I'm finding that there are some movies that I like more upon a second viewing. It could be that once expectations are set aside (either upheld or smashed upon the first viewing) that it's easier to accept a movie a bit more... forgivingly. While I certainly still don't love Terminator Salvation (click link for my initial review), I'll have to admit I found myself enjoying it more the second time around.
Terminator Salvation is released on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and I'll be giving you the specs and a review of the Blu-ray director's cut version right here.
The film wasn't the huge hit the studio was hoping for in the U.S., bringing in only $125MM. However it did much better overseas, bringing it's worldwide total to a respectable $371MM. As far as reviews go, it earned a 32% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, with the average review being 5/10 stars (I gave it 3/5). In our informal poll over at our Terminator Salvation contest, most people are giving it 3 or 4 out of 5 stars.
The movie suffered from lack of any real depth to the characters, little focus on John Connor (miscast with Christian Bale IMHO), and a story line that concentrated on Marcus Wright, who while being about the best thing in the movie, felt really out of place in the fabric of the entire mythos.
The best thing about the movie are the action set pieces, and on Blu-ray with a home theater set up they deliver. The picture quality is (pretty much as usual) excellent, showing uber-detail. The disc makes ample use of surround sound and the subwoofer in particular (always a good thing as far as I'm concerned).
One thing to be aware of in the Director's Cut version of the film is that it does NOT have the 30-40 minutes of additional footage that McG said it would have when he talked about it earlier this year - the extended version is only about three minutes longer (and yes, it includes the topless scene with Moon Bloodgood). I don't know what happened to all that extra footage since this is supposed to be the Director's Cut of the movie. The topless scene is (as far as I could remember) the only brand new scene in the movie - the rest of the three minutes are just extensions of existing scenes in the movie with a bit more language and violence.
Oh, and if you want to watch the Director's Cut and you don't have a DVD player, you're out of luck: That version is only available on Blu-ray. The DVD version is quite sparse - I don't believe it even has any special features at all, but here are the specs on the Blu-ray [Update on the DVD version - apparently Target stores are offering a Director's Cut/SE version of the film on DVD. This is odd because it's not available at Amazon.com nor at Warner Bros' official store]:
Theatrical Version of Film (114 min., rated PG-13)
WB Maximum Movie Mode: Director McG hosts while you watch the movie:
- Storyboard comparisons
- Terminator mythology timeline
- Re-Forging the Future: See how the filmmakers reinvented the franchise
- The Moto-Terminator: Discover the unique relationship between the filmmakers and Ducati
- Director's Cut of Film (117 min., rated R)
- Media Center
- "Resist or Be Terminated" Video Archive
- Terminator Salvation Official Movie Prequel Digital Comic Issue #1
- My Commentary
- Live Community Screening
- Digital Copy of Theatrical Version
One thing that bugged me a bit was the lack of any top level menu, and I think this isn't specific to this disc - I really wish that some standard for Blu-ray was established when it comes to the menu system. On DVDs there's ALWAYS a top level menu and usually you can just hit the MENU button to skip all the trailers they put up front. On this (and some other Blu-rays) you have to skip each opening trailer individually to get to the movie, and here it went straight INTO the movie instead of bringing up a menu with the usual settings, chapter selection, etc. You can access it but it's with the sub-menu pop-up option.
The "Re-forging the Future" and "Moto-Terminator" featurettes are interesting (the moto-terminator one more if you're into visual effects and concept design). My major takeaway from these featurettes was that they left me feeling kind of bad for the people behind the production. Even on films that aren't very good most of the time the folks working on them are so very passionate and excited about the movie they're working on, that I feel sorry for them when the film doesn't turn out to be as great as they had hoped after putting all that hard work into it. There is also BD-Live content available, but since my player is not connected to the internet I wasn't able to access that.
On the theatrical version there's what they call "Maximum Movie Mode" or MMM. Instead of just an audio commentary, you get picture in picture video segments where McG breaks into the film to give more insight into the film and his approach to the project. There are also galleries, a Terminator timeline and other video segments that you can access while viewing the film. MMM on this film is a VERY cool feature and is one of the benefits of Blu-ray over DVD. It's much more informative and interactive than a director's commentary, and it includes a description of the alternate ending that McG wanted to do in which John Connor becomes a Terminator at the end of the film.
For more details on the Blu-ray head over to the official Terminator Salvation site.