Plot: What’s it about?
“I’m old. Not obsolete.”
Thirty years ago James Cameron directed The Terminator. It introduced us to a new world and a then unheard actor by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since then, both the Terminator franchise and Arnold have become an institution. Schwarzenegger made a name for himself in action movies with the occasional appearance in a comedy (Twins, Junior, Jingle All the Way). 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day is, in many ways, a superior sequel to its predecessor. I won’t debate which one is better, as each has their merits. 2003 saw a third installment and Schwarzenegger once again reprised his role as the T-800. 2009 saw the only installment (so far) without his familiar face and so here we are in 2015 with a new, somewhat fractured installment in this franchise. Admittedly I didn’t really know what to think when I popped this into the player, but I’m a fan so I figured at the very worst – I could always fall back on T2. Enough talk, let’s see what’s in store.
Fans of the other films will, no doubt, be familiar with the storyline. We are once again jettisoned into the future where John Connor (Jason Clarke) and his band of resistance fighters are waging war against the terminators. As victory seems imminent for the resistance, we see the event that started in The Terminator – the robots sent one of their units back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke – no relation to Jason). What we didn’t know was that the resistance had won and this was a last ditch effort by the machines to change things. John sends his right hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to stop the terminator. And we know the story. Or do we? What might have been a shot for shot remake of past movies is now a veritable hodgepodge of Terminator lore. Reese goes back to find an aged T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) acting as a surrogate father for Sarah Connor. I won’t give away things, suffice it to say that it’s not what we or Reese had in mind.
I was actually a pretty big fan of what they did with this one. Director Alan Taylor who gave us the kind of bleh sequel to Thor, pulled out all the stops here. I can only imagine the pressure of working on the Terminator franchise, so while this was met with a lot of criticism – I rather enjoyed it. In the way that The Bourne Legacy approached the Bourne franchise (essentially the same story as The Bourne Ultimatum, just from a different point of view) so too did this film. Admittedly it was fun, if that’s the right word, to see fractured bits of other films jammed into this one. Even the scene with the three street punks is included and I was wondering if Bill Paxton would reprise his role there. Nope. Oh well. I found this approach to be unique and will certainly revisit this one in the future – pun fully intended.
Video: How’s it look?
Being a new movie, this “new” Ultra HD edition does benefit from HDR, though the Blu-ray seems (if memory serves) to have looked pretty darn good. I seem to be saying this more and more these days, but I really couldn’t find anything to complain about. The pictures really are that good with these new to Blu-ray films. The movie has a dark tone to it and the levels aren’t challenged in the least. Blacks are sharp and solid, contrast works well and detail is second to none. Young Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face was digitally “painted” onto another actor’s body, but you could have fooled me – it looked like a scene right out of the original. The CGI are seamlessly blended into the film making for a much more realistic viewing experience. Then again the Terminator films have always been at the forefront of technology. Simply put, this is a reference-quality transfer and fans will love the way it looks.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The previously-released Blu-ray already contained a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, so that was a box checked with this 4K version. There’s something so satisfying about this soundtrack and I can’t really seem to put my finger on it. Certainly the surrounds earn their keep, but what really impressed me were the LFE. I try not to use the term “shake the room” too often, but that’s the best way to describe it. Vocals are pitch perfect and we get plenty of Schwarzenegger one-liners (as expected). The mix has a depth to it that really makes the film come alive and it’s a testament to Dolby for really making these films sound their absolute best. Again, nothing to complain about here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There actually appear to be some new supplements for this edition. Maybe studios are finally “getting it” when it comes to re-releasing a fairly new film on a new format? Or maybe there was a two-disc version that came out after the initial one? Regardless, there is an entire disc of supplemental material here that wasn’t part of the initial Blu-ray, so let’s get started.
Disc One – Ultra HD/4K
There are no supplements on this disc.
Disc Two – Blu-ray
- Family Dynamics – This is actually a pretty in-depth feature as each and every role in the film is dissected. Obviously the leads get a bit more attention, but it’s nice to see the smaller parts their their fare share of attention.
- Infiltration and Termination – If you don’t want to sit down and watch the movie itself, this serves as a nice little reference piece as the major parts are detailed in the order they happened.
- Upgrades: VFX of Terminator Genisys – A we might expect, this feature deals with the special effects in the film with a bit of history provided by James Cameron himself. I feel there could have been more to it, but what we have is certainly passable.
Disc Three – Blu-ray
- Reset the Future: Constructing Terminator: Genisys – An eight part “documentary” of sorts (though it’s actually a bunch of featurettes that cover different aspects of the film) gives us pretty much everything we need to know about the film.
- Paradigm Shift – We get the usual slew of producers all proclaiming their love for the first Terminator film as well as James Cameron. They ask the question – “Ok, now what?” Explained is why they made the movie and not just “…making it because we have the rights.” It’s an interesting piece and it does give, from their perspective at least, the validation for the film.
- Family Dynamics – The “international” flare of the cast is profiled with stars from across the globe and J.K. Simmons claiming he’s the “lone American” in the film. David Ellison, the film’s producer, claims that regardless of their nationality, the best actor got the part.
- Not Obsolete. – A look at making the Terminator’s is shown and we get some insight from Design Supervisor, John Rosengrant who worked on the original (and subsequent) film. I’d say that if anyone is qualified, it’s him.
- Tactical Apparel – Susan Matheson, the Costume Designer for the film, tells us some tales about how she wanted to faithfully re-create the look and feel of the original film here. She regales us with a story about the painstaking process she went through to try and find the original outfits worn by the “street punks” (she never was able to find them) and how precise they needed and wanted to be for this movie.
- A Once and Future War – This segment focuses on stunts, special effects and weapons used in the movie. As per usual, we get a look at the choreography of some of the scenes, what the actors went through physically and some of the new weapons and visual effects that dominate the film.
- Infiltration and Termination – Two of the shooting locations are profile here: New Orleans and San Francisco. Having just been to New Orleans, and after watching this film again, I could spot a few landmarks that I’d have likewise missed. It’s commented that New Orleans looks more like Los Angeles of the 80’s than Los Angeles looks today. Makes sense, I suppose…
- Manipulating Matter – The producers once again tell us of the cast’s love for this franchise, though this really focuses on the visual effects and the post-production process as a whole. Let’s face it, when you’re talking a Terminator film – it’s all about the visual effects.
- Exiles in Time – If the filmmakers were looking for praise from anyone, I’d imagine it’d have to be James Cameron. We get some insight from the man himself who seems genuinely impressed with their work here, so I would think that’d have to be the ultimate compliment to the film’s cast and crew.
- Battle on the Bridge: Multi Angle Scene Breakdown – The battle scene on the Golden Gate Bridge is dissected in various stages of planning and completion.
- Angle 1 – Previsualization – Some rough storyboards are shown that sets the stage for the scene.
- Angle 2 – On the Set – We see some of the more practical effects applied as they discuss what to do with visual effects and what to use as props for the battle scene on the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Angle 3 – Previsualization/Final Film Composite – As you might guess, this is the final version shown with all the bells and whistles.
The Bottom Line
A very polarizing film, Terminator: Genisys took a risk and, for me, it paid off. It’s nice to see Arnold back in the saddle again and I’m all for messing with the continuity of the Terminator universe. It’s fun. While the audio remains the same, the picture has gotten a bit of a facelift and we get another entire disc full of supplements. If you’re a fan, this one is a no-brainer.