When James Cameron and his crew set out to make The Terminator in the early 1980’s, I’m sure they hoped it would be a success, but they probably never imagined it would become a blockbuster franchise and an American movie icon. And though most people can quote a line from the movies or ID Arnold Schwarzenegger in a TV parody, I’d bet that less than half of those people have actually seen the original movie and that’s a shame.
On the upside, The Terminator is the one that set up the premise, and thus is required viewing in my book. As Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton is average in T1 and I mean that in a good way. You feel for her because you understand her. She’s not the buffed out, gun-toting mama we see later on, she’s a normal, hard-working single girl who gets pulled into a nightmare through no fault of her own.
The action sequences are gripping and the final battle with the skeletonized Terminator still holds up today. Schwarzenegger, who is the bad guy in the first outing, is dull and cold and just mechanical enough to believe he’s not human. A formidable force, he takes licking after licking and keeps on kicking.
The downside of T1 is the 80’s. The hair, the clothes, the styling of the film, it’s very distracting in spots and really dates the movie in a bad way. Luckily, Cameron insisted on using a thrumming, techno score instead of going with popular music of the era. A score that is so intentionally grating, it adds to the tension you feel as you watch the film.
The other downside is the film’s structure. It slows down considerably in the middle and the dialogue isn’t as snappy and clever as it is in T2.
Turning to this new (May 10, 2011) release of The Terminator on Blu-Ray, it’s all about the packaging. Instead of a traditional plastic DVD case, the disc is housed in a pocket in the back of a small, hardbound book. In 24 pages, they give you a short history of how the movie came to be, single page bios on the leads and Terminator trivia. There are a few behind-the-scenes photos, but mostly the photos are shots from the film.
Unfortunately, MGM made no effort to clean up the picture on this film and it’s not worthy of being called Blu-ray. The quality is much better than the direct from VHS retrospective that’s included, but nowhere near as good as it deserves to be. On the other hand, the sound is insane. We have a simple dual speaker set up and were blown away by the depth of the effects sounds on the uncompressed PCM 5.1 setting. The dialogue suffers some and was better at the regular 5.1 setting but it was fun to feel the ottoman shake when the heavy machinery rolled by Reese and his pals.
The special features are the same ones from previous releases. 7 Deleted Scenes, “Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects & Music” and “Terminator: A Retrospective.” All great features if you haven’t seen them.
Bottom line is, if you already own the movie, don’t bother upgrading. But, if you’re giving the movie as a gift (Father’s Day!) to someone who doesn’t have it on Blu-ray, the book packaging is nice bonus.
You can pick up The Terminator: Blu-Ray Book Edition on Amazon for around $20.00.