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The Terminator – Digibook version (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 13, 2011 by  



James Cameron’s timeless sci-fi classic “The Terminator” will continue to entertain fans for generations to come. But while this digibook release marks the third Blu-ray release of the film, the Blu-ray is the same with the only difference is that it now comes in a digibook format.  If you have the previous versions on Blu-ray, you may not even need to bother with this release unless you are a hardcore fan or collector. But if you have never seen the film before,  then I definitely recommend checking this latest Digibook Blu-ray release for “The Terminator”!

Images courtesy of © 2010 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Terminator

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1984

DURATION: 108 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), English PCM 5.1 (Uncompress Audio), English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Korean and Chinese

RATED: R

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc./Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: May 10, 2011

Directed by James Cameron

Written by James Cameron and Gale Ann Hurd

Producer: Gale Anne Hurd

Executive Producer: John Daly, Derek Gibson

Music by Brad Fiedel

Cinematography by Adam Greenberg

Edited by Mark Goldblatt

Casting by Stanzi Stokes

Art Direction by George Costello

Set Decoration by Maria Rebman Caso

Costume Design by Hilary Wright

Starring:

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor

Paul Winfield as Lt. Ed Traxler

Lance Henriksen as Det. Hal Vukovich

Bess Motta as Ginger Ventura

Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman

Rick Rossovich as Matt Buchanan

In the year 2029, the ruling super-computer, Skynet, sends an indestructible cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back in time to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she can fulfill her destiny and save mankind.

James Cameron, the mastermind of two of the highest earning films “Avatar” and “Titanic” began his writing/directing career with “Piranha Part Two: The Spawning” back in 1981 but the first film where he would be recognized internationally is for the 1984 film “The Terminator”.

Inspired by “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Star Wars”, Cameron knew at a young age that he wanted to work on sci-fi films.  While working and editing “Piranha Part Two”, the filmmaker had a 102 degree fever and had nightmares of a chrome skeleton crawling through flames.  From that moment, “The Terminator” was born.

Crafting a screenplay which other Hollywood Studios were after, Cameron would not sell it unless he was able to direct.  No one wanted to give him the chance but his friend, producer Gale Ann Hurd, bought the rights to the screenplay, raised the finances and Cameron would be the director.

Created with a budget of $6.5 million, “The Terminator” would go on to make over $78 million.  A major success and also the synergy that would ignite the career of James Cameron who would go on to make “Aliens”, “The Abyss”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, “True Lies” and then his two big record-breaking films “Titanic” and “Avatar”.

But as the film would be significant for Cameron, it would also ignite the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Predator”, “The Running Man”, “Total Recall”), Linda Hamilton (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Dante’s Peak”, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) and Michael Biehn (“The Abyss”, “The Rock”, “Aliens”).

The Blu-ray release of “The Terminator” came out in 2006.  In 2009, to mark the release of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” on Blu-ray, a lenticular cover version of the Blu-ray was released.  And now we have a third version of “The Terminator” on Blu-ray which has the same Blu-ray release but it now comes with a digibook with essays, photos and trivia for the film.

“The Terminator” takes place in a post-apocalyptic time on Earth ravaged by war in 2029.  This time, it is the artificial intelligent machines that have conquered humanity and are planning to exterminate the entire human race.

But two people go back in time, to the year 1984.  One is the human resistance fighter Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn) and the other is the Terminator cyborg (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) who was sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the woman who would raise John Connor, the leader of the human resistance against the machines in the future.

The Terminator does all he can to find Sarah Connor, by going through the phonebook and killing whoever has that name.  When the first two are killed, many worry about the third Sarah Connor in the phonebook.

As Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) is shocked to hear the news of a possible serial killer going after anyone with the name, she worries about her friend Ginger who is back at home with her boyfriend.  But it’s too late, the Terminator has murdered them and also intercepts Sarah’s phone call that she is at the club.

Immediately, the Terminator heads to the club to go after his target and as he is about to kill her, Kyle Reese barely saves her by pumping several shotgun shells on the Terminator but knowing that these weapons can only slow him but not defeat him.

John explains that his job is to protect her but she has a hard time believing that he is from the future and that a cyborg from the future is trying to kill her.  But Sarah quickly learns that Kyle is telling the truth and both do all they can to run and escape from the The Terminator.  But will Kyle be able to protect her against a foe that can’t be killed?

VIDEO:

It’s important to note that this third digibook Blu-ray release for “The Terminator” is the same Blu-ray from the second release.

Presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 1:85:1), like most films released in the early ’80s and are out on Blu-ray, not many films were able to utilize higher stock film.  In fact, despite the enormous success of “The Terminator”, one must remember that this was not a high budget Hollywood film, “The Terminator” was made with a budget of $6.5 million.   One thing you will notice is that this film has aged and there are scenes in which you can see the dust and speckles.

But still, the Blu-ray release does look better than any other video counterpart that the film was released in but with that being said, one thing that high definition does do for sci-fi films is also show the technology of the time.  In the case of “The Terminator”, the scene in which a rubber masked (life sized puppet?) head looks rubberized.  Granted, you can see detail of that mask, such as the lips and eyes but it was a scene that stood out back then in 1984 and it stands out even moreso in 2011.

“The Terminator” is not going to be the best looking film on Blu-ray but if you enjoy the film, this is the best looking version of the film to date.

AUDIO:

I know that many were hoping for a DTS-HD MA or Dolby TrueHD release of “The Terminator” since this is the third Blu-ray release of the film but this digibook version is the same Blu-ray presented like the previous two versions in the fact that “The Terminator” is in English 5.1 uncompressed and English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital.

With that being said, this is still the better version than its older video counterparts.  There are times when the surrounds are utilized during the action sequences, the music sequences and dialogue is clear even when the action sequences are much more audible.  But considering the age of this film and that it was originally a monaural soundtrack, it was nice to see them mix a 5.1 uncompressed soundtrack but it still maintains the same audio as the original 2006 Blu-ray release.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Terminator” comes with the following special features:

  • Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects & Music – (12:58) Presented in standard definition, this featurette goes into the making of the visual effects and the music for the film.
  • Terminator: A Retrospective –  (20:31) Presented in standard definition is an older retrospective and features James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing the script and their memories of working on the first film.
  • Terminated Scenes – (9:56) Featuring a total of seven short scenes cut from the film.

EXTRAS:

“The Terminator” digibook version comes with a book (as part of its case) featuring James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michal Biehn.  With images from the film, also included are the following essays: “James Cameron: Cinematic Terminator” by Richard Tanne and Tech Noir: The Dark Side of Techno” by Travis Baker.  Also, Terminator Trivia.

“The Terminator”, to tell you the truth, I don’t know how many times I have seen this film.  Having owned so many video versions, watching it on HBO as a kid and just playing that very popular scene of the Terminator emerging from the fire over and over again, needless to say, I really enjoyed this film.

Here we are 27-years-later and “The Terminator” receives its third Blu-ray release in five years.

But before I talk about the Blu-ray release, I just to first talk about James Cameron and how admirable he was by sticking to his guns and not selling the screenplay of “The Terminator” to the biggest bidder.  His goal and dream was to direct this film that he wrote and was unwilling to budge.

And when you learn about James Cameron, being poor, broke and taking odd jobs such as become a truck driver to live his dreams of wanting to get his foot in the door of filmmaking is very admirable.  While I’m sure at the time, when so much money was offered to him for “The Terminator” screenplay, I can imagine that family and friends have probably thought he was crazy to turn down the money.  But he stuck to his guns and “The Terminator” would pave the way for him to direct the even more awesome sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, “Aliens”, “True Lies” and eventually his two masterpieces “Titanic” and “Avatar”.

Sure, there are those who are not too passionate about James Cameron films but one has to admire how this filmmaker has stuck to his guns not just for “The Terminator” but for all his films, wanting to direct it the way he wants and nobody interfering.  There are not many directors who are given that much power but Cameron did it.

With “The Terminator”, with only $6.5 million, he was able to do it and as he did for this film and as he has done for every other film that he has written and directed, they have become box office hits.  Maybe the filmmaker has “The Midas Touch” but you have to give him his due, especially for his selection of talent.  Arnold Schwarzenegger has a lot to thank Cameron for his role in “The Terminator”, this film made him a superstar, an action star and sure enough, Schwarzenegger was one of the biggest stars of the ’90s.

Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn would also benefit from their role on “The Terminator” and here we are 27-years-later, people still remember “The Terminator”, “Terminator” films are still being made and for any of us who grew up at the time and enjoyed this film, as a sci-fi fan, you can’t help but have this film in your collection.

Which brings me to this Blu-ray release, the third version of “The Terminator” and the question is if this release is worth it?

If you can still find the first Blu-ray version, you’ll notice that it’s being sold now for under $10.  The second version has the lenticular cover but same Blu-ray release and now this third version has a digibook.

I personally enjoy digibooks that go into the history of the film and come with a good number of pages.  In this case, you get about 24-pages worth of content.  From learning how James Cameron became the director of the film, how he got the idea to write the film and the memorable images from the film.

If you really love this film, I’m sure that you’re going to buy the digibook no matter what.  But for others who own previous versions of the film, it may not be priority but if you are collector, sometimes these digibooks go out of print quickly, so for collector’s, it may be worth it.

As for me, having three releases, many fans of the film have been wanting new special features, a better lossless soundtrack and a better remastering using today’s technology vs. what was around when Blu-ray first came onto the scene.

But there are no differences in content and features compared to its previous two Blu-ray releases but if you have been wanting to get this film, now’s the time to get the Digibook version (with the best cover of the three Blu-ray releases by far).n n Overall, If you haven’t purchased this Blu-ray yet or have not watched the film and are wanting to… then definitely pick up this Blu-ray release!






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