TERMINATOR SALVATION - Blu Ray Review & Competition

Lots of things blow up in this film. And I mean lots. Something probably disintegrates in a ball of fire every minute or so. If you get off on things and people being scattered to the winds in vast explosions then Terminator Salvation will likely induce multiple orgasms. The trouble is that McG's film, a worn out old tart of a science fiction franchise blockbuster it has to be said, is thus best described as two hours of empty spectacle and not much else.

The first two Terminator films remain iconic slices of science fiction cinema because they combine ground-breaking special effects and stunts with compelling human stories. The characters of John Connor, Sarah Connor, the Arnie Terminators and the thoroughly nasty T-1000 as played by Robert Patrick were all part of a more or less present day story that used flash forward sequences to a machine dominated Los Angeles simply to tease and enhance a good narrative.

McG's film tries very hard. The story is essentially told on two fronts: the efforts of John Connor and the resistance command (Connor played by Christian Bale in what is probably his least effective role) to bring down Skynet's machine monsters with a carrier signal that can turn them off and the back story of a young Kyle Reese (a smashing Anton Yelchin) who meets up with a resurrected convict from 2003, Marcus Wright (an equally good Sam Worthington) who has been developed by Skynet as a human cyborg. Connor and Wright inevitably meet up and predictably Connor has to be convinced that Wright hasn't been sent to kill him and/or Kyle. Wright has to save Connor from Skynet's hydro-bots before he's convinced of his good intentions and they both team up to whup Skynet's ass.

It's a big blousy action film, competently put together, but it isn't anything particularly special. The film tries to come up with a story that does delve into notions of identity and loyalty but it's hampered by much of the proceedings being forcibly drowned in a massive vat of testosterone. Men are real men, well...when they're not being cyborgs, women are real women and machines come in all sorts of flavours - the giant iron man versions, the underwater versions, the motorbike versions...the list is endless. Whilst the latter half of the film seems to be concerned with Wright's humanity, his heart and soul as it were, the film's too busy wearing a big cock on its sleeve rather than the fount of human emotion. The determination to be a big, butch man is ceaseless until the conclusion when Wright literally makes a heart-felt sacrifice to keep Connor alive. Even, Kate, the film's stereotypical heroine who can drop a man at two paces, eventually capitulates and admits that Wright is more man than machine.

The big twist is that Wright is revealed as a puppet of Cyberdyne and Helena Bonham Carter's Doctor Serena Kogan. The whole plan is to get Connor into Cyberdyne's HQ, destroy the resistance command and blow up lots and lots of people and things all over again. Connor's dilemma is of course that he also has to face the film's ultimate symbol of masculinity, a revived naked Arnie Terminator in a big fight at the conclusion. Worthington works miracles with some narrow material and more or less keeps the film afloat along with Yelchin's charming portrayal of Kyle Reese. Less can be said for Bale who simply bellows his lines and flexes his muscles with rather minimal appeal. The fight at the conclusion in the Terminator factory is probably the highlight of the film, even if it riffs off much of the previous installments in the franchise, but God knows how Kyle's mute companion Star is still alive at this point. One very lucky little girl and one wonders why she's actually in the film apart from providing a couple of jokes whilst avoiding bullets, explosions and murderous machines.

This is for Terminator junkies only and it's clear that a lack of broad appeal is what probably scuppered its box office in the summer along with its relentlessly dark tone and less than cheery post-apocalyptic dystopian setting. Excellent visual effects and design not withstanding, McG's direction is unrelentingly driven by thunderously big bangs and flashes and has little time for nuance or character development. In the end, it's a boys' film that's daft, macho and noisy but lacks the intelligent and sophisticated charm and the believable, strong female characters of the original installments.

The 1080p picture is splendid and copes with everything the film throws at it in terms of rapid movement and ever changing lighting conditions. The transfer is crisp and clean and presents superb contrast and deep blacks. Flesh tones are natural within a de-saturated colour palette, detail is precise without evidence of edge enhancement or boosting. The DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio is superb and as you would expect with two hours of explosions and fighting the lower frequencies get a thorough workout. This film keeps your sub-woofer very active and the peripheral sound effects are very well orchestrated across the sound stage. The dialogue, for what it's worth, is clear and doesn't get lost in the continual bursts of action and effects and Danny Elfman's score, paying great homage to Brad Fiedel's original themes, is woven effectively into the soundscape.

This Blu Ray edition contains two versions of Terminator Salvation - the theatrical version at 115mins and an extended Director's Cut at 118mins.

Special Features

Re-Forging the Future, is a 19 minute behind the scenes featurette looking at the film’s production and development. Plenty of talking head style interviews with McG, Bale, Yelchin and the designers and visual effects crew from Stan Winston Studios. Brief but interesting.

The Moto-Terminator, an 8 minute featurette that looks at the motor-cycle versions of the Terminator that take part in one of the film's central chase sequences. Looks at how the film’s visual effects crew and motorcycle manufacturer Ducati collaborated in their creation.

Focus Points - 29 minutes of behind the scenes vignettes about combining CGI animation and stunts, model effects, creating a CG Arnie and much more. Fascinating exploration of the techniques used to bring the effects to life. 

Maximum Movie Mode, similar to Warner's use on the Watchmen DVD this allows you to watch McG deconstruct key scenes from the film, a Picture In Picture (PiP) commentary with various cast and crew interviews, pop up storyboards, still galleries and a time line, plus the ability to insert the eleven mini vignette Focus Points on special effects.

BD-Live features on the disc include: Resist or be Terminated Tech Com videos, featuring the viral videos used to promote the theatrical release, plus four new videos and The Final Resistance video, in which you can access the secret plans of Skynet.

Cinechat enables you to natter live with friends around the world while viewing the film - so you can all shout at the telly together!

movieIQ This allows you to immediately access continuously updated information on the cast and crew and explore relevant trivia such as production facts, music and soundtrack information all tied to scenes within the movie (powered by Gracenote).

Take a look at the recently launched Sony website to accompany the DVD and Blu Ray release of Terminator Salvation. Lots of games and video content to enjoy. Thanks to greenroom@momentum PR for their support.

Terminator Salvation (Sony Blu Ray - SBR61426 - Region B - Cert 12 - Released November 23rd, 2009)

Cathode Ray Tube has two copies of the Blu Ray of 'Terminator Salvation' to give away. This competition is courtesy of Sony Pictures.

  • This competition is open to residents of the UK only over the age of 15, but not to employees of Sony Pictures Releasing or their agents.
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Question: What date did Skynet become self aware and start the war?


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