Inside "Terminator Salvation"

John Connor (Christian Bale) sneaks up behind a T-600 Terminator.
John Connor (Christian Bale) sneaks up behind a T-600 Terminator.
Photo courtesy or Warner Bros. Pictures/Richard Foreman

How do you inject new blood into a fading film franchise? For starters, take it back to the future. "Terminator Salvation" finds Connor (Christian Bale) older, a father-to-be and bravely leading the surviving resistance fighters in their ongoing battle against the mechanized armies of Skynet. These underground rebels include young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), the protector of a silent but very smart little girl named Star (Jadagrace). Also new to the mix is the mysterious Marcus Wright (Australian rising star Sam Worthington).

"We tried to honor it and tell a different story," comments executive producer Daniel Lin, a self-described "huge fan of 'Terminator,'" who's excited to introduce the series to a new generation. Bale, however, was skeptical. He thought, "There was no new story to be told," and passed on participating--several times.

Director McG (short for McGinty) knew first hand the difficulty of making a sequel, having helmed both the hit "Charlie's Angels" and its inferior follow-up "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." He was similarly uninterested but became intrigued by "Terminator Salvation's" post-apocalyptic setting. But once aboard, he flew to England and begged Bale to change his mind. The "Dark Knight" star did.

Christopher Nolan, Paul Haggis and other writers modified the original story and script by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, and according to both director and stars, rewrites continued on the set in New Mexico.

McG emphasizes that the movie "was designed to work as a table read…our goal was always to have the action supplement the characters and story. If it's just all action it becomes very noisy, and if it's talking heads, people will say, 'Where's my Terminator?' Hopefully we found some balance. But when it was time to explode things, we wanted to do it with a great deal of gusto."

In the following sections, we'll detail how McG and his creative team devised the look of the film, came up with and implemented the spectacular practical and computer-generated effects, and dealt with challenging conditions on location.