New on Blu-Ray Book: The Terminator (1984)

Fans of James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi masterpiece about a futuristic war between mankind and machines fought in the present day (or 1984, anyway) no doubt already has this movie in various formats released over the years. “The Terminator” on Blu-ray isn’t new, but putting the film out in a “Blu-ray Book” format, as MGM has done here, is.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the most fierce and relentless killing machine ever to threaten the survival of mankind! An indestructible cyborg — a Terminator — is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman whose unborn son will become humanity’s only hope in a future war against machines. This legendary sci-fi thriller by Oscar®-Winning director, James Cameron, fires an arsenal of action and heart-stopping suspense that never lets up!

Movie Review:

Machines. What are they good for? First it’s protecting us, then it’s trying to wipe us off the face of the Earth. Alas, that’s what we get for making our coffee makers so smart. The villain here is Skynet, a machine intelligence that is talked about never actually seen in the first movie. Michael Biehn plays Kyle Reese, a freedom fighter from the future who has been “time-displaced” (i.e. time traveled) back to the past to protect his fearless leader, the mythical John Connor from termination by an unstoppable killing machine (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The catch? Connor hasn’t been born yet, and his mom, floundering waitress Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) doesn’t exactly think she has it in her to give birth to the savior of mankind.

Of course, as the film opens, we don’t really know who Kyle Reese is, or what he has in store for Sarah Connor. That’s one of the film’s intriguing elements — back in 1984, when the film first landed, you didn’t know who were the good and bad guys, or why they were both after little ol Sarah Connor. As the explanations come, and motivations are revealed, it sets the stage for a number of spectacular action sequences. Even back then, with his directorial skills in their fledgling stages, James Cameron was making guys who had been doing action movies all their lives look bad. The man simply had IT when it comes to orchestrating mayhem. Best of all, Cameron’s films always had a sense of logic to them, with A leading to B resulting in C. You never got the sense of a frenzied, anything goes Michael Bay type at work, even way back in 1984.

“The Terminator”, along with “Conan”, made a star out of former body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger. How big of a star has Schwarzenegger become since? Auto-spelling functions don’t try to “correct” his names anymore. That’s when you know you’ve made it. The famous line here, of course, is “I’ll be back”, one of the few lines that Schwarzenegger says in the whole movie (and its subsequent sequels), and he’s been coming back ever since. Four movies, in fact, with a fifth one on the way. But this was the first, and nearly 30 years later, scratchy film stock notwithstanding, the movie still holds up. Why? Because “The Terminator” was a smart action film that was way ahead of its time. Hell, I don’t know if the last few “Terminator” movies have caught up yet.

Blu-ray Book Review:

A nice Blu-ray box is fine and dandy, but nothing beats a sturdy, “book”-formatted Blu-ray box. There’s something to be said about putting your valuable movie inside a case that looks as if it could withstanding being run over. It would be nice if the case had a clasp of some kind to hold it closed, though, but maybe that’s just me. Inside the book, you get some great making-of photos, a brief bio on James Cameron and another on the film.

Special Features wise, you don’t get anything too special or “must have”, but it does include a 13-minute “Creating the Terminator: Visual Effects and Music” featurette on, well, the creation of the Terminator’s world. Fans of today’s almost completely-CGI movies will be flabbergasted by what Cameron and his crew had to work with back “in the day”. Yes, kids, before YouTube, you actually had to create movies by — gasp! — hand!

An old, 20-minute “Terminator: A Retrospective” doc that takes a look back at the phenomenon that was “The Terminator”, featuring director James Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger sitting around reminiscing about the movie and production. So how did James Cameron come up with the idea for the movie in the first place? We can thank a high fever, apparently. You also get 7 deleted scenes and previews for three old titles, “SWAT”, “Underworld: Evolution”, and “xXx”, which all came out around 2003-2006, so you can sorta get a feel for when they slapped these special features together.

Buy “The Terminator” on Blu-ray Book from MGM.