have the return of the T-1000 but McG told me we'll have to wait until Terminator 5 for him to come back as a clone! TheArnoldFans: Will we possibly have a return of Robert Patrick in a CG form? McG: Funny, I talk to Robert Patrick with great regularity. It's interesting and i'll bounce it off of you guys (McG begins to lower his voice and leans in closer to me so the other press tables don't hear). I mean, I like the idea and the perspective for the next picture that you meet Robert Patrick the way he looks today...and he's a scientist that's working on, you know, improving cell replication so we can stay healthier and we can cure diabetes and do all these things that sound like good ideas...and to once again live as idealized expressions as ourselves. So imagine seeing a 60-year-old Robert Patrick and KNOWING 'holy shit' that's GOING TO BE the T-1000 who comes back perfect, lean and the whole thing (McG makes the T-1000 "naughty naughty" finger swaying movement). I haven't concluded that but Robert and I had dinner the other night.

Wow, McG wasn’t holding back at those roundtables, was he? Overall, I have to say the footage looks really damn good. It’s the first thing I’ve seen that sells me on Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese. I’m still a bit worried about all the throwbacks… McG talked about referencing the shotgun rope sling, the trenchcoat and the Nikes, which… I guess is okay, but I kinda like that Reese has to improvise when he drops into “the present day” and just uses what’s around, not something he’s already wearing somehow in the future. But visually the footage looked like a million bucks and the performances all seemed to be there. I think the trailer will push a lot of people over the edge. It’s a really well done trailer that sells the right things.

That’s it for that panel. I’m not sure what else I can cover as I was out doing interviews during most of the 9 panel (which I can’t cover for conflict of interest reasons anyway... if anybody else out there saw the panel and wants to report on the footage shown, drop an email!), UP panel and Pandorum Panel. I did get an interview with Ben Foster for PANDORUM, though, so keep an eye out for more info on that in the coming days! -Quint

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