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Reviewed October 7th, 2001 by Dan Jones


“Come with me if you want to live... ”

I have to believe that most of us know the story behind The Terminator. In the not-to-distant future a battle for world dominator takes place between humans and machines. This battle nearly wipes the human race from the Earth, until a supreme leader, John Conner steps up to bring the human race back from near extinction and in the process rid the world of these machines...before its ultimate destruction at the hands of the humans, the head defense system for the machines, Skynet, originally built by the humans, sends a cyborg, a Terminator, back to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance, Sarah Conner. This Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarznegger, will stop at nothing to kill Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), killing anyone standing in its way, feeling no remorse, and no pain; but, thankfully for her, her future son was able to send a warrior back through time before the Skynet built time machine is destroyed, to defend her. This is our plot.

Created in 1984 by James Cameron, The Terminator provides a completely original, chilling, amazing, action movie. Even more impressive is how little budget this movie was created on, coming nowhere near its old sibling’s extreme budget, and with that budget, how skillfully crafted it is. The movie flows beautifully, never dragging, never letting up on the action, leaving a great model for how to do an action movie.

So how does the original Terminator transfer to DVD? Terminator 2 has often been praised as one of the best DVDs to date, how does this special edition, created after T2: Ultimate Edition, fare on the DVD format? Very, very well.

Audio wise, this version of The Terminator is on steroids (sorry Arnold... ). Originally recorded in mono, this DVD has been remastered to include a 5.1 Dolby Digital EX track, and thankfully enough, we don’t lose the mono track either, leaving the option for those that want to experience The Terminator the way it was original created. The Dolby Digital EX track is strong, adding some high-tech to a relatively low-tech film. The sound is spread nicely, although sometimes seems a bit forced, a bit unnatural if you will. But, once one considers that the source for this mix was a bare bones mono audio track, the quality of the mix is impressive. Yet, there is something to be said for the mono track. This is the way this Terminator was to be heard, and I must say it does a very, very good job; after watching the movie twice with the two different audio versions, I have to say that I am a bit partial to the standard mono version. Kudos goes out to the creators of the DVD for including it. Along with the 5.1 and mono English tracks, the disc also includes French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital EX tracks, English closed captions and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

The Terminator is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Considering the low budget of the film, the newly created transfer provided is very good. There are really no visual blemishes to complain about, every thing looks pretty solid, the colors are good (although this is not a highly colorful film), and the picture is sharp. From a film of this age, and this budget, this DVD leaves nothing to complain about in terms of video quality.

Extras wise, this disc really shines. This DVD itself is a technological improvement in DVD in itself, in that one side of the disc is dual-layered, the other side single layered, thus giving an incredible amount of space on one DVD disc (hopefully other studios take notice, one disc is cheaper for the consumer... ). The Terminator Special Edition gives us an incredible “Other Voices” documentary which includes interviews with James Cameron and the rest of the crew that pulled together to create The Terminator on little to no budget. This is without a doubt the best behind the scenes footage documentary I’ve seen included on DVD. This extra gives great insight into why and how this film was made, going into just about every detail imagined. Can you imagine Lance Henriksen (whom ended up playing a detective in the movie) as The Terminator? That was the original plan, watch the documentary.

Also included, we get another documentary entitled “The Terminator: A Retrospective.” This considerably shorter documentary is similar to the “Other Voices” providing a little more commentary from Cameron and Schwarznegger; a very good watch. We’re also treated to a very good stills gallery, the “Treatment” which tells the story that the movie will follow as conceived through Cameron’s eyes, a handful of deleted scenes (viewable with and without commentary from James Cameron), and trailers and TV spots. We don’t get the inclusion of a James Cameron audio commentary track... but he’s never done one for any of his DVDs... so it can be lived without.

Overall, this special edition of The Terminator should exceed any fans expectations. The great transfer and new audio alone would make this a great addition to any movie fans collection, the addition of so many great extras makes it near perfect.

This DVD is a no-brainer. Get it.


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