Blu-ray: The Terminator Anthology – Would Be Better with a Cast Reunion

With the Expendables 2 recent theatrical release and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to the big screen, Terminator fever is most definitely back in fashion.

For me, the first two Terminator movies have always been the best, with Terminator 2: Judgment Day winning out. These movies featured Arnold in top form – a robotic, muscle-bound killing machine. His thick Austrian accent played well into his cyborg perona; it made his “human” moments with John Connor in Judgment Day some of the most memorable sci-fi scenes in history – even by today’s standards. Sure, they were camp, but it also added a sense of reality to the story of a cyborg from the future coming back in time to save (and destroy) the timeline.

Warner Bros has released The Terminator Anthology as a Best Buy exclusive (sans Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). The collection includes: The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation. The five-disc collection is packaged in a Blu-ray case with a cardboard sleeve – the fifth disc is the bonus disc from Terminator Salvation. The case features the face of a T-800 on the cover. However, when you slip the cardboard sleeve on top, you only see the “T” cutout of the Terminator’s face. It’s a nice design, one worthy of a glass case so that it can be prominently displayed.

Looking back at the first Terminator, I had forgotten how minimum the special effects were. As a child, I remember being bewildered when Arnold pulled out his eye. Watching the film as an adult, it’s hard to digest the edited transitions between Arnold’s side profile shot and animatronic Arnold face. Also, the final scenes where the T-800 is a shown as a full robot and the future scenes (which I never realized until now must have used miniatures) really call attention to the film’s low budget.

The Blu-ray release of the first film doesn’t have any new clean-up work done. All of the releases are the same transfers as their previous releases. Unfortunately, the original Terminator Blu-ray, released in 2006, had a relatively poor transfer. Artifacts are still heavily present and the blacks are overly crushed. Since this film had the lowest budget of the four movies, and the least special effects, it would have been nice if it had been given a better transfer.

Judgment Day, by contrast, has a cleaner transfer. The special effects hold up against today’s standards. Overall, the story and the acting is a major improvement when compared to the first film – even though the first movie had all the great one-liners, which the subsequent films replicated.

If you haven’t had a chance to see the third and fourth movies, this is a great anthology to have. While they don’t have the same intrigue as the first two films, rehashing the same plot throughout John Connors life, they all do fit nicely within the overall story. Salvation, which is the only move where Arnold is not present (they use his image for novelty purposes, but it’s not the real thing and he doesn’t talk), makes a smart nod to the original film when John Connor (Christian Bale) says the famed line, “I’ll be back.”

The Terminator Anthology may not offer any new features, but it does include over ten hours of bonus material. It would be nice to see an anniversary collection released, which delivers a cleaner transfer of the first film. Also, it would need to include a reunion summit that includes all the John Connors (especially Edward Furlong), Linda Hamilton, original director James Cameron and, of course, Arnold.

Terminator Anthology [Blu-ray]

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: August 28, 2012

Rating:
8 / 10

On Judgement Day Schwarzenegger Attached to ‘Terminator 5’– Can The Franchise Be Revived?

It’s no surprise that former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had a line of projects waiting for him after leaving office, but Terminator 5? It’s true. Deadline reported that he is officially attached to a new Terminator theatrical film that would be directed by Justin Lin (Fast Five, Better Luck Tomorrow). The bundle deal is being put out there as bait for all of the big studios and apparently Sony & Lionsgate, Universal, and CBS Films are considering it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator

Pacificor, a hedge fund picked up the rights for the Terminator franchise in a bankruptcy auction for a mere $29.5 million and promised that additional payments would be given to Halcyon (the company that afforded Terminator Salvation) should subsequent films be made. Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Sony and Lionsgate who wanted to make two sequels to close out the franchise once and for all. Also attached to the deal is Robert Cort (Save the Last Dance) as producer but there is no screenwriter at the moment.

When he said he’d be back, he wasn’t kidding. To return to the franchise that launched his career is understandable but it’s hard to imagine Schwarzenegger would fill the role of the T-800/850 model once again at age 63 or beyond. What kind of sage wisdom will our favorite “learning com-pu-tah” bring to the franchise now? How not to balance a budget? A Terminator film with Schwarzenegger involved that would get me into the theaters would be a story about how he became the face of a Cyberdyne killing machine set to destroy the resistance. Maybe he was a “ja-ni-tor.” Look, I’m kidding but there has to be a new angle to use him to make this interesting. Maybe he was someone who fought in the resistance and using his face would have terrified those who knew him to be an honorable soldier. Or maybe, he was a tough S.O.B. who was ruthless and cold that Cyberdyne wanted to honor him. Hell, let’s drag Edward Fulong in while we’re at it.

I don’t know, I just don’t want it to suck. McG’s Salvation conceptually was cool but it was executed so poorly and lacked the depth you need for a high concept sci-fi action film, so hopefully this bundle being shopped around doesn’t need to be a slave to that material. I’m done building up to John Connor’s greatness to be honest. Fox screwed that pooch when they decided to kill the one smart approach at honoring James Cameron’s original two films when they cancelled the brilliant television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Showrunner Josh Friedman proved that the story could be told without Schwarzenegger being involved. Honestly, he doesn’t need to be. The benefit of time travel science fiction is that explanations as to why there are differences can be built in.

But if the old man is going to drag himself out there once again and get nude or (shudder) digitally nude once again, let’s make it worthwhile and either do it in an all great war movie or go completely the opposite and follow the life of the man who Schwarzenegger would play and what happened to him after he lent his face or it was stolen from him for the T-800. Something in the vein of Children of Men and something that would ultimately make us look back on Terminator and T2 in a different, greater light. I’m tired of prefacing every conversation I have about the films by saying “How much I loved T1 and T2 but–”

Am I alone here? I didn’t say it’d be easy, I just shared what would get me to care about seeing Arnie attached to the project. What would get you to see it? Let’s hear what you would do, and under the stipulation that James Cameron cannot and probably will not be involved until the rights revert back to him in 2018.

Blu-ray Review: Terminator Salvation

Much of Terminator Salvation’s pre-release press came courtesy of a blowout between John Connor actor Christian Bale and a crew member on the set. The crew member reportedly walked in Bale’s field of vision during a scene and the actor lost his cool. The audio of the escapade was released online and Bale ultimately explained publicly what happened. Not exactly the kind of hype a studio might want to release a movie to, and odder yet because with such intensity on the set fans might expect to find something magnificent going on in Terminator Salvation. But despite Bale’s apparent intensity, there’s not much acting to be found in the fourth installment of the Terminator film franchise. That said, the movie can still be entertaining, but it is a major disappointing that the blowout is not included as an extra on the Blu-ray disc.

terminatorDespite a dismally-received third installment, hope for a good movie was there with Terminator Salvation, primarily due to the plot point that this would be the first time people would see “the future,” in which Skynet’s robots have turned against the humans and it is left to an adult John Connor to fulfill the prophecy and save the day.

When the film opens, we get a lead-in about some guy (Sam Worthington) on death row donating his body to science. Then we skip forward and see John Connor kicking ass with a rebel-like unit against the overpowering Skynet machines. Worthington’s character, a guy we later learn is named Marcus Wright, emerges from the rubble. Connor is trying to find his father, who is just a child at this point (he goes on to travel back in time and impregnate Sarah Connor), and protect him from Skynet. Skynet’s goal – eliminate Connor’s father, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), and prevent the prophecy from ever coming to fruition.

It wouldn’t be a Terminator movie if these things didn’t unfold with bombastic action sequences, major explosions and a hell of a lot of machinery, some of it inside what appear to be people but are ultimately precursors to the now Governator’s T-800 model. In many ways, horribly-named director McG handles this smoother than Lucas did with the Star Wars prequels. Everything is created keeping in mind that in the lore of Terminator – this is the future and in some ways more advanced, yet at the same time they have not quite reached the sophistication of the T-800 model which was sent back in time in the original films. So there’s a balancing act of awesome future technology, but not going past what might have plausibly existed in the continuity of the film. That said, the Terminator mythology is still quite convoluted.

terminator3
The future may be be more advanced, but once a mushroom cloud always a mushroom cloud.

To give McG credit where it’s due, Terminator Salvation’s action is filmed well, avoiding the split-second ADHD editing of many modern action films utilizing computer-generated imaging. Instead, McG works to create believable sets and holds long on shots so people can actually see the choreographed sequences unfold. And while those sequences don’t quite live up to the originals, they are definitely entertaining – especially one scene featuring a chase with a semi-truck, gigantic robot and Moto-Terminators – and hold up incredibly well with the effects in high-definition. The visuals are fantastic throughout and the audio makes great use of surround sound for the action sequences, working to better sell the world of the movie.

Unfortunately what the film lacks is any semblance of a heart, despite its literal, ridiculously groan-inducing conclusion involving a heart. Yes, the future is bleak in the world of Terminator, but what that amounts to in McG’s world is a series of incredibly blank and stiff performances. A face-off between Bale and Worthington takes center stage, and neither of the two show any emotion throughout, simply yelling louder over the noise, and in the case of Bale doing an incredibly gruff Bat-speak. Yelchin (Star Trek) as Reese is the only character that even feels alive in this film, bringing a true charm to the role.

terminator2

And despite the entertainment value, that lack of heart is enough to derail Terminator Salvation in a big way. Terminator 2 remains the standard for the series, and James Cameron’s take on the story and the characters gave the film a charm despite its plot dealing with assassination of a mother and child. It made the fantastic special effects sequences something that mattered by the time all was said and done. In Salvation, Connor gives a rousing speech about being different than the machines, but the acting and execution of the film are ironically mostly robotic, making viewers wonder whether the people of the future deserve salvation.

terminator5
The only thing about this movie that says Terminator is the machine.

That said, fans of Terminator Salvation will be delighted to know that Warner Bros. gives the movie the Watchmen/300 treatment on Blu-ray. The set includes a director’s cut, the theatrical version, a few special features and a digital copy. The theatrical version can also be watched in Warner Bros. “Maximum Movie Mode,” in which McG occasionally comes on screen and pauses the film to expound on a certain point and show side-by-side comparisons of things. In addition to that, there is sometimes commentary throughout, and picture-in-picture bits, some of which have the option of temporarily exiting to a focus point. It is a great way for hardcore fans to watch a film, especially one that relies as much as this on technology. The features are rounded out by one specific to the Moto-Terminator and another about bringing the series into “the future.” It’s a shame there isn’t more on the discs, but the Maximum Movie Mode should quench most fans’ thirst for behind-the-scenes content.

Special Features:
– The Terminator Salvation Blu-ray disc is presented in 1080p 16×9 2.4:1 aspect ratio video; DTS-HD English 5.1, Dolby Digital French 5.1 and Spanish 5.1 audio; with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles
– The special features are presented in 1080p or 1080i high-definition video; stereo audio; with English SDH and French subtitles
– The Special Edition Blu-ray includes both the director’s cut and theatrical version of the film, as well as a digital copy
-Immersive Warner Bros. Maximum Movie Mode
– The Moto-Terminator: Discover the Unique Collaboration Between the Filmmakers and Ducati
– Re-Forging the Future: See How the Filmmakers Reinvented This Franchise and Took It To Depths Never Seen Before

Inglourious BasterdsTitle: Terminator Salvation (Director’s Cut) [Blu-ray]
Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter
Directed by: McG
Studio: Warner Home Video
Release Date: Dec 1, 2009
Rating: 7.5 / 10

About the Writer:
Bill Jones is the editor-in-chief of padsandpanels.com, a site dedicated to the coverage of comics and gaming.

Giveaway: T2 Judgment Day Blu-ray (Skynet Edition)

t2skynet_bluray_boxartLast week, we launched a cool giveaway in conjunction with the release of Warner Bros’ Terminator Salvation. This week, we have another awesome Terminator contest. One lucky entrant will win “Terminator 2 Judgment Day: Skynet Edition” on Blu-ray Disc!

Entering is simple. You’ve got to be 18 years of age, reside in the USA and provide your name and a valid email address (only used to contact winner) in the form below. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 7 days to claim their prize. Make sure you get your entry in before Sunday, June 21, 2009 11:59PM PST!

If, for some strange reason, you have never seen Terminator 2: Judgment Day, here’s a little bit about one of the best movies of the 90s:

t2-t1000

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the Terminator in this explosive action-adventure spectacle. Now he’s one of the good guys, sent back in time to protect John Connor, the boy destined to lead the freedom fighters of the future. Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor, John’s mother, a quintessential survivor who has been institutionalized for her warning of the nuclear holocaust she knows is inevitable. Together, the threesome must find a way to stop the most lethal Terminator ever created. Co-written, produced and directed by James Cameron, this visual tour de force is also a touching human story of survival.

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Giveaway: Terminator Salvation

Judgment Day has officially arrived. Terminator Salvation opens in movie theaters May 21.

terminator_salvationTo mark the event, BuzzFocus and Titan Books are teaming up to giveaway (3) copies of Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion.

Now, you can go behind the scenes of Terminator and discover the secrets of Skynet.

Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion
The year is 2018. Judgment Day has come to pass and Skynet has destroyed much of the world’s population. In this post-apocalyptic world populated by deadly killing machines, the Resistance, including John Connor, continues its brutal fight for survival.

This Official Companion to the epic new chapter in the Terminator saga is the complete guide to the making of the movie. Out now from Titan Books.

Entering is simple. You’ve got to be 18 years of age, reside in the USA and provide your name and a valid email address (only used to contact winner) in the form below. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 7 days to claim their prize. Make sure you get your entry in before Sunday, June 11, 2009 11:59PM PST!

(3) lucky winners will win a copy of
Terminator Salvation: The Official Movie Companion!

Check out Terminator Salvation and other Titan Books now.

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Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins to Open May 22, 2009

Christian Bale to star Terminator Salvation: The Future BeginsThe next film from the Terminator franchise is set to hit theaters May 22, 2009, capitalizing on the movie-goer friendly Memorial Day weekend.

Dubbed “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” the movie stars Batman Begins star Christian Bale as the storied John Connor. It will also feature Sam Worthington of Avatar fame.

Warner Bros. hasn’t released any meaty details on the plot, but this film will start another trilogy about the time after the machines have waged war on mankind.