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December 8, 2009
Terminator Salvation - Director's Cut
Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
4/6/20099/12/2009Sony PicturesMcG
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MChristian Bale

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Christian Bale and Sam Worthington both star in Terminator Salvation.

It's not often that a movie grosses $US371 million around the globe is be considered a failure, but to many that was the case with Terminator Salvation which didn't even make double it's $US200 million production budget. Indeed The Halcyon Company who own the rights to the franchise has declared bankruptcy is going to auction off all the rights to the Terminator franchise in January 2010. So is this movie really bad, have people tired of the franchise, or did the movie going public just miss the star of the show - Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Over the months I have read so much about this movie not being one in the true spirit of the franchise. Obviously the three previous movies all followed a character trying to evade an assassination attempt from a Terminator. This fourth movie goes where we have always hoped - the future war after the apocalypse - but offers a more conventional storyline.

Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet’s operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.

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Anton Yelchin is superb as the young Kyle Reese.
I'm going to break this movie down into the good and bad components. Firstly the good. I really loved the massive action set pieces in this movie. Love him or hate him director McG does knows how to direct action sequences and unlike so many other directors he proves that you don't need 100 cuts a minute to make the action frantic and intense. The harvester attacking the petrol station is so intense, the opening sequence where John Conner attacks the Skynet facility offers some 'Aliens' inspired moments (I was expecting Newt to make an appearance for a few moments!) while the napalm explosion in the forest will blow your socks off.

In terms of actors and their performances kudos must also go to Sam Worthington - he is simply brilliant as Marcus Brody, while Anton Yelchin (who played Chekov in the recent, and brilliant, Star Trek movie) is also proving his worth and likability. Thankfully director McG has seen fit to drop the 'comedic' moments that so annoyed in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. There's no "Talk to the hand!" in this movie.

Sony Pictures have released Terminator Salvation on Blu-Ray in both the original Theatrical version as well as the Director's Cut which adds in 2 minutes 54 seconds of footage in total (the DVD release only contains the Theatrical version, so it's a nice bonus). The majority of the extra footage involves a short scene with Moon Bloodgood getting changed where she appears naked for a few moments. There is also a slight increase in violence in some scenes, but nothing that changes the story to any extent.

So what about the bad? Well I'll start with Christian Bale. I've never been a big fan of his primarily due to his deep, gravely voice in some of his movies which he has carried into this release. Having said that he doesn't do anything that made us shake our heads but I don't know, he doesn't do much for me. Also while I don't mind that the storyline doesn't follow the 'traditional' Terminator structure, I felt that the storyline in Terminator Salvation was a little off the mark and doesn't offer the 'epic' battles we hoped for. Indeed even the original Terminator movie had more intense action sequences with several Terminators battling side-by-side in the future battle.

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Finally we see the Terminator factory!
Finally I want to kill the marketing department and the people that made the trailers for this movie. Do not watch the trailers! Why? Well one of them gives away the biggest plot twist in the movie, so much so that it essentially provides a spoiler from the very start. I won't repeat it of course, but DO NOT watch one of the most spoiler filled, and almost movie ruining, trailers of all time!

Ultimately, no, this Terminator installment is not as good as James Cameron's efforts, but it is an entertaining movie in its own right and it is one which I could, and will, re-watch many times over. Fans of the franchise will want to check this out.

Encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec and presented at the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 this transfer is quite gorgeous with a generous bitrate that hovers around 20Mbps for the majority of the movie. Terminator Salvation was deliberately filmed with a stark, bland image to portray the post-apocalyptic world so there are few moments which really stand out as gorgeous in terms of brilliant colouring. If there is a very minor negative we did notice some very minor colour banding and compression in some of the very dark scenes.

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Moon Bloodgood is solid as Blair Williams.
Mother of god is this thing loud!

That's my impression of this movie. When I saw Terminator: Salvation it was at preview screenings of the movie at the brand new Event Cinemas at Robina - probably the best cinemas we have ever been to. After the movie everyone walked out rubbing their ears - it was simply sooo loud. We thought it was an over-zealous projectionist, but now, having played this disc we're starting to think it was the audio mix given to the movie.

So after turning our receiver down about 8db we settled in to one of the most aggressive, impressive and booming DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks we have ever heard. Sure, at times Christian Bale seems to go back into his deep gravely Batman styled voice, but it's still pretty clear. Unlike Terminator 3 where Marco Beltrami composed the music and failed to include the classic Terminator theme, Terminator Salvation's composer Danny Elfman has ensured the music in the movie includes many nods back to the original Brad Fiedel score from the original movie, The Terminator.

There are two other audio tracks on this disc, an English Descriptive Audio track encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps, and Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which appears to be on-par with the English DTS-HD track, although the bitrate appears slightly lower in places. Subtitles on the Terminator Salvation Blu-Ray include English, English SDH, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, and Swedish. We sampled quite a bit of the English and English SDH tracks, and they were both accurate to the dialogue on-screen.

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This action sequence is brilliant.
For such a recent big-budget release we are pleased to report that there are several very impressive extras on this disc to add quite a bit of value.

Maximum Movie Mode (HD): Essentially a picture-in-picture commentary this is detailed with plenty of behind the scenes footage. Director McG occasionally pauses the movies playback to give you a little more insight into a particular moment or scene. Well put together this is certainly worth checking out and a highlight on the disc.

MovieIQ (HD): MovieIQ is a new feature on Sony Blu-Ray discs which, though an internet connection, allows you to get more information (we believe sourced from IMDB) about actors in the film. It's an interesting concept that works quite well (in fact we could see this in future being used to sell 'products' seen in films).

Cine-Chat (HD): This is a BD-Live chat so you can chat with your friends through the disc while you're watching the movie. Thankfully there's a nice 2 minute video showing you what you can do with Cine-Chat. Now, if I had some friends that have this disc we could try it out!! Cine-Chat: This is a BD-Live chat so you can chat with your friends through the disc while you're watching the movie. Thankfully there's a nice 2 minute video showing you what you can do with Cine-Chat. Now, if I had some friends that have this disc we could try it out!!

Reforging the Future (19:01/HD): This is the 'main' making of documentary which has some pretty decent interview, brilliant concept art, and on-set footage. It's quite interesting, but I would have loved a tonne more content although it does cover a rather special cameo in the movie.

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One of the earlier T-600 Terminators.
The Moto-Terminator (8:33/HD): This featurette looks at the motorbike styled terminators including using Ducati motorbikes and then designing the final Terminators.

Focus Points (29:47/HD): This is a series of featurettes about various aspects of the filming of Terminator Salvation. Put together there is around 30 minutes of very interesting content with the filmmakers covering the more interesting aspects of the production including visual effects, building the petrol station set and blowing it up, getting the US Air Force involved, and creating the Terminators.

Trailers (4:48/HD): Trailers for Blu-Ray is High Definition and Terminator 3.

Digital Copy: Sony have included a second disc in this set with a digital copy of the film for those that have a need.

Despite the many mixed reviews we are actually very fond of Terminator Salvation. In fact, we would go so far as to suggest that this is one of the more entertaining movies released during 2009. On a technical level this Blu-Ray is a fantastic disc, but perhaps the audio levels could have been dialed back a little bit. There isn't a great abundance of extras, but what is there is superb in quality. If you like the Terminator franchise then we suggest you add this disc to your collection now.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.