Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As anticipated, T3 mostly looked terrific, though a few small concerns knocked down my grade slightly.
Sharpness appeared solid. One or two slight examples of softness manifested themselves in wider shots, but those examples remained very minor. Overall, the image maintained excellent definition and clarity. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, but I did notice some mild edge enhancement occasionally throughout the flick. As for print flaws, the movie seemed totally free from them. Like many films shot Super 35, the picture showed a bit more grain than normal, but that stayed modest, and no other form of defects appeared.
Color reproduction looked great. Unlike the often bluish tint of T2, T3 favored no tone over another, and it maintained a generally natural appearance. The hues invariably seemed tight and accurate, with no flaws on display. Blacks looked firm and distinct, and most low-light shots portrayed the material well. The early images of John at night were a bit murky, but otherwise, shadow detail seemed clean. In the end, Terminator 3 presented a very positive transfer.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Terminator 3 was even more impressive. As one might expect, it used all five channels to great advantage. Since so many action sequences popped up, the movie got tons of opportunities to work the various speakers, and it did this well. Music emphasized the front but came from all around, with some particularly good percussion from the rears. The effects were accurately placed and blended together smoothly. The various channels displayed excellent delineation and combined neatly. Surround usage was very good throughout the flick. From weapon fire to vehicles to explosions and general mayhem, the rear speakers played a strong role in the proceedings and added much life to the movie.
Audio quality came across without any hitches. Speech consistently sounded crisp and natural. I discerned no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and dynamic, with tight highs and rich lows. Effects played the most important role, and their reproduction worked well. The various elements seemed accurate and distinctive, with solid clarity and kick. Bass response always sounded tight and firm, as I noticed no boominess in that realm. I found nothing about which I could complain, for the soundtrack of T3 was a winner.
In this two-disc release of Terminator 3, we discover a mix of supplements. On DVD One, we get two separate audio commentaries. The first offers remarks from director Jonathan Mostow plus actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Claire Danes, Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken. Mostow and Danes chat together for their parts, but all the rest sit on their own, and the track combines the results of the various sessions. Overall, this adds up to a reasonably informative commentary. We get notes about casting and the training through which the actors went for their roles, adjusting to the expectations and requirements of a big-budget effects flick, and various character issues. As usual, Schwarzenegger tends toward hyperbole as he stresses how everything was the biggest and the best, but he doesn’t come across as too obnoxious, and the others help balance out his mild bombast. Overall, the commentary seems good but unspectacular.
The second commentary offers a solo discussion from director Jonathan Mostow. He provides a running, screen-specific track. Mostow covers a lot of bases in this informative track. He discusses how he became involved in the project, issues connected to working in a world created by Cameron, story and character concerns, effects, sets, locations, and many other topics. The best part of the commentary stems from the detail Mostow adds. Whereas many directors relate locations, Mostow gets into why he chose specific places and information related to them. He provides a consistently interesting and enlightening look at the film.
Finally, DVD One presents two advertisements. First we get the theatrical trailer for T3, presented anamorphic 2.35:1 with Dolby Surround 2.0 audio. In addition, we find a video game trailer for the T3 game.
Now we move to DVD Two, where we open with an introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This 32-second clip has Arnie tell us what we’ll find on the disc. Actually, he discusses the commentaries, which makes me wonder why they put the intro here instead of on disc one.
Next we find a fairly brief documentary about T3. The 13-minute program includes the usual assortment of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We get notes from director Mostow, producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vanja, creature creator Stan Winston, and actors Schwarzenegger, Loken, Danes, and Stahl. Film snippets dominate this superficial program. Don’t expect much good behind the scenes material, as the show mostly just promotes the movie.
After this we locate a deleted segment. The Sgt. Candy Scene runs 110 seconds and gives us a glimpse at the roots of SkyNet and the terminators. It’s a pretty amusing sequence that’s a good addition to this set. In the three-minute Terminal Flaws: Gag Reel, we get a pretty standard collection of goofs and wackiness; nothing here stands out as particularly interesting.
Up next we go to a section called the T3 Visual Effects Lab. This includes six subdomains. First we see a 153-second “Introduction” from Mostow, Schwarzenegger, and others as they chat about the visual effects and set up the more specific programs to come.
The next four segments examine specific effects elements. “Crane Chase” lasts seven minutes and 48 seconds, while “TX Transformation” goes for eight minutes. “Future War” takes eight minutes and 37 seconds and “Crystal Peak” fills nine minutes, 23 seconds. Each one uses the same format. We find a mix of movie snippets, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. These include Mostow, production supervisor Greg Alpert, production designer Jeff Mann, actors Schwarzenegger and Loken, stunt coordinator Steve Griffith, crane driver Gary Powell, second unit effects coordinator Joe Montenegro, second unit DP Ben Sarisson, visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, technical animation supervisor Dennis Turner, VFX producer Gretchen Libby, CG supervisor David Meny, creature creator Stan Winston, lead Saber artist Grady Cooper, model project supervisor Brian Gernand, compositing supervisor Jeff Doran, VFX art director Peter Rubin, digital model supervisor Russell Paul, makeup department head Jeff Dawn, motion control technician Seth Rosenthal, animation director Dan Taylor, and computer match mover Jason Snell.
All together, the four programs last 33 minutes and 48 seconds, and they cover the material quite well. Obviously, the emphasis remains on technical issues, but the featurettes rarely become excessively dry. The move quickly enough and mix various elements in a brisk manner so that we get a good perspective on the subjects. The “TX” sequence probably is the most interesting of the bunch, but all four seem informative and entertaining.
The most unusual segment, “Create Your Own Visual Effects” lets you muck around with some different scenes. This allows you to make some minor variations to short sequences. It’s more interesting in theory than in execution, but it’s still an intriguing effort.
Inside the SkyNet Database, we get some character notes. The “Human Central Archive” presents short biographies for John Connor, Sarah Connor, Kate Brewster, Robert Brewster, and Kyle Reese. “Artificial Intelligence Interface” includes information about the Series 850 Terminator, the T-1000, the T-X, the T-1, and the Hunter-Killers. Some interesting tidbits show up here, though since Terminator and T2 are owned by others, no real footage of Sarah, Kyle, or the T-1000 appear. That means they use cheesy faked images instead.
Similar material comes to us via the Terminator Timeline. Essentially his just offers a text recap of the three movies, so it doesn’t present anything terribly useful for fans who already know the chronology.
Once we move to the Storyboards area we find splitscreen comparisons for the film’s climax. This three-minute and 53-second piece presents a decent look at the original drawings and the final product. Dressed to Kill examines the costumes of T3. The 127-second piece features behind the scenes and movie clips, examples of clothes designs, and comments from Mostow, actors Schwarzenegger, Stahl, Danes, and Loken, and costume designer April Ferry. It’s marginally interesting but too brief and superficial to tell us much.
A glimpse of the film’s action figures appears via Toys In Action. The piece includes comments from McFarlane Toys founder Todd McFarlane as he shows us the different toys. We learn a little about the creation of the figures, but this six and a half minute featurette nonetheless feels more like propaganda to sell us toys.
Speaking of which, we now get more information about the T3 game. We find the PC game trailer along with Making of the Video Game. During this eight-minute and 55-second piece, we hear from Mostow, producers Andrew Vanja and Mario Kassar, creature creator Stan Winston, game lead designer/producer JC Boone, Black Ops Entertainment CEO John Botti, game director Jose Villeta, and actors Schwarzenegger, Loken, and Stahl. As with the toy program, some minor information pops up here, but mainly it comes across as a long advertisement.
As a film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines didn’t make me forget the glories of its predecessors. However, it rose to the occasion fairly well and seemed significantly more compelling and enjoyable than anyone had a right to expect. The DVD presented generally solid picture with excellent audio and a nice package of extras highlighted by two good audio commentaries. A well-executed and exciting sequel, T3 kept the Terminator series alive in fine fashion.