Terminator Salvation (2009) - Special Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Action / Science Fiction
Warner Brothers || R - 117 minutes - $35.99 || December 1, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-11-19


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: McG
Writer(s): John Brancato & Michael Ferris (written by)
Cast: Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Helena Bonham-Carter, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Common


Theatrical Release Date: May 21, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Maximum Movie Mode
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Note: This review covers the director’s cut. This version runs about 2-minutes longer and I think refers more to brief nudity by Moon Bloodgood, and even though she looks good, the movie itself does not change very much, so I highly doubt this cut will change your opinion either way.

Something donned on me half-way through the fourth movie in the never-die Terminator franchise. It was during a huge, awesome explosion that something rang in my ear: cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. No, not the money the movie didn’t make at the box office (a disappointing $371m worldwide) but the amount of cash the studio spent for the special and visual effects extravaganza; yet, they apparently ran out of money to spend on a half-way decent script. It’s as if the studio needed to see where the money was being spent in the form of explosions rather than, oh I don’t know, characters with personalities...

Terminator Salvation continues the humans vs. machines war this time in the year 2018 when the resistance, led by egoistic and all around dour John Connor (CHRISTIAN BALE) still fighting the good fight despite the advantages Skynet and the Terminators have had on the war. We then meet Marcus Wright (SAM WORTHINGTON), who is the real central character of the film. We first meet Marcus at the beginning before he is to be executed. He’s approached by Dr. Serena Kogan (HELENA BONHAM CARTER) to donate his body to research. After an unusual request, he signs the forms not knowing that he would somehow be resurrected with no clue about the battle that has consumed the world.

Marcus happens upon Kyle Reese (ANTON YELCHIN), a teenage kid who along with a mute girl makes up the Los Angeles resistance force. Together, although reluctantly, Marcus helps the two to escape several machines from killing them before another one finally catches up and grabs Kyle and the girl placing them in a human cattle cage. Knowing that they were being taken to a Skynet headquarters in San Francisco, Marcus needs to find them. He receives help from a resistance fighter named Blair Williams (MOON BLOODGOOD) and they quite quickly form a bond.

The rest of the film consists of one big but predictable surprise/twist followed by more gunfire, massive explosions and a plot that teetered between dullness and useless. And while that would’ve been OK especially with a summer blockbuster, the innate amount of explosions without an ounce of credibility to back any of it up, in the end it feels like an empty shell compared to the previous entries, yes even Terminator 3.

My biggest issue was that despite I was in fact somewhat entertained by the action, I had a tough time rooting for the supposed protagonist, John Connor. I understand that in the future and with everything he has seen and experienced, I too would be bitter and a bit of a prick, but that doesn’t mean we want to see the guy mope about because then you eliminate any sympathy for the guy. The first two Terminator movies had Arnold Schwarzenegger’s deadpan cyborg as relief from the chaos and action not to mention a strong female character in Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor (who makes a voice cameo).

I’m not a fanboy of the franchise. I’ve enjoyed the other movies and even the relatively short-lived television series but I could not get into this film. Stylistically director McG does a good job with the set designs plus the visual effects by ILM are both fantastic. However, there was little in the way of mood and the pacing especially early on seemed off. It seems they went with a simple formula of dialogue, action, action, dialogue, action, dialogue and finally bigger action for the finale before ending it with a “poignant” voice over.

In regards to the cast, Christian Bale I think is a great actor. I know he has his detractors with his raspy voice but I love him in the new Batman franchise but I think he was completely wrong for the pivotal role of John Connor. Maybe it’s an issue with the writing, though. From what I read, because Bale was cast, the role was expanded more than originally intended as the film was actually about Marcus Wright than Connor. At the same time, Bale’s monotone line deliveries didn’t do anything for me. Yeah, he yelled quite a bit and looked heroic at the right times, but where was the deeper emotion?

Where was the connection with Connor’s wife, Kate (played by Bryce Dallas Howard)? I didn’t have much of an issue with Howard only because the script literally gave her little to do. Not only that, and this was something that bothered me when I saw the theatrical version, but they never once make reference to the fact that she’s pregnant. I know times are tough and all, but it was kind of odd that near the finale nobody on Connor’s crew objected to her going along in her condition. It’s a minor thing but one line I think would’ve alleviated those concerns/objections.

Then you have Sam Worthington, a man rising in the ranks of Hollywood stardom that began in Salvation and expected to continue with the highly anticipated Avatar. Like Howard and in fact the rest of the cast including my favorite rapper/actor, Common, is given very little to work with. Once again, the script fails to make us care about Marcus. I don’t think its Worthington’s fault since I can’t see another actor in that age range being able to do that much better.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray release comes in a standard HD Slim Case with a shiny embossed slip cover, perfect for seeing every single fingerprint. All features are presented in HD and are ** Blu-ray Exclusives **, except for the digital copy.

DISC 1:
Director’s Cut (1:57:31) – This new version isn’t much different from the theatrical cut. It adds some brief nudity and probably a little more violence, but as I recall, the theatrical one was fairly violent especially for a PG-13 rating. This probably was the original cut before it was edited down as it is rated R for “Some Violence and Brief Nudity”. This version is 2:55 longer.

DISC 2:
Maximum Movie Mode (2:01:50) – Warner Brothers continues their new picture-in-picture feature that began with Watchmen. This serves as a PiP commentary with director McG plus you get to check out storyboard comparisons the Terminator mythology timeline. This feature runs about 6:14 over the movie’s running time, so that’s amount of time McG pauses the film.

Focus Points (29:09) – There are 11 short featurettes (2:00-3:00) covering various topics from the Napalm blast to the “return” of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the digital flesh. These are also available via the MMM as well, but it’s nice to be able to watch them individually rather than when the scene comes on.

Reforging the Future (19:00) – The filmmakers of Terminator Salvation faced the arduous task of not only building of the mythology of past Terminator films, but also creating a vision for the future. See how the filmmakers reinvented this franchise. It’s kind of an interesting featurette that chronicles how they created the post Judgment Day world, dirty and grimy, a “Retro Future”.

The Moto-Terminator (8:33) – Explore the unique and awesome collaboration between the filmmakers and Ducati that gave birth to the fastest, deadliest Terminator on two wheels. This featurette shows off the new mobile killing machine and how it was created via practical and visual effects.

The third disc contains the digital copy of the theatrical version. The DVD digital copy may only be good for WMV but this one also works with iTunes.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

At first, I was pretty amazed with the picture quality. The film, presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition, looked fantastic at first and for the most part it still did, but I noticed on some darker scenes I noticed that the black levels weren’t the greatest. Also, background object or people were as clear compared with other newer Blu-ray yet foreground characters did look crisp and clear with only a slight amount of normal grain most likely due to how the movie was shot.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track did sound great. Like the picture, I can’t quite give it a perfect score since there were a couple explosive scenes that lacked a certain punch versus others, but those were few and far between. What I liked was it wasn’t just loud. Making a soundtrack loud is easy, but when it’s in depth and spread through each channel evenly without one overpowering the other, that makes an extraordinary track. The subwoofer also got used quite a bit and like the audio, it wasn’t overpowering to the extent of being annoying, instead it added a layer of texture.



.::OVERALL::.

Terminator Salvation may not have met my expectations but as a Blu-ray release? Not too bad. I think the features could’ve been a tad better but Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode is nice and the audio/video transfers are both fantastic are nearly perfect if not for a couple minor issues, but more the fault of the production than the transfer.