The Terminator, Blu-ray (1984/2011)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn
Director: James Cameron
Studio: MGM/Fox [5/10/11]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English PCM uncompressed 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, French, Korean, Portuguese, Swedish
Extras: 7 deleted scenes, “Creating the Terminator:” Visual Effects & Music, “Terminator: A Retrospective”
Length: 108 minutes
This is amazingly the fourth release of Terminator on Blu-ray – due to Schwarzenegger being in the news for something else now, or perhaps because MGM is in bankruptcy proceedings? Probably neither, but although this time it comes in lovely hardback book form (with a disc that tends to fall out when you open it), it is still, I understand, the same remastering of the film that was done for the initial Blu-ray release, and is much more expensive than any of the previous releases. Content is the same on all the discs, including the three extras.
The film looks great, and it’s difficult to believe that it actually had a limited budget, as explained by the special effects people in one of the extras. The scenes of the devastation being caused by the robots in the future were mostly filmed on a small scaled-down set just a few feet in size, with many images cut out of cardboard. The shot of the front axle being accidentally pulled off the model truck that was exploding with 42 timed charges is something to see. It meant the effects people had to build a complete new truck in two days to shoot it again.
The story, in case you’ve somehow missed this classic, has Arnold as the cyborg Terminator sent back in time from the future by the robots to kill young Sarah Connor because she will eventually give birth to the son who will lead humanity in the war against the machines. She does a good job of playing the innocent and at first unbelieving young woman, who is saved from the Terminator by human Reece from the future, who has come back at the same time to protect Sarah. Later in the Terminator series and the TV series spun off from it she develops into a tough lady who can do anything to survive. It’s basically a chase movie in which Sarah and Reece are trying to stay alive with the Terminator dogging their every move, and the suspense is pretty continual. The soundtrack music is no great work of art but with the realistic sound effects supports and extends the violent on-screen happenings.
Arnold’s “I’ll be back” phrase from this feature was repeated in four more films he made, as a running gag. Cameron says in one of the extras that he never intended it to be humorous, just part of the plot that the Terminator was programmed for one thing only – to kill Sarah Connor. The credits include a thanks to Harlan Ellison, so Cameron’s unusual sci-fi story line evidently had some high quality influences. I suppose since he is currently converting his Titanic to after-the-fact 3D, the Terminator films will be next.
— John Sunier