The Taking of Pelham 123 would be incredibly awful on a trolley car (not that the new one will be good anyway)!
I disagree on your choice of San Francisco as the preeminent American city based on multiple notions, with my admitted East Cost and NYC bias in check. But first, as to the films in discussion, it must be taken into account that two of those films are part of existing franchises. In the Star Trek universe, SF has been the home of Starfleet HQ since at least as far back as Star Trek IV, released in 1986, and quite possibly longer. It melds nicely with the peacekeeping hippy dippy nature of Starfleet (at least in it's conception), and was a nice place to fly a spaceship with a few humpback whales in it through a time traveling wormhole.
As for the Terminator series, all previous films have taken place in various California locations, although not specifically SF that I can remember. But Skynet was initially activated in a remote desert base in the southwest, so SF is a fine target for a large amount of its carnage.
I have not seen Monsters Vs. Aliens, but Dreamworks is a very California company in its outlook. It could be just that the animators wanted to use a city they had familiarity with, and just think of the visual appeal of SF. It has a much brighter color palette than most American cities (giant red bridge, anyone?), and lends itself very nicely to 3D animation and coloring.
So all in all, I don't feel these 3 films show SF as the new "it" city. Plus in the Transformers 2 trailer, a robot is seen plucking the American flag off the Brooklyn bridge, so we can expect some good old fashion NY destruction there. And the final season of 24 begins filming in NYC next year, so another good opportunity for explosions in our streets.
My final point would be I just don't think the world (or America) would ever pick one of our West Coast cities as its new favorite. L.A. has too many transplants, and what little character it does have is widely regarded as fake. The other CA cities are just too precious. SF's claims to fame are gay rights and yuppies (and Rice a roni), all fine things, but not enough for the large diverse groups of people to identify with. If NYC were to be (or has been) dethroned, I think the only worthy successor would have to be a city with similar character, and I think the only other place to look in the States would be Chicago. It's old, has some gritty history, and is the favorite place of our President. It's also the only American city that really feels like a city, cramped, angry, but also full of life. Of course, a dark horse could rise up like Philly or DC or Boston, but those places have either had their time or are so associated with one thing they might never exit that spotlight.
To borrow a cliched phrase, the rumors of New York's death have been greatly exaggerated. We still have the most diverse music and arts scene in the country, even if some of the more avant garde have fled for Baltimore and Portland. And the financial industry, though it will definitely change and no longer be the tractor beam for the best and the brightest, will still be a factor, in addition to the myriad other businesses housed here.
But maybe its just cause I hate hippies.
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