The Terminator – Special Edition
MGM Home Entertainment – 1984
Directed by James Cameron
Written by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd
THE TERMINATOR hits the screen with a full out assault on your cinematic senses. Between the excellent acting, photography, editing, music and special effects, this is a powerful directorial attack from the brilliant mind of James Cameron. THE TERMINATOR’s greatest strength lies in its circular story that presents a narrative structure that few films will ever achieve. It’s the way Cameron has connected the future with the past and the resulting action that comes from it.
A muscular cyborg, THE TERMINATOR (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels through time to present day (1984) Los Angeles. THE TERMINATOR’s mission is to find and kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) who will mother a child, John Connor, who will lead a fight against the machines in the future.
Simultaneously, John Connor sends back a resistance fighter named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to stop THE TERMINATOR from killing his mother. Even more amazing is the fact that Kyle Reese ends ups getting Sarah pregnant, which means John Connor sends back his father, so that he will be born. It’s a full circle that has no end. That is unless THE TERMINATOR can break the chain.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been better. In fact, I don’t believe he will never top this character. Between his massive build and his vocal delivery, he is THE TERMINATOR. Arnold gives the character great body movements as he jerks his head and moves in a somewhat robotic manner.
Michael Biehn is unforgettable as Kyle Reese. Undersized compared to Schwarzenegger, Biehn battles Arnold and is utterly believable as a futuristic warrior and man who loves Sarah Connor. The romantic link between Kyle and Sarah is beautiful, convincing and will touch your soul. It’s the love story between these two characters that lifts this film far above the more technically proficient sequel T-2 and other Sci-fi action films.
Adam Greenberg’s cinematography is really wonderful. He is a master at creating ominous lighting that helps sets the mood of THE TERMINATOR and brings the apocalyptic future onto the screen.
Brad Fiedel’s score is inspired collection of dark keyboard lines, big pounding drums and metallic clangs. It’s war music that symbolizes the story.
Editor Mark Goldblatt must be mentioned. His aggressive cutting joins Cameron’s story together, never letting things slow down, except where the film needs to.
MGM has gone all out to put together a supplemental section that will make any TERMINATOR fan happy. We get two documentaries about the making of the film. Other Voices is a brand new feature that covers the entire creation of the film with the thoughts and testimony from nearly every major contributor from the film. It’s fascinating hearing how the film was created. While James Cameron was in Rome, Italy working on PIRAHNA 2, he became very sick and during his illness, had nightmares about a large robotic man rising up from an inferno. This image was the genesis of this landmark film. The second documentary The Terminator – A Retrospective was recorded in 1991, around the time of T-2 and features Cameron and Schwarzenegger speaking out about their work on THE TERMINATOR.
Originally Cameron was going to cast Lance Henriksen as THE TERMINATOR. During the audition process Henriksen dressed up as the character, walking into the room in full costume and even metal teeth. Eventually Cameron had a meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had hopes of playing the hero Kyle Reese. But Cameron could see that the “Austrian Oak” was perfect for the villain and asked him to re-consider roles. Cameron made a clear observation stating, “This role will be the biggest of your career and it will put you on the map as an actor.” Schwarzenegger read the script and agreed with Cameron.
There is also a massive collection of photos from the film as well as revealing behind the scenes photos.
We also get a bunch of trailers and ad spots for television. There are deleted scenes with audio commentary from James Cameron. It’s really nice to see the footage that never made it into the film, but you can certainly see why Cameron cut it out.
The DVD case itself is pretty darn cool. The powerful imagery conveys what the movie is all about. The picture quality looked cleaner than the print I first saw in 1984. The sound is leaps and bounds better than the original mix, as now the film is in stereo with aggressive use of surround channels.
One of the neatest things I found is being able to read the screenplay as A Script To Screen feature. You can look at how much Cameron ended up getting in principal photography, the differences in dialogue and on screen action. Cameron’s original complete treatment is also available and it’s surprisingly close to the final film.
I must not forget to mention Stan Winston’s special make-up effects. Winston and his crew turned Arnold into the metallic man and the full endoskeleton is one of the coolest looking things put on film. The CGI stuff today can never live up to high quality make-up effects, like the work Winston did on this film.
I can’t say enough about THE TERMINATOR – Special Edition. MGM Home Entertainment has done their job and delivered an awesome DVD. I’d find the closest DVD outlet or go online to buy this DVD immediately.