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The Terminator Anthology (Blu-ray)
Warner Brothers / 1984 / Rated R
Street Date: March 05, 2013
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Reviewed by Tom Landy
Thursday, August 30, 2012
The four-film'Terminator Anthology' is a 5-Disc Blu-ray set currently exclusive to Best Buy. The packaging features a slipcover which frames a giant T over the classic metal skull of a T-800 Terminator. Removing the cover reveals the full metal skull, printed and embossed on a sheet of aluminum protected by a thin plastic film. Inside, the films are arranged chronilogically and, though they feature a uniform logo and disc art, these 5 discs are exact copies of the following individual Blu-ray releases. They include:
Disc Two: 'Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Skynet Edition', as reviewed by Peter M. Bracke in 2009. This release includes three cuts of the film: the 137 minute Theatrical Version, the 153 minute Special Edition, and the 158 minute Extended Special Edition featuring an alternate ending. To access the Extended Special Edition, you must enter "82997" (Judgement Day).
Disc Three: 'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, as reviewed by Peter M. Bracke in 2007.
Discs Four & Five: 'Terminator Salvation' 2-Disc Edition, as reviewed by Tom Landy in 2009. Disc 4, labeled "Terminator Salvation", contains the film's Theatrical Version and Special Features. Disc 5, labeled "Terminator Salvation Bonus Disc", houses the film's Director's Cut and BD-Live.
'The Terminator' (4/5 stars) "is a staple of the science fiction genre and one of the defining examples of blockbuster filmmaking. While there are certain weaknesses in the script, the action, effects, and creativity more than make up for any minor shortcomings. Cameron was able to tap into some very basic fears and create a truly terrifying story of a creature that will literally stop at nothing to terminate its target. Even in the film world's current climate of big budget computer-generated summer tent-poles, 'The Terminator' remains to show that all one really needs to create explosive entertainment is talent, ingenuity, and courage."
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' (3.5/5 stars). "Strip away all the post-apocalyptic talk, all the Sarah-John intra-family melodramatics, and the numerous time-travel plot holes (though to be fair, time travel itself is one big plot hole), and 'T2' is filled with almost wall-to-wall gangbusters action. It is one great big spectacle full of explosions, car chases, lots of cyborg fighting and Furlong spouting lines like 'Affirmative' in his mini-Keanu Reeves baritone. So what's not to love, even if I miss some of the low-budget charm and inventiveness of the original? And really, can any movie that features a Terminator asking, 'Why do you cry?' be all bad?"
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (3/5 stars) "has no reason to exist other than because they wanted to make another sequel, so it is our sheer familiarity with the Cameron-directed epics that fuels any enjoyment we get out 'Rise of the Machines. It only thrills us, makes us laugh or packs emotional resonance -- let alone makes any sense -- because we are still so in love with the first two movies that we'll take anything we're given. 'T3' is its own artificial, collective memory bank of a movie."
'Terminator Salvation' (3/5 stars). "I didn't loathe 'Terminator Salvation,' but I didn't love it either. I think if McG had refined some of the action, toned down the fluff, and put a bit more focus on a few characters (a couple are a total waste and only there for show) then it may have had a stronger reception. As it stands, the film is still entertaining for what it is and oddly enough does seem to improve on repeat viewings, just don't expect the second coming of Cameron."
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has assembled a 5-Disc / 4-film collection made up of the four currently available, but separate, Blu-ray releases. However, there are a couple notable differences. First, 'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' was previously released, thanks to a production error, in 1080i. That appears to be corrected here. Second, the initial 'Terminator Salvation' release included a Digital Copy (via disc) of the film; this set does not.
'The Terminator' 1080p/MPEG-2/1.85:1. (2.5/5 stars). "While this transfer may have been acceptable in 2006, it certainly has not aged well and is average at best. Though many of the issues discussed may be a result of the film's low budget roots and intended gritty look, the fact of the matter is this just isn't a very good video presentation. This classic film deserves so much better, so instead of simply repackaging the same lackluster disc over and over again, it might be a worthy investment to actually remaster the video and give customers something of actual value."
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' 1080p/VC-1/2.35:1. (4/5 stars). "T2 looks very good on Blu-ray. Shot in James Cameron's beloved Super35 process, 'T2' has always looked a little grainy, and there is some here, but overall the source is cleaner than past DVD and LaserDisc versions, with no irritating blemishes or speckles. Most aspects of this presentation are just as good as before -- great blacks, clean and consistent contrast (aside from the Sarah Connor apocalyptic sequences, which are intentionally blown-out) and strong visible detail. Close-ups are particularly impressive, and though not dripping with depth, the image does exhibit a frequent dimensional effect, particularly on darker interiors."
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 1080p/VC-1/2.40:1. (4/5 stars). "The print is in great shape, with no visible blemishes, speckles or other anomalies to report. Blacks are perfect, and contrast natural and consistent. Color reproduction is quite nice, with a rich palette of hues that appears stable and free of noise. However, due to some uses of filtering (such as during the truck chase, which is supposed to take place at dawn but was clearly shot during the day) fleshtones sometimes render a bit on the red side (though perhaps this is intentional). As far as detail, daylight scenes are usually excellent, with that impressive sense of three-dimensionality that I've come to love about high-def." [NOTE: because the 1080i error has been corrected, we matched the star rating, and hyperlinked, to the 2006 HD-DVD release of the film, since they are the same transfer.]
'Terminator Salvation' 1080p/VC-1/2.40:1. (4.5/5 stars) "Practically flawless. The source is terrific, completely devoid of dirt, debris, and other imperfections. As one would expect from this type of movie, the picture has a very washed-out palette primarily consisting of various shades of browns and grays to replicate the bleak futuristic world of tomorrow. There's a mild to medium grain presence for a gritty film-like appearance, and although grain levels do become heavier in poorly lit areas like the tunnels and sewers, it's never a distraction and really suits the mood of the film. The sense of depth is also pleasing and detailing is fantastic. Everything looks grungy and is caked with dust and grime. Facial close-ups reveal pores, stubble, and other fine intricate details with incredible distinction. The texturing on clothing and weathered remnants of civilized life is outstanding. I did spot the occasional scene having a slight softness and black level down to about 98 percent, but both of these instances were minimal at best in an otherwise stellar transfer."
'The Terminator' LPCM 5.1. (3.5/5 stars). "While not quite at the same level as some new releases, this audio mix is a fairly powerful 5.1 rendition of the film's original mono track. Unfortunately, that original mono track is not included here, which might upset purists who are not fans of the film's remixed audio. Dialogue is clean, though there are some slight distortions and crackles in the high frequencies. Surround usage sends laser blasts, explosions, gun shots, and squealing tires all around in a fairly enveloping and seamless presentation. Directionality and imaging are also well handled to provide a pretty natural experience, though some choices can feel as a bit too deliberate or artificial. Dynamic range and bass both bring a decent scale and kick to effects, even if neither are on par with contemporary action films."
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' 6.1 DTS-HD MA. (4.5/5 stars). "T2 really raised the bar in terms of surround sound when it was first released in 1992 and I can still remember seeing the film in the theater and just being amazed at the sound that was coming out of the speakers all around me. The film's sound design remains aggressive, with very active use of the rear channels for both loud action as well as minor atmospheric details. The added center surround channel improves transparency of pans, and also increases overall heft of the rear soundstage. Brad Fiedel's iconic score is also very well integrated throughout. The mix is not consistent in terms of providing a sustained "wall of the sound" as with the absolute best Blu-rays I've heard, but it is impressive for an almost twenty year-old film."
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 5.1 Dolby Digital - 640kps. (3.5/5 stars). "Make no mistake, the sound design for 'T3' is tremendous. Surrounds are consistently engaged and often create a complete 360-degree soundfield, especially during the action sequences. Imaging across all channels is near-transparent, and excellent use is made of discrete effects, including dialogue. Marco Beltrami's score is the only disappointment -- it is not integrated into the mix strongly enough and lacks the industrial sturm and drang of Brad Fiedel's compositions in the first two films. Dynamic range is excellent, with a very spacious midrange, clean highs and powerful bass. The .1 LFE really gets a workout with the mass destruction -- this one will really move the furniture around if you crank it up. Still, as good as the track sounds, it's hard to imagine it wouldn't sound even better in full high-res audio."
'Terminator Salvation' 5.1 DTS-HD MA. (5/5 stars) "Bombastic and intense. Starting things off is Danny Elfman's score that fills the soundstage like liquid metal, and as soon as it is punctuated with the thunderous Terminator percussions it pretty much seals the demo material deal. Dialogue is always intelligible even amidst all the chaos going on in the film. Dynamic range is also among the grandest I've heard yet. Explosions, gunfire, and clanking machinery are extremely powerful, and the sense of directional movement is as authentic and immersive as it can get. Aerial flybys have smooth pans and a hefty presence viewers can actually feel. The rear channels are vigorous throughout too (the scene when Connor is attacked by the hydrobots is amazing) and even the quieter, subtler moments deliver realistic and convincing acoustics. Without any doubts whatsoever, I can safely say fans will be ecstatic with this mix."
'The Terminator' (1.5/5 stars).
Again, supplements are replicated from previous Blu-ray releases. Though sparse, there is some fairly interesting stuff here, but it's unlikely fans of the film haven't already seen or heard the content countless times before. All of the features are provided in standard definition with Dolby Digital stereo tracks and no subtitle options.
- Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects and Music (SD, 13 min) - This is a brief, but fairly interesting look at the making of the film's special effects, focusing on the scenes set in the future and the tanker truck explosion near the climax of the movie. Interviews with the visual effects crew and behind-the-scenes footage is included detailing how miniatures and forced perspective were used in the process. The music of the film is also touched upon, including an interview with the composer.
- The Making of The Terminator: A Retrospective (SD, 21 min) - This is a look back at the production of the movie and mainly consists of a conversation between director James Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Topics touched upon include the inspiration for the story, casting, crafting the character of The Terminator once Arnold was brought on board, Stan Winston's fantastic make-up and effects, and the success which led to the second film. Though nothing groundbreaking, fans of the film who somehow haven't already seen this feature will definitely want to check it out.
- Terminated Scenes (SD) - Seven deleted scenes are included here. Most are quick and disposable, but there are a few worthy bits of development between characters and several hints and setups of plotlines to come.
- Previews (HD) - Previews for 'S.W.A.T.', 'Underworld: Evolution', and 'XXX' are provided in 1080p with Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks.
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' (2/5 stars).Oh, boy, here we go. Lionsgate has raided all of its previous DVD editions of 'Terminator 2' to compile this 'Skynet Edition.' Sure, there are a few archival bits of footage missing here or there, but for the most part, this set is packed enough to please most completists. And let's face it -- we've seen all of these interviews and commentaries and storyboards before, as nothing new has been produced for the 'Skynet Edition.' This is just another rehash, so don't expect any surprises. (Note that most of the making-of materials have been repurposed as picture-in-picture modes, so I will discuss those in the section below.)
Oh, and a note to Lionsgate and any future producer of a 'T2' special edition: can we please stop with the overdone menus and endless THX and DTS logos!? This damn disc not only takes forever to "load confidential Skynet information" before booting up, but the menus are ludicrously arcane with their cluttered graphics and weirdly-labeled subsections... and that's before you start the movie, after which you have to sit through another endless series of logos. I found it all supremely annoying.
- Audio Commentaries - Two "archival" tracks included. Director James Cameron recorded his first-ever audio commentary for the 'T2 Extreme Edition' DVD, along with co-writer William Wysher. It is a very strong effort indeed. Say what you want about the one-time "King of the World!", but he is a very intelligent, articulate, and passionate guy, and along with Wysher he imparts a great deal of detail on all aspects of the film's development, production and release. He explains every technical decision, as well as maintaining consistent story points with the first film with Wisher. Definitely a must listen.
The second track is just as good, though 'just" an assemblage of audio interview extracts (meaning the participants do not address directly what is onscreen). However, with 26 members of the cast and crew of 'T2' on board and all the major players are represented -- Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, and most of the main technical team -- how could it not succeed? I really like these compiled, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tracks, because they are so informative and no one person gets to dominate. So I'm afraid that along with the Cameron and Wysher track, you're going to have to watch 'T2' yet again.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 minutes) - As this disc provides both the extended and theatrical versions of 'T2,' there are only two deleted scenes properly presented. One is a short bit with the T-1000 searching John Connor's bedroom, and the other the much-maligned alternate ending, featuring Linda Hamilton in hilariously bad old-age make-up spouting a feel-good monologue about hope and tranquility. The scenes look great, though, as they are presented in full 1080p/VC-1 video.
- Theatrical Trailers (HD) - Three trailers are included plus a couple of extra previews. We get the film's teaser and two theatrical trailers. Also here is a video promo for the 'T2' special edition DVD, and the 'T2' THX logo that seems to be so beloved by fans. All of the clips have been mastered in 1080p/VC-1 video and looks quite good.
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (3/5 stars).
Mirroring the previous HD DVD and standard-def DVD releases of 'Terminator 3,' Warner has ported over the same basic package of extras for the Blu-ray. It's not a bad assortment (particularly the copious number of commentaries), but it’s starting to feel a bit dated.
- Audio Commentaries - A whopping three are included: a solo track with director Jonathan Mostow, a second track with Mostow and cast Arnold Schwarzenegger, Claire Danes, Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken, and a third (which did not appear on the standard-def DVD release) with Mostow again, joined by screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, director of photography Don Burgess, and production designer Jeff Mann. Mostow introduces both "group" tracks, which are an amalgam of the actors and crew, all recorded in different cities and edited together. I actually like these patchwork commentaries, since they’re usually stuffed with information and don't suffer from long gaps of silence. In any case, the cast track is the highlight, as they’re all much more forthright than they are on the dull video extras. It is positively surreal to hear Governor Schwarzenegger talk like the action star he once was -- although his initial, endless ramblings about his naked body are somewhat creepy. Danes and Stahl also have a sense of humor about tackling such a huge project and what they thought it might do to their careers at the time. Loken may have had the toughest job of all, making a leather-clad female terminator believable, but she handles it all with aplomb and is very engaging throughout. In fact, the cast track is so good that by the time we get to the other two tracks, they can't help but seem dull by comparison. There is a considerable amount of repetition in them, though Mostow certainly delves into all of the nuts and bolts production details that are completely lacking in the cast commentary. Of course, just how many commentaries you can sit through for one movie is up to you, but kudos to Warner nonetheless.
- TV Special: "HBO First Look" (SD, 24 minutes) - Your standard pre-release commercial. We don't learn anything we didn't already know after watching the flick, and typical of most on-set interviews, Mostow, Schwarzenegger, Stahl and Danes can't reveal too much about the plot, except for making the typical, "It's gonna be great!" comments.
- Featurette: "Dressed to Kill" (SD, 3 minutes) - A breezy look at how to costume a Terminator, and what to wear if you’re being chased by one. Fun, but too short.
- Featurette: "Toys in Action" (SD, 8 minutes) - This vignette pays a visit to artist Todd McFarlane and all his various Terminator-inspired toys that have come out over the years. Again, this one’s a bit short, and feels more like a commercial than a true featurette.
- Storyboards (SD, 4 minutes) - A montage of the film's climatic Terminator vs. Terminator duel, the entire sequence is shown as a side-by-side comparison between the storyboards and the final finished film, complete with soundtrack.
- "Sgt. Candy Scene" (SD, 3 minutes) - This is a total oddity -- a deleted comedy movie-within-a-movie scene that, frankly, made no sense to me.
- Theatrical Trailer (SD) - Rounding it all out is the film's original theatrical trailer, which like all the rest of the extras is in 480p/MPEG-2 video only.
'Terminator Salvation' (N/A).
See below. All 'Terminator Salvation' special features are exclusive to the Blu-ray.
'The Terminator' (N/A).
No HD exclusives here.
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' (2.5/5 stars).
It's mind-boggling, considering how many editions of 'T2' have hit home video, that a truly comprehensive making-of documentary about the film has yet to be produced. In the meantime, Lionsgate continues to regurgitate the same old archival interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and text materials that fans have seen forever on its 'T2' video releases. So here we go again -- there are a load of "interactive modes" available on this disc, but it's all the same old stuff. That technically makes these features exclusives, but again, don't expect anything actually new here aside from the Blu-ray-fancy window dressing.
Unfortunately, even the glitz failed to impress me here. I just don't like these overly-cluttered navigation systems. There are so many PIP options that just navigating all the buttons and options is a pain. There is also no explanation about which modes work together or overlap, and also no markers (that I could find) that tell you which chapters have material -- I spent more time watching dead space and empty PIP frames, waiting to click a button to call up some video clip or storyboard, than just sitting back and enjoying the content. There is such a thing as too complicated, and this 'Skynet Edition' proves it -- sometimes less is more.
- Visual Implants (BonusView) - The first of no less than eight(!) interactive modes, "Visual Implants" has repurposed the video-based archival interview and making-of material from past DVD versions of 'T2' to create a sort-of visual commentary. Again, the lack of freshness hurts -- I learned nothing I didn't know before, so this track will only really benefit someone who has never picked up 'T2' before on video (if such a person still exists on this planet).
- Trivia Data Overlay/Production Data Overly/Linked Data Modules (BonusView) - These three modes are all lumped together under the same heading in the menu (I'm not sure why, as each is a separate track). "Trivia" is just that, mixing text commentary (taken from the cast & crew audio commentary and excerpts), with factoids. It is a good track, if familiar. "Production Data Overlay" gives specific technical details aka "shot methodologies" in text form throughout the film. Finally, "Linked Data Modules" is actually a branching feature that takes you to audio-enhanced still slideshows at pre-determined points during playback. These are kinda neat, actually.
- Source Code/Schematics (BonusView) - These two seem to be exclusive from each other, i.e., I couldn't get both to engage at the same time (even though they are listed together on the menu). "Source Code" is the film's entire screenplay, synced very well to the action on-screen. "Schematics" are animated storyboard sequences, also specific to the action we're watching.
- Query Mode (BonusView) - Just as it sounds, what seems like close to a hundred questions pop-up throughout the film, testing your knowledge of 'T2' lore and legend.
- Processor Tests (BonusView) - More games. Unfortunately, I activated this mode, and am still waiting for the promised "mindgames" to appear. I sure wish some sort of chapter markers were included so I knew where, exactly, during the movie the games are supposed to appear...
- Data Center (BD-Live) - Finally, 'T2' also comes with BD-Live connectivity. Lionsgate promises a "Skynet Data Center" will launch soon (at press time, it is not active) with additional content. (For some reason I'm expecting lots of 'Terminator Salvation' promo tie-ins.) As always, watch this space.
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2.5/5 stars).
'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' was among the earliest Warner HD DVD releases to enjoy an "In-Movie Experience" video commentary track, but it still holds up as one of the best. The title continues to make high-def history, as it is the first Blu-ray "catch up" title for the studio, presenting a similar picture-in-picture experience using a combination of separately-encoded video segments and the Blu-ray format's seamless branching capabilities. Though not a true Profile 1.1 feature (this one will play on any Blu-ray player), it behaves like one, so I suspect the final result will be seamless to users.
- In-Movie Experience - What's really cool about this track is that director Jonathan Mostow (as well as producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna) have recorded new introductions and full-length interviews. At the beginning, Mostow promises we'll get "material never-before-seen by the general public,” and that turns out to be true -- there is a good amount of making-of footage here that’s not included on the standard-def extras. Doubly cool is the fact that, five years on, we're finally getting some real perspective on the film and its place in the 'Terminator' pantheon. However, Mostow also hogs most of the runtime, so this almost functions as a new solo commentary with little video bits edited in. Still, this track essentially remains a brand-new, 109-minute documentary, and one that gives a solid overview of the production of the film -- it's well worth watching.
'Terminator Salvation' (3.5/5).
As previously mentioned, since the DVD release doesn't contain any bonus material whatsoever, all of the content found on the Blu-ray is an exclusive.
- Director's Cut of the Film – I'm including this in this section since technically it is a Blu-ray exclusive. The R-rated version adds about three extra minutes of deleted and extended footage not shown in the PG-13 Theatrical release. To be honest there's nothing really earth shattering here (a few alternate lines, some more explicit violence, and a brief glimpse of a topless Moon Bloodgood), but it's still nice to have anyhow.
- Maximum Movie Mode (HD, 2:01:43) – First introduced on the 'Watchmen: Director's Cut,' Warner's mother of all picture-in-picture experiences is included and is easily the main selling point of this Blu-ray release. As the film plays, a variety of interview clips, storyboards, still galleries, focus point featurettes, Terminator timelines, and more will periodically pop-up to provide an interactive smorgasbord of additional content. Director McG will also seamlessly appear before two screens on occasion (one on the left containing the finished film and the other on the right showing behind-the-scenes footage) to comment on certain segments of the movie. McG's virtual tour covers the effects behind certain action sequences, scenes that didn't turn out as well as planned, material from the cutting room floor, and even a peek at a much darker alternate ending. Hats off to Warner for delivering another impressive and innovative feature taking full advantage of what the Blu-ray format has to offer.
- Focus Points (HD) – The production vignettes accessible via the Maximum Movie Mode can also be easily viewed separately from the menu. There are eleven of these behind-the-scenes featurettes in total: 'Digital Destruction,' 'Enlisting the Air Force,' 'Molten Metal and the Science of Simulation,' 'Building the Gas Station,' 'Creating the VLA Attack,' 'Exploding Serena's Lab in Miniature,' 'Hydrobots,' 'An Icon Returns,' 'Terminator Factory,' 'Stan Winston Workshop,' and 'Napalm Blast.'
- The Moto-Terminator (HD, 8:33) – This featurette takes a look at the collaboration between Ducati motorcycles, Industrial Light & Magic, and the production team to create the driverless scouting machines seen in the film.
- Re-Forging the Future (HD, 19:00) – The last featurette can be classified as a "making-of" piece covering the evolution of the Terminator franchise for the post-apocalyptic sequel.
Warner also includes their BD-Live portal on the Director's Cut disc, giving access to even more additional content (profile 2.0 compatible players required).
- "Resist or Be Terminated" Video Archive – These appear to be a series of webisodes promoting the film.
- Terminator Salvation Official Movie Prequel Digital Comic Issue #1 – Like the title states, the first issue of the 'Terminator Salvation' prequel comic book is available on the server.
- Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series – Moon Bloodgood reprises her role as Blair Williams in this CGI miniseries along the same style as the animated 'Resident Evil: Degeneration' film which takes place a couple of years after the events in 'Terminator Salvation.' Considering that this series is also available as a standalone DVD release, Blu-ray owners definitely get more bang for their buck.
- My Commentary – Amateur commentators can record their own audio commentary.
No easter eggs reported for 'The Terminator Anthology' yet. Found an egg? Please use our tips form to let us know, and we'll credit you with the find.
'Terminator Anthology' is currently a 5-Disc Best Buy Blu-ray exclusive made up of the four-film Terminator franchise. The packaging is well-constructed, generally easy to use (the second 'Terminator Salvation' disc is a little tricky), and it's nice to have the whole collection in one package. With the exception of 'T3', which receives an upgrade to 1080p over 1080i, and 'Terminator Salvation', which loses its Digital Copy, there doesn't appear to be any difference between the discs in this set and previous releases. Picture and audio quality range from average ('The Terminator'; 'T3') to demo worthy ('T2'; 'Terminator Salvation'). And supplemental special features range from non-existent to fully loaded. If you own any of the Terminator franchise films seperately, this probably isn't worth it, but if, for some reason, you've held off, this anthology represents a fair value in fun packaging. Worth a look.
It's also worth noting that there are rumors of 'The Terminator' getting a new Blu-ray release in the UK with a new master.