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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Terminator



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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted July 21 2006 - 09:57 AM


Blu-ray Disc REVIEW


Posted Image

THE TERMINATOR

Studio: MGM
Film Year: 1984
Film Length: 108 minutes
Genre: Science Fiction

Aspect Ratio:
1.85:1 Theatrical Ratio

Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:
English Uncompressed Linear PCM 5.1 Surround

English 5.1 Surround

French 5.1 Surround


Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Thai
Film Rating: R



Release Date: AVAILABLE NOW

Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator), Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese), Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor), Paul Winfield (Lt. Ed Traxler), Lance Henriksen (Det. Vukovich)

Written by: James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd
Directed by: James Cameron


The thing that won’t die, in the nightmare that won’t end.



Little needs to be said about this sci-fi classic that shocked audiences with relentless terror by a machine from the future that will not stop until its target is terminated. In a future that is inevitable, a cyborg is sent to the past to kill Sarah Conner – a woman who will someday bare a son and teach humans to resist the machines that have set out to destroy mankind. Following behind him is one man, Kyle Reese, whose inspiration to fight this cyborg is to meet the legend of Sarah Connor and protect her from being terminated. Of course, her strength and courage will come in the future as the Sarah in the present day is far from a leader. But throughout this film Sarah has to learn to trust Reese’s stories of the future – events yet to come – while dodging the police and the ruthless killer – The Terminator.

This is an excellent film that propelled director James Cameron into the spotlight and it allowed for one great sequel in 1991 as well as a mediocre third film (not by Cameron) in 2003. The rumour is there is to be a fourth.

I’m excited to see this film as an initial Blu-Ray title from MGM. The results are a great leap over SD-DVD.


Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY 8/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I’ve decided to rank the video quality of these discs on a 1-10 scale. A Blu-Ray score of 5 will mean that it is similar to the best-looking DVD I can think of and the remaining 5-10 will be based on the extended resolution of Blu-Ray disc. I think this is the best way to rank these titles for now so I hope this will help you to determine what a reference HD disc is. As more BDs become available and authoring improves (as was in the early DVD days) the earliest titles I’ve ranked as “10” may not appear as “reference quality” anymore. Please note that I’m currently viewing this on a 1280x720 projector and I’m not even able to see half of the 1920x1080 information on this disc. In the simplest terms, instead of seeing 6x the resolution of DVD I’m only seeing 2.6x the improvement. Our display devices have a long way to go before we can see all of the picture information contained on these discs. This disc was reviewed on the Samsung BD-P1000 on a 35-foot Monster M1000HDMI to a calibrated PT-AE700 (D6500/D5400B&W). The screen is a D110" (8-foot wide) Da-Lite Cinema Contour (w.Pro-Trim finish) and Da-Mat fabric.

I have the special edition SD-DVD on hand to compare to this new Blu-Ray release. As expected the differences are amazing. The opening credit sequence is much more defined than the SD-DVD although the depth perception of those future fight scenes isn’t much greater than say, the garbage dump truck following afterwards. You can see so much detail on the garbage truck’s forks as it lets down the load – it’s nasty looking. But these night scenes of The Terminator and Reese falling into the present day are much better looking than SD-DVD. Black levels are much deeper and contrast appears greater. The night light reflects off of their blue-tinted skin at a greater intensity on Blu-Ray. You can clearly feel Reese’s pain from travelling though time – the sweat on his body is much more noticeable as are the burn marks on his skin. I could go on and on scene by scene but I won’t – I think this is something to see for yourself in your home, not on some sales floor in less than optimal conditions.

Like other HD titles I’ve viewed, colour resolution is greater on Blu-Ray – Ginger’s robe takes on a shiny violet colour previously unseen. The colours of the palm trees in the outdoors are more vivid on Blu-Ray too. This is an older film and I am surprised of how good it looks on Blu-Ray. I was expecting a quality similar to Full Metal Jacket on HD-DVD but this title can’t even be compared to that – it is simply much better. But that doesn’t say this film is perfect; interior scenes such as Sarah and Ginger’s apartment as well as in the police station are slightly muted in colour than other scenes. Some scenes appear a little blurry but that’s the original photography because it’s apparent on both SD-DVD and Blu-Ray.

Other neat things to note is that you can finally read all of the fine text in The Terminator’s vision. It’s clear as 20/20 vision, unlike the SD-DVD where the letters and numbers are thicker in appearance and less distinct.

There are no compression artefacts to make note of and there is no edge enhancement (thank the makers!!) It’s nice to watch a film without that dreaded outline. Some film grain is noticed; surprisingly in low amounts but it can be occasionally seen such as in the orange light from the fire in the police station. Also, about 45 minutes into the film and beyond, there are a few more tiny "white dots" (most likey some kind of dirt) that appear randomly throughout, more so than in the beginning of the film. This is source-related because it happens at the same moments on SD-DVD.

The one thing that did catch me by surprise was the scrolling text at the closing credits of the film. It isn’t that clear – it’s somewhat blurry looking and bounces ever so slightly as it scrolls up the screen. The SD-DVD doesn’t have this effect and it’s actually cleaner looking than the Blu-Ray disc. It sort of reminds me of the effect when video text put over film and a video scaler has difficulties interpreting the mix. I’m not saying that’s what it is, it just reminds me of that effect. Why this is the case, I’m not sure. I just hope someone who matters reads this and makes sure it doesn’t happen on future releases.

The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and appears more correctly framed than the SD-DVD, which seems to be framed slightly under 1.85:1.

Posted ImagePCM AUDIO EXPERIENCE: 7.5/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
DOLBY DIGITAL AUDIO EXPERIENCE: 7/10 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

For the sake of consistency with the video, I’m going to rate uncompressed PCM (and eventually the lossless audio compression formats when available), as well as lossy Dolby Digital and DTS on a scale from 1-10. This rating is based on “satisfaction” – the highest score delivering the greatest amount of satisfaction and the lowest delivering the least. When defining satisfaction, I mean both the resolution of the audio as well as the sound design for the film. I’m listening for the best experience possible.

This film has had a 5.1 remix a few years back and it was very impressive. It is still impressive on this disc compared to many new films today. Some of the effects sound dated, but many of them have good dynamic range. There never appears to be distortion in the sound.

The music mix is very wide; Brad Fiedel’s music of The Terminator theme is haunting and depressing, always suggesting that there will never be a chance to stop the evil to come. It’s mixed in all 6 channels plus the subwoofer and is directional to open up the “space” a bit more.

Sound effects are mixed very well too – there is a lot of panning of sounds from left to right, front to back and sidewall imaging is very apparent. From sizzling noises in Big Jeff’s kitchen to the grinding of HKs rolling and flying around in the futuristic battles move all around the soundstage. There is also excellent use of LFE.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched The Terminator, but I remember it’s original soundtrack was mono. This was included on the SD-DVD release but is not on this Blu-Ray release. Both the SD-DVD and Blu-Ray titles have Dolby Digital 5.1EX (uncredited on Blu-Ray) but the flag is in place. My preamp does not pick up the EX flag on the SD-DVD so this is an improvement on its own. A slightly bigger improvement is the uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio. This release seems to have both the PCM and the Dolby tracks at the same volume levels. Given the dated sound of the soundtrack, the sound effects don’t improve dramatically in PCM but do benefit from it somewhat. The music and the dialogue is where most of the differences can be found. As we know, Dolby Digital is a lossy technology that discards data to make it fit in a small space. The uncompressed PCM track does not do this and for the first time we can finally listen to movies at the sound quality of a CD (the PCM on this disc is 16bit/48kHz). When listening to PCM, voices sound more fluid than the Dolby track (that sounds chestier in comparison) and the music seems to open up a bit more…the soundstage widens just a bit more to enjoy even more.
(Note: you must have the 6-channel output of your Blu-Ray player connected to an EXT-IN on your receiver/preamp to take advantage of uncompressed PCM or with the use of HDMI and supporting devices).

TACTILE FUN!!
TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: ON

There was a good amount of LFE used in this film. Gun shots from the Terminator to his victims as well as all battle scenes pulsate in the LFE giving a great kick on the sofa. It’s with films such as this that make tactile transducers worth having!


Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

You’ll find both similar and different features on the SD-DVD than you will on this Blu-Ray disc. Absent on this release is the Cameron commentary on the film and the deleted scenes as well as one featurette, Cameron’s original script vision and the theatrical trailer and TV spots. Keep your SD-DVD if you want these.

What is included on this Blu-Ray release is a new featurette titled Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects and Music (12m58s). It comprises of footage that the missing featurette included (and then some) and focuses on the miniatures, the truck blow-up scene, and Brad Fiedel’s music.

Terminator: A Retrospective – The Making of the Terminator (20.31) is included on this release – the old Live Home Video VHS quality interview of Cameron and Schwarzenegger reminiscing on the past (20m31s).

The seven terminated (deleted) scenes are still included in standard definition and not enhanced for widescreen. There is no play-all option (grrr) so you’ll have to let the player go back to the cool animated menu before you make your next selection. The scenes total to just over 10 minutes.

Lastly, you can enjoy previews of other Blu-Ray titles available: S.W.A.T., Underworld: Evolution and XXX.


IN THE END...

If you have a Blu-Ray player, I’d be very surprised if The Terminator isn’t at the top of your wish list. This was one title I couldn’t wait to get to – and the wait was 100% worth it.

Michael Osadciw
July 21, 2006.


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#2 of 40 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted July 21 2006 - 10:22 AM

This was the first BD title I added to my collection. Thanks for the review, I can't wait until I have a player to watch this!

- Steve

#3 of 40 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted July 21 2006 - 02:29 PM

Anyone know the bitrate of the Dolby 5.1 releases on Blu-ray?

My old decoder let me know, my new one does not.

#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted July 21 2006 - 04:17 PM

Thanks for a nice review. I was one of the crazy people that bought this disk along with House Of Flying Daggers even before I get my long awaited sony blu-ray player sometime later this year.

How would you rate/compare this title to other blu-ray titles and other hd-dvd titles as far as picture quality goes. It seems the PQ is improving which is a good thing to hear.
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#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted July 21 2006 - 05:16 PM

Peter - I'll see if I can get some details for you.

Neil - The PQ is very good - obviously some films will look better - but I can't say there are any problems specific to the Blu-ray technology. There are mediocre looking films on HD-DVD and there will be the same on Blu-ray too. So far I'm pleased, and I imagine there can be improvements but at this time I have no other reference in terms of equipment and I'm still getting through the software on a title by title basis. I've only watched three titles on Blu-Ray and five on HD-DVD...I don't consider that enough to rank accurately yet...but I'm getting there. As far as comparing the technologies...can't do that until titles are available on both formats.

Mike

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#6 of 40 OFFLINE   TedD

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Posted July 22 2006 - 04:09 AM

Michael, you are basing your reviews on viewing HD on a 1080 display, correct?

Ted

#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted July 22 2006 - 06:56 AM

I've been pretty bummed with most of my 13 Blu titles so far. The Terminator is one of the several I'd actually watch again. I think it looks a bit darker than I've seen it in the past. Maybe that's how it's really supposed to look? It does look better than the DVD of it I have especially in the night scenes. The day scenes seem less of an improvement. It seems like most D-Theater tapes and HD-DVD's that I've bought, that are upgrades of DVD's, have shown a bigger jump in PQ. I don't think there's any doubt that they turned down the bit-rate durning the credits. Maybe that's a good thing? Maybe it allowed higher before...?

I'd bet a noticably better version of this film will appear in a few years but for $11.99, Amazon, it was an offer too good to refuse now.
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted July 22 2006 - 11:09 AM

Ted

As I've noted in the fine print in the PQ section of the review, I'm viewing these discs on a 1280x720 projector. I'd like to think that I'll be 1920x1080 equipped in the new year depending on products and if I like them or not...

The setting of the Samsung BD player is at 1080i and I've chosen that to see if I can duplicate an artefact I've seen on SD special features and on a theatrical trailer I saw on a Samsung demo disc I have. So far all has been clear! (the artefact wasn't noticable when the player was set at 720p). From my informal tests, there seems to be no resolution difference between the 720p and the 1080i setting on the Samsung running HDMI to my projector and viewed on an 8-foot Da-Lite DA-MAT.

Rachael - sorry to hear you are bummed by Blu-ray. I can't say the same so far...still getting through the titles - my opinions will be posted soon.

Mike

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#9 of 40 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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Posted July 22 2006 - 05:54 PM

A comparison to the D-VHS would be GREAT!!!
(for video & audio)
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!

#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted July 23 2006 - 02:44 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed St. Clair
A comparison to the D-VHS would be GREAT!!!
(for video & audio)

Only T2 made it to D-Theater tape. On T2, the tape and the BD are really close. So close, I think that equipment biases could throw it either way by a link or nose. Maybe a better player might do more with the disc? We'll see. T2 is definitely in the lower tier of D-theater tapes IMO. I have nearly 70 of 'em, BTW. It wern't no looker compared to most films on that format.
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted July 23 2006 - 03:02 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw
Rachael - sorry to hear you are bummed by Blu-ray. I can't say the same so far...still getting through the titles - my opinions will be posted soon.

Mike, I've seen 13 titles and more than half of 'em aren't even worth a rewatch. I have not seen House Of Messy Stuff. I don't think I'm missing anything there! My idea of good martial arts is the Kentucky Fried Movie. I may not buy anymore Blu discs for awhile? I may pick up one of Warner's to compare? HD-DVD is batting close to 100%. I'm confident spending my money there. My baker's dozen of Blu'es has left me gunshy. "Beyond hi-definition", not! Beyond DVD, barely....mostly.....
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#12 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted July 23 2006 - 04:12 PM

Rachael, what is the manufactured date of your Blu-ray player? It's on the player's back panel. I'm just doing some investigative work here...

Mike

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#13 of 40 OFFLINE   Rachael B

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Posted July 24 2006 - 03:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Osadciw
Rachael, what is the manufactured date of your Blu-ray player? It's on the player's back panel. I'm just doing some investigative work here...

Mike

Mine says 05, May, 2006.
Rachael, the big disc cat is in real life Dot Mongur, Champion of the International Pacman Federation. You better be ready to rumble if you play Jr. Pacman with me. This is full contact Pacman and I don't just play the game, I operate it!


#14 of 40 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted July 26 2006 - 03:25 AM

Michael,

Thanks for the outstanding review. Your comments are detailed, in-depth, and very informative. Given how good this particular BD title looks now, I'm looking forward to seeing it evaluated again once the sammy's bug is fixed or a new player is available without forced DNR.
Be an Original Aspect Ratio Advocate

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#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted July 26 2006 - 10:35 AM

Thanks David...I'm making a big focus to elaborate on the details. I tell what I see and hear. No lies. Posted Image

Mike

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#16 of 40 OFFLINE   Neil Joseph

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Posted July 27 2006 - 02:27 PM

Guys, the thread seems to have gone off topic for quite some time. Perhaps this discussion can be done in another thread, in the meantime, back to the Terminator.

Thanks,
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#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted July 27 2006 - 10:08 PM

Neil is right.

I moved the "Samsung" posts to a thread of their own: Samsung's peculiarities.

(NB: I had to split one of David Boulet's post to maintain understandability of both threads. Sorry, Dave, but everything you said was preserved! Posted Image )


Cees

#18 of 40 OFFLINE   Sam Posten

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Posted July 29 2006 - 05:33 PM

Great review, thanks! Just want to add that I bought this film on Blu Ray and wont have a BR Deck till Sony gets off their butt and puts out a good one! =)

Sam

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#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Mattias_ka

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Posted July 29 2006 - 05:40 PM

No original mono track? How could they miss THAT!!??

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   PeterTHX

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Posted July 29 2006 - 09:12 PM

Quote:
No original mono track? How could they miss THAT!!??

Probably the mindset right now is the "best audio & video" and mono just doesn't scream that right now.

There will be another edition of this title in the future, you can bet on it. 2009 marks the 25th Anniversary.


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