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The Terminator Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 40 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 24 2013 - 10:47 AM

James Cameron’s seminal Terminator film is back on Blu-ray with a remastered transfer that noticeably improves on the image on the 2006 release. There are no significant changes in the audio presentation or bonus material, but the upgrade in picture quality is so significant, it makes the title worthy of a repeat purchase, especially at the going sub-$15 street price.


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The Terminator

Release Date: February 19, 2013
Studio: MGM Studios
Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray Eco-Box keepcase
Year: 1984
Rating: R
Running Time: 1:47:18
MSRP: $19.99


  THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES
Video AVC: 1080p high definition 1.85:1 Standard definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 2.0, Thai 2.0 / DTS: French 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Norwegian, Swedish, Thai Various

The Feature: 4.5/5

A killer in the Los Angeles area has been systematically targeting women named Sarah Connor. So far he’s gunned down two in their homes, with the next likely being a 20-something waitress (Linda Hamilton) bearing the same name as the now deceased. Alerted to the pattern killings by the TV news, she tries to find her way into police protection, but ultimately finds herself caught in the crossfire of two men – one massively built and armed to the teeth (Arnold Schwarzenegger); the other lanky and wild-eyed, calling himself Reese (Michael Biehn) and claiming he’s there to protect her. Though Sarah’s not sure if she can trust the second man, the first’s intentions are clear, with nothing – not even a point-blank shotgun blast – seeming to hurt him. Reese soon explains why – that the man is not a man at all, but a cybernetic organism called a Terminator, sent back in time with the express purpose of killing her, the mother of a yet-to-be-born John Connor, humanity’s last hope in a future world ruled by machines. Though it’s a story only a lunatic could conceive, it’s one that proves increasingly plausible, especially as the so-called Terminator appears as inhuman and indestructible as Reese describes. Whether Sarah eventually has a son named John hardly matters at this point in time. The most important thing right now is her survival.


Director James Cameron’s seminal Terminator film would go on to spawn three sequels, a TV series, and various comic books and video games over a span of almost 30 years, but few seem to have anticipated that kind of long standing popularity when the film hit theaters in 1984. Most consider its success being due to the home video market, rather than its respectable theatrical run and generally positive critical response. Indeed, my first exposure to the film was at home thanks to the VHS format, and needless to say my 12-year old mind was thoroughly blown upon seeing it. Even now the film holds up incredibly well; it’s a model of efficient storytelling and crackerjack pacing, with visual effects that have hardly aged despite (or perhaps because of) the absence of any CGI technology. Certainly some of the composite shots and practical creature effects by Stan Winston can’t help showing their seams, but all of it still works for a film that, despite all the gripping action and sci-fi coolness, is a love story at its core. Six years later Cameron would improve on things technically with the sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” but some would argue he didn't manage to instill the same level of humanity, and ironic tragedy, that he did in the original.


Video Quality: 4.5/5

Framed at 1.85:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the recently remastered transfer is a noticeable improvement on the 1080p, MPEG2 encode on the 2006 Blu-ray release. The most obvious enhancement is the picture’s detail and overall sharpness, examples of which can be found in frequent, pore-revealing close ups and a handful of spectacular wide shots. The most notable of them comes in the film’s opening nighttime view of the city from the Griffith Park Observatory. On the older transfer, the points of light in the cityscape look like tiny blobs, but now they practically twinkle with their clarity. A healthy and visible grain structure is also now quite obvious, as is the absence of dust and dirt specks that previously riddled the older transfer. Contrast can be a little on the variable side, however, with some scenes looking rather thick or heavy while others (usually those shot in full daylight) look spot on. That said, there is noticeable improvement with highlight (and probably shadow) detail with the new transfer – instances where highlights looked excessively blown out on the old transfer (e.g. when the Terminator encounters the trio of punks in the park) have now been properly brought back to a normal range. Black levels are more consistent by comparison, looking satisfyingly inky in all but the most optical effects-laden sequences.


Word on the Internet is the picture’s color timing was significantly altered, giving things a noticeably teal color cast. Though the color seems to be shifted a bit warmer in some instances (which I think is a good thing), overall I see no teal or greenish cast to the picture, reminding me of the silly brouhaha that developed when the “Lord of the Rings” Extended Edition came out on Blu-ray. As with that release, prospective buyers can be assured “The Terminator” has not been made to look like “The Matrix.”


Audio Quality: 3/5

Dialogue in the English language 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp and detailed, though the levels in the center channel sound significantly low, creating an imbalance between it and the highly aggressive surround channel effects. Raising the overall volume to hear the dialogue only results in getting blasted out by everything else, so a temporary adjustment to the center channel is in order to get the most satisfying experience. Outside of the dialogue problem (which is also present on the 2006 release, which presented things in 5.1 uncompressed PCM) the mix is reasonably well balanced, though the placement and presentation of the effects can be a bit blunt or lacking in subtlety. LFE never quite reaches the depths found in modern soundtracks, especially with the various pyrotechnic explosions, but there’s a decent fullness and range throughout the film, particularly in support of composer Brad Fiedel’s quintessential, percussive score.


Special Features: 2.5/5

The bonus material is an item-for-item repeat of what was on the 2006 release, continuing to leave off the 2001 documentary “Other Voices,” which was included on the special edition DVD.


Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects and Music (12:58, SD) Visual Effects Supervisor Gene Warren, Jr. and Pyrotechnician Joseph Viskocil describe the use of miniatures, models and forced perspective for the film’s various images. Composer Brad Fiedel talks about how he came to work on the film score and what he intended with its heavy use of synthesized percussion. Produced in 2001.


Terminator: A Retrospective (20:30, SD) Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron sit down and reminisce about the production, from first impressions of the script to experiences on the set. Produced in 1992.


Deleted Scenes

  • Wholesome Sarah (:17, SD)
  • Wrong Sarah (:38, SD)
  • Lt. Traxler’s Arc (:38, SD)
  • Sarah Fights Back (4:20, SD)
  • Making Bombs (1:44, SD)
  • Tickling Reese (:34, SD)
  • The Factory (:54, SD)

Recap and Recommendation

The Feature: 4.5/5

Video Quality: 4.5/5

Audio Quality: 3/5

Special Features: 2.5/5

Overall Score (not an average): 4/5


MGM Studios delivers a fantastic improvement in high definition picture quality for James Cameron’s original Terminator film. The audio quality remains somewhat problematic and the bonus material continues to be limited to widely available items, but the new transfer offers such an increase in overall detail and clarity that it’s easy to overlook the longstanding shortcomings of the release as a whole. Considering the Blu-ray can be had for less than $15 (and will only further drop in price over time), the Blu-ray is one everyone should plan to pick up at some point.




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#2 of 40 OFFLINE   David Norman

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Posted February 24 2013 - 10:56 AM

So the conspiracy tealots have already been on the rampage again? Man there are just some things you wish you'd never hear again even when there might be a shred of ribbon to find. Teal behind every tree, the second shooter on teal knoll, it's enough to make you want to watch in Black and White except I'm sure somebody threw some teal leaves into the ink kettle and the whites now are distinctly teal.
 

 


#3 of 40 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted February 24 2013 - 11:02 AM

At this point, I just wonder if there's something about their displays, that seem to be particularly keyed in to teal. Who knows?


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#4 of 40 OFFLINE   Wayne_j

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Posted February 24 2013 - 11:15 AM

I have the UK Blu of this new transfer, the new transfer is definitely more teal than the old one, but I don't notice it unless I directly compare the two. It looks fine in motion to me.

#5 of 40 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted February 24 2013 - 01:29 PM

I feel like Tommy Lee Jones in MIB..."guess I'll have to buy The White Album Terminator again..."

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#6 of 40 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted February 24 2013 - 02:24 PM

Sorry, I gotta disagree - this is one teal-looking mofo!


I thought the "LOTR" coloring issue was overblown, but I definitely see a strong color alteration here.


It's not a bad choice for this film - the color suits it - but I still think it's wrong to change the original color scheme...


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#7 of 40 OFFLINE   Wayne_j

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Posted February 24 2013 - 02:38 PM

Compared to DNR and EE I have very little problem with changes to color schemes. If you want to you can adjust the color on your monitor or if you know how to, retime the movie yourself. There is nothing you can do however, to counteract the effects of DNR and EE.

#8 of 40 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted February 24 2013 - 04:38 PM

I watched this one this afternoon, and I agree with Cameron's assessment completely. I didn't take out my old Blu-ray to do an A/B comparison, but I was fully satisfied with what I was seeing, and while purists are going to be disappointed the original mono audio track was not placed on the disc, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is a more than acceptable remix of the audio stems.


#9 of 40 ONLINE   Bryan Tuck

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Posted February 24 2013 - 06:59 PM

Thanks for the review, Cameron. However, no original mono track means no sale for me. I've become a bit of a stickler for original audio tracks these days, since so many of these remixes (while technically sounding "good") actually do alter the movies in a significant way. Fox is usually very good about including old stereo and mono mixes where they apply, and it certainly seems there was plenty of room on the disc, so the mono track's absence is quite disappointing (especially since fans of the film have been asking for it since the original Blu-ray came out).
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#10 of 40 OFFLINE   Lromero1396

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Posted February 26 2013 - 04:03 AM

Compared to DNR and EE I have very little problem with changes to color schemes. If you want to you can adjust the color on your monitor or if you know how to, retime the movie yourself. There is nothing you can do however, to counteract the effects of DNR and EE.

Thanks for the review, Cameron. However, no original mono track means no sale for me. I've become a bit of a stickler for original audio tracks these days, since so many of these remixes (while technically sounding "good") actually do alter the movies in a significant way. Fox is usually very good about including old stereo and mono mixes where they apply, and it certainly seems there was plenty of room on the disc, so the mono track's absence is quite disappointing (especially since fans of the film have been asking for it since the original Blu-ray came out).

I absolutely agree with both of you. Studios really need to stop with these remixes. The recent release of How Green Was My Valley should have just had the original mono in lossless. What do we get? A 5.1 track in lossless and a mono track in horrible, lossy DD. At least include both options in lossless, like Disney did last year with Cinderella and like Twilight Time did with In Like Flint and Mysterious Island. HGWMY does have stereo music tracks in existence which I'm assuming were used here, so there was a point to it. But, if you're dealing with a film that has Oscar-nominated sound (like HGWMY) or Oscar-winning sound, that original award-winning mix needs to be provided in lossless. Two other examples of needless remixes are All About Eve and The Hustler (The former of which won the Oscar for Best Sound Recording). However, these are just a few of the many. Regarding color timing, I of course prefer original color replication and not revisionist re-timing. I'm quite picky about this when it comes to classic films, particularly Technicolor ones, from the 1930's through 50's. That said, I'm far more irritated by DNR and EE than by slightly incorrect color. But EE doesn't bother me nearly as much as DNR. I guess that's because DNR strips detail, one of the primary reasons for my adopting of the BD format. EE just causes edge halos, which can be quite distracting (i.e. original Gladiator BD), but DNR just tends to bug me more.

#11 of 40 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted February 26 2013 - 07:49 PM

We have 2 copies of Terminator on Blu-ray to give away to lucky HTF members. To enter send an email to contest 'at' hometheaterforum.com with the answer to the entry question in the subject line,


Here is the question: According to Cameron's review, what kind of story is this at its core?


Put the answer in the subject line of your email and your user name, full name and address in the body of the email. The answer can be found in Cameron's official HTF review at the top of this thread. Winners must have a US or Canadian shipping address, be over 18 and a member of HTF. The winner will be drawn at random from all emails received with the correct answer in the subject line. Contest runs through Tuesday 3/5/13. Good luck!



#12 of 40 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted February 27 2013 - 03:39 AM

At this point, I just wonder if there's something about their displays, that seem to be particularly keyed in to teal. Who knows?

I think it's pretty much well known that filmmakers are very much infatuated with the teal-and-orange look. The trend's been going on for awhile. I hope it ends soon: http://www.examiner....-blu-ray-review

#13 of 40 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted March 03 2013 - 12:44 AM

Word on the Internet is the picture’s color timing was significantly altered, giving things a noticeably teal color cast. Though the color seems to be shifted a bit warmer in some instances (which I think is a good thing), overall I see no teal or greenish cast to the picture, reminding me of the silly brouhaha that developed when the “Lord of the Rings” Extended Edition came out on Blu-ray. As with that release, prospective buyers can be assured “The Terminator” has not been made to look like “The Matrix.”

I agree. Even though it's been a couple of years since I've seen The Terminator, I consider myself very familiar with the movie and there's no major color change that I noticed. I was very happy to see the movie looking as good as it does. The only reason someone might want to hold off on picking this up is the audio. This is one of the few times I've heard the 5.1 mix and while I enjoy hearing the score opened up, the 'new' sound effects are terrible. In all fairness, I have to say that someone who hasn't seen the movie a million times probably wouldn't even notice the sound effects but to fans who are used to the mono sound effects, the new stuff sticks out like a sore thumb.

#14 of 40 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted March 06 2013 - 11:03 AM

Congrats to our winners Brett_B and Carlo Medina!



#15 of 40 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 06 2013 - 11:34 AM

Oh man, I actually won something? I guess I can't accuse HTF of the "fix of being in" anymore ;) Seriously, I was at Magic Castle last year (second time) and I always thought the "audience called up" were all plants. I was even joking with the group I went there with about that (there were about ten of us). Imagine my surprise when my girlfriend and I were called up for an act! My friends were yelling stuff at us, calling us "plants" it was hilarious. So let this be a lesson to everyone, anyone can be a winner at HTF! :D And no, I still haven't figured out how that magician stuck a knife through my coat without damaging it...

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#16 of 40 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted March 06 2013 - 12:36 PM

What can I say, your check cleared.....Posted Image



#17 of 40 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted March 06 2013 - 04:05 PM

Man and all this time I thought "you like me...you really, really like me"! But really it's all about "have you paid your dues Jack? Yes sir, the check is in the mail" :cool:

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#18 of 40 OFFLINE   David Norman

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Posted March 07 2013 - 02:12 PM

Damn, another rock in my bag.
 

 


#19 of 40 OFFLINE   Dr Griffin

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Posted March 08 2013 - 12:48 AM

I think it's safe to say there is color alteration between the original BD (2006) top and the remastered BD bottom. Which is more correct? I don't know.

#20 of 40 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 08 2013 - 01:43 AM

Originally Posted by schtan 




I think it's safe to say there is color alteration between the original BD (2006) top and the remastered BD bottom. Which is more correct? I don't know.


The one that looked like the top version for decades until the bottom version appeared?


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