BEVERLY HILLS, California — Batman. "Star Trek." James Bond. The Terminator.
Only a half-decade ago, all four franchises had fallen on dark days. Fans were lamenting the latest movie in each series, critics were wondering how low the once-proud characters could fall, and the haters were dancing on their graves. Then a new generation of talents with names like J.J. Abrams, Daniel Craig and Christian Bale came along.
"I came to be convinced, with both of them," explained Bale, the new geek-boy messiah who follows up his recent Batman resurrection by playing John Connor in the rebooted "Terminator Salvation" this weekend.
"With 'Batman [Begins],' it was initially my introduction to some of the graphic novels and seeing them and thinking, 'Why hasn't this been put on film?' " he explained. "With this, I had no notion that there would ever be another 'Terminator' movie, and wasn't excited about it when I first got the letter saying, 'How about it?' I said no; I felt that the mythology was done. But then, through conversations and me going away by myself and thinking about it, I came to think, 'OK.' "
"They're both really different, and obviously they're both quite iconic," reasoned Anton Yelchin, another new-generation savior who follows up his work as Chekov in the "Star Trek" relaunch by playing Kyle Reese in "Salvation." "I'd say the pressure going in [to both 'Trek' and 'Terminator'] was the same. It's just the challenge of taking on an iconic film, and trying to not improve upon the original but make a sequel that will work well with the original."
In a strange way, "Salvation" serves as an unlikely epicenter for these four mega-franchises, as newcomer Sam Worthington was one of the finalists to play James Bond. Now he's caught up in a war between man and machine — something he'd admittedly be horrible at in real life. "I am absolutely inept with machines," the 32-year-old Aussie grinned. "I can barely handle a mobile phone."
Will these franchises live forever? And what, exactly, makes fans want to see Batman (seven movies), Star Trek (11), Bond (22) and Terminator (four) rescued again and again?
"These are the films that touched my life," explained McG, the "Charlie's Angels" filmmaker who hopes to revive the man-vs.-robot franchise as effectively as Chris Nolan, Abrams and "Casino Royale" filmmaker Martin Campbell did with theirs. "I saw the first 'Terminator' picture and it scared the hell out of me. Then I saw the second one and it made me want to be a director."
"I felt like it was time for a new beginning," McG said of "Salvation," which uses its post-apocalyptic storyline to launch a new existence for the franchise with younger actors, much like Batman (origin prequel), Bond (origin prequel) and "Trek" (alternate universe origin story) recently did. "This is about the future war. And we've only ever got a tiny peek at that world. I thought it would be a really interesting place to start, and therefore worthy of a jumping-off point to tell a new 'Terminator' story — and begin again."
Check out everything we've got on "Terminator Salvation."
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