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"The Terminator" {Blu-ray},DigiBook)
Wayne Klein
Studio: MGM/Fox
Release Date:
Special Features:

Special Effects featurette, retrospective featurette, seven deleted scenes, house in a book with photographs from the film. Rating: R


James Cameron was sick as a dog in Rome. He was working the on post-production of his first film as a director (Piranha 2)when he dreamed up The Terminator. Although it wasn't offically acknowledged for some time, Cameron was inspired by The Outer Limits and episodes like Harlan Ellison's Solider and the episode The Man Who Wasn't Born written by Anthony Lawrence. Ellison received a settlement when he sued the producers, director and studio for plagarism (Lawrence who wrote John Carpenter's excellent TV movie Elvis was not part of the lawsuit although his episode of the show provided many of the same concepts as Ellison's story). Regardless, of the inspiration Cameron's take on the material created a new subgenre within film--tech noir. Cameron and co-write Gale Anne Hurd took a lot of ideas that had been put on film before and mixed them in a new and unique way and THAT'S ultimately what made The Terminator so popular and such a durable franchise that it has survived two sequels made by other writers and directors. ***

The Terminator works amazingly well even when it has no reason to do so. Cameron's understanding of moviemaking along with that of his collaborators Gale Anne Hurd (his co-writer of the final screenplay helping to flesh out Sarah Conner's character among many other things), Stan Winston (who build the Terminator exoskeletons and worked on the make up), music composer Brad Fidel and cinematographer Adam Greenberg helped create a viable action packed science fiction classic of the 80's. The plot is as familar as the taste of chicken noodle soup--The Terminator is send into the past to kill Sara Conner. Conner will be the mother of the human resistance movement. He becomes instrumental in defeating Skynet a computer software program that literally takes control of the world and uses the weapons humans have developed to attempt to wipe out humanity. John Conner, Sarah's son in the future, sends back one of his soliders Kyle to save Sarah's life and prevent the Terminator from taking her life. What ensues is a battle between human and machine that acts as a microversion of what is going to occur in the future. ***

While the popular sequel is a better film all around, the original has grit missing from Cameron's slicker effort. The third film in the series Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine manages to recapture some of the grit of the original and combine it with the operatic and convoluted plot of the second film. Whatever The Terminator lacks in sophisticated visual effects, it more than makes up for in solid storytelling and a b-movie sensibility that works well. ***

While I like the three sequels to a varying degree (with the second film made by Cameron being the best of the sequels), The Terminator established a new subgenre in film and helped spawn countless imitations. It created a new template. ---

Image & Sound:

This features the same 2006 transfer that was done for Blu-ray prevously by Sony when they were distributing MGM titles. The Terminator is NEVER going to look like a demo quality Blu-ray. It looks slightly better than the DVD pulled from the same source with slightly better detail, sharpness, etc. but it's not a huge upgrade. For those of you who have the DVD special edition issued in 2004, you should be prepared for disappointment. ***

There was a rumor that Lowry was preparing a restored version but that rumor popped up two years ago and we have yet to see anything as a result. The film was shot using a variety of filters if I recall correctly so the slightly hazy look is part of the look of the film. Having said that though there are still issues with compression artifacts such as noise and grain patterns that don't shift as you would expect with a better transfer. The original film used MPEG2 and this is a single layer BD. Until we get a new transfer that has been digitally restored this is the best the film is probably going to look. ***

PCM audio takes up quite a bit of space on the single layer disc which is reason the video doesn't look as great as it could. The 5.1 is STILL missing the original mono soundtrack from the film and some new(er) foley sound effects were added to this edition for the 2004 DVD release. ***

We also get optional subtitles in a half a dozen other langauges as well as English.

Special Features:

The original special features on the dual sided DVD had Cameron's commentary for the seven deleted scenes and WHY they were deleted. The commentary was dropped for the Blu-ray and still haven't been restored. We get a retrospective featurette on the making of the movie (the trailer is at the beginning of this). We also get a featurette that lasts about 13 minutes on the special effects. They are all in standard definition. The "Other Voices" documentary that was on the original deluxe edition continues to be missing-in-action. WHY they couldn't restore this and put this on a dual layered BD disc is beyond me. It's shoddy work on the part of Fox to do a straight reissue of the movie this way. ***

The movie is presented in a keep sake book with color photos from the film inside. While that's interesting, it's not something worth paying the additional money for. ---

Final Words:

Cameron's The Terminator is still a terrifically entertaining movie but I'd wait to upgrade to this Blu-ray edition until we see a restored, reissued version of the movie on Blu-ray. Fox has reissued this in new packaging mainly to get their marketing fee for reissuing the movie on Blu-ray and to generate additional interest in the title. MGM and Fox should be ashamed of this straight reissue because the repackaging is a bit deceptive to casual fans that might take this for a remastered edition. It's a low bait and switch that should be condemend. For this reason I'm giving THIS edition of The Terminator a not recommended.


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