Terminator Salvation Blu-ray Review
OK, I’ll get this out of the way first. Leaping headlong into the Terminator franchise isn’t advisable for any director who isn’t willing (or able) to match stunning, frame-by-frame visuals with a compelling story. What could have mowed down the competition last summer ended up with a disappointing box office receipts — albeit in a time when $371 million falls below expectations. However, this is blockbuster territory, that rarified place where an established post-apocalyptic fantasy is expected to wreck global havoc and rake it in. I’m sure McG felt James Cameron looking over this shoulder and wanted to do justice to his predecessor. And he does. Too bad he didn’t have a tight, streamlined script to work with, too.
Set in 2018, we meet John Conner (Christian Bale) again as the man fated to lead the Resistance in their fight against the Skynet system and its Terminators. His attack against the Skynet base reveals human prisoners and plans for a new hybrid Terminator that uses human tissue. Yet, his understanding of what the future was to be like is shaken when he meets Marcus (Sam Worthington), a former death row inmate who has emerged from the wreckage of Skynet. Added to the convoluted mix is Kyle Reese (Anton Wilchin), whose importance as Conner’s father in inexplicably downplayed in a script that insists on having Conner drive the action. That would work if there were some mystery behind Conner’s back-story, now well worn by this the fourth installment of the epic. Instead, we wait in vain to get that sinister feeling of being hunted that the first two Terminator movies gave us. In fact, the atmosphere created by those earlier efforts is still what sustains this series.
The acting is actually pretty good, although Christian Bale does feel a tad wooden, falling back on his Batman voice and trying mightily to squeeze the most out of his character. When a CGI version of Arnold makes an appearance toward the end, the audience briefly remembers what’s been missing: a heart, and maybe even some laughs.
Seem like I’ve been unfairly harsh? Then read this: Even if Terminator Salvation captures the eyes and ears but not the minds of viewers, anyone who wants to experience how good Blu-ray can be should check out this movie. The transfer is excellent, and you can immerse yourself in a marvelous DTS-HD 5.1 surround-sound environment and 1080P the way it should be seen, with inky-deep black, rich colors, and depth of field. It’s truly a showcase disc for anyone testing out a system.
Of course, you get bonus materials, too. A Theatrical Cut and Director’s Cut (though they’re pretty much the same); some decent BD-Live material; and Maximum Movie mode, which plays alongside the feature and provides commentary by McG. It’s clear that a ton of effort was put into this movie and a pity the writing just wasn’t there. But if you have any interest in high-caliber sound and vision, you can’t afford to miss this.