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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Robots > Terminator Salvation – Director’s Cut (2009/Warner Blu-ray + DVD)

Terminator Salvation – Director’s Cut (2009/Warner Blu-ray + DVD)


Picture: B+/B-     Sound: A-/B-     Extras: B/D     Film: B



To date Terminator Salvation has had some very mixed reviews; some crucifying it for defacing the established mythology and others feeling it fits perfectly well into the Terminator universe.  As a reviewer I am finding myself somewhere in between as Terminator Salvation dances a thin line between a solid film and egocentric debauchery.  The film in my opinion is 90% good, until the very end when the money hungry writers/directors/studio decided that at least two more sequels would be necessary and created an ending that was so farfetched that not even a heart transplant good save the film.


The story of Terminator Salvation takes place in the “post-apocalyptic” world where machines having taken over.  After the three previous Terminator films preached the “coming of the end;” it finally happened.  The earth has been ravaged by war, weapons and machines and the small bands of human survivors have set out to set things write.  The people of earth are essentially in one of two categories; wandering nomads who are barely scraping by as they attempt to duck and cover from the machines and the resistance.  The resistance is run in a standard military fashion with different ranking officers and bands of soldiers; one of the higher ranking soldiers being the “chosen one” John Connor.  John Connor (Christian Bale) is now all grownup and seemingly hardened by a life of hardships and death; having never known his father as well as losing his mother and childhood to the machines.  As he was robbed of a normal life John Connor in the aftermath of Judgment Day, with the help of his elite team, set out to end the reign of the overpowering Skynet and its robots.  Out on a routine “machine smashing” mission John Connor and his crew find that the machines have begun to collect humans for experimentation and it is not until later in the film do we discover the extent of their endeavors.  A concurrent story arch develops at the same time as the John Connor story, in which Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) arrives mysteriously in the future; having been sentenced to death for crimes some years earlier.  Whereas Marcus’s intentions are unknown, he quickly befriends a young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who helps him understand the world he has arrived in.  Not before long we discover Marcus is an all out machine smashing badass; who shoots first and asks questions later.  On the way to meet up with John Connor Marcus and Kyle run into a problem as Kyle is taken by a humongous human collecting machine; in turn Marcus follows the beast to Skynet.  Eventually John Connor and Marcus have a run in that completely changes things for the resistance and from that moment on the game has changed.


The film is very stylistic and innovative for a storyline that could have died with the dreadful T3 (sorry to any fans out there).  The film has its problems like any other big Hollywood action-flick; but I have to say I was thoroughly entertained, until the end when the film’s team decided to take the “financially sound” way out.  Would I like to see more Terminator films? Yes, but there are so many other ways this film could have ended; with the manner in which it did end being insanely idiotic and over the top.  The acting is well done, the script is solid, the technology is there and even as some complain about the grey and brown filming technique, I quite liked it and found that it gave the film a nice hopeless edge.  The filming style set the worlds of the film apart; with the cold, steely shine of the silver machines showing a heartless darkness the browns and grey palate of the humans showed a world waiting to be washed clean, ready for color and life.  I would not say it is the best film of the series (I leave that slot for T2), but it was well done and I wait to see what the future holds.  The audience will be hosting its own Judgment Day here.


The picture, sound and extras on these Blu-ray and DVD releases are well done, but not the most perfect Blu-ray has seen.  The picture on the Blu-ray is presented in a 1080p VC-1 encoded High Definition, 16x9 (2.39:1) that to my surprise has a great amount of depth and detail.  I worried that the browns and blacks of the film style would leave the film feeling bland, but here on Blu-ray each detail “pops” and the browns, blacks and grays shine through the post-apocalyptic backdrop to define the film.  There is a certain degree of grain and artifacting throughout that is noticeable, but what level of that is intentional I do not know; this all in all is not horribly distracting.  The DVD is basically a big downgrade from the Blu-ray as the dark world is more washed out without the depth and detail that the Blu-ray has to offer.  The audio on the Blu-ray is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that blows you away from beginning to end.  The explosive film needed a good audio track and that is exactly what is delivered here as the DTS covers the entire soundscape with ease, infuses ambient noises, seamlessly projects the musical scores and offers crisp and clear dialogue.  Even the silent moments keep you on the edge of your seat with this film.  The DVD is just the same with audio as it was for picture as it fails to meet the high standards Blu-ray has to offer; the DVD’s audio is not as all encompassing nor does it have the range.  Blu-ray is the clear choice for this new film.


The extras on the Blu-ray include “The Moto-Terminator: Discover the Unique Between the Filmmakers and Ducanti” and “Re-Forging the Future: See How the Filmmakers Reinvented This Franchise and Took it to Depths Never Seen Before.”  Another Blu-ray extra includes Maximum Movie Mode, which features director McG hosting a riveting look into the world of Terminator Salvation while you watch the movie; this including picture-in-picture, storyboard comparisons and a Terminator Mythology Timeline.  The Maximum Movie Mode experience is great and takes the drab commonalities out of the audio commentary as you are immersed in every facet of the film.  McG here is a wealth of knowledge as he delivers everything you could ever want to know about the film in a very interesting manner; my personal favorite being the Timeline, as it is often hard follow films that have multiple incarnations.  If desired there are even more extras to be found on BD Live.  Overall the extras are great and if nothing else Maximum Movie Mode is something to experience.


** It must be noted that the DVD release of the film (with the exception of a Target exclusive) does NOT feature any extras. I am guessing we can expect multiple DVD and Blu-ray releases of this film; overloaded with extras and peripheral material.  Just what I need another 3ft robot head on my shelf….I will put it next to the ape.


Terminator got us hooked.  T2 showed us what the film series and director had to offer.  T3 was a nonsensical “cash grab” that hurt my head.  Terminator begins to reinvent the series and breathe life back into a wavering concept.  I say watch the film; enjoy it and don’t get bogged down by the horrible ending.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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