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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton. The blockbuster sci-fi thriller about a killer cyborg from the robot-ruled future sent back in time to stop a woman from giving birth to a future resistance leader. 1984/color/108 min/R/widescreen.
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It is also possibly the ultimate 80s movie. From the visual style to the clothes, music and hair, and the themes of technology and warfare, it's like a composite of everything that made the 80s what it was. Sometimes it feels like a video game, or an R rated GI Joe or Transformers cartoon from the time. The degree to which it influenced action/sci-fi movies for years afterwards can't be overstated.
But ultimately what makes this movie and the rest of the series stick is that it is possibly the most accurately predictive sci-fi story of recent times. In the years since, everything the premise is based on, with the exception of time travel, has become a legitimate possibility. The Internet, robotics and AI are all moving in directions that could plausibly produce the outcome predicted in the movie.
So what seemed like harmless entertainment at the time is actually something that should be watched and thought about by people dealing with the issues presented by modern technology. When you already have people being targeted by unmanned drones, connected and directed by networked computers, all you need to do is throw in the wrong AI, and we are living in this world.
Ahnult's long slide .45 now sounds like a cross between a 007 silenced PPK and a raygun, and during the police station shootout, the 12 gauge auto-loading shotgun occasionally has the automatic rifle fire SFX by mistake. They also screwed up the sound of the pipe-bombs in the tunnel, removing the realistic metallic echo and replacing it with a typical Hollywood explosion sound effect.
Other than those small gripes, the movie greatly benefited from the audio improvements, especially the future battle scenes, the band playing in Tech Noir as well as the Tech Noir shoot out, the police car chase scene (the parking garage really comes to life with the added ambience), and the musical score in general.
And as far as the original film itself, it will always be 5 stars in my book, especially considering what they did with a meager $6.4 million budget.
Unlike Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the first movie has only been released a few times in the past, including once before on Blu-Ray (around 2006). I thought the previous release looked fine, but this "remastered" edition is superior, with a much sharper and richer picture overall. I was worried when I read about Cameron's requested color re-timing (apparently they tinted certain scenes to look more blue in this release), but it's barely noticeable and fits the scenes where it's used (mainly in the blue walls of the parking garages, the police station, and the concrete barrier Kyle and Sarah hide in after escaping from the station). I watched T2 right after this and was impressed at how much more consistent they looked together (T2 was shot with a lot of blue-hued scenes originally).
Having said that, this release has its own problems ; sometimes one scene will be totally clear while the next will have a lot of grain; at least once or twice, certain scenes looked to have too much DNR applied (where the whole screen looked smeared and lost detail). Also, I wished they fixed the parts of the image where rear-projection was used, as those shots still look really out of place (they could have just darkened those parts to match the rest of the action but chose to leave them alone instead). I guess there's only so much they would do though, as the movie is almost 30 years old and the only alternative in places would be to use CGI to replace things (which I'm glad they didn't do!).
The audio doesn't include the original sound mix, but the one that is here is very nice, with great effects during the gun battles and car crashes. The score still sounds great, too.
Overall, I'm happy with the upgrade; a commentary with Cameron (and maybe some of the stars, model makers, etc) would have been nice, but there is a nice retrospective and interesting deleted scenes on the disc. Recommended (along with the Skynet edition of T2).
The whole series is like that, at least to some degree. We - the viewers - know that it represents a version of the truth that the path we are on is unsustainable. We have known it since the 80s - before, even. The message speaks to us. But the way it does it: brilliant, exciting, breathtaking, thrilling - never gets old.
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