DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Terminator Salvation

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Nov 25, 2009.

Tags:
  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2001
    Messages:
    6,170
    Likes Received:
    66
    Location:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    XenForo Template

    Terminator Salvation

    Directed By: McG

    Starring: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham Carter, Anton Yelchin, Jadagrace Berry, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Jane Alexander, Michael Ironside


    Studio: Warner

    Year: 2009

    Rated: PG-13

    Film Length: 115 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

    Release Date: December 1, 2009

    The Film **½

    Note: Be advised that if you have not seen any of the previous films in the Terminator series, the following synopsis will contain spoilers. Terminator Salvation follows on the heels of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and focuses on the fledgling human resistance movement forming in the aftermath of "Judgment Day", the day the "Skynet" machines took over the Earth and decimated the human population. An adult John Connor (Bale) leads a packet of resistance fighters in California. Due to his unique knowledge gained from the events of the previous films, he is regarded in a near prophetic way by many of the surviving humans which creates mixed feelings in those such as General Ashdown (Ironside) who are the nominal leaders of the global Resistance.  Connor's story is told in parallel with that of Marcus Wright (Worthington), a man whose last memory was donating his body to science as a death row inmate.  Wright wakes up in the harsh post-Judgment Day dystopia, and quickly finds himself on the run from a variety of Skynet built killing machines known as Terminators.  His path intersects with Connor's when he befriends a teenaged Kyle Reese (Yelchin).  Reese is looking to connect with the resistance movement while Connor is in turn looking for Reese, who is near the top of the Skynet "Termination" list since he is fated to become Connor's father via the time-traveling events of the first Terminator film.  At the same time, Connor is charged with the task of testing a newly discovered weakness in the Skynet defenses: a jamming signal that can temporarily disorient/disable the Terminator machines.  If the jamming signal proves successful, these tests will be a prelude to a massive resistance assault on Skynet.

    Terminator Salvation starts off on the right foot by electing to take a different path than its immediate predecessor, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines which essentially re-trod the same ground as the first two films (while completely undermining the "No fate but what we make" theme of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that is the subject of a different review). Setting the action (save for a flashback that opens the film) entirely in the post Judgment Day future keeps the film from feeling like a re-hash.  The parts of the plot centered on Sam Worthington's character take the film in a direction that is new for the series (although old hat for the science fiction genre) and even raise some interesting philosophical issues.  The film seemed to be going in a fresh enough direction that during the early going, I found it easy to dismiss certain obvious but non-fatal flaws such as the lack of anything interesting for Bryce Dallas Howard (as a pregnant Kate Connor) or Jadagrace Berry (as a kid who more or less serves only to remind viewers of better action sci-fi films such as The Road Warrior and Aliens) to do as well as the fact that most of Connor's resistance cell looks like catalog models for a vendor of pre-distressed clothing.  To be fair, despite not exactly looking like a grizzled resistance fighter, Moon Bloodgold handles the action scenes well and gives a pretty good performance.  On the other side of the coin, rapper-turned-actor Common looks more the part, but gives some pretty awkward line-readings in a thankfully minor role.

    Unfortunately, my forgiving mood could not be sustained through the film's second half, which regresses substantially and fails to achieve any of the potential suggested by the initial set-up. The film's final act is filled with the expected action set pieces, startling revelations, and high drama. Sadly, it stumbles on all three fronts.

    The action, much of it involving a group of protagonists struggling against a Terminator in an attempt to escape from a facility that is more or less Skynet Central, is technically well-executed. The problem is that dramatically, it is laughable that this is all they would have to do to escape from the facility. This is further made ridiculous by the fondness that the ultra-efficient killing machine exhibits for throwing its intended victims across rooms rather than, you know, killing them.

    Logic and sense take an even more severe beating via the plot revelations in the final act. Even accepting that the previous films in the series have demonstrated that Skynet's approach to problem solving is less than pragmatic, their methods in Terminator Salvation are so unnecessarily complicated that they come across as almost comical. To say more would involve spoilers.

    Finally, the aforementioned miscues in plot logic undermine all of the climactic moments intended to be dramatically significant by making them feel unearned. The viewer feels like the movie is asking them to feel more strongly about pivotal character moments than the filmmakers do. The cherry on top of the disappointment sundae comes after the climactic action sequence with a moment of character sacrifice so blatantly contrived and poorly executed that the viewer may well still be suppressing eye-rolls after the credits roll has finished.

    The Video **

    After a series of poorly compressed Warner theatrical new release titles on SD DVD, I was pleasantly surprised by the pretty decent looking Four Christmases released a week before this title. Unfortunately, that proved to be an anomaly rather than the start of a trend. The compression on this 16:9 enhanced transfer letterboxed to the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is simply terrible. The presentation is plagued with artifacts that go from annoying to depressing depending on how much detail is in frame and whether or not there is camera movement. Worst of all are artifacts in dark scenes including large regions of pulsing contrast, horizontal banding, and others for which I am not even sure if names have been invented yet. Whether this is the result of careless encoding or willful sabotage, it makes the DVD unpleasant to view on moderate to large sized displays.

    The Audio ****½

    At least the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track does not disappoint. It presents the film's extremely active, dynamic, and multi-dimensional surround mix with very good fidelity. When the mix gets especially busy in all 5.1 channels, fidelity is taxed a bit, but overall, it is very satisfying audio presentation. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs are aslo included.

    The Extras ½

    Other than the ability to download a Windows Media digital copy, there are no special features on this DVD release. Warner is not even making the Director's Cut of the film available in SD DVD, so this bare bones release (and a separate 4:3 full frame release) are the only viewing options for those not equipped for blu-ray high definition.

    When the disc is first inserted into a player, the viewer is greeted with the following series of skippable promos. All are presented in 4:3 video. letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound:
    • Warner Blu-Ray Promo (16:9 enhanced video - 1:43)
    • Sherlock Holmes Theatrical Trailer (2:22)
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum Video Game Trailer (1:55)
    • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Season Two BD/DVD Trailer (:32)
    • Terminator Salvation Graphic Novel Official Movie Prequel Digital Comic Trailer (:39)

    Packaging

    The single-sided dual-layered DVD-9 disc comes packaged in an Amaray-sized "Eco-Box" case. Inside the case is an insert with a coupon code for downloading a reduced price Windows Media Digital Copy of the film.

    Summary **½

    Terminator Salvation starts out on the right foot by taking the series into a new but logical direction by dispensing with time travel activities, focusing on the post-Judgment Day dystopia, and introducing an intriguing new character. It then quickly loses its way resulting in a protracted and disappointing conclusion. It is presented on DVD with very poor artifact-riddled video, excellent 5.1 Dolby Digital audio and no extras beyond the ability to download a Windows Media digital copy.

    Regards,

     
  2. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2001
    Messages:
    3,364
    Likes Received:
    793
    Real Name:
    Neil Middlemiss
    Ouch. I remember leaving the theater a little deflated from disappointment, but didn't 'hate' the film as so many others seemed to. Your review was pretty spot on, I must just be more forgiving. I have this preordered on Blu-ray, so I am hoping the issues you note are not found there also!

    Thanks for the review, Ken!
     
  3. Marcel H.

    Marcel H. Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    553
    Likes Received:
    2
    Just in case you want to see the differences between the theatrical version and the so-called Director's Cut, which is only featured on the Blu-ray, check this site out: http://movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=4991440
     
  4. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 1999
    Messages:
    17,028
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    Disney World and Universal Florida
    Real Name:
    Tony D.
    A bd live event with the director on dec 5th.
    http://wblive.warnerbros.com/pubLCS_signup/signup.html?eventId=2862607
     
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2001
    Messages:
    6,170
    Likes Received:
    66
    Location:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    Not exactly true as it turns out. The Director's Cut on SD DVD is being made available as a Target exclusive release. This release was not made available for review.

    Regards,
     
  6. Porfirio

    Porfirio Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2000
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    The 2-Disc Director's Cut Special Edition DVD was made available in Canada as a standard release.
     
  7. JimKr

    JimKr Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2003
    Messages:
    94
    Likes Received:
    2
    You have to assume sooner or later the major players will begin making dvds less desirable to facilitate the switch to Bluray.

    Possibly it is beginning?

    [SIZE= smaller]Note: Perhaps I am easily pleased visually but I have noticed over the last 3 years or so that DVD video quality in general had increased so much that I seldom bother renting or buying a Bluray movie simply because there always the chance my player won't play it properly (well documented in the AVS forum thread for my Sammy player) or it simply takes ages to load, whereas I could get the DVD version and pop it in the player and be watching the movie in no time.

    And yes, I enjoy a good conspiracy theory from time to time![/SIZE]
     
  8. Brett_M

    Brett_M Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Messages:
    1,397
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    Mos Eisley Spaceport
    Real Name:
    Brett Meyer
    Good review of a total let-down of a flick. Terrible movie. Makes me angry actually. Here's a better plot:

    Bale is heard but not seen in the first film. He is a voice on the radio convincing humans to fight the good fight -- to storm the wire of the camps and smash those metal mothertruckers into junk. Reese escapes and begins to search for Connor. Marcus is looking, too. Reese and Marcus join forces to find the leader of the resistance. Marcus and Reese hide from HKs, teach others to fight against rubber-skinned terminators. They lead a raid on a factory. There they find coordinates that will lead them to Crystal Peak. Reese is betrayed by Marcus -- a new terminator -- and left for dead. Marcus confronts Connor and Reese saves the day by blasting Marcus apart with a plasma rifle. Connor and Reese leave Crystal Peak.

    Part 2: Connor creates an army to fight the machines. Connor tells Reese of his mother.

    Part 3: Lab complex captured and ends with Reese chasing a Terminator through time.

    I've been thinking about it for a long time and, well, McG and the hacks who "wrote" the script for T:S dropped the ball and screwed us all.
     
  9. dazz

    dazz Auditioning

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    it was ok , the story was weak to me.
     

Share This Page