Terminator Salvation Book Reviews (Mania.com)

By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Monday, May 18, 2009


What made DVD’s all the rage for any true film aficionado were the special features such as directors’ commentary, making of documentaries and tons of on set photographs. What got lost in all the technology and now stale prepackaged documentaries were the movie companion books. As children growing up in the eighties these books were our windows into that particular world. The best ones walked you through the characters, actors and the crew. They even paused the movie with their on set photography. These books were inspiring and true testaments to the magic of making movies. Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion and The Art of Terminator Salvation are both incredible books that evoke the exact same kind of spirit. 
Author Tara Bennett dives deep into the Terminator Universe. Her reverence for the original films can clearly be seen in her opening descriptions of the world created by James Cameron. Among the brilliantly animated concept drawings, paintings, sketches and storyboards she manages to craft not only where all the new characters are coming from but enlightens the reader as to the personal history of each actor. The interviews and personal reminisces, most of which will never make a DVD commentary, give a real look at the collaborative effort behind the making of a movie. Sure most of us know it takes more than one person to make a movie. Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion shows that each person brought something special to the film. The dedication by Stan Winston’s crew is discussed after his passing. We learn about the tiny nuances behind the red marks on the back of Marcus Wright’s (Sam Worthington) boots and where Moon Bloodgood drew her inspiration from for her resistance pilot Blair Williams, it’s not Linda Hamilton. All this culminates with Helena Bonham Carter’s mysterious role in the film.
Many of us have either seen or heard director McG talk about what he has done to the actual film itself to get it its look. Bennett divulges the full scope of what went behind the actual process in changing the film stock and how director of photography Shane Hurlbut had to adjust and prepare. Hurlbut wasn’t the only one as the costume designers and set decorators also had to compensate for this visually unique rendition of the future. The companion book has several finished scenes in it providing an example of the work done to the film stock. If those scenes are any indication of the final product Terminator Salvation will be the most unique looking post-apocalyptic film in the last twenty years.
Fans of the Terminator technology will be overwhelmed with every image of both pre and post production. The various human looking Terminators rival both the monstrosities of Frankenstein and the horrors of any great zombie movie. There are several evolutions of the Terminator images and photographs that show them from the T-1 to the T-800. Unfortunately there is no leap to the T-1000 or the T-X. This may be something for a later book but it nonetheless feels empty without those two Terminators taking their place in line.

The Art of Terminator Salvation is an unprecedented look at the conception of James Cameron’s future gone wrong. The mechanical brilliance and technological horrors are brought to life in both drawings and digital imagery. What is eerie about all of the work included here is how shockingly beautiful it is and how close many of the larger pieces match scenes in the trailer.
Hardcore Terminator fans will love the multiple renditions of the HK’s, Hunter Killer’s, as their full potential and battle readiness will be undoubtedly shown in the new film. However Terminator Salvation’sbig promise is witnessing the full breadth of what Skynet as developed. The Art Companion has images of Aerostat, the Harvester (multiple concepts) plus the Moto-Terminators. These are only a few of the new creations in the film but all make Michael Bay’s Transformers look foolish.
As is the case with any book about a movie there is always a chance to witness spoilers if purchased before the movie. Bennett’s approach was more on the production and conceptualizing process behind the film and it did nothing but whet my appetite for it. 
From both a filmmaker’s perspective and a film aficionado’s both books are packed with incredibly rich material. Every interview and photograph provides an all encompassing look at Terminator Salvation that says this film could be more than just another typical summer movie. The material here provides an epic scope that rivals the original Star Wars trilogy. Hopefully the movie will be just as good as these books.

Mania Grade: A
Books: Art of Terminator Salvation by Tara Bennett(Grade: A), Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion(Grade: A+)
Author: Tara Bennett
Publisher: Titan Books
Pages: Film Companion: 144 pages, Art of the Film: 256 pages
Cover Price: The Film Companion: $19.99, The Art of the Film: $35.00
Series: Terminator Salvation