Terminator Salvation (Blu-ray)
In the highly anticipated new installment of The Terminator film franchise, set in post-apocalyptic 2018, Christian Bale stars as John Connor, the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington), a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynets operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.
Terminator Salvation restores some of the balance of huge freakin' explosions and emotionally compelling plot to the Terminator series. Set entirely after the nuclear assault that left the computer system Skynet in control of the world, Terminator Salvation follows John Connor (Christian Bale) as he grapples with both murderous robots and his superiors in the resistance, who aren't sure they believe the prophecies that Connor is destined to save humanity. Into the midst of this struggle tumbles Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington, who would later star in James Cameron's Avatar); the last thing he remembers was being executed in prison decades before. Baffled, he falls into company with Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek) and a mute little girl, who soon get captured--but Wright then meets and bonds with Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood, Eight Below), a resistance fighter who remains loyal to the confused Wright even though Connor suspects he's not what he seems--or what he believes himself to be. Terminator Salvation isn't the astonishing synthesis of action and feeling that either The Terminator or T2 were; the plot threads are poorly woven and fray completely in the last third of the movie. Despite this, Terminator Salvation has at least two skillfully orchestrated action sequences that will get your heart racing, and Worthington’s beguiling mixture of toughness and vulnerability gives his relationship with Bloodgood a genuine pulse. It's imperfect, but compared with the hollow carcasses that most action movies (including Terminator 3) turn out to be, it's worth seeing. --Bret Fetzer
On the Blu-ray disc
The director's cut is a mere three minutes longer than the theatrical cut. Many of these additions are just a few seconds of extra violence (e.g., a knife thrust into a body then pulled out), but there are a few more-substantial sequences: A longer conversation in Resistance Command Headquarters; a brief topless scene by Moon Bloodgood when her Blair Williams character and Sam Worthington's Marcus return to her base (reminiscent of Kelly McGillis and Harrison Ford in Witness); an extended conversation between those two characters afterward (Blair: "You can focus on what you've lost or you can fight for what's left"); and a longer radio address by John Connor in which he mentions his mother. Even though it's not all that different, it should be the preferred way to watch the movie.
The big extra feature, Maximum Movie Mode, is only on disc 2's original theatrical cut. In front of two large TV screens, director McG introduces the movie then makes periodic appearances to discuss key concepts. Interspersed along the way are various pop-ups with the Terminator mythology timeline, picture-in-picture with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, and stills galleries. You can also, when prompted, exit out of the movie to watch any of 11 Focus Points, which are two- to three-minute featurettes. Conveniently, you can also access these from the main menu. Two other features are watchable separate from Maximum Movie Mode: "Reforging the Future" (19 minutes), discussing the new film's take on the Terminator legacy, and "The Moto-Terminator" (8:33), focusing on the motorcycle-like robots. --David Horiuchi