“The machines rose from the ashes of a nuclear fire. Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future. It would be fought here in our present… Tonight.”
Where were you on Judgment Day?
If you don’t know what the original Terminator film is about by know, I’ll still tell you. If you haven’t seen the film, for some reason, drop everything right now and go watch. Anyhow, the original Terminator sees our old California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger staring in the main role as the evil, villainous Terminator. The Terminator has been sent back to the year 1984 with one goal in mind. He must eliminate, at all costs, one Sarah Connor so she can’t give birth to the eventual leader of the rebellion against the machines, her son John Connor. Luckily for Sarah, and unfortunately for the Terminator, a protector has also been sent back. Kyle Reese (Michael Bien) is sent back to stop this villainous figure, all while trying to convince Sarah that he means no harm.
As the Terminator searches for Sarah Connor, Kyle must be careful as to how he approaches Sarah. As Sarah quickly learns, someone is out to get her as she finds out that another woman, by the name of Sarah Connor, has been killed. Sarah decides to go out by herself and ends up at a club called TechNoir after seeing someone following her (This happens to be Kyle who wants to protect her.) The Terminator, naturally always one step ahead of Kyle and Sarah, has already found out where she is when Sarah calls her roommate Ginger (who the Terminator killed thinking it was Sarah). The TechNoir club scene has one of the most skillful scenes in an action film. Sarah is waiting at the club for the police to arrive. When Sarah drops a cup and bends down to pick it up, Cameron slows down the action to see that the Terminator was, literally, a few steps away from Sarah. Talk about a scary and convincing scene.
Looking more and more into the film, I found it interesting how stars like O.J. Simpson were once considered for the role of the Terminator. Even Michael Bien was billed as the villain, but once Cameron met the towering Schwarzenegger one day at lunch, he knew he had his villain placed out. This was the film that launched Schwarzenegger’s American career. Schwarzenegger has a scary, tall, deathly look that he brings to this machine. As he walks around, he never changes his facial tone, rarely speaks, and always seems to evoke a terror in the audience. I remember originally seeing the film in the early 90s when I was 5-6. Schwarzenegger was very terrifying and convincing as this villain. If you need to be convinced that Schwarzenegger was a great actor at one point in his life, see films like this or The Predator for more evidence.
The Terminator is the prime example of a fine action sci-fi film. The film has an excellent haunting score by composer Brad Fiedel, fine director by James Cameron, good acting on all parts, incredible, tense action scenes, and a pretty interesting story. If you haven’t seen this film, slap yourself for not doing so, and then run to your local store and don’t rent, but buy an immediate copy of this classic.
Terminator is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with a disappointing MPEG-2 codec at an average 20 mbps. Basically, this is the same transfer as the earlier Blu-ray. It’s old DVD technology, and the film deserved so much better here. The picture is, indeed, better than the DVD, but not by much. Black levels suffer, and the film is not near as sharp as it should be here. I suggest you wait until they finally decide to give this film the treatment it deserves.
The LPCM 5.1 is a little better than the earlier release. The biggest noticeable difference is that the bullets and machine guns sound like little pings with the Stereo track. The new PCM 5.1 Surround Sound is excellent riddling our ears with never before heard clarity and boom. Since a majority of the film contains explosions and fiery action, little items like the scrapping of the endoskeleton after being hit with the truck toward the end, sound extremely scary and lovely at the same time. The dynamic range has been improved quite a bit, if that was possible. Bullets crash into glasses, cars smash into walls, tankers explode, motorcycles rev and zoom, all while our ears try to keep up with the effects. Dialog, while being partially muted in the prior release and somewhat tough to understand in some of the louder scenes, has been completely restored and fixed up.
- Full-color booklet
- The Terminator: A Retrospective: This eighteen-minute documentary sees Cameron and Schwarzenegger give us a lot of information from their respective 1986 and 1992 interviews. The film’s concepts, Arnold originally cast as the hero, and how the film came about are addressed here.
- Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects and Music: This 12-minute feature focuses on the film’s effects and the film’s creepy, haunting score by Brad Fiedel. The real shame was that they decided not to include the rest of the little features included on the regular DVD release.
- Terminated: This collection of seven deleted scenes is available with or without commentary by Cameron. I found it very interesting why Cameron deleted some of these scenes, as a lot of them added much to the film’s characters and helped to explain things.
“Come with me, if you want to live.”
It’s the movie that put Arnie and James Cameron on the map. It is, to date, the only Cameron feature that clocks in under two hours. And while most fans consider his T2 sequel to be an even better film, there is no denying that it all started here. Judgment Day was truly upon us. As I write this there is some wild buzz that the Biblical Judgment Day is about to happen in less than twenty-four hours. If you read this review, it probably didn’t go down that way. The idiot making the charge will make some new calculations and fool the same folks into the same hysteria at some point in the future. “This is great stuff. I could make a career out of this guy! You see how clever his part is? How it doesn’t require a shred of proof? Most paranoid delusions are intricate, but this is brilliant!”
Parts of this review were written by Brendan Surpless