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Blu-ray Review: The Terminator

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Imagine this. You've just finished making Piranha 2, an abysmal sequel to the Roger Corman cult classic. You lay down one night soon after and you have a vision of a giant metal man walking through a pillar of fire. Later, you land $6 million dollars from a major studio to turn it into a movie. That film just happened to be James Cameron's sci-fi classic The Terminator, a film that completely changed time travel and Schwarzenegger cyborg action films forever.

Of course, every movie and sci-fi fan knows the film is much deeper than that. This is a classic story with perfect performances, almost flawless effects (the replica rubber Arnold face is painfully obvious), and action sequences that are only bettered by the film's two sequels. The intensity as the Terminator drives through a parking garage looking for his victim is unmatched.

Everything is explained in detail and it actually seems plausible thanks to the outstanding writing. The fact that this was made for just over a paltry $6 million is even more stunning with the visual effects that even some bigger budgeted films have yet to match. This film is a classic that everyone should have in their film library and is barely the lesser film compared to the sequel.

While the transfer deviates wildly at times, overall this is a fine Blu-ray presentation. Scenes can be remarkably clean and free of imperfections. The black levels are strong, though vary into gray ranges at times. Colors are rich, and the tone of the transfer is relatively sharp. However, there are moments of heavy grain with a washed out look. The parking garage shoot-out is especially ugly.

A strong, packed PCM mix accompanies the film. While it does carry a faded quality to it (especially with gunfire), there is plenty of heavy bass to go around. Action scenes set in the future are especially LFE-heavy with the roving tanks delivering. Surround use sounds natural, impressive given the age of the source. This is a wonderful mastering job from a limited source.

Next up is The Terminator: A Retrospective, a 10-minute sit down interview with James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Clips from this interview also appear in the above documentary. There are some clips from a 1986 interview with Cameron as well. Both share some fun stories from the set and how some shots are accomplished.

James Cameron also leads viewers through seven deleted scenes with an optional commentary on all of them. Each is introduced with a text screen that explains where the scene would have appeared in the film. Creating the Terminator is a wonderful piece on the visual effects, especially detailing the miniatures. Sadly, the spectacular hour-long documentary from the DVD is missing.

O.J. Simpson was originally considered for the role of the Terminator. However, producers thought him too nice to be believable in the role of a killer. How times have changed since 1984.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for His current passion project is the technically minded You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.