Thursday, June 4, 2009

News - 06/04/09...

Animation for Adults?

Animation is not strictly a kids medium, despite the general perception (here in the U.S.) that it is. Clearly - South Park, Adult Swim and Fox Sunday Nights aside - animation produced for television is still largely kid-driven and supports the industry, thanks to multi-million dollar merchandising and ancillary businesses.

But animated feature films have been appealing to adults for a while now - and yet with every success, it’s still a surprise to the mass media. As The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday:

UP grabbed the attention of audiences of all ages in its first weekend, according to Disney officials. “It was as strong with kids aged two to 11 as it was with adults both under and over 25,” says Mark Zoradi, president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Group.

Is this still news? Not to me. Every (or most) Pixar and Dreamworks film has opened at number #1 and gone on to gross well over $100 million dollars domestically. Mainstream reporting like this just shows that we still have a way to go to change the kiddie-show perception of animation.

Brooks Barnes wrote this in yesterday’s New York Times:

The medium is showing signs of expanding beyond the kiddie market. The success of video games has resulted in a generation of adults who are comfortable consuming animated entertainment, Hollywood executives say. One indication: “Coraline,” the sophisticated 3-D picture about an adventurous girl, found an adult audience, so far selling $85.2 million in tickets.

Disney will test this part of the market with
“Ponyo” on Aug. 14. This Hayao Miyazaki film is centered on a 5-year-old boy’s friendship with a goldfish that wants to be human. “Sophisticated stories coupled with powerful imaginations and beautiful animation appeals to everyone,” said Kathleen Kennedy, who is co-producing the English version of the film.

I’m not sure Ponyo is the film to test the adult appetite for animation. I haven’t seen it yet, but it looks like one of Miyazaki’s more juvenile films (though personally, I can’t wait to see it). Barnes’ article notes the emerging competition to Disney and Dreamworks - a whole slew of forthcoming films films (Astro Boy, Planet 51, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) vying to compete for the “new” all-ages theatre going audience. While noting the failure of Battle For Terra and mild success of Igor, Barnes neglects to mention the true tests of his theory: Shane Acker’s 9, Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max and perhaps Wes Anderson’s the Fantastic Mr. Fox - all opening later this year, all with a more mature point of view.

As for The Princess and The Frog, Mr. Barnes (who is apparently the official NY Times animation reporter) wrote a separate article last Friday on the “controversy” (is there one?) over a black princess. This piece alone indicates that the mainstream media has a long way to go to catch up with what the rest of us has known all along: animation is for everyone.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

The Never-Ending Cycle

A few days back, I was in one of our signator studios and discovered that the in-house staff in one of the artistic departments was being cut, and that work was being freelanced to "save money." ...

I've been doing this business rep thing for a while now, and let me tell you how this "freelance" thing goes:

1) Management gets tired of the expense of a larger, in-house staff, makes decision to reduce the number of employees and "freelance the work out."

2) Management cuts staff, freelances work. Problems develop:

A) Work coming in looks like crap.

B) Artists that management was depending on get ticked off, decline to freelance and go elsewhere for employment.

C) Management, in response (and desperation), builds up an in-house
"artistic repairs" crew to ameliorate problem.

3) Work starts to look halfway decent again. Management brings more work in-house. Work looks even better. A bean counter notices (again) that costs are going up, and ...

Rinse and repeat.

I've seen this cycle happen numerous times during my tenure here. One of my favorite versions involved animation writers at Disney in the middle nineties. The division was roaring, with lots of product rolling down the pike (this was the era of "Duck Tales" and "The Disney Afternoon" on local teevee.) There were sixty writers in-house, but after a couple of years, many of them started getting laid off. But there was still a lot of production going on, so I asked one of the scribes what was happening. He said, "The staff writers aren't doing a lot of scripts." I asked why. He said:

"Because when we write a half-hour show, the story editor gives us notes, and we re-write it. And then after that draft, the producer goes over it, and we re-write it again. After that the executive producer gives us notes, and we write it one more time. Then the head of production reads it, and people on the main lot, and the producer looks at it again, and we do three or four more passes ..."

By now my head was starting to throb. I asked him how long this whole process took. He looked at me and said: "For one script? Around six months."

My head hurt worse. "So you're doing, like, two scripts a year?"

He nodded. "That sounds about right."

The above explains why Disney TVA was then laying off animation writers. When you are paying a year's salary for two half-hour scripts, you are not getting much bang for your buck.

It also explains why studios often cut in-house artists. Executivs keep suggesting "improvements." Or the director and/or producer can't make up their minds about a design. Or the supervisors keep wanting the storyboard changed because "it just doesn't look right" now that they've seen it.

And pretty soon all the creative thrashing around means that production budgets start going up, and the decision is made to off-load the costs of the indecision onto the backs of free-lancers.

Trouble is, at the same time costs are lowered, quality goes in the tank, and there are suddenly another set of problems, with the inevitable result of creative supervisors, artists and writers tearing their hair out, arguments in conference rooms, and a lurch back toward remedies that make the show better. Which brings more employees back in house before the whole push-me pull-you fan dance begins again.

Maybe I've been doing this too long.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Cartoon Network "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Episode Details For June 2009

Cartoon Network has released information on the four new Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes slated to air this month, in June 2009.

Below are official descriptions and respective airdates for the new episodes, provided by the network, of Batman: The Brave and The Bold slated for June 2009 on Cartoon Network.

Friday, June 5th, 2009 - "Hail the Tornado Tyrant!"
Red Tornado attempts to create a being that will posess the one thing he lacks: human emotion. His experiment goes awry after an attack from Major Disaster and his "Tornado Champion" quickly turns to the dark side as "Tornado Tyrant."

Friday, June 12th, 2009 - "Duel of the Double Crossers!"
When Mongul recruits Jonah Hex to bring new gladiators to War World, the old west bounty hunter wrangles the Dark Knight. After a change of heart, Hex and Batman team up to take down the violent empire.

Friday, June 19th, 2009 - "The Last Bat on Earth!"
Gorilla Grodd travels to the future where intelligent animals rule humans -- Batman follows him and teams with Kamandi (the last boy on Earth) to bring him down.

Friday, June 26th, 2009 - "When OMAC Attacks!"
The all-American fighting machine OMAC is pitted against the equally destructive Shrapnel in a chaotic fight to the finish, but the architect behind the battle is the mysterious, balance-obsessed villain Libra.

Batman: The Brave and The Bold airs every Friday at 8:30pm (ET) on Cartoon Network. Schedule information is subject to change without notice.

Otis Brayboy in this "Expert Corner"

ToonBoom has a section on their site titled "Expert Corner" featuring pros in the industry, and their experiences using ToonBoom products. This month features Otis Brayboy, and on working with ToonBoom's Storyboard Pro for live action storyboards. The feature on Otis can be found here. Congrats Otis!

You can see more of Otis' work here.

Recent "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" Soundtrack Release Sells Over 2300 Copies

The new Batman: Mask of the Phantasm expanded soundtrack CD release has sold over 2300 copies since the title officially shipped in March 2009.

A representative for La-La Land Records, the label responsible for releasing the new Batman: Mask of the Phantasm expanded soundtrack, has confirmed for The World's Finest that the soundtrack release has sold over 2300 copies to date with demand for the title still going strong. The representative for La-La Land Records says that the high sales will help as the label hopes to convince Warner Bros. to allow La-La Land Records to release more Batman: The Animated Series and DC Animation-related soundtracks. The representative says that nothing has been finalized yet, but an official announcement concerning possible future DC Animation-themed releases is expected.

The new Batman: Mask of the Phantasm expanded score soundtrack release was officially shipped out on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009, becoming out-of-the-door hit for La-La Land Records and a successful follow-up to the label's release of the first official Batman: The Animated Series soundtrack in December 2008. The soundtrack had a limited edition print run of 3000 copies, leaving less than 700 available to purchase.

Details on the soundtrack can be found here.

Updates concerning soundtrack releases for both the current Wonder Woman direct-to-video animated feature and the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight direct-to-video animated feature are expected soon.

PBS Animation Undergoes Sponsorship Shift

PBS Restructures and Reassures Sponsorship Contracts and Concerns

With the thinning of marketing/advertising dollars available to broadcast programming in recent months, the capacity of national broadcasters, privately or publicly owned, to generate sponsorship interest has dwindled precipitously. As a result, promotional initiatives initially thought of as meager investments are becoming increasingly important to the stability of brand recognition, and large-scale contracts once reserved for high-rolling advertising or sponsorship groups are now being restructured to accommodate the needs of smaller, short-term minded industry affiliates.

PBS, longtime proponent of offering its adult and adolescent viewers a balanced education in the public arts and comedies, is at such a crossroads. In need of sponsorship funds that have eroded in recent years, the Sponsorship Group for Public Television has made the bold decision to shorten the time-span/length on the contracts available to potential program sponsors. To clarify, whereas PBS used to sign sponsors on for yearlong or five-yearlong promotional agreements, sometimes even longer; sponsors will soon have the opportunity to sign on for as little as a single week.

Sponsors, whose concise messages appear before and/or after a program airs, differ slightly from advertisers-proper due to a specific, contractual prohibition of stating a "call to action." Regardless, their funds often connect third-party efforts in the environment, education, and social welfare to news and children's animation related to similar subject matters. In summer 2009, PBS will slash sponsorship opportunities from the traditional yearlong commitment, down to weeklong options (as little as one week, as many as a ten-week period).

For parents and/or caretakers of young children devoted to popular and respected animated programming such as the European-born Dragon Tales, the clever but chatty Martha Speaks, the ever-classic Clifford, or linguistic lion WordGirl… at its most innocent, this will mean more seasonal behavioral targeting; while at its feared worst, a higher commercialized viewing experience. Consider for instance if, during the up and coming summer months, a specific or seasonal kid industry effort is underway; now, sponsors can purchase fifteen seconds of airtime before SuperWhy! to link their venture with PBS programming.

"We're trying to be more flexible," Suzanne Zellner, Vice President for Corporate Sponsorships for WGBH Boston, commented to one source. She continued, quoted elsewhere: "By offering on-air media opportunities across multiple series and during different dayparts, we hope to give corporate sponsors the flexibility they need to execute a successful kids' media buy."

With the same amount of sponsorship holes to fill but fewer sponsors to fill them, PBS' decision to restructure long-term and short-term support of public television is a tough and somewhat risky decision. What with parenting groups concerned over the increased marketability of children's programming, as with the Hasbro-Discovery cable television deal, opting to tweak program support in favor of sponsors with a more business-related approach naturally queries if public kid's education and entertainment will ever be the same.

PBS does however assure that their austere guidelines about sponsorship messages will remain in place as out-of-school months approach. Children's animation is expected to be a major benefactor of the reduced time-span of the contract licenses. This is important not only for the broad reach of said programming, but also because PBS animation from Curious George to Arthur, have an impressive following beyond the typical on-air reach. Special packages are being devised for sponsors interested in touching specific demographics of multiple programs. Additionally, with PBS Kids animation doing so well in the digital realm, many are cautious to see if/where the new sponsorship angle peeks its head out online, as well.

Trailer for The Last Guardian

Why is it that the trailers for videogames excite me more than the trailers for any animated feature? Case in point is this trailer for The Last Guardian, a new PS3 title that was previewed at E3. The game is created by Fumito Ueda (Ico, Shadow of the Colossus). Brew reader B. Bolander, who sent me the link, writes: “Everything you see in that trailer—the griffin, the boy—has been animated. Fumito Ueda, the creator of the game and an ex-animator himself, doesn’t do motion capture. Every flick of an ear had to be done by hand, or at least by mouse.” There is more info about the game, including quotes from Ueda, in this article on

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

In "say it isn't so" news...

Sony to make H.R. Pufnstuf movie?

Hey folks, Harry here...

...I just wanted to let you folks know the Big news that Marty Krofft unloaded upon us, that SONY has just entered into an agreement to develop and make an H.R. Pufnstuf feature film.

Now this would be the second one of those. The original is one of the most astonishingly bizarre and unique film experiences around. For an idea - here's the entire film in 5 minutes and 53 seconds:

I can't even begin to imagine how one would go about constructing an H.R. Pufnstuf film for the modern era. Well, that is not entirely true - I've notions, but I can't imagine what a studio would do here. I mean, I'd love to see it done with the innocence and sweetness that it conjures - and let the trippy stuff be there, but not all giggle giggle snicker snicker from the film itself.

As of right now, they're just at the beginnings of figuring out where they want to go with it - and are going to begin the process of talking to directors and writers. This is definitely something I want to keep an eye on.

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

A Positively Aggravating Spy Pic of Josh Brolin as JONAH HEX! and 2 great ones!

Hey folks, Harry here... and ya know... I think I see how aliens always have bad photographs of their ships and stuff. Because when the amazing thing appears - the person witnessing it just doesn't have high grade equipment. Because it was just a casual thing.

Below - we have a photo of Josh Brolin as JONAH HEX in an alley way in New Orleans for the film coming from the director of KUNG FU PANDA. I've confirmed the costume, but there's nothing that can be done about the washed out over-exposed face. Now - perhaps some geek with the FBI or CIA can do something amazing to bring out the washed out details. Putting our government's money to good use. OR - maybe... OBAMA? Are you a JONAH HEX fan? Put the CIA on this. We want to see Josh's messed up face and so do you! It would be that spirit of cooperation, that I've never felt from the Federal Government before.

Here's the pic:

I'd post an image of the comic character's face - but frankly - if you don't know, you should seek that information out yourself. And you should read some of these amazing stories. Can't wait for a solid release pic on this! Very curious!

(Ed. note: Okay... I posted one... sue me...)

Our reader, Carter The Great sent in the following pics and this link for more! Looking damn good!

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

New writer hired to pen the remake of Total Recall

Columbia Pictures has set Kurt Wimmer (Equilibrium) to write a new version of Total Recall for the proposed remake of the 1990 sci-fi action movie that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Variety reported.

The movie will be a contemporized adaptation of the science fiction saga based on the Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale."

Total Recall was resurrected for remake earlier this year by the studio and producer Neal Moritz and his Original Films banner. Columbia secured remake rights from Miramax, which has the option to co-finance the film when it is ready to shoot.

Pitdoc brings us more images from Spider-Man 4, Iron Man 2, Shrek 4 and OOBERMIND?!?!

Hey folks, ... with another year of awesome images from the Licensing Expo, and this time we have even more - and don't forget - you can click and supersize any and all of these::

1st up, because we're all desperate for it... SHREK 4...

Next is a future product from DREAMWORKS that I'm not familiar with. OOBERMIND! Like the character designs on this one:

Next up is a promotional banner for IRON MAN 2 - this looks real sharp!

Lastly - we get a teaser poster image for SPIDER-MAN 4! I don't think it gives anything at all away!

Are you getting a twitch yet?

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

EXCLUSIVE: Kenneth Branagh Addresses The Stories & People Inspiring The ‘Thor’ Movie

While the world still waits for official confirmation that Chris Hemsworth will play the lead role in “Thor,” one other aspect of the project that remains uncertain is, well… exactly what sort of “Thor” story the movie will tell.

Back in January, a rumor made the rounds that the character of Thor’s human alter ego, Donald Blake, had been added to the “Thor” script, causing many sites (including this one) to surmise that the story would be grounded on Earth a bit rather than primarily taking place in Asgard. In an exclusive interview with “Thor” director Kenneth Branagh, we asked the celebrated filmmaker what Thor stories are inspiring his approach to the movie — and the comic book creators who are counseling him on all things Thunder God.

“I think that ['Thor' stories] go through golden patches and purple patches and everyone has personal favorites,” Branagh told MTV News. “The recent runs have been marvelous. The J. Michael Straczynski run has been a tremendous achievement.”

“But I’ve also been reading way back, reading classic, vintage runs as well,” added Branagh. “There are many Thors and many accounts of the stories across nearly 50 years of the comics. We look to raid from the best.”

And since we previously spoke to Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, as well as one of the publisher’s primary architects of its comics universe, Brian Michael Bendis, about meeting with Branagh earlier in the process, we had a similar batch of questions for the director about his meeting with the Marvel crew. Was he receiving an intensive course of Thor 101? Were they bouncing ideas off of one another regularly?

“A lot of the job up to this point has been listening to people who know more and better than I,” answered Branagh. “I have a very strong view of how to approach it myself, but I’m still listening and learning happily.”

Three More Transformers TV Spots!

Paramount Pictures has started airing three more TV spots for Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which you can watch using the players below! Opening in conventional and IMAX theaters on Wednesday, June 24, the anticipated sequel stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas and John Turturro.

Why Terminator worked, what Salvation got wrong, how to fix it

The future is not what it used to be.

McG's theatrical sequel film Terminator Salvation is fading fast at the box office, and TV's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is officially dead, marking the end of the most recent effort to jump-start the inert endoskeleton of the once-popular time-jumping sci-fi franchise.

So want went wrong? And is there way to restart Terminator for a new generation? Let's take a look at five things that the Terminator movies and Sarah Connor Chronicles got right, what they got wrong and the possible ways to offer salvation to the Terminator franchise.

Before that, though, let's consider this roundup of critical assessments of McG's Salvation, which was hemorrhaging audience as of last weekend. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker asks: "... When, and on what possible ground, did someone decide that the Terminator franchise should be no fun to watch?"

David Edelstein in New York Magazine nails Terminator Salvation as an example of how "the Hollywood Machine ... sifts through books and old movies in search of the holy 'franchise,' and at strategic intervals generates nonessential sequels."

Maryann Johanson of napalms the movie with "... It appears that director McG—past perpetrator of such awfulnesses as We Are Marshall and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle—has less than a passing familiarity with the well-established universe he decided to play with. Has he seen another Terminator movie? Even just in snippets on an airplane or something?" (We actually think that's a bit unfair: McG's movie does contain many homages and winks to the Terminator franchise; it's just not that terrific.)

With these issues in mind, here's what we think went right, went wrong and how to fix it.

First thing the franchise got right: Villains!

One of the joys of the Terminator mythology has been unstoppable bad guys: Robotic killing machines that make great antagonists because they're blanks, while at the same time being human enough to be infiltrators and mechanized assassins. From Arnie in the original to Robert Patrick's sociopathic liquid-metal motorcycle cop in Terminator 2: Judgment Day to Kristanna Loken's sexy Terminatrix in T3: Rise of the Machines to the great Garret Dillahunt as the T-888 Cromartie in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Terminators have been just human enough to be scary and compelling.

How Terminator Salvation got it wrong

As Ty Burr points out in the Boston Globe, "The villains [in Terminator Salvation] are literally faceless." Giant Go-Bot human harvesters? That have robot Ducati motorbikes up their pants legs? Mecha that clicks together with flying hunter/killer units like some kind of dime-store Voltron? Aquatic robot pythons? That stuff is all kinda fun, but there's no villainy to them, no quasi-human aspect in them to turn inhuman.

How to fix it

Give us bad guys with faces! Skynet giving itself human faces on a monitor to mess with reluctant cyborg Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) isn't enough. T2 gave us a totally new kind of robot assassin. T3 gave us a Terminator designed to kill Terminators. Sarah Connor Chronicles gave us a Terminator that had to make itself a new fleshy outer layer. Re-invent our bad guys so they have something new to do, but keep them physical and humanoid.

Second thing the franchise got right: Human drama

Like we said, the Terminator mythology has inhuman bad guys, and they have always stood in stark contrast to the plight of the humans in the franchise. Little twentysomething Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), scared to death in the first movie and becoming a survivalist "mom to the whole future" in the second movie. Nick Stahl as John Connor living off the grid and being forced, ready or not, into the hero role in T3. An entire family living as fugitives, hiding not just from killer robots from the future but also from the law in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The Terminator franchise has been about humans fighting machines, and part of what makes characters human are the conflicts that mold them.

How Terminator Salvation got it wrong

What interaction did Christian Bale as John Connor have with Bryce Dallas Howard as his wife, Kate Brewster, that wasn't just dumb exposition? What true emotion drove Connor to save his future dad, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin)? We can infer those emotions, but we sure don't feel them. As Miss FlickChick Maitland McDonagh says, "There's a yawning void where [Terminator Salvation's] emotional center should be." Yeah, there's some interesting stuff with Worthington as Marcus Wright trying figure out just what he is, but wasn't that much more dramatic and effective on Battlestar Galactica?

How to fix it

With Salvation, the Terminator franchise, which started out as a simple chase action movie, morphed into a War Movie Franchise, and War Movies are great fodder for drama. Think Das Boot, All's Quiet on the Western Front, Platoon, Paths of Glory ... . It's hard not to come up with human drama when the stakes are so high. Morphing into a war franchise is probably a great way to take Terminator to the next level, but if you're going to do it, you have to commit and not just have a war for the heck of it. This is a place to take risks and shine, not just play off a setting mentioned in the other movies.

Third thing the franchise got right: Active heroes

In the Terminator franchise, the heroes do things. In the first two movies, Sarah learns how to kick metallic ass, initially under the tutelage of future resistance fighter Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). At first in T3, John Connor and Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) are just chased by the badass chick T-X Terminator, but then they turn around and try to stop Judgment Day. In Sarah Connor Chronicles, Sarah (Lena Headey) and her son, John (Thomas Dekker), decide they've had enough of running from Skynet and try to defeat the future enemy of mankind today, in the present.

How Terminator Salvation got it wrong

What the hell did John Connor have to do in Terminator Salvation? He barked into a radio. He also saved his dad, which maybe had less to do with saving the world than it did with saving his own "future conception" in the past. Whatever his motives, John Connor going out into the field felt less like something heroic than it did a contrivance to get him, ... y'know, ... in the movie. Marcus Wright actually did some things with Kyle and Star (Jadagrace) and later Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), but as he was himself a character in search of a context, what he did felt reactive, not active.

How to fix it

This one is easy: Have John Connor, the savior of humanity, actually save humanity. Done.

Fourth thing the franchise got right: Destiny faced and/or realized via time travel

Facing your destiny makes for good drama, right? Worked for the Greeks (Oedipus, Pentheus), and it keeps on ticking through Macbeth and Moby-Dick and Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. The Terminator franchise upped the stakes with destiny by making it a force that can't be avoided even through time travel. Think Kyle Reese's becoming the father of John Connor in the first movie. Yeah, in the second movie, Sarah's motto was "The future's not set—there's no fate but what we make for ourselves." But there was still a sense that fate was a force that had to be defied or confronted through the application of that motto. In T3, Judgment Day happened because it was fated to happen, and in Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Connor as a teen has to confront the destiny that has burdened him with a future that doesn't allow him to really have a present.

How Terminator Salvation got it wrong

NO TIME TRAVEL! Time travel and fate are components of the franchise. Leaving them out is like leaving out the killer robots. And the addressing of destiny was cursory, at best.

How to fix it

ADD SOME TIME TRAVEL! And have John Connor face his destiny. And maybe have Kyle Reese face his as the unknowing "father of the future."

Fifth thing the franchise got right: Logic

Yeah, when you deal with time travel, logic gets loopy. But the Terminator franchise has always made a kind of sense in the way Yogi Berra aphorisms make sense. The Ouroboros plotting of John Connor's conception. The very likely holding of Sarah in a mental ward in the second movie. The mission of the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in T3. The objectives of Skynet operatives and Resistance fighters in the present in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. These plot points all at least make a little sense ... enough at least to carry you through the movie's or TV episode's running time.

How Terminator Salvation got it wrong

A 50-foot robot that sneaks up on people? Connor jumping into the sea and hoping to get picked up by a sub in the short window before he gets hypothermia? Connor chewed out by his superiors, who tell him he's a dangerous, unreliable loose cannon ... and who then promptly entrust him with their secret weapon, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the one cooked up by Hugh Marlowe in Earth vs. the Flying Saucers? A battle in a Terminator factory that only has one functioning Terminator? That same one functioning Terminator only slowed down by molten metal, when that same kind of molten metal reduced another Terminator to liquid in T2? A smart pilot acting like an idiot as the plot necessitates it? A heart transplant done in a post-nuke MASH unit? By a medic who's trained as a veterinarian?

How to fix it

Don't hire so many writers. A good script can't be written by committee, and according to some reports—in addition to credited screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris—Paul Haggis, Jonathan Nolan, Shawn Ryan and Anthony Zuiker all tried to polish the dreck that is Salvation. In a blog post dated Oct. 12, 2008, Terminator Salvation novelization writer Alan Dean Foster wrote that he felt compelled to completely rewrite the novelization: "Many things changed between the version of the screenplay I was given to novelize and the final shooting script," he wrote, adding: "As I read through the final shooting script, I encountered numerous other instances where the screenplay had been altered from the version I adapted."

Too many cooks, even cooks as good as Haggis and Nolan, can totally wreck a Salvation soup.

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