Terminator Salvation rewrites, Blu-ray, behind the scenes
McG and the Terminator Salvation crew has been hitting the press circuit, and while we've already heard that the original ending of the film was much darker than we originally thought, and might have actually destroyed the entire franchise as we knew it.
Now though we're hearing more from the team. They've been talking about rewriting the entire script for Christian Bale as John Connor, about the huge DVD/Blu-ray release planned, and about some key factors in the film as well as the style of shooting.
Now I wouldn't take that in a way that makes Bale seem egotistical, I think that he'd been asked to play the part on a script that wasn't written with such big stars in mind, and when the film-makers had the commodity of "Christian Bale" on board, they had to rethink the role and that's where the rewrite came about.
McG was talking about how he headed over to England to try and persuade Bale to take the part of Marcus Wright, the new Terminator, now played by Sam Worthington. However when Bale read the script he said he wanted to play John Connor, and you have to credit the man for that decision because I think it was a cracking decision.
However from there the script needed rewriting now that the major star was in the other role. Think about the previous films where the star has really been the Terminator, now it's John Connor, so you can see why they might need a rewrite.
The story tells us that McG said that Bale and he worked day and night to get the script ready and build Connor's role.
John Brancato, one of the screenwriters on the film, said the following:
"A lot of the work was integrating (Connor) into scenes ... and having that feel integral and sensible, as opposed to grafted on just because there was a star in the part..."
That makes a lot of sense. You don't start hacking things around just to squeeze in the big star into a different role, you have to work hard on it and make it work right, and that's what they're saying they did.
Next up Collider got some information from McG about the DVD/Blu-ray release. Now in the upcoming interview he says that he isn't a believer in the extra scenes, he puts what he wants in the film and there should be no need for a Director's Cut, etc. However here he's saying something different, thirty to forty minutes of extra scenes! A full half hour? That's an insane amount.
In the interview he also talks about those deleted scenes, the topless scene with Moon Bloodgood, multiple scenes of John Connor giving speeches that are reminiscent of Sarah Connor, and that big alternate ending as they're now calling it.
He also reveals that there are going to be sections where he walks on in front of the screen and interacts with the film and talks directly to the audience. Brilliant stuff.
You know I have to say that I'm becoming more and more impressed with the way that McG handles the media and his genuine enthusiasm and humble attitude in amongst all of this. The way he talks about Christian Bale, and the way he sums up that interview by saying he really looks forward to discussing with the fans what scenes should have been in and out from the DVD/Blu-ray.
Finally there's an interview with McG over at IESB where he talks about some big moments from the film, including some big tracking shots and Christian Bale's acting style.
First up he gives us that comment that seems slightly at odds with what he said to Collider about the DVD/Blu-ray extras:
"I have a very particular position about that. I always maintain that what is released is, indeed, the director's cut, and shame on any director who doesn't have the wherewithal to stand up for what they want.
It's my job to articulate why it's critical that something is in the film. For example, there was a topless scene with Moon that was designed to echo the Kelly McGillis/Harrison Ford scene in Witness. It was very innocent. They were 30 meters away from each other. But, at the end of the day, we all looked at it and felt, 'Oh, that feels gratuitous, and feels like we're placating the genre, and it may give people a platform to stand on, to take the film less seriously, and we don't want that.' But, nobody pressured me to make that decision. I made that decision."
Now that does seem at odds with his view in Collider, personally I hope that he does give us all those extra scenes on the Blu-ray package, it just means that we're probably not going to see a Director's Cut, or a version with all those scenes put into the main film.
He also talks about Christian Bale and his style of acting, something you might think he wouldn't be too happy about, but he is.
"He always likes a challenge. He was probably like, "Who calls himself McG? What are we out to do and why is this worthwhile?" I went over to England and I saw him. I wanted him to play Marcus, but he was more interested in playing Connor, and we went about the business of working on the script. Christian Bale is so passionate about acting and about his craft. He has no entourage. He's got no assistant. He is about the work. That's who he is. And ,to work with an actor who's that focused and that intense, is to all of our benefit."
There's also a paragraph where he talks about his reliance more on practical effects rather than special effects and CGI, but it's the paragraph where he talks about the becoming of John Connor that is perhaps one of the most interesting.
"Here's a guy who's been in the mountain, there's been radiation all around, and he finally comes out and says, "Hey, everybody, I've got an idea how to win this thing." Well, what does the guy who spent 20 years in the Marines, who has also survived, say to this kid who is saying, "I know what to do"? He says, "Shut the fuck up! You do what I tell you to do. I've been surviving my whole life and I'm still here."So, we see the becoming of the Connor character, and that's what the movie's about.
In regard to Marcus, I think it's an allegory for what we're experiencing today where, if you have a bad heart, they'll give you a new one. If you're depressed, nobody says, "Tell me about your mom and dad." They just say, 'I'm going to manipulate your serotonin re-uptake inhibitors and you're just going to feel better.' We can clone a sheep and deconstruct the human genetic code and, therefore, what is it that makes us human? Where does humanity lie? The Marcus character is, indeed, a study of humanity. He thinks, "You may be able to put a few metal rods running through my body, but at the end of the day, I am a human being and I'm willing to go all the way to prove that."
So, it's not about those explosions. But, I'm not apologizing for summer fare. I like that level of activity and. at the end of the day, it's a Terminator movie. If we're successful, it will work on both levels."
So that's fleshing out the story a little more, giving us something extra on how the character of Connor comes forward and how he starts the film, not being the leader. It's giving us a little of how the plot might play out and the order of the clips in the trailers.
One of the more interesting comments I found was about the style of filming, and how they pulled together longer sequences without cutting, or hiding cuts in movements of the camera, and it all comes down to Hitchcock.
"I'm very influenced by the Hitchcock picture Rope. In that time, they would run out of film in the mag and they'd move into somebody's back full frame, and that's where they would hide their cut.
One of the things that we wanted to do, in this picture, was honor the audience and the passionate by staging and blocking the picture in a way that wasn't reliant upon cuts. I think cutting is a bit of a cheat, when say there's a bunch of cameras on the scene and you cut it together and make it work in post. We chose to go and scout the locations.
Christian was a good sport, and we blocked the action very succinctly. The camera swings around to see a transport ship of Skynet flying away, Christian runs over to a helicopter and the pilot's been killed, and he gets in the helicopter to take off, all without a cut. The camera is now moving with him. The hole down below explodes, the helicopter crashes, he cuts himself out of the seatbelt, and crawls out to see a mushroom cloud, which is effectively the ashes of all the people he cares about, until he's interrupted with the hand on the shoulder of a T600. There were no cuts. And, we do that a great many times in the picture, in the spirit of saying, 'We honor you, audience.'
We're trying to show a lot of leg work and a lot of planning went into this film, and it's not just schlocky and cut together in the spirit of faking the action.
That's just one example. The escape through the minefield, with the Marcus (Sam Worthington) and Blair (Moon Bloodgood) characters, was the same thing. Those very, very long shots, in the body of action sequences, one traditionally equates with a great many cuts, and we chose to do in a single shot. We hid a great many cuts, but we made it feel seamless, in its movement."
Reading through all these excerpts, particularly that last one, I am rather impressed by what McG is talking about delivering with this film. He's really pushing it above the action genre standard and suggesting that it's more the first and second films rather than the third, or a fourth, action only Terminator.
I love that they've rewritten the script especially to move Bale into the lead of Connor, or rather to focus the film on Connor rather than Wright, I think that shows that they've really wanted to build a damn good script rather than leap into an action Terminator.
The amount of work they've put into the seamless cuts and the realism of the filming sounds positive too, and that's something we're starting to see come out in the trailers and early footage.
You know I think McG could actually have done this right, and we might be looking at something as strong as the originals. What do you think having read that?