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.
'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.
'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.
'Terminator Salvation' (N/A).
See below. All 'Terminator Salvation' special features are exclusive to the Blu-ray.
'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.