HTF UMD REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Jun 8, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]Terminator 2: Judgment Day (UMD)
    Region 1 • R • Subtitles: English • Available Now

    [​IMG][/c]

    Lion’s Gate comes to the UMD format with one of their blockbuster titles, Terminator 2, that ranks with some of the best action films ever made. The results are great, aside from one key problem.

    Thoughts on the Movie

    Terminator 2 is arguably the best in the franchise’s trilogy, no doubt because James Cameron was at the helm, as well as an excellent cast and special effects. Do I really need to summarize the plot? Is there one who hasn’t seen this film at some point?

    Well, the Terminator has been sent back through time to protect a young kid from another Terminator, who was also sent back through time to kill him, because he will grow up to be an important leader. That’s the gist of pretty much every Terminator movie...

    Linda Hamilton is excellent as Sarah Conner, who was the main focus of the first Terminator movie, and Edward Furlong plays a totally convincing ten year old who pretty much gets caught in the middle of things, and adapts. Arnold and Robert Patrick are both equally amazing as the Terminators, and its fun to watch them basically shooting thousands of rounds at each other with no real progress.

    So, yes, this movie is great…you probably knew that already. What nearly blew the film for me though was Sarah Conner’s internal monologue, which had an almost campy feel to some of her lines, like this one:

    It’s not every day that you find out your responsible for three billion deaths. He took it pretty well.

    She’s also great at pointing out the obvious. When Arnold plays hi-five with John, I thought, “wow, that’s kind of ironic how John is playing with a Terminator robot.” Then Sarah chimes in with isn’t it ironic, etc. Her very deep thoughts about the apocalypse borders on laughable, since she’s so damn serious about what she’s thinking, but there is a fine line between serious and stupid, and Sarah very nearly crosses over with lines like “the future, always so clear to me, had become like a black highway at night…” Sigh.

    Another serious issue I have is the music within the film. Aside from the opening and closing titles, the music is really bad. It’s a good thing the final mix of the movie has the music a bit soft, because the music never got me excited on what was happening. It felt more like filler, with lots of banging and plucking of violins. I would have loved to see what Jerry Goldsmith or even Hans Zimmer could do with this film, but ah well.

    No matter, because this film is still one of the top action adventure movies of all time, and really showed us some fantastic special effects that have aged pretty well. Something I missed the first time around that I caught on this version was when the T-1000 was in the police chopper, following and shooting the police van. For a couple of seconds, you can see that the T-1000 has actually sprouted another set of arms…two for shooting, and two for flying. Too awesome.


    Video Quality

    When the movie first starts, the film is in its original 2.35 ratio and looks fantastic. But right after the opening credits finish, the film is zoomed to a 1.85 ratio that fills the screen. Why?

    I mean, the results were pretty awesome up to that point. I was looking forward to watching this movie in 2.35, so why change it? I honestly don’t understand it. And because of this, some elements (like when we see the Terminator’s POV in red and other scenes) get cut off. The whole film looks a bit soft; not sharp like other UMDs I’ve seen.

    Another huge problem is the weird ghosting and smearing, and I am not talking about the PSP’s screen. When Sarah is in the interrogation room, for example, the white walls in the background show some serious compression artifacts and even weird forms of ghosting I have never seen on a UMD before. Imagine if the walls behind Sarah were glass…we would see a slight reflection in them, correct? That is exactly what we see on the walls, except it seems like a double image and reflects the front of the faces instead of the back. It’s a bit hard to explain, but you’ll know when you see it.

    The colors are great, and the black levels are good, but the UMD has some color smearing issues as well. Looking at the close up of faces, for instance, makes it look like the actors are wearing bad makeup, when it’s actually the compression that’s at fault.

    When the action heats up, however, the UMD keeps up without any problems and no ghosting/smearing whatsoever. Good thing, because when the film settles down, the problems arise. I have seen MUCH better video quality on other UMDs, but it’s not totally bad. It’s just slightly below average.

    2/5
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    Audio Quality

    The default English audio track sounds good, with some great bass and separation. But what really sets this UMD apart from the rest is a Dolby Headphone Surround option, something that has never been offered on UMD at this point. Excellent job, Lion’s Gate!

    The main difference in the Headphone Surround and the default audio is the separation and balance. When a bullet whizzes by, for example, the default audio would sound in the left speaker, then instantly go to the right speaker. But Headphone Surround slowly transitions to the right, which makes the sound really expansive and more immersing. Headphone Surround can even fake rear channels, so that when the Terminator shot something and passed it on his bike, it sounded like it panned right behind me. It was a very cool experience.

    The default audio is a bit louder than the Dolby track, so if your having problems hearing it, switch to the other track. Also, be warned that the Dolby track can get VERY loud when the action happens, so don’t turn your PSP up all the way.

    Hopefully we will see more Dolby Headphone tracks, because this one sounds great. Hats off to Lion’s Gate on this one!

    5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Extras

    Because this is a $15 UMD, I figured we would get shortchanged like Sony with the basic options and extras. I was wrong.

    First off, there are no real extras like behind the scenes, etc. The menus are pretty bland…in fact, they’re just bad. No music, no animation to the menus, just the selections. No big deal I suppose; I guess I’m spoiled by Buena Vista’s excellent UMD menus.

    We also get a chapter selection (woohoo!), but they are composed of still images and text you can scroll though. Get this though- there are a whopping 72 chapters in this movie. Yes, 72. That is nearly one chapter every two minutes. And it’s a good thing the chapter selection menu is just pics and text, since it would take quite a while for real time previews to play. Having this many chapters really comes in handy, and is yet another feature that makes this UMD very, very accessible.

    There is a Coming Soon menu where you can scroll through different movie logos and see when they come out (either Now or Soon, heh.) You’ll find about nine movies, but no trailers at all, just logos. Kind of an odd addition, wouldn’t you say?

    Still, it’s the chapter selection and audio track that I am most happy about, along with no forced trailers. I’m not too bothered by the lack of extras.

    2.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Overall…

    This is a great example of how UMDs should be done…a great movie, with a great audio selection & chapters, as well as a nice price of $15. If it wasn’t for the slightly below average transfer & not in its original aspect ratio, I’d recommend picking it up in a heartbeat.

    As it stands, I still recommend you get it if you’re a fan of this film. Sony better pay attention, because their weak UMDs with no chapter selection have no excuse now. I look forward to more Lion’s Gate movies, because if this first effort is any indication, we should look forward to some great releases later this year!

    3.5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    I was looking forward to picking this UMD up this week. I can't imagine why the picture quality would be poor, this movie was recently remastered for HD with the Extreme Edition release.

    Also, I was hoping that even if the movie was released in the 1.85 ratio that it would be done by opening up the soft mattes of the Super 35 print. I owned both the widescreen and full frame T2 laserdiscs and I was impressed by the amount of extra information on the top and bottom of the image (I'm more of a widescreen purist now than 14 years ago, but having a widescreen set will do that to you).

    Would you be able to verify that this is in fact Pan & Scan comparing it to the DVD?
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    I am also puzzled by the video quality, as the T2: Extreme Edition was fantastic. Very strange to mess this one up.

    I do think that it was cropped from the widescreen source, since some of the Terminator's HUD was cut off. Another scene is where he raises his hand and swears he wont kill anyone- his hand is cut off from the frame. Not sure if that was in the widescreen or not, but it seems cut.
     
  4. Jasmine_J

    Jasmine_J Auditioning

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    Wow! You do not know how validating it was to read your review!!!!! I bought Terminator 2 on UMD yesterday and the first thing I noticed was the “ghostly” images in the black of the movie! Don’t even get me started on when Sarah is in the interrogation room. I almost passed out from not breathing because I couldn’t get my jaw off the floor to take a breath. I could not believe the quality of the umd. Yowsa. Funny thing: I immediately took the umd out of my psp in fear that the umd may contaminate my psp! LOL Yeah, I know! I didn’t know what to think! Gees, I’m only on like my fourth PSP after returning the others for dead pixels. This psp, by the way is 100% dead or sleep pixel free (I keep doing the dead pixel test just for fun!). So I returned the Terminator 2 umd back to the store thinking it was a “bad” umd but they gave me another because it was already opened. Like anyone has found a way to copy UMD’s yet! Have they?

    Well, like I said, it’s good to know that the umd is safe and that it was not me. I guess I’ll keep it, I do like the movie!
     
  5. Jasmine_J

    Jasmine_J Auditioning

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    I do have a question:

    What is it when I'm watching something on the PSP, and when the people move kinda suddenly and its up close, that it looks like their skin is turning red for a quick second? Is that like a sign of bad compression?? I notice ALOT on the Spiderman 2 umd.
     
  6. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Jasmine,

    Not a way to record to blank UMDs, nor will there ever be, if Sony has their way. [​IMG]

    The red blurring you mentioned is ghosting, partly due to the PSP LCD screen refresh rate. Some UMDs are really bad (Spiderman 2) and some arent as noticable (Kill Bill), so Im pretty sure its a LCD thing. I dont think its compression.

    Glad you read the review before getting another PSP! I was kinda scared as well when I first watched it, since I thought my PSP messed up. [​IMG]
     
  7. Jasmine_J

    Jasmine_J Auditioning

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    Hey, thanks for the quick reply! So Spiderman 2 will play the same way in any PSP? The red blur ghosting has nothing to do with MY psp's lcd screen?
     
  8. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    I'm torn here guys. . Initially I liked my PSP. I've used my system mostly for Movies, i've encoded quite a few, even bought a 1 meg stick, but the ghosting on this screen is really bad , almost to the point that I'd rather watch on my Dell Axim. Anyone else feel the same way.
     
  9. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Dave,

    Ghosting is EXTREMELY bad when you run movies from a memory stick. Many feel like it was done by Sony to help UMD sales. I used to run movies from a stick when I first had my 1 GB, and the smearing and ghosting was so bad I almost sold my GB stick. Your better off with UMD movies if quality is what your after.

    Jasmine,

    Ghosting is a common occurance with every single PSP LCD screen out there. Some say there are different models of LCDs on PSPs out there, which is a lie.

    The only defects your LCD screen can have is a stuck pixel, or a dead pixel. Thats it.

    Id recommend Hero or Kill Bill to see what that PSP screen can really do. [​IMG]
     
  10. Jasmine_J

    Jasmine_J Auditioning

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    Cool! I have Charlie's Angels and Are We There Yet? and the quality, in my opinion is exceptional! They are so clear. Also in my collection is House of Flying Daggers and National Treasures...all of them are great, except Spiderman 2 and Terminator 2! Those two are the only bad UMD's I've seen! It makes me feel better to know that all psp lcd screens are the same! Thanks for clearing that up! It seems as though buying UMD's is becoming a gamble. Hmmmm, I'm getting nervous! I plan on getting Hitch and Daddy Day Care next week...wish me luck! lol
     
  11. Jasmine_J

    Jasmine_J Auditioning

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    Dave Scarpa,

    sorry to hear your psp is driving you somewhat crazy! Yeah, some of the music video's that I've formatted for the psp have that ghostly "glow" as well! What exactly is the Dell Axim?


    David Galindo,

    interesting point about how Sony may have "planned" the ghosting-memory-stick-problem conspiracy to help UMD sales! Wouldn't surprise me one bit.
     
  12. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Yeah, many guys who are working on homebrew applications for the PSP have said that the actual video quality has been locked at 320 x 240. So basically, Sony has put a limit to how good a movie can look on the memory stick. Pretty interesting...

    But, I am liking these nice prices ($12 at Sams Club!) for movie UMDs, so its not too big a deal anymore. [​IMG]
     
  13. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Well I also think the Higher you can keep the Bitrate the Better for Memory Stick Video , also the source material. I transferred over Open Water and watched it last night. I kept the Bitrate Constant at 900 and it looked pretty nice, of course Open Water was shot on digital Video and I think that helped. I could spot no ghosting or color smear. I also transferred an episode from Season 5 of the Sopranos. I kept the Bitrate at 1500 constant and there was alot of Ghosting and Color Smear. But the Sopranos is alot Darker and I think Darker Scenes lend themselves more to this effect.
     
  14. Rakesh.S

    Rakesh.S Second Unit

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    It's too bad that Sony feels so insecure about releasing movies in their OAR for the PSPee...They probably think that all movies HAVE to fill the screen, since the viewing area is so small, which is just idiotic.
     
  15. Scott_lb

    Scott_lb Supporting Actor

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    David - In your post you mentioned that the UMD movie prices are around $12.00 at Sam's Club. How much (approximately) are the more expensive UMD movies (e.g., Kill Bill, Pirates, National Treasure, etc.)? If they are all twelve bucks, I'm finding someone with a membership card!
     
  16. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Rakesh- Yeah, Sony loves to crop movies...but Lions Gate seems to do this as well. Buena Vista is the only studio so far to support a couple of OAR UMDs, like Hero and Kill Bill.

    Scott- Unfortunately, Sams only carries a couple UMDs, and its the first Sony batch (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Hellboy, Resident Evil 2 and xXx) and the new batch from Lions Gate (Saw, Open Water, T2 and Punisher, but not Van Wilder). No Disney movies yet. [​IMG]

    I saw Kill Bill for $20 at Best Buy the other day, so that might be as low as it gets for now. Hopefully that will change soon!
     
  17. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

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    Yeah it is a small screen but I just made a psp version of Terminator 2 keeping the ratio and it look fine. I used variable encoding and got a 863 MB file and it looks pretty good, very minimal ghosting and color smear. Still I'm getting the general feel that the PSP may not be my multimedia machine of choice that I hoped when I bought it. I'm leaning toward getting a Dell Axim V50 with the VGA screen, I have the v30 now and it does an acceptable job. Plus the Xvid encodes just look better than encoding with FFmepeg for the psp
     

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