Terminator Special Edition DVD Review

Just imagine this: You've just finished making Piranha 2, a pretty abysmal sequel to the Roger Corman cult classic. You lay down one night soon after and you have a visionÖa vision that has you imagining a giant metal man walking through a pillar of fire. Then you get $6 million dollars from a major studio to turn it into a movie. That film just happened to be James Cameron's sci-fi classic The Terminator, a film that completely changed time travel and Schwarzenegger cyborg action films forever. Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn) is sent back in time as is the T-101, a human/cyborg combo killing machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Their goals are completely opposite. One is attempting to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) while the other is trying to protect her and save the future of mankind. It's a violent game of cat and mouse throughout the entire running time.
Of course, every movie and sci-fi fan knows the film is much deeper than that. This is a classic story with perfect performances, almost flawless effects (the replica rubber Arnold face is painfully obvious), and action sequences that are only bettered by the films two sequels. Everything is explained in detail and it actually seems plausible thanks to the outstanding writing. The fact that this was made for just over a paltry $6 million is even more stunning with the visual effects that even some bigger budgeted films have yet to match. This one is a classic that everyone should have in their film library and is only slightly bettered by the perfect sequel. (**** out of *****) This is the second time The Terminator has been available on DVD and thankfully this one is light years ahead of the previous featureless release. Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, this is an amazing transfer and even more stunning print. Almost all scratches and specs have been cleaned up, only becoming a problem during some of the stop motion scenes late in the film. Some of the nighttime sequences suffer from grain issues, but these are entirely forgivable considering the age and lower budget of the movie. (****) Remixed from a mono track, the audio has been fully remixed into a full-on Dolby 5.1 EX experience. This is one of the best mono-to-5.1 remixes to ever hit the format, only lacking some full on bass at times. Lasers and bullets will fly through the sound field, a massive change from the dull mono of the original recording. The soundtrack also immerses the viewer, right along with all the glass shattering, cars crashing, and things blowing up. The voices are occasionally drowned out with a minor layer of static, but again, considering the age, it's all very much acceptable. Also included are French and Spanish 5.1 EX mixes along with the original mono track. (****) As mentioned before, the featureless disc of the past is now just that: the past. All of the features are contained on side two of the disc. The main draw of the DVD is a hour-long documentary entitled "Other Voices" which has the nearly all of the crew talking about the making of the movie, from conception to the premier. Arnold and Hamilton only appear in interview segments from 1991. If you needed to know anything about the film, it's most likely been included here. Sadly, there are no chapter stops so if you only want to watch a single segment, you'll have to use the fast forward button. Next up is "The Terminator: A Retrospective," a 10-minute sit down interview with James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Clips from this interview also appear in the above documentary. There are some clips from a 1986 interview with Cameron as well. Both share some fun stories from the set and how some shots are accomplished. James Cameron also leads viewers through 7 deleted scenes with an optional commentary on all of them. Each is introduced with a text screen that explains where the scene would have appeared in the film. There are some nice storyboards and stills from the set as well. The entire written script has been tossed on as well. Finally, you'll get the usual array of trailers, from teasers to TV spots. The case states there are some hidden features, but I found nothing. I don't see any reason to hide things on a disc. Just put it on the menu in plain view people! It's a great disc otherwise, but if a full audio commentary is what you were looking for, you'll probably be disappointed as one has not been included. (****) There are 2 versions of this same disc. The initial release had a sort of "holo-foil" on the cover that shimmered in the light. The later releases lack this. The discs are exactly the same, save for the packaging. Regardless of which you choose, your getting a great disc that contains not only a cinematic classic, but some outstanding features as well. This is a disc that needs a place on your shelf and certainly can boot the initial DVD release right off.

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