Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Terminator: Salvation and the fanboy tailspin...

It's March 3rd 2009 and the brand new trailer for T4 - featuring the Nine Inch Nails track "The Day The Whole World Went Away" - and it has positively sent me into a fanboy tailspin of confusion.

Why the confusion? T4 represents a whole host of plus points and minus points, and has done ever since its inception - which involved the words "reboot" as well as "Batman" and "Begins" to justify itself after the franchise-raping, creatively-void crapfest that was Terminator 3. Those who excuse T3 say 'at least it had balls to show Judgement Day' - bullshit did it. There was a wide shot of the earth (or was it North America?) being pock-marked by nuclear explosions - that was it. I wouldn't exactly call that coverage of a key event in the Terminator mythology - a dull way to end a stupid movie ... at least Arnie got something out of it.

Anyway, from the off the news wasn't good - the preposterously named McG (short for his middle name apparently) doesn't have a good track record, which includes the vapid Charlie's Angels movies, and the aborted mess that was the 'McSpaced' Americanisation of hit UK sitcom Spaced.

In an early interview regarding T4, some of those involved ranted and raved not about the film - but about how "awesome" their "advertising strategy" was going to be ... says it all really, doesn't it?

Then came news of PG-13 being the target rating ... ... have they not seen the fetid shitpile that was Aliens VS Predator? Have they not seen the franchise-fan-bothering limp-wanged, and daftly titled Live Free Or Die Hard? Don't take popular and successful R-Rated franchises and sanitse them for the PG-13 market - it's a slap in the face to the millions of fans (regardless of age), it's an insult to the franchise, and it's just stupid to have people blowing the shit out of each other without being able to utter a single, clear, proudly exclaimed "FUCK!" ... let alone McClane's famous fan-favourite catchphrase of "Yippie Kay-Ay Motherfucker" - which was neutered with a conveniently placed gunshot.

These days, the PG-13 rating isn't so certain - now they claim they're not fussed about a rating - well then why all the talk and effort to go PG-13 initially? Does this mean we'll now get some half-assed R-Rated movie, or some lame PG-13 soft-festival followed-up by a poorly grown up "unrated" DVD? To neuter a hugely popular and successful franchise is just idiotic, not least in America where children can be taken to R-Rated films as long as they're accompanied by adults - and here I was thinking it was only sex that middle-America was terrified of? An act, I'll point out, that middle-Americans have been indulging in personally for centuries now. Obviously they're terrified of swearing now, too.

Oh do grow up - particularly as violence seems to be of little concern to middle-America. By all means, blow somebody's head off, but for the love of Wall*Mart - DON'T SWEAR OR GET YOUR NIPPLES OUT WHILE YOU DO SO!

Anyway - back on track - we began seeing and hearing glimpses of more details regarding T4, which had - to an extent - been curiously bolstered by the involvement of Christian Bale (riding high on Batman Begins and soon-to-be Dark Knight awesomeness). Some of these details however, were - and still are -not good.

Certain re-designs of the flying HK's automatically get the fanboy nose twitching, but that's nothing compared to the god-awful "moto-terminators" - basically, killer motorbikes that speed along the highways chasing down people ... riiight. They're ridiculously over-designed as well - a design that is birthed from the mind of a human working on a movie, not the processor of a super-computer intent on extinguishing mankind's flame, to a painfully obvious extent.

Next up - Terminator "eels" that snake around in the water to grab anyone who fancies a swim in a post-nuclear-war world ... again, a daft idea that strays too far from the feel of Cameron's franchise-and-mythology-founding vision...it feels like it was only created for a set piece, rather than for any practical Skynet use.

And the worst (and biggest) of these new designs for last - whatever it's called I don't know, but I'll refer to it as the "Transforminator" - yeah, that T-Giant that lumbers around hoovering up rogue humans for experiments - surely there's a more efficient and subtle way of gathering said fleshwads? It's too much, it really is - it's just stupid, stupid, stupid ... Terminatrix stupid (I'm hella-glad that Cameron ditched that idea long before he got to penning T2)!

Other things to complain about - the apparent inclusion of Zack Snyder style slow-mo ... introduced by the guy that pissed all over Dawn of the Dead, and gave homophobes the gayest film ever made in the form of the slow-mo-obsessed 300. Also - gimmicks - we get Anton Yelchin as a young Kyle Reese ... why do we need this? Do we really need it? Michael Biehn IS Kyle Reese - the dude gave boys and men alike a character who they all wanted to be (same goes for Hicks in Aliens) - when I was a kid, we'd all fight over who got to roleplay as Reese, or indeed Hicks.

In terms of mythology - the big "what the fuck?" issue is the inclusion of the T-800 in T4, let me explain:

T4 is set in 2018 - 11 years prior to the future warzone we saw in T1 and T2 so vividly. In T1, Kyle Reese time-travelled from 2029 to protect Sarah Connor and told her about how the T-800's were "the newest ... the worst". Clearly, the timelines don't match up - and you can't really argue "they delayed J-Day, so it's different" because they DELAYED J-Day, so surely the T-800's should show up after 2029 using that logic?

Anyway, it makes no sense to include the T-800 in 2018 considering the established canon ... fanboys, ASSEMBLE!

Throw in some worries about over-use of CGI (a la I Am Legend), potentially dodgy-plot, and too-agile Terminators considering their motion in T1 and T2 (admittedly down to the technology of their time), which may very well produce a similar effect that the 'new' Star Wars trilogy did when compared to the 'old' trilogy - stuff that takes place earlier in time looks far more advanced than stuff 'in the future', to a silly degree.

No doubt there are other issues I can think of (such as an apparent lack of laser-firing Terminator weapons, and seemingly a total lack of new/modified weapons in the hands of mankind), but for now, that's enough of the bitching.

...

Now, the T-800 brings me to the good parts of having a T4 (even though it's not from the vision of James Cameron) ... first off, we finally get to see the T-600, replete with easy-to-spot rubber skin. I always thought that was an interesting visual, and always wanted to see it - now we get to see it - and first impressions are good.

Next up, I've always wanted a future-war-set Terminator movie (although preferably by James Cameron - but since the ghastly way the property was bought up pre-T3, that's never going to happen). Here, I finally get that future-war-set T-movie.

Also - Christian Bale is involved - The Dark Knight owned 2008. Batman Begins was awesome. The Machinist was pretty darn good too, and American Psycho was absolutely fantastic. Nuff said, really.

The idea of Wright (Sam Worthington) being a Terminator that is NOT self-aware is a nice touch - one brilliantly elaborated upon in the March 2009 trailer.

Yes, the March 2009 trailer - you were wondering when I was gonna get onto that, weren't you?

Yes - this new trailer's most spine-tingling moment is seeing Wright arriving in a makeshift hospital of sorts, the doctor looking stunned and glancing directly into his eyes (the camera - at us), and then seeing the big man John Connor facing off with a tied-up Wright ... then the chilling moment of quiet, "the day the whole world went away" murmuring on the soundtrack, and Wright looks down at his/it's own torn open endo-skeleton-revealing chest - as convincing, and as chilling a scream as I've ever heard - BANG - Nine Inch Nails kicks into high gear, and mostly coolness happens for the next minute.

In this day and age of CGI too (the good kind, not the I Am Legend's "infected" kind), the scale of the future-war-world is going to be massive. We're going to see sights and hear sounds we were only told about so hauntingly by Biehn's Kyle Reese in T1. Sights and sounds that were the stuff of the unseen nightmares of Sarah Connor.

We're going to get to see endo-skeletons doing their thing thanks to this same CGI - but hopefully, as I've said before, it is kept within the realm of T1 & T2 plausibility - and importantly - they appear to be real, unlike those rubbish CGI-minators we glimpsed at the start of the abortion known as T3.

...

After that new trailer, quite possibly the best trailer I'll see all year, and certainly one of the best trailers I've ever seen, what is a fanboy (or girl) to think? Good trailers have produced turd-festivals, and bad trailers have produced gold ... but good movies have also lived up to the kick ass trailers ... but then there's the opinion-splitting lists of plus and minus points about T4, many of which are listed above.

Will the grievances be set aside, will those three new (and rubbish) T-bot additions be possible to ignore/work even, what on earth will happen about the rating and the balls on the movie, will it be a neutered puppy sat dozing in the corner?

You see - fanboy tailspin - finally, the title has been properly explained.

Clearly, the only thing to do now - is WATCH the damn thing - May 21st for those in Americaland, June 3rd for those of us here in Blighty.

My prediction? I'll probably come out saying "decent" (the niceness of which is to be confirmed), and I can certainly say right now that T4 will kick the piss, shit, snot and every other kind of icky fluid out of T3. Even the worst T4 trailer confirmed that, but this latest (and downright fucking awesome) TRAILER has super-confirmed that assertion.

So, T4 has been elevated from "franchise rape" (which T3 was, and still is) to "will probably be decent". Time will tell ... and obviously, there'll be a glutinous amount of words splurged across this 'ere blog all about it.

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