The Terminator appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. On the surface, this was the best the film has ever looked, but it didn’t seem to accurately represent the source.
The change occurred in terms of the film’s color timing. For this transfer, the movie has taken on a distinct teal overtone. While not overwhelming, this tint pervaded the image and altered the original.
Everything else about the transfer satisfied. Sharpness was usually strong. Due to photographic conditions, detail could lapse a bit during darker interiors, but I thought most of the movie offered very good delineation. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no concerns, and I detected no examples of edge enhancement.
Print flaws failed to mar the presentation, and blacks were usually deep and dense. Shadow detail generally looked clean and neatly visible. When murkiness occurred, it stemmed from the source.
What one thinks of the image will depend on how one feels about the new color timing. If the dominance of the teal doesn’t bother you, you’ll love it. If you dislike the new color choice, you’ll be less satisfied. I didn’t hate the tint, but I wasn’t wild about it, so that’s why an otherwise strong presentation got a “B-“ grade from me.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio, it also altered the original movie. The mix came from the original monaural track, which unfortunately didn’t also appear on the Blu-ray. The soundfield really opened up the track as it offered a broad and engaging spectrum.
At times I felt the audio seemed to be somewhat “speaker-specific”, as stems popped up rather strictly in one channel or another. Sounds also didn’t blend together in an especially seamless manner; elements tended to mildly jump from one area to another when they panned.
Nonetheless, these criticisms seem a little nitpicky given the origins of the material. For a track compiled from a mono mix, Terminator offered a terrific soundfield. All five channels provided a rather active experience, and they added a solid sense of environment. The score showed good stereo separation in the front, and the effects often came from all around me. The Future War sequences seemed to be especially effective, as they showed good split-surround usage and some fine breadth.
Audio quality betrayed the film’s age at times, but I didn’t think it put a tremendously negative spin on the action. Dialogue usually sounded reasonably clear and natural, though speech appeared somewhat thin and reedy at times and some louder lines displayed moderate edginess. Intelligibility was never a concern, however.
A little distortion accompanied a few effects, but they usually seemed to be clear and accurate, and they offered some positive depth. (Some effects were redone for the remix, so don’t expect all those elements to come from the 1984 source.) The score appeared nicely vibrant and bright, and it demonstrated good dynamics. Ultimately, The Terminator was a good reinvention of the original soundtrack.
How does this 2013 release compare to the original Blu-ray? The audio remained identical, but the visuals changed. The 2013 disc was cleaner and tighter but it came with the aforementioned alterations in color. Even though I’m not wild about the new teal tint, I’d still probably prefer to watch the 2012 disc because it offered so many improvements.
The 2013 Blu-ray offers the same extras as the prior BD. The Terminator: A Retrospective offers interviews with writer/director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger. All of these clips come from older sessions. There are clips of both men together and separately that were shot in 1992, and we also find clips of Cameron with Don Shay from sessions contemporary with Aliens sessions in 1986; these will look familiar to owners of that DVD.
The absence of more contemporary comments in the “Retrospective” seems unfortunate, but the 20-minute and 30-second program offers a fair amount of good information nonetheless. The Shay sessions have the benefit of their era; since they took place only two years after the release of Terminator, there wasn’t much time for attitudes to change or memories to falter. That said, the bits with Schwarzenegger and Cameron together were the most interesting, since we got to see them play off of each other. Overall, the “Retrospective” adds a nice look at the film, though not an extensive one.
In the 12-minute and 57-second Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects and Music, we hear from Cameron, Fantasy II VFX supervisor Gene Warren, visual effects pyrotechnician Joe Viskocil, producer Gale Ann Hurd and composer Brad Fiedel. The show looks at some visual effects elements as well as the movie’s score.
The 2001 Terminator DVD included an hour-long documentary. I don’t have access to that disc any more, but I’d not be surprised to learn that “Creating” simply offers an excerpt from that piece. Why does the Blu-ray not provide the entire “Other Voices” documentary? I don’t know, but its absent disappoints. On its own, however, “Creating” is enjoyable, as it gives us good info about effects and music.
Next we get a collection of seven Deleted Scenes. All of these add up to nine minutes and 55 seconds of material. Many of these are very brief cuts, such as a shot of the Terminator as he leaves the scene of his first Sarah Connor murder.
However, a few are more substantial, such as a piece that shows additional character interaction between Sarah and Reese. These are interesting segments, though I agree that most of them deserved to be cut; I would have kept a short snippet in which Paul Winfield’s character departs the movie, but otherwise these bits were unnecessary.
While The Terminator doesn’t match up tremendously well with director James Cameron’s later films, it remains an influential, seminal and enjoyable movie. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in heart and energy to a degree. I admit I prefer its sequel, but The Terminator still has a lot going for it.
As for the Blu-ray, it objectively looks/sounds very good but it comes with compromises. The image comes with a new teal overlay and the audio only includes the 5.1 remix; we don’t get the original mono track, which I believe has remained MIA on Blu-ray. Extras remain good, though we’re still missing some components from the 2001 DVD. This 2013 Blu-ray is probably the best Terminator on the market, but like all other versions, it has some issues.
To rate this film visit the Special Edition review of THE TERMINATOR