McG stopped by the New York Comic Con panel to discuss some Terminator Salvation footage and field questions from fans. While he discussed some topics already covered at the San Diego Comic Con last year, there was also quite a bit of new info, in addition to a bit of hilarity due to Bale’s recent antics.

Before we saw the footage, McG spent a lot of time on the defensive trying to justify this movie’s existence. He mentioned chatting with James Cameron about this project, but stops short of saying that Cameron gave the film any sort of particular blessing. From the way he described, it seems more like Cameron basically wished him well as professional courtesy. Given that this project is so far along, I’m surprised McG still feels the need to defend it so much.

He also mentioned Danny Elfman’s work on the score—something which I’m actually a bit worried about. While Elfman is still a better than average composer, none of his scores in the past decade have been all that great in my opinion (and anyone who brings up Spiderman will be flogged). McG confirmed that they have the series’ previous composer, Brad Fiedel, approval on using some of themes, but that’s to be expected at this point.

I was more interested in the news that Thom Yorke and Gustavo Santaollala would be contributing some tunes to the film, mainly because I’m sure that sound would be far more interesting than Elfman’s increasingly generic tendencies. And for the record, I agree with Peter’s comments on that news—Johnny Greenwood would have been an even better choice for the film’s sound.

We were then shown several minutes of footage from the film, with a mixture of complete and various degrees of incomplete shots. Some of the footage was repeated from the trailers already released, but among the new stuff there was quite a bit to get excited about. Most interesting to me was the generous inclusion of Michael Ironside who plays General Ashdown, leader of the human resistance. As we all know when it comes to Ironside, the more the better—and it looks like his character is the sort of hardass he’s known to play so well. McG made it know that Ashdown isn’t the sort of character that’s going to hand over leadership of the resistance to a so-called prophet very easily, and that John Connor will spend much of the film trying to prove himself.

Throughout the rest of the footage we get a glimpse at some of the larger action scenes which definitely cover territory we haven’t yet seen in the Terminator series (but still don’t seem all that original when compared to other films), and some longer scenes of Bale as John Connor. We see a longer version of his face-to-face monologue with a Terminator, and several scenes with Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese.

It also seemed strange to me that McG would even dare show some of the very early CG work in this preview footage simply because we didn’t gain anything by seeing it, and the footage also works against his so-called focus on practical effects. The completed CG work appeared as seemless as any big-budget film these days, but we’ll need a longer and closer look at these special effects to determine how well they actually work.

After the footage was shown, McG opened the floor up for a Q&A session—which led to some hilarious situations given Bale’s recent antics. Some slightly spoilery highlights include:

  • The first question dealt directly with Bale’s blowup, which McG explained as an unfortunate event but one that was resolved on the same day of shooting.
  • In terms of continuity the film will be mostly informed by the Cameron films, but they will still follow T3′s timeline for Judgement Day and other events. He mentioned the film doesn’t reach 2033, the year John Connor supposedly dies.
  • They won’t be following any continuity from the television show simply because it’s too difficult to work in that show’s numerous plotlines.
  • The second time someone asked about Bale’s blowup he responded loudly with “What don’t you fucking understand?!” I’m pretty sure the person who asked that question crapped their pants.
  • He was vaguely non-commital about a Sarah Connor appearance in the film, but if I had to guess based on his response I wouldn’t be surprised if we see her in the film in something more than a photo.

Overall, I can confirm what many have said about McG after this panel: He’s a very engaging guy who knows what he needs to do to get us excited about this film, especially given his track record as a director. I can report that his enthusiasm and devotion to the film seems genuine, the only question is if his talents will measure up. Judging from the footage we saw the film already looks far more epic than T3, but it remains to be seen if it will reach the heights of Cameron’s films.

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