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(Director’s Cut)

Considering the largely negative reviews that TERMINATOR SALVATION ($36) received upon its theatrical release, I wasn’t expecting all that much when I popped the Blu-ray Disc into the players. Much to my surprise, TERMINATOR SALVATION proved itself to be an enjoyable next installment in the series, but it isn’t perfect. The problem with TERMINATOR SALVATION is that it is a new jumping off point in the mythos, taking place after the nuclear annihilation of Judgement Day, instead of before- like the preceding films in the franchise. As a new jumping off point, TERMINATOR SALVATION is saddled with its own exposition baggage, as well as having an open-ended conclusion that would lead into proposed fifth and sixth installments. Another problem is the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose character(s) where a key ingredient in the success of the earlier movies. Schwarzenegger offered a level of continuity, which longtime fans were able to latch onto from film to film. Although Arnold’s CGI visage appears for a few moments, it isn’t enough to provide a sense of continuity to this film sequel, which is populated with all new faces.

TERMINATOR SALVATION drops the audience into the world that is only merely glimpsed in pre-Judgement Day films. However, this isn’t exactly the world we were expecting. As TERMINATOR SALVATION opens, it is the year 2018 and John Connor (Christian Bale) has yet to ascend to his prophesized role as the leader of the resistance- and the savior of mankind. For right now, he is just another soldier fighting the war against war against SkyNet and the lethal machines that the self-aware computer system has unleashed to exterminate humanity. The current leaders of the resistance are unwilling to allow Connor to usurp their authority, but they can’t get rid of him either, and keep him on tap for important missions against SkyNet- including testing a recently discovered chink in the machine network’s armor.

Into the post-Judgement Day chaos steps Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), who was a death row inmate that signed his body over to medical science in 2003, and doesn’t have a single recollection since that time. Lost in the post-apocalyptic landscape, Marcus befriends a teenage Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), but SkyNet quickly captures the teen. Despite a bad first encounter, Marcus and John Connor journey into the heart of SkyNet to rescue the teen, whose destiny lies in the past- even if it means humanity needs to postpone playing their trump card against the machines. The cast of TERMINATOR SALVATION also features Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jane Alexander, Common, Jadagrace Berry, Michael Ironside and Helena Bonham Carter.

Warner Home Video has made TERMINATOR SALVATION available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Not at all surprisingly, TERMINATOR SALVATION features a demonstration quality 1080p presentation. Consistently sharp and dimensional, in addition to displaying excellent fine detail and texturing, TERMINATOR SALVATION delivers exactly the kind of high quality image one should expect from a big budget action sci-fi movie being released on Blu-ray. Colors are subdued, with all the appropriate bleakness of the film’s post-apocalyptic environments. What colors one does find, tend to favor a colder, steely pallet. Blacks appear precise and the whites are a bit stark. Contrast has been tweaked a little to enhance the grittiness. Shadow detail is usually strong, but as the contrast has been manipulated, it can come up a bit shy in a few spots. The elements from which TERMINATOR SALVATION has been mastered are virtually perfect. A veneer of grain is always noticeable, which adds to the gritty organic, quality to the presentation.

TERMINATOR SALVATION is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. If you are expecting demonstration quality audio on this release, you are not going to be disappointed. Sonically, TERMINATOR SALVATION rocks! The sound design is turbo charged to the extreme, which is exactly what one wants from this type of science fiction / action movie. Sound effects roar and explode out at the viewer from every direction. All of the outlying channels engage fully for effects placement, plus those elements smoothly pan throughout the soundstage. During the less busy passages, there is natural sounding ambience, which creates a good sense of environment and convincing acoustics. Fidelity is top of the line, with both the music and sound effects benefiting from the lossless encode. The bass channel is a percussive and ground shaking force to be reckoned with. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Disc one features the Director’s Cut of the film, which is without disc-based supplements. Moving on to disc two, one will find the Theatrical Version of TERMINATOR SALVATION, along with Warner Brothers immersive Maximum Movie Mode, that offers viewers an enhanced version of the film hosted by director McG, which includes McG’s comments, picture-in-picture pop up windows that contain scene relevant ancillary programs, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast members, animatics and other errata (requires a Profile 1.1 player). This is an exceedingly well-done package of supplements and I like to think that the Maximum Movie Mode will become standard on all key Blu-ray release. Programs from the Maximum Movie Mode are also available to view independently. Other Featurettes include: Reforging The Future (nineteen minutes) and The Moto-Terminator (nine minutes). TERMINATOR SALVATION is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

While TERMINATOR SALVATION isn’t a perfect film, critics were unduly harsh on this entertaining next installment in the science fiction / action franchise. The Blu-ray presentation is demo quality on both the video and audio fronts, plus the release is enhanced by a strong supplemental package. Recommended.



Terminator Salvation (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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