WonderCon 2009: New ‘Star Trek,’ Terminator Salvation’ trailers premiere with ‘Watchmen’

03.01.09 9 years ago

Warner Bros.

As if Friday’s (March 6) long-awaited premiere of Zack Snyder’s “Watchmen” weren’t sufficient cause for fanboy salivation and jubilation, Saturday afternoon’s WonderCon panels saw the world premiere of new trailers for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” and McG’s “Terminator Salvation.” 

Both trailers will appear in front of “Watchmen,” but we (the crowd and I) got an early peek.

[Some thoughts after the bump…]

Reaction on the first full “Star Trek” trailer, which premiered with “Quantum of Solace” and was slightly reedited for the Super Bowl, was a bit mixed. Some people loved the special effects, loved seeing Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in character, loved the apparent scale of the project. Me? I was annoyed by the cheesiness of the opening (Daredevil Kirk revealing his name over portentous Hero Music), the pointless inclusion of silly-looking space sex and the overall tone.

The new trailer is much better, even though it still opens with James T. Kirk on his motorcycle. It does a better job establishing the movie’s Muppet Babies (or Starfleet Academy, if you prefer) premise, including footage of Bruce Greenwood’s Christopher Pike,  Jennifer Morrison’s Momma Kirk and the the Academy backdrop. There are iconic moments like Kirk taking the Enterprise captain’s chair, while there are slightly more extended glimpses of the other crew members, particularly Zachary Quinto’s Spock and John Cho’s Sulu. 

There’s still space sex, though I guess Kirk’s status as a ladies’ man is central to the character. And I can’t get a feeling for Eric Bana’s baddie other than a lot of brow-furrowing and screaming. Still, there were some good effects shots, including a planet caving in on itself and a sky-diving scene that would be “Point Break”-esque except for all of the CG inevitably involved.

It’s a good trailer and may generate more positive buzz for the movie in advance of its May opening.

I was less enthusiastic about the “Terminator Salvation” trailer, despite McG’s typically hyperbolic promise that “It’s gonna knock your f***ing balls up your a***.” Seriously, what does that even imply?

McG also told the crowd, “We like to call it the anti-trailer, because we put story and character first.”

Set to an oddly dated guitar-rock sound, the new “Terminator” trailer does, indeed, give a better idea of the story for the new movie, at least positioning Christian Bale and Bryce Dallas Howard’s John and Kate Connor in the movie’s futuristic post-Judgment Day world. It also makes the first effort to establish Sam Worthington’s Marcus Wright, the film’s central newly introduced character, who bridges the gap between humans and the machines. There’s a little romance, but mostly it’s things blowing up. 

The nice thing is that Christian Bale isn’t one of those actors who has become harder to watch since his recent public embarrassment. Perhaps if this were a romantic-comedy, we would read his on-set outburst into every cutesy bit of wooing, but because his job in “Terminator: Salvation” is to be anxious, angry and ready to snap at any second, it’s all good.

While the “Star Trek” panel stopped short of showing any new clips (despite the fact that reporters in several cities saw completed scenes months ago), McG had several unfinished scenes to show us.

The first, described as the Gas Station Scene, was especially raw. The scene begins with a machine attack on a gas station, climaxing in an explosion that may or may not be an homage to “The Birds.” It then metamorphoses into an extended chase with Marcus and Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese evading a wide variety of robots, including funky motorcycles. Lots of things blow up. Without finished effects and sound and editing, it’s hard to judge the overall impact. Certainly many things blew up. I’m also at least tentatively convinced by the unlikely idea of Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese, as he pulls off a fair amount of badassery, and looks comfortable with a shotgun in his hands, something I wouldn’t necessarily have expected from the kid from “Huff.”

The second scene was one McG described as more character oriented. Indeed, it features John Connor and Marcus yelling at each other a bit. But McG’s idea of character-oriented also includes a crashing helicopter, burning trees, gunfire and squirmy underwater Terminators that resemble metallic mauling worms. It’s a pretty intense sequence, but without the context of the surrounding movie, I can’t judge how “Terminator”-esque it really is. 

Of the movie, McG told the crowd, “A great idea had lost its way and we wanted to come in and restore order.” 

“Star Trek” opens on May 8.

“Terminator Salvation” opens on May 22.

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