Saturday 21 November 2009

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

Saturday 21 November 2009

"The first in a proposed trilogy of sequels-cum-prequels, gut instincts are proven correct in fearing the worst from McG's attempt to emulate James Cameron. Terminator Salvation is a rote, soulless, dumb endeavor. After the climactic events of Terminator 3, we're now in the post-"Judgment Day" dystopia of 2018 A.D, where survivors of a nuclear war started by supercomputer "Skynet" are battling robots. It's the threat of Cameron's flashforwards made flesh and stretched to 115 minutes, which is half the reason Terminator Salvation feels so pointless, tedious and uninvolving. It's the franchise's very own Phantom Menace; pointless backstory for the sake of visual-effects." Continue reading...


The Region B blu-ray release of Terminator Salvation arrives as two versions (the 115-minute theatrical version and the 118-minute director's cut*)

Picture: (2.40:1, 1080P, AVC/H.264/MPEG4) The image quality is about as good as you'd expect from a major summer tentpole movie costing over $200 million. The intentionally de-saturated visuals are pleasingly detailed, blacks are deep, explosions are vibrant, and the aesthetic is overall very pleasing and sharp.

Sound: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Audio Description, Italian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Stereo) The soundstage isn't quite as aggressive and memorable as I was expecting, but the sonics definitely spark to life for the action sequences and the rear channels get enough of a workout when anything blows up spectacularly. Of particular merit is the Harvester/Moto-Terminator highway chase scene, and there's a lot of subwoofer rumble for the low-frequencies. Subtitled for the English, English SDH, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian & Swedish languages.


Maximum Movie Mode: By far the best extra is this in-movie experience, which owners of the Watchmen blu-ray will recognize. It's basically the best elements of a director's commentary and behind-the-scenes featurettes, merged into one package that appears throughout the movie. Director McG pops up to lend some insight into particular scenes, a timeline of the Terminator mythology occasionally appears at key-points (did you know 1991's Terminator 2 was set in 1995?), photo galleries and storyboards are available to dive into, and there are PiP (picture-in-picture) interviews and featurettes that run alongside the movie. This is definitely the best type of extra-feature I've seen on blu-ray, and it almost makes the typical audio-only commentaries and featurettes redundant.

Cine-Chat: Another blu-ray exclusive, this is a way for viewers to watch the movie in real-time with other "buddies" who own the Terminator Salvation blu-ray, so you can chat via an instant messenger screen (or link your laptop/smartphone to interact that way.) It's certainly a very snazzy piece of tech, but I can't seriously imagine many people going to the time and effort of setting up "virtual screenings" of this nature. But maybe I'm just getting old and these are all the rage amongst blu-ray owning teenagers?

Reforging The Future: A 19-minute long Making Of (presented in 1080P HD, thankfully) that outlines how the film was created. Most of the information will already have been imparted if you've sat through the Maximum Movie Mode feature already, but there's still plenty of new footage and it's always interesting to see how these massive productions come together.

The Moto-Terminator: At just shy of 9-minutes, this featurette (again in 1080P HD) is basically an addendum to the previous Making Of, but focusing on the motorcycle-like robots that are a key part of the film's one genuinely entertaining action sequence. It's of minimal interest to anyone who feels they know all they need to know about CGI, but it's an entertaining peek behind the curtain nonetheless, and it's nice to see how the filmmaker's collaborated with Ducati.

Focus Points: 11 of vignettes (most only lasting a few minutes, totalling 29-minutes) that take a look at how specific moments were created in the film: "Digital Destruction", "Enlisting The Air Force", "Molten Metal & The Science Of Simulation", "Building The Gas Station", "Creating The VLA Attack", "Exploding Serena's Lab In Miniature", "Hydrobots", "An Icon Returns", "Terminator Factory", "Stan Winston Shop" & "Napalm Blast". It's a bit laborious to sit through them all (even if you 'Play All', so I recommend you access them via the the Maximum Movie Mode.)

Trailers: The ubiquitous promo for blu-ray returns ("Blu-Ray Is High Definition") which always feels ridiculous given what format you're watching it on, and a trailer for Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (a film that gets rubbished by star Christian Bale elsewhere on the disc.)

BD-Live: The blu-ray disc can also link to online content, where you can access 10 "Terminator TechCom" videos and use movieIQ (a facility where constantly-updated film info, trivia and filmographies are made available to you.)

* I didn't notice much difference between the three-minute longer Director's Cut and the theatrical -- certainly not enough to justify its existence. Even the brief nudity of actress Moon Bloodgood came across as very tame, too.