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In the year 2029, the ruling super-computer Skynet sends an indestructible cyborg back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, the woman who will birth its greatest enemy.
For more about The Terminator and the The Terminator Blu-ray release, see the The Terminator Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 16, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Rick Rossovich
Director: James Cameron
» See full cast & crew
The Terminator Blu-ray Review
James Cameron's breakthrough hit is on Blu-ray, but should it also be on your shelf?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 16, 2007
It can't be bargained with, it cant be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
The Terminator is one of the more important films of the last 25 years. It launched both director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to stardom. Cameron would go on to direct several blockbusters including The Abyss, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic, and, of course, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. "The Austrian Oak" Schwarzenegger, the former world-renowned body builder and Mr. Olympia, had starred in several low budget films like Hercules in New York and the moderately successful Conan films before donning the trademark shades of the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Terminator. Schwarzenegger too would star in the Cameron films True Lies and T2, not to mention Predator, Commando, and the touching, vastly underrated comedy Twins. Now dubbed "The Governator," Schwarzenegger has moved past film and is currently the governor of the State of California. The Terminator is the movie that created two Hollywood legends and for good reason. This is one of the most remarkable science fiction/action films in Hollywood history, featuring then-groundbreaking effects on a low budget, a mesmerizing story line, fine acting and direction, and, of course, tremendous action sequences.
Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton, Dante's Peak) is an ambitious young woman living in 1984 struggling to make ends meet as a waitress while attending the local junior college. She lives with roommate, Ginger, and her best friend is a pet lizard. While experiencing another stressful day at her job in a local diner, she hears on television that another woman also named Sarah Connor has been gunned down in the city. She shakes it off but becomes worried when she hears a newscast stating that yet another Sarah Connor has been murdered. In a panic, she slips into a night club, fearful that she is being followed. She's right. Two men, both from the future, only one of whom is human, are out to get her. One wants to kill. The other wants to protect. Sarah is important because she will be "the mother of the future." Her unborn son, John, will rise to lead the surviving humans after a nuclear war against a race of cybernetic and mechanical organisms in a conflict for world domination. In a classic and beautifully crafted scene at the night club, one that in description sounds rather trite and unremarkable but is used to great effect in this film, Sarah knocks her drink off the table and the camera speeds up (resulting in a slowdown in the motion when played at 24 frames per second). Connor bends over, a hip 1980s song blares out "you've got me burning in the third degree" (if you've seen the movie, do you see the irony there?), and the cyborg killer walks past in the same instance, oblivious to its target that is mere feet from him, obscured only by a table and several dancers. Finally, the killer cyborg, "The Terminator" (Schwarzenegger) spots Sarah, raises his pistol, points the laser sight at her forehead, and prepares for the termination of a life and, ultimately, of mankind itself. The protector, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn, Aliens) comes to the rescue at the final moment, fighting off the cyborg long enough to escape with a frightened and confused Sarah. The Terminaor is seemingly invincible. Bullets ricochet off its body. It can mimic the voices of others perfectly. It can kill without feeling or remorse. It's the ultimate weapon, and destroying the seemingly indestructible is the only hope mankind has.
As the movie ends, we are told by a poor Mexican boy that a storm is coming. Little does the muchacho comprehend the figurative meaning that phrase takes on for Sarah Connor. Little did the boy know what a storm this movie would cause. Since 1984, the Terminator franchise has seen a downpour of financial and critical success worldwide. Its star and director have gone on to bigger but not necessarily better things. Perhaps their finest hour, the duo of Cameron and Shwarzeengger accomplished what is almost impossible in Hollywood: they created a classic film packed with action, a tremendous, original plot, and, for the time, fine effects on a nearly shoestring budget. It's status as a classic in its genre is well deserved, and is still perhaps the finest example of the genre, possibly only eclipsed by its bigger budgeted sequel. Schwarzenegger makes up for what he lacks in talent with his larger than life presence on screen, but it's his ability to effectively carry himself and completely immerse himself in the role of the Terminator that makes this film so special. Cameron, too, is still perhaps most famous for his work on the Terminator and its sequel than he is for his work on Titanic, despite that film's still worldwide box office status as "king of the world" in terms of dollars earned theatrically.
The Terminator Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1.85:1 high definition 1080p, I must admit that I was not vastly impressed with the image found on this Blu-ray disc. Granted, the film is more than twenty years old, but this particular print used for the transfer was in less than ideal condition. There were severe and clearly discernible instances of scratches and speckles all over the place. There is a great deal more clarity here than on previous editions, however, so much so that many of the phony looking special effects look even phonier in high definition. Black levels are not entirely solid, bordering on dark gray at times, but I've seen much worse on many newer titles (such as in Broken Arrow). Overall the image quality is sufficient. It's certainly better than its recent DVD counterparts, but not overwhelmingly so. I don't think The Terminator will ever look much better than it does here. It's also the best the film has ever looked and these two factors make this image quality score better than it probably should.
The Terminator Blu-ray, Audio Quality
You haven't heard The Terminator until you have heard it in uncompressed PCM 5.1 sound. I've seen this movie more times than I can remember and it was like hearing it for the very first time. High definition sound is every bit as good as high definition imagery and believe me, the difference is clear and discernible to even the average listener with a decent setup. This track is active and loud. Surrounds are in play throughout. Dialogue can be a little muffled under the loud and rambunctious effects. Sometimes it does sound a bit forced, but it's a very well done remix overall. Rumbling bass is ever present in action shots. I guess the biggest drawback would be the music emanating from the rear channels, but otherwise this is a fabulous remix of the original monaural track. The war sequences set in the future literally put you in the middle of the action. I was most impressed with this mix. The overall score receives minus half a point for the mix being too aggressive at times with the music coming from the rear speakers, and it also gets knocked half a point for the lack of the inclusion of the original mono track for the purists out there who want both (myself included). This is the type of movie that lends itself well to a remix, unlike some other recent films I have reviewed that included a mono-only track, and I'm not disappointed with it. I just would like to have both this and the original mono mix available to me.
The Terminator Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Terminator is a film that screams for a special edition, but what we get on this Blu- ray disc is severely lacking. Leading off is Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects and Music (480p, 12:58). This is a fascinating look at making parts of the film, notably the futuristic battle sequences, but a more comprehensive version (which is out there, just not included here) would have been welcome. Terminator: A Retrospective (480p, 20:31) is a dated, somewhat cheesy retrospective that starts out with a trailer and becomes a discussion between James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold discusses his reaction to the script (he originally read for the part of Reese) and the duo discuss some of the behaviors of the Terminator and Arnold's portrayal, and the origins of the famous "I'll be back" line. Terminated Scenes (480p, 9:56 total) are seven short scenes cut from the film, one of which is a precursor to events in the second film. Finally, 1080p trailers for S.W.A.T., Underworld: Evolution, and xXx finish off this disappointing group of extras.
The Terminator Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Like the movie's villain, this film is relentless in tension, action, and appeal. Looking back, the effects are dated but the intriguing plot, fine direction, and, at least at the time, a groundbreaking and plausible science fiction story made The Terminator a film for the ages. It engendered a new era of science fiction/action films that is only surpassed in scope by its sequel, a film with an appeal all its own that is certainly more polished and slick than The Terminator but it doesn't quite manage to beat out its predecessor in heart. This Blu-ray edition represents quite the quandary for me. The image and sound are certainly better represented here, but the real question is if it's worth the upgrade. Certainly the PCM track is worthy of your dollars, unless, of course, the purist in you demands the original mono and eschews the remixed multi-channel version, which I, the purist, surprisingly loved. The image quality is spotty at best, a shinier and crisper image than its standard definition counterpart to be sure, but it's not so much better that the upgrade is necessarily warranted. The special features, of course, are pitiful and lacking for a film of this stature. I'm recommending The Terminator on Blu-ray, but cautiously. You can bet your bottom dollar that there will be another edition somewhere down the road, but until then, I'd go ahead and pick this up, especially of you are equipped to hear the full PCM 5.1 soundtrack via HDMI.
The Terminator: Other Editions
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