This site will work and look better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"Have you ever tried to clean an actual slate? You'll always see what was on it before."
11973 members | you are not logged in | 29 September 2020


December 02 2007

Summer on being a Terminator, and a science fiction actor. Access Hollywood talks to Summer Glau about The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and about why she seems to be drawn to genre roles.

I can't wait to see this show... Summer is really amazing. Her action scenes are nothing like other action sequences on tv or film b/c she's so heavily influenced in dance. Makes watching the scenes really exciting!
Yep, the whole fighting scenes are choreographed pieces for her....she's got a dancer's memory.

Looking forward to this!!!
I hope they don't lose the "River kick" from the pilot, made me smile ;).

She's extremely graceful in fight scenes. For me, she doesn't always convince 100% regarding the power of blows she delivers but it's so, well, balletic to watch that I don't mind.
Honestly, Saje? I think the fighting style(s) developed for first River and now Cameron are more dependent on precision rather than force. River had limited physical strength compared to someone like Jayne, but her training gave her exact knowledge on where to hit and how hard; Cameron would be the same, as her programming would allow her to do as much damage as an Arnie without the beefed-up endoskeleton through hitting a target exactly where needed for either incapacitation or fatal strikes.

Though you are right in that it looks so fluid and graceful that the results of her fighting moves are a lot easier to accept without thinking ;)
I am a big fan of precision (Anderson Silva, mma example) fighting but to take a heavyweight (Fedor Emelianeko, mma example) and place them against a lightweight...not a spectacular notion.

Nevertheless, it bothers me not in the least watching Summer pulpify bigger foes. If needs be I can find some science fiction reasoning to back what I want to believe. That's the thing right there, "I want to believe" (Mulder-ing to my liking) the character can do it, so the character can without a gripe from me or an appeal to critical reasoning. But, yeah, the power of the blows she delivers, like in the Serenity fight scenes, lacks a certain reality. But, yeah, like I care! Made for GREAT story.

Now I'm off to ponder what "realities" a character can get away with based on the strength of the writing of that character rather than the genre the character is housed in. That is to say, do I allow Joss more freedoms than I would a lesser writer because his characters and story are so awesome? Probably. Wow, maybe I don't need to ponder at all. I can replace pondering with beer drinking, instead. Nice.

[ edited by RhaegarTargaryen on 2007-12-03 05:31 ]
I believe that where people are concerned BlueEyedBrigadier but when fighting another Terminator ? And precise or not, a Terminator would also be very hard hitting.

(and, as Summer mentions, in at least one fight in the pilot they do a lot of crashing through walls etc. i.e. "proper" Terminator fighting - two heavy, powerful machines smacking each other around)

Like I say, I don't mind, she's still amazing to watch, not least because you can tell it's nearly always her in the fight. That particular fan-wank won't do it for me though ;).
Rhaegar, beer drinking doesn't replace pondering. It enhances it. Right? ;)
I love Serenity. I love River. I love Summer. I love Joss. But when I see 180 pound men sent flying by a 100 pound girl, I start looking for the wires. =)

p.s. I love Summer's mom.
She's a robot. Of course she's going to have super-strength. (Cameron of course, not Summer).

Love the in-the-air-with-guns shot.
But fan-wanking is soooo cool, Saje! Certainly a lot more fun that simply picking a scene apart for realism;)

But yeah...Summer, much as she can make ass-whooping look like an art (with help from the stunt team, mind you ;D), couldn't not physically do that without assistance. Though reality does take on a nice shade of Spandex when she does....

Of course, long ago when I was studying Shao-Lin Do (back in the Dark Ages of the early 70s,) there was a 2nd degree black belt in the school who stood about four foot eleven and weighed at least as much as a good-sized cocker spaniel.

Nobody wanted to be her sparring partner...
Yeah, just to be clear, i'm not saying small people can't deliver very powerful blows, i'm saying Summer doesn't always look like she is delivering very powerful blows (IMO).

Used to do a bit of Judo and there were plenty of smaller built people (of both sexes) who could more than hold their own.

(and speaking of holding your own ... ;), picking scenes apart is the fuel for fan-wanking I reckon. After all, if someone doesn't point out there's a problem, no-one knows to get onanistic on its ass ;)
My Tae Kwon Do teacher always emphasizes speed, and snap along with where you land the blows as being the most important elements in disabling an opponent. Of course he is talking about disabling, not launching someone into the air. That said, I have to agree, Summer's blows never looked very hard.
Is "onanistic" even a word? And shouldn't it be capitalized since you're using someone's name as an adjective?


This debate does make me wonder if it's more about how a scene is directed and shot than who's performing the action. Think I read or heard somewhere that Joss isn't one to picture action-y stuff (i.e. fight scenes) in the same way he does more dialogue-oriented I gotta ask: do you, fellow members of Whedonesque, think that if someone like Paul Greengrass (who directed the last two Bourne films) or another director who is more familiar with action sequences had directed the Maidenhead barfight scenes, would the shots of Summer laying waste to everyone been easier to swallow?

Now don't get me wrong...loved Serenity with a passion, think Joss did a criminally underpraised job with the film and I certainly didn't have issues with how the big fight was filmed. BUT! Does the big issue of whether River could really do what she was shown to have done based on how the punches looked come down to either "She's barely 5' and if she weighs 100 lbs. soaking wet, I will French kiss a Reaver!" or "Editing needs to be faster to fool the audeince into thinking the blows are harder and/or faster!"?
Onanistic is a word. I had to look, so no kudos for meh.

BlueEyedBrigadier, there isn't a "big issue" of whether River could really do what she did for she did them.

And, for the record, I think the fight scenes were better filmed the way they were rather than filmed a more "realistic" way. I have re-watched the Maidenhead scenes more than any other action sequence I can think of. Come to think of it, I don't rightly recollect...oh, wait, I do...I re-watched several fight scenes from the Matrix over the years. But none other come to mind. I like some of them from "Gladiator" but I don't remember watching the movie (on subsequent trips through) and rewinding a fight scene. I know I did it for a scene in "Rome" when Pullo was making an emotional, lonely stand against the waste his life had become...but that scene kicked asps for entirely different reasons.

The balletic movements, the dreamlike sequence, the beauty and the damage all rolled into one. It was graceful excellence River violently slammed into her foes. Gods it was awesome! One of the best "fight" scenes ever. Bar none. Um, tee-hee.

I feel there are parallels between why I found the Matrix fights awesome and why River's fight scene was awesome. But I've spoken enough for the nonce.
I personally agree with you 100%, RhaegarTargaryen...the Maidenhead fight worked because there was the elements of ethereal beauty and balletic grace in how both River fought and how the scene played out.

I honestly used the word "issue" in an attempt to define the debate over River being able to lay waste to entire bar full of patrons in general enough terms that misidentification of what was going on would be harder. Maybe there isn't an issue, but a number of people who think River whooping that much ass in the manner undertaken to be distracting from what Joss was trying to to do. I don't know *shrugs*
Personally, I love the Bourne films and I love the way the violence is staged in them but I don't think it'd work for either Summer or "Serenity" (though it might work for Summer and "The Sarah Connor Chronicles"). The Bourne fights start from "Two quite big, quite strong, very skilled and highly trained assassins - now where do we go ?" the "Serenity" fight starts from "One small, frail, basically helpless looking girl - now where do we go ?". The point of the scenes and their context is entirely different. Also, I may be maligning Joss here but I think Summer's fights are meant to be beautiful to watch and the Reaver fight particularly is also meant to show violence (when used by the "right" people) as positive, even empowering. The Bourne fights on the other hand are meant to be brutal and vicious and messy (just like real violence) - they're purely about survival.

Remembered this thread (and link) from last year (click on "Stunt Reels" and then scroll down to "sample fight scene") which illustrates pretty much exactly what I mean. Clearly the stunt-woman is coming at it from more of a martial arts perspective (and has more muscle mass) so looks and "feels" like she's hitting harder.

(and yeah, I do agree that it's also partly down to where the camera is and how the whole scene actually flows, not just Summer herself - basically, you can have "ethereal beauty" or you can have "crunchingly realistic". Joss, Summer and the stunt folks have hit on almost the perfect middle point. But not quite ;)

This thread has been closed for new comments.

You need to log in to be able to post comments.
About membership.

joss speaks back home back home back home back home back home