The Terminator (Remastered) Blu-ray Review
If the only true fate is decided by what you make, then 1984’s THE TERMINATOR has immortalized itself well beyond the three decades since its inception. However, that success was accomplished not by way of the sheer raw power of the film itself, but rather through its superior spawn. Not only is TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY arguably the greatest sequel ever produced and still considered to be the “gold standard” for the modern era of action films, but there is also an endless run of comic books, a television series, video games, theme park attractions and general merchandise that can only be rivaled by a handful of sci-fi franchises. The film catapulted the career of not only one of the most recognizable personalities on the planet in Arnold Schwarzenegger and the director of the two highest grossing films of all time in James Cameron, but perhaps gave birth to an equal yet infamous “achievement” in what most film aficionados would call, “predestination paradox.”
Even the most casual of sci-fi movie consumer knows the ground-floor basics of the unstoppable robot sent back from an apocalyptic future to assassinate the leader of the resistance before he’s ever born. And even if that synopsis makes their brains hurt, the names Sarah and John Conner definitely ring a bell somewhere in the recycle bin of their frontal lobes. Shockingly, what has still not received a “jump the shark” caliber bronzing in the lexicon of pop culture is the single greatest plot hole to ever be so universally accepted.
For those who are somewhat foggy on the subject, the “predestination paradox” or “infinite time loop,” as called by some, refers to the problem of future soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) transported back in time to protect Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) from The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) robot that was also sent back in time to kill her before she ever becomes pregnant with her son John, who grows up to become the machine’s biggest threat. Where synapses start to overload is when Sarah and Kyle become intimate during their encounter and it’s revealed that Kyle is actually the one who fathers John. Now of course the question mark with the weight of a million megaton bombs is how in the world could Kyle be the father of someone that already exists in the future where he’s from before he ever meets Sarah? The missing piece is the story of the first loop. Was John’s father originally someone else and Kyle forever altered the timeline by impregnating Sarah? Who knows, it was never explained, not even in the four succeeding films in the series.
The real miracle is that fans became so infatuated with the canon of THE TERMINATOR, and of course “Ahhnuld” himself, that instead of harping on all of the defects in the time travel plot they endlessly argued about their own theories which they claim to logically explain it. And to the film’s further credit, even though they do not hold up to today’s computer generated images, there were some mind-blowing stop-motion effects used which definitely upped the ante and paved the way for more classic “R-rated” entries in the genre like ALIENS and ROBOCOP.
THE TERMINATOR’s influence does not stop at its own extensive library of spinoffs or the preeminent future works of its writer/director. The film set an extremely high bar for all scripts with a serious take on time travel, culminating in some with the same “predestination paradox” problems like 1995’s 12 MONKEYS. But it also challenged writers to “solve” the dilemma, eliciting further explanation from their plots to explain why the loop begins in the first place, a la 2012’s LOOPER.
No matter the time period from which judgment is laid, THE TERMINATOR is a milestone of sci-fi that belongs on the Mount Rushmore of the genre alongside STAR WARS and two other films that fans would surely create their own “infinite time loops” arguing over.
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen, 1080p/AVC MPEG-4: After what seems like an “infinite time loop” of reissues of the film’s immediate sequel TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, the original finally received some 21st Century technology to bring it back to life. The film retains its natural grain, but all of the wear and tear from the original film reels is gone, leaving a crisp and clean image. It actually has some similarities to the way BLADE RUNNER was remastered, taking on a color palette that runs slightly cool and adds to the overall dystopian nature of the film.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: There is not much difference in the audio mix from previous DVD versions. Dialogue is clear in all registries and the sound effects are good, but many people still would like to hear the original mono mix of the film that has yet to be included in any release.
Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects and Music (13 min): A special effect, behind-the-scenes featurette. Mostly focusing on the future time period and the climax of the film. It’s very interesting to watch any VFX feature before the existence of CGI, especially for those who were born after THE MATRIX, when everything shifted away from models and miniatures.
Terminator: A Retrospective (21 min): The meat and potatoes of this is a conversation between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Director James Cameron discussing all aspects of the film’s production. Definitely worth a watch for those that have not already seen it on previous DVD or Blu-rays, and even if you have it’s worth it for the reminiscing alone.
7 Deleted Scenes: Seven deleted scenes, most of which are useless but there are some small references to devices that would be used later in the franchise.