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Terminator Salvation (Director's Cut) (2009) Print E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2009
ImageThere are few action film sagas that have garnered as much respect as the Terminator series.  Besides propelling Arnold Schwarzenegger to stardom, the film is the original, modern day, man versus machines story.  Its popularity has even resulted in a TV series, “Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

“Terminator Salvation” is the fourth installment in the saga.  In the first film the adult John Connor was sent from the future to stop a terminator from the future from killing Sarah Connor.  The man sent to protect Sarah Connor was Kyle Reese.  He develops a relationship with Sarah resulting in the birth of John Connor, who is the leader of the human resistance against the machines in the future.

The sequel picks up with John Connor at the age of 14.  A terminator is sent back in time to kill John Connor this time.  The Connor of the future sends back another terminator that has been reprogrammed to help save John Connor and his mother.  They also try to stop judgment day by destroying Cyberdyne, the research institute responsible for the development of the machines.

In the third film, two terminators return to the past once again.  John Connor is now in his twenties and remains off the grid.  The evil terminator was sent back in time to kill all of John Connor’s lieutenants in the resistance while they are young adults.  The terminator’s primary target is Katherine Brewster, Connors wife in the future.  Just before the terminator arrives, Connor has a chance encounter with Brewster.  Arnold returns as the good terminator once again to protect John and Katherine.  Katherine insists that he help them save her father, who is the lead officer at Skynet, the developer of a computer system that could take over all systems nationwide.  Little did they know, but the Skynet system became self-aware and infected the system, leading to its activation.  At the end of the film, the machines launch a nuclear strike against the world.

Now, in the fourth installment, it is 2018 and the humans are in the middle of their resistance.  John Connor is not the total leader of the resistance at this time, but he is a high-ranking official.  This film seems to deviate from the one good terminator and one bad terminator now that we are in the midst of fighting.  However, as the film opens we are introduced to Marcus Wright, a criminal about to be executed and donate his body to a science experiment headed by Cyberdyne.  The year is 2003.  In the film, Connor and the resistance have discovered a signal that can deactivate the machines.  Connor does his best to try and test this signal in the field before a full-scale attack on Skynet’s systems operation center in San Francisco.  While the command center will stop at nothing to commence attack on Skynet, Connor is determined to carry out another mission.  He has learned that Skynet is hold transports of human prisoners, searching for Kyle Reese.  When a reborn Marcus Wright informs him that Kyle Reese is at Skynet, Connor breaks from command and attempts to rescue Kyle, knowing that if his father dies before he is sent back in time, then the entire resistance would cease to exist as they known it.
I sat down to watch this film preparing for the worst.  Pleasantly I was graced with a stunning video transfer.  There is very little in the way of color in this film, so there is no issue with saturation or bleeding.  Every scene consists of grays and blacks or browns.  The only scenes with a bit of color occur inside Skynet headquarters as the picture turns white and blue.  Detail levels are magnificent, only to be exceeded by textures.  The level of roughness to every object and piece of clothing is outstanding.  You look at the image as if you are actually on set.  Black levels are excellent.  Some scenes go fairly dark in which shadow delineation suffers.  However, this seems to have been the intent of the filmmakers, emphasizing duality.  Fleshtones are even and stable throughout, always remaining neutral.  There is virtually zero source print artifacts.  A thin layer of film grain is present throughout which adds to the texture of the image.  This is an excellent video transfer.

If the video transfer is magnificent, then there is nothing left to describe the audio other than stellar.  Immersion is consistent throughout the film.  Discreet sound effects persist throughout all the channels.  Flybys and zooms are perfectly panned from front to rear and vice versa.  Dynamics are hugely expansive.  Frequency response is terrific.  LFE output is the tightest I have ever heard bass sounds in action films, rivaled by the sequel to “Transformers.”  While the dialogue is clean, my problem lays in the fact that the balance is a bit off.  Dialogue suffers amid heavy action sequences.  This could be intentional on part of the sound designers.  However, it is distracting none the less.  Nevertheless this is a terrific DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

“Terminator Salvation” comes in a three-disc package.  The first disc contains the director’s cut of the film.  The second Blu-ray disc contains the theatrical version of the film as well as the bonus materials.  The third disc is a Digital Copy of the film.

While the special features are limited, they offer an abundance of information on the making of the film.  The largest bonus feature is Maximum Movie Mode.  This is more than just your typical video commentary.  Director McG host the commentary, standing on screen with a split screen, one side containing the film and the other side containing bonus video footage.  This footage includes everything from storyboard to cast and crew interviews to behind the scenes footage.  This is a highly interactive and informative track that fans will truly enjoy.  There is a set of about a dozen focus points, like those on the Harry Potter films that offer brief looks into specific areas.  These can be accessed directly on the disc or during the video commentary.  After that, they are only two featurettes.  “Re-Forging the Future” contains more behind the scenes footage, interviews pertaining to the story of “Terminator.”  “The Moto-Terminator” analyzes a specific action sequence of the film.

“Terminator Salvation” is one of the best in the series.  It has depth and is close to the best an action/sci-fi genre film can be.  The film itself is only outdone by the video and audio transfers.  I highly recommend this title.

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