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The Terminator

The Terminator is one of my, and a lot of other people's, favourite movies. It is a great, classic movie with a wonderful '80s feel to it. We all know the story....
In the distant (at the time) year of 2029...
...a world wide computer system originally designed to improve military hardware decides that human beings are no longer necessary and so, decides to get rid of us. They strike out at us by hunting us down with large, rolling , destructive tanks of death, huge flying war machines, and most dangerous of, relentless cyborgs in the shape of chromed, human-like skeletons with evil, glowing red eyes and the ability to blend in by use of coverings of actual human flesh, hair, and tissue.
They can sound like us, but even more frightening , they can oft times out think us. They don't get tired. They don't feel cold or pain. They don't need sleep. But all of this means nothing. They have lost the war of human versus machine. In a last ditch attempt to end us, the computer sends one of these cyborgs, a T-800 series Cyberdyne Systems model 101 known as a Terminator, back into the past to try and destroy the leader of the human resistance before he can grow into the man that will one day destroy them. But there is hope. The humans learn of the computers' plans. The humans, too, send back a soldier. Someone to protect the mother of their beloved leader. Can one save millions ?
The Good--- This is an amazing, classic story that has many parallels with myths and legends of the past ; the Terminator takes the place of the horrible dragon or monster. The character of Sarah Connor could be the classic damsel in distress. And the character of Kyle Reese could be the knight in shining armour that has to defend the kingdom.
It's a very exciting experience once it gets moving , which it does very quickly. Being a movie of some 24 years, the picture quality of the standard edition dvd (which this is a review of) is, of course, not up to high definition standards, but better than most releases of the period. I don't know if much or any restoration work was done for the dvd, but the dvd has a great picture to it. For any of the purists out there, among which I can count myself, the dvd has the original mono soundtrack for the movie. Whenever I watch a movie or tv series on dvd, especially old ones from when I was a kid or before, I try to make use of the origial audio whenever possible. This gives as close to a authenic experience as you can get. For people with surround setups, the dvd also includes a new 5.1 mix of the soundtrack. I watched the film with both mixes and each has it's own merits. The 5.1 mix brings out more of the finer details of the sounds ; the laser blasts, the low rumbling of tanks, etc. The original mono, on the other hand, presents the movie (as much as possible) as it was back in 1984. Since all the sound comes out equally from all speakers, it doesn't have as broad of a soundfield as the 5.1 mix, but it's a fine, solid mix all it's own. On the bonus materials front (which is sadly, quite small), this version of the dvd gives you just a dribble of extras ; the original theatrical trailer and a DVD-ROM script-to-screen feature are all it gives us. But given the strength of the movie it's self, that's alright. There is a special edition with a behind the scenes documentary and interviews with the director and stars. I'm reviewing the plain, barebones edition, which is great for what it is.
One of James Cameron's best films, if not the absolute best, Terminator shows what a great movie should be ; exciting , inventive, and viewer-engaging. The movie keeps your attention, aside from a few short moments, from beginning to end. Sure, most of the effects don't hold up against the modern age of CGI and the like, but that doesn't matter. The model effects of the Terminator cyborg it's self haven't been bested, and I doubt they ever will be. Stop motion, best used by Ray Harryhausen for decades, will always be with us in some form or another. The acting is a good as can be expected for this type of film, especially from Paul Winfield (police Lieutenant Ed Traxler), Lance Henricksen (Detective Hal Vukovich), and Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese). The somewhat unknown at the time Linda Hamilton shows a hint of the great talents she's blessed the world with in the decades since. Some of the acting and music of the movie dates the film a little, a lot in some instances, but so what ? A lot of times, a movie's fun comes from it's sometimes corny/cheezy acting , effects, and so on.
The Bad---- Not the best acted film the movie world has ever seen, (Soul Taker and Space Mutiny are prime examples of this !), it can be at times, no better than a really good high school play. A lot of the time, the acting is way over-the-top dramatic, which really doesn't help the believability of the whole thing. This kind of movie isn't for everybody. The movie doesn't go into as much detail about the future wars as I would have liked (they saved this for Terminator 2 about 7 years later) and parts of the battles seemed to take a lot from other fight scenes from other much better movies. I know that it's hard to make a movie without some if not most scenes being like others, but still..... Though iconic, this first movie of the series is inferior to it's sequels, though far superior to T3.
Extras---- Though not a great dvd package due to extreme lack of extras, this presentation of Terminator will satisfy any Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or general sci-fi fan. If you can't find the special edition with the documentaries and interviews, or if you're not really into having tons of extras on a dvd (not everyone is) , this version will suit you just fine. Not the best dvd presentation of Terminator out there, there are practically no extras on this, what I believe to be one of the first presentations of the movie on dvd. All that's here is the original theatrical trailer and a DVD-ROM option that lets you read the script as you watch the film. I don't have a computer with a dvd drive, so I couldn't access this. But a lot of dvds have great DVD-ROM features such as scans of magazine/magazine articles such as some of the latest Doctor Who dvd releases. Though, I don't like having to read while watching a movie, so I can't imagine, even if I could use the Terminator's Script-To-Screen, that I would do so. I did love that they included the original theatrical mono sound, though. I'm a bit of a stickler for this kind thing ! It's a definate one to rent when you're looking for good movie to spend an hour or two with, but if you're any kind of fan of the movie, you would do well to track down a copy of this....especially the hard to find special edition.
Captures of menus from the dvd
Captures of scenes from the dvd/Cover of dvd
In conclusion, released on dvd multiple times, The Terminator makes a solid, thrilling viewing experience no matter the version.
STREET DATE: October 2, 2001
STORY: 100
RUNNING TIME: 1 Hour, 47 Minutes
RELEASE YEAR: October 26th, 1984
VIDEO: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Enhanced For Widescreen Televisions
AUDIO: English 5.1 EX Surround & Original Theatrical Mono
French 5.1 EX Surround
Spanish 5.1 EX Surround
SUBTITLES: English Language Subtitles
French Language Subtitles
Spanish Language Subtitles
EXTRAS: Original Theatrical Trailer
DVD-ROM Script To Screen