‘Terminator’ franchise turns dark

Reporting from Albuquerque -- Director McG had a bit of advice last year for a visitor to the set of "Terminator Salvation," which had set up shop in a vast hangar at Kirtland Air Force Base here. "If you go too far that way," he said, pointing across the tarmac, "someone will shoot you."

Knowing the boundaries and risking sniper fire -- those are pretty good metaphors for anyone daring enough to add an installment to the killer-robot franchise without either signature star Arnold Schwarzenegger or director James Cameron listed in the credits beyond having created the characters.

"Terminator Salvation" will arrive in theaters May 21 with new faces and a darker ethos than the earlier films in the series, but it is a companion piece to them, a pure sequel -- or is that prequel? It's difficult to say with a franchise that skips through time like some sort of "Back to the Future" with a body count.

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Filmmaking, Hollywood, Summer 2009


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