THE TERMINATOR Remastered Blu-Ray Review
If there’s anything that those working in post-production may dread more than anything, it’s a new media storage technology. Such leaps forward, VHS to DVD, DVD to Blu-Ray, and Blu-Ray to whatever comes next, usher in a boatload of opportunities for the middling quality of a film transfer to make itself glaringly obvious. With that in mind, and although not infamous in this regard by any means, the first foray of The Terminator into the world of Blu-Ray technology was less than stellar. This 2006 edition suffered from a grainy picture, black/white balance issues, and less-than-spectacular sound mixing quality. Has the new “remastered” 2013 edition addressed those issues or is it just more of the same and an unnecessary purchase within The Terminator franchise? I certainly have an answer for that, but first, a quick rundown of the sci-fi classic’s plot, for the few who have somehow not managed to see it.
Linda Hamilton plays Sarah Connor, a mousy and timid waitress living in Los Angeles who just so happens to be the future mother of humanity’s post-apocalyptic savior. In the near future, a worldwide artificial intelligence system called Skynet will become self-aware and determine that humanity needs wiping out. Problem is that a human named John Connor is so adept at leading the human resistance that Skynet can’t seem to finish the job. In fact, an attack led by Connor infiltrates Skynet’s defenses and destroys its defense grid. The machines’ grip on the world seems to be at an end.
On the verge of defeat, Skynet sends a cyborg assassin, termed a ‘Terminator’ (Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course), back in time to kill Sarah Connor before she could ever give birth to its hated enemy. Aware of Skynet’s plan, the humans also send back a man named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in an effort to protect Connor from the Terminator. What follows is 100 minutes of balls-to-the-wall action, with Reese and Connor desperately fleeing the inexorable chase of the Terminator while trying to not only save themselves but the future of the human race as well.
The Terminator is widely regarded as one of the best science fiction films of all time, routinely pored-over and analyzed for its dizzying and convoluted time travel narrative and gripping action. But is this particular version actually worth getting, especially for those dedicated fans that have already spent hard-earned money on the VHS, Laser-Disc, DVD, and the 2006 Blu-Ray versions? In a word – yes. In three words – oh hell yes.
Issues that hamstrung the 2006 Blu-Ray of The Terminator, obvious grain (especially in dark scenes), contrast problems, and occasionally choppy sound mixing issues, have been masterfully wiped away in this Remastered edition. The 1080p video transfer is phenomenal and clear as a bell. The picture is as sharp as a Ginsu knife and a real joy to behold. Finally, the audio is a great improvement as well from the 2006 edition. The Remastered edition makes use of a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, plenty capable to allow Arnold’s bullets to bounce all around your living room while you marvel the gorgeous picture.
The final product is not perfect, however. One sticking point that may cause a bit of controversy among fans is that the transfer has clearly been touched up with a teal wash, which is really apparent in daytime scenes and ostensibly done to bring out the contrast and bleak mood of the film. Whether it bothers you to the point of disliking this version will come down to your tolerance of color tweaking. Personally, although I’ve seen the original many, many times, I didn’t find the end result particularly jarring. Also, the remixing of the old 1984 mono audio source material occasionally causes sound effects to give the impression of artificiality. But this is another fairly quibbling point.
Besides the much-improved quality, The Terminator Remastered edition tosses in a few special features as well. Unfortunately, besides a few deleted scenes, both featurettes (Terminator: A Retrospective and Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects & Music) were already included on the 2006 Blu-Ray. Those looking for fresh behind-the-scenes material won’t find any here. As its title implies, the new 2013 edition is all about quality improvement. Despite its dearth of special features, those with HD TVs and Surround Sound systems who are just looking for the best Terminator home experience yet created should look no further. It’s not perfect, but it’s really damn good.
Want more Ahhhnold? Check out my Top 5 Greatest Arnold Schwarzenegger movies ever!