When I heard that a new Terminator movie was in the works, I was immediately excited. I have long been a fan of Terminator 2 – Judgment Day and it is one of my most cherished DVDs of all time. Terminator 2 was the high point in the franchise, that the two sequels Rise of The Machines, and Salvation did not surpass. I recently watched T2 as part of a Top 200 movies adjusted for inflation countdown that I started back in 2013, and while the movie still held up for the most part – it was starting to feel dated. And the John Connor of T2 is really annoying. That said, I still like T2 and welcome new movies to the franchise.
Without giving anything away, I will just say that Terminator: Genisys did not resolve anything. That is the problem with time traveling, and alternate reality films. They eventually get to a point where any combination of events can occur, at any time. And even if something is resolved (as we were believed in T2) well, just by going back in time you create a different future, which when you leave that future to go back to the past, you find a past that is different from the “original”. At some point, it hurts your head if you think about it too much. I doubt Stephen Hawking could figure out the time and space intricacies that the Terminator films have introduced.
Terminator Genisys did not really introduce us to any new characters. John Connor, Sara Connor, Kyle Reese, Miles Dyson, and son. Everything is the same, but everything is totally different. See, I am intentionally not giving anything away.
The 2D picture quality is superb. Shot using an Arri Alexa XT Plus camera and stored as uncompressed ARRIRAW 3.4 K, the picture is crystal clear and life like. The first opening shots of green fields and trees looked as though you could reach out and touch them. Flawlessly clear. However, aside from a few other moments in the movie, and particularly the action piece on the golden gate bridge, there are few moments in the movie that are well lit. A lot happens at night, or in the shadows. These shots look great though and there was no sign of any loss of definition in low light. Skin tones were natural, colors was not over saturated. Comparing to T2, which has the trademark use of blue-steel hues in the night scenes that Cameron prefers, the night scenes here were more natural. I like that cool, steely blue look though and I think it would have been effective here. But then I would say that director Alan Taylor, was just ripping of Cameron’s style! I do want to give some proper credit to Alan Taylor. I find it rare these days to find a film that makes use of the full, wide canvas available to them. All too often things are centered on the screen, but Taylor has gone to great lengths to fill the image from edge to edge. The movie is beautiful, quite frankly. Take a look at the gallery below, and you will notice that the shots provide depth from foreground to background by providing elements at each end of the image. For example, the shot with the bus in the background right, and the police officer in the left foreground. Another shot I liked was the hospital entrance, you can see it below. There are police officers on the left, their reflections on the right, it is an overall dark image with a pop of red on the far right. Terminator: Genisys is a wonderfully framed cinematic experience that is reference quality.
When I was listening to the bombastic soundtrack on Terminator Genisys I recalled a thought I had when I watched the Avengers: sound effects no longer sound organic. They now have a distinctive, artificial sound. Watch the first few moments of Terminator Genisys and listen to the sound of the collapsing Prudential building in San Francisco. That is the sound that seems to be prevalent in all action movies as of late. Everything has that sound. It is not a complaint, exactly, just pointing out that the type of sound that we are hearing these days is quite different than the sound of before. Going back to T2, Gary Rydstrom did some really cool things in mixing the sound for each gunshot. They were not authentic, as for example he mixed a canon into the sound of Arnold’s shotgun. The result was a unique and layered sound. Today, it is just this thunky, thwangy, whiz-bang, computerized, inorganic, artificial sound. It does sound good, and has a hell of a punch, but it lacks the character and makes the overall environment seem detached from reality.
Complaints about the sound effects aside, the soundtrack sounds amazing. I was actually quite surprised at several occasions by the sound on this film. And the bass. There were a few moments in the Golden Gate Bridge scene that had my 15 inch sub kicking out levels that I seldom hear. Very cool, but it made my wife cringe. If you have a spouse/partner who complains about bass levels I recommend watching this without them. You will enjoy it that much more. The entire soundstage was employed, and while Terminator Genisys does contain an Atmos track, I was limited to a standard Dolby TrueHD presentation. That said, I could certainly determine where those Atmos channels would have been effectively employed, and would have made the experience even better. But if you are like me, and still lacking the overhead channels – you really will not be disappointed in the sound quality. It is reference quality all the way.
Bottom line: Yes, you will hurt your head if you try to fill all the holes and get a solid grasp on the multiple alternate realities. Putting that aside, it is an interesting take on the characters – Sarah Connor was perfectly cast, and the picture and sound quality make it an absolute must for an audio visual enthusiast. I highly recommend it.
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Below are images from the film, Terminator: Genisys.
These images are intended to give you a feel for how the movie looks, but please keep in mind that these images have been re-sized and compressed; the actual blu-ray quality is much better.