Terminator 3 has, for those who remember with fondness the high definition format war, already received the hi-def treatment. Warner Bros, which owns the rights to the film in the US, released it in a decent HD DVD package, with a Blu-ray that followed. But it’s never been released over here in high definition, thanks to Sony owning the rights in the UK. And it chose to hold things off until the eve of Terminator: Salvation‘s big screen debut.
And so here we are. The third Terminator movie, the first without James Cameron, and the one that Arnie clearly did for the money. It’s also the Austrian Oak’s last major blockbuster movie, and we suspect that might remain the case. Content to run California and pop up in occasional cameo roles, this almost feels like Arnie’s farewell to action cinema.
To be fair, he could have picked a better way to go. I don’t subscribe to the general feeling of dislike that Terminator 3 generates, but then I guess I didn’t go in expecting a proper Terminator sequel. As it happened, it strains to stay true to the franchise, and director Jonathan Mostow proves not to be a bad choice at all. But James Cameron he isn’t, and this is the first Terminator to lack a strong idea behind it, or a big technological shift. It’s the first to seemingly go through the motions, however impressive some of those motions may be.
Take the introduction of Kristanna Loken as the first female Terminator. I quite liked her in the film, but at no point was I convinced that her presence was down to anything more than someone saying “wouldn’t it be great to have a female terminator?” Mixed with Arnie spitting out lines unbecoming of the franchise (“She’ll be back”? Pur-lease…), and you can’t help but conclude that it was a film made for the wrong reasons. For the most part, it’s Terminator by the numbers.
That said, Mostow, to be fair, delivers a solid, summer blockbuster action flick. Keeping the big action sequences in the lens of his camera rather than the computers of ILM, there’s a bit of an old fashioned – and welcome – flavour to the big truck chase, for instance, and there’s quite an old-fashioned approach to some of the film’s key sequences.
But what makes the film still worth talking about is its ending. The last ten minutes or so single-handedly justify the film’s existence, with a finale that’s as bold as anything I’ve seen in a blockbuster movie in the past decade. On the off-chance you’ve not seen it, I’ve no intention of spoiling it here, but it’s a remarkable conclusion to an otherwise brainless, competent action flick.
The DiscThe Blu-ray carries across the extras from the Warner Bros release of the film, and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. All presented in standard definition, most of it is by the numbers. You get a quite awful Sgt Candy deleted scene (and it almost beggars belief that they filmed it in the first place), while things improve when Todd McFarlane talks through the making of the toys. Further featurettes are strictly routine and generally unspectacular.
The two commentaries are fine, though. Jonathan Mostow takes one commentary track by himself, and then there’s a group commentary with Arnie, Mostow, Kristanna Loken, Claire Danes and Nick Stahl. It’s glued together, as the contributors to the track recorded their contributions separately (although Mostow and Danes were in the same room), but a nice job is done, and there’s a good deal of interest in there.
Meanwhile, the high definition upgrade is strong. The picture quality here is very good, with plenty of detail shining through, and a thumping, broad, surround sound mix to back it up. Given the action-packed nature of the film, it has a lot of work to do, and does a strong job.
That said, there’s nothing vital about the package here, both in terms of the film itself and the extra content you get. Yet the film, like it or loathe it, does have some courage to it come that final reel, and perhaps it’s not the unmitigated disaster that some would suggest it is….?
The Film:The Disc: