Terminator Salvation (Director's Cut)
Then I watched it again on Blu-ray, with that expectation now firmly to the side and just watching it for the film's sake, and then listening to McG talk about it at a number of points and his passion for the film as well as it's subtext, and I have to say my liking for the film has been somewhat raised.
Helped, in no small part, by the superb Blu-ray offering and the excellent Maximum Movie Mode experience of the film. I feel it's a much deeper and richer film than the one I was critical of when I saw it first in the cinema. Problems remain, but it's much easier to appreciate the scale and the story, and my view of McG has definitely changed.
The resistance leadership is deep underwater in a submarine, relaying orders to the troops on the ground, one of whom is John Connor, leading a group in the western United States and trying to save people one transport at a time.
After a daring raid on a SkyNet research laboratory, Connor discovers that things are changing. The history his mother told him about isn't the one he's seeing now as plans for a T-800 are discovered, plans that just shouldn't exist yet, and around them are caged humans.
In a counter attack that destroys the facility his entire team are wiped out, and he's the one left with this knowledge. Something has changed. That night, emerging from the wreckage of the facility, a man climbs out of the pit and sets out in the wasteland.
Meanwhile a daring attack is being planned on the western base of SkyNet, using a signal that has been discovered by headquarters, a signal that can stop any machine in its tracks. Could this be the turning point of the war?
Not only has Connor all this to deal with, but somewhere, Kyle Reese is fighting for survival and Connor must find him, rescue him and prime him for the events to come.
I watched the Extended Director's Cut, with additional footage to the theatrical version which is also offered on the Blu-ray. It features a number of shots removed from the film, most notably the Moon Bloodgood topless shot which was talked about near the release. A tasteful and in context shot that isn't anywhere as gratuitous as the reports suggested when the news of the shot was first talked about.
I have to go back a little on my previous review of the film because watching a second time I realised that Terminator Salvation does hold together much better than I first thought and delivers a good addition in the Terminator franchise. I still stick by some problems that the film has, like the setting up of a fire at night when we are told that the hunter-killers have exceptional night vision and the resistance stay in at night, and the ultimate ending which seems to lack a little intensity for the shocking moments it should deliver, but the changing of the time-line and the delivery of the strong moral character story is really well done and does come through much clearer.
What I also noticed on second viewing are the complexities of the story between Marcus and Connor, something that I realised was there in the cinema release, but didn't fully appreciate the impact of until now. The final scenes with Marcus do seem to hit home just that little bit heavier, whether that's with the lifting of the expectation and hype, or whether there is a slightly different beat on some of these scenes I'm not sure, but it definitely struck a stronger chord this time around. I appreciated much more the story-lines and the impact they had on each other.
I think time will make people look more favourably on McG and this Terminator episode and it will rise in people’s estimation, and perhaps we’ll see a fifth film sometime in the future, it’s just a shame the company behind it had to go bust yet again.
There’s a superb picture on the Terminator Salvation Blu-ray that really draws out the detail of people and machines throughout the film. There are a couple of moments where lights in the near dark outside show a little banding, but it’s slight and doesn’t detract from the film at all. It’s a film deserving of the quality offered with Blu-ray and looks excellent for it.
DTS-HD MA 5.1 English and Italian, DD 5.1, English Descriptive Track
I selected the DTS-HD MA 5.1 English track and, in an unusual move, turned on the sub-woofer, cranking up the volume a little to take advantage of some of the bigger action sequences. The Blu-ray delivered a powerful audio track that made great use of the directional sound from all speaker, showing strong and discernible separation in the sounds themselves with a strong bass that delivered some great deep sounds from the heavy machines and during the explosive action scenes. A fantastic audio track.
Maximum Movie Mode, Reforging the Future featurette, The Moto-Terminator featurette, Eleven featurettes from the Maximum Movie Mode, Movie-IQ, CineChat
Maximum Movie Mode
This is probably the most comprehensive coverage of a film I have ever seen and features a new style of director involvement and integration of content that gives for a more seamless viewing of the film. While watching in this mode a number of things happen:
- A time-line appears throughout the film to highlight events in the entire Terminator franchise universe, throughout all the films
- In the bottom right corner storyboard sequences will appear which flick through, mirroring the action on-screen
- A picture in picture opens up to show some of the cast and crew involved in the scene and behind the scenes footage
- The opportunity to view photos from a specific section in the film appear, and selecting one of these will pause the film and display a photo gallery to browse through, returning you to the film once complete
- A short behind the scenes clip will appear with the opportunity to select a full featurette on the moment. This pauses the film and returns once the featurette is complete. There are eleven in total and feature the actors, director, producers and crew talking about the film and with plenty of behind the scenes footage
- Finally the film will be reduced to a window which the camera pulls out from to reveal McG standing in front of two side by side screens. One showing the film, the other showing behind the scenes footage, alternative footage, etc. He then talks about parts of the film, freezes the action on the main screen, talks us through what they did, and uses the second screen to show us what was happening before the post production.
This Maximum Movie Mode option is superb. I love extras, and I often tire of them being on their own and out of context, leaping through footage and information that’s racing from start to finish of the film in about twenty minutes. Here you get to see the featurettes and extras in context, right next to the part of the film where they belong, making it a much richer and more engaging experience.
Hearing from the director and having him control the playback of the footage to be able pull up additional footage on the other screen to explain things is another excellent aspect of this extra, and if I could complain about anything it’s that there wasn’t more of McG to pop-up and talk more about his film.
I would be sold on this feature alone and there needs to be more of this on other Blu-ray releases.
Only one negative point, that was around the photo galleries. The first couple I pulled up worked just fine, but after that I wouldn't get a single picture, just a blank screen. No matter, they weren't the major part of the extra here.
Reforging the Future featurette
A standard featurette that looks at making the film as an entirety. The cast, crew, director and behind the scenes footage. Some of which you might recognise from the Maximum Movie Mode.
The Moto-Terminator featurette
This featurette looks at how they created the Moto-Terminators, oh I wish they had called them anything but that, everything else is a T-something, why not give it the same SkyNet designation and not a human one? Anyway, the featurette examines how they filmed the practical and turned it into the CG future fantasy we see on the screen.
All eleven featurettes from the Maximum Movie Mode are shown separately
The featurettes which are embedded within the film are all listed separately in the extras of the disc so if you don't want to go through all the main movie to see them, this is the quick and easy way.
While you watch the film, either the theatrical or the extended version, you can select to have a window open that displays facts about the film. From cast and crew to locations and behind the scenes. It seems really nice, but it just didn't work for me. I pulled up the menu and was presented with some loading text that never went away and I never saw any information.
The final piece of the extras, the usual trailers and Inside Blu-ray aside, is the on-line CineChat, a cool feature that allows you to go on-line with your friends and chat while you're watching the film, either using the controller, keyboard or even your mobile phone. It's quite a cool feature, if only you could embed or record them for replay later.
Terminator Salvation is a film that definitely deserves a second viewing and a re-evaluation of where it stands in the Terminator franchise, and on Blu-ray it gets that second chance in superb style.
Not only does the film offer excellent quality audio and video, but it comes with a superb new extra of Maximum Movie Mode, mixing so much content with the film itself, in particular the director really getting behind the film and showing us what some key scenes are all about.
The rest of the extras pale into the norm against it, for the Maximum Movie Mode is what it's all about. A superb offering that really does make you revisit and re-evaluate the film and the director. A good Xmas present for sure.