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.