If you had to sum up this summer’s “Terminator Salvation” in one word, it would probably be “disappointment”. There were glimmers of a fantastic film shining through but they were continually blocked by The Christian Bale Show featuring The Angry, Grimacing John Connor and his Growling Voice Band. In a recent interview, Director McG gives his thoughts on what he thinks went wrong with the film and what he hopes to do with “Terminator 5”. Hit the jump to grit your teeth and stare pensively into the sunset.
Speaking with IGN Movies Australia [via The Playlist], McG cites the biggest problem with “Terminator Salvation” is that it didn’t have enough fun. I suppose that was unforeseeable since Christian Bale is just a ray of sunshine in all his movies. While I do appreciate McG’s honesty in admitting the film didn’t win the widespread acclaim he sought, he still wants to do right by everyone, especially James Cameron and the fans. Unfortunately, I think he’s going to miss that goal for two reasons. First, “Not Enough Fun” was not the biggest problem in T4. It wasn’t even the third of fourth biggest problem. The problem was that McG let the casting of Bale transform everything. He let the casting of John Connor, who had a name-star and no character arc, eclipse the stronger storylines like Marcus’ search for humanity and putting young Kyle Reese, who was an interesting character, into a box for the third act (literally). And please don’t get me started on the ending(s).
The other reason I’m lacking confidence is what he says he’s got planned for the fifth film (in addition to “fun”) because you know what else “Terminator Salvation” was missing? Time Travel! Well don’t worry your heads, post-apocalypse fans. McG isn’t going into the details (probably because, Skynet-willing, they’re still working on the script), but it sounds like Connor will be racing through different time periods with a new antagonist on his tail.
Yes, a new, clearly-defined antagonist is in the mix because that’s something T4 was also missing and apparently that was a bad thing. As McG says, “It will be more of a chase movie with a new Terminator that is on your ass.” That sounds great because the series has never done something like that. Oh, except for the first three movies. They all did that. They’re all chase movies with a new Terminator that is on your ass. They’re all like that.
I don’t mean to go after McG because he does seem like a nice guy but that may turn out to be his biggest problem. He’s clearly a people-pleaser. Re-reading this interview and remembering interviews he did promoting “Salvation”, he keeps talking about how he wants to do right by James Cameron and by fans and that’s fine. He should say he respects the franchise and Cameron once or twice but ultimately that’s not his primary job. Getting the fans on board is marketing’s job. Here’s the question I want answered: what does McG want? I’m not talking about a movie that makes a X-amount at the box office or what will have the widest appeal among fans. McG has this landmark franchise at his disposal and it’s not enough to simply attempt to please everyone and lack a vision and purpose of his own. I know McG can direct action and he did it very well in T4, but one of the biggest complaints I heard is that his film lacked humanity. That has to come before fun and time travel and new antagonists. It’s harder to do but if he really wants to do justice to the fans and to James Cameron, that’s where McG will focus his efforts.