Release Date: October 2, 2001
Run Time: 107 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: An unstoppable killing machine comes from the future
to destroy the mother of humanity's savior.
Version: Special Edition
Disc: Double-sided, Dual-layered
with commentary by James Cameron
A Retrospective 1991 documentary
Other Voices brand-new documentary
Fourth Draft, Final Draft of Screenplay
Still Gallery featuring
pre-production art by James Cameron
Tech Specs: Anamorphic
Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 1.85:1), English 5.1 EX Surround and original
Mono, French 5.1 EX Surround, Spanish 5.1 EX Surround, English, French
& Spanish Language subtitles.
"I'll be back."
With those three
words, Arnold Schwarzenegger established both a catch-phrase and a huge
film career. Not coincidentally, The Terminator also launched
first-time writer/director James Cameron. With MGM's new release of
the film on DVD, film fans can see why. This taut sci-fi thriller still
stands out as one of the best action films of the eighties, if not ever,
and despite bigger budgets and better publicity, neither man ever quite
equaled it again.
The reason why
seems to be a combination of passion and hunger. Literally coming to
Cameron in a fever dream, The Terminator was the aspiring writer/director's
big shot. Though already a name (but just as much a joke), Schwarzenegger
needed a role like this to break out of the B-movie ghetto he would
otherwise have been destined for. Indeed, Orion Pictures brass thought
that a B-movie was all they had on their hands. How wrong they were.
All of that gets
well-documented in the extras on this disc. Two different documentaries
offer a variety of insights on the original production, including rare
commentary from Arnold himself. The first documentary, A Retrospective,
combines interviews with Cameron done in 1986 with a conversation he
has with Schwarzenegger in 1991. Their enthusiasm for the project and
each other seems genuine, and it's hard not to get swept up in it. In
the brand-new documentary, Other Voices, Cameron has become the
Oscar-winner, and is far more restrained, but others involved in the
project get their say.
As often happens
with these kinds of extras, many anecdotes overlap and repeat, but they
do take on an extra flavor as they get told from different points of
view. In particular, the visions of The Terminator that might
have been boggle the mind. Both Lance Henriksen (who plays a cop in
the finished film) and O.J. Simpson were up for the role of the cyborg
killer. The disc includes some artwork by Cameron clearly envisioning
Henriksen. (O.J., of course, was ultimately rejected because no one
could see him as a cold, hard killer.)
The artwork included
may not necessarily be a revelation, but it proves what an incredible
visionary Cameron can be. Few storyboard artists provide as much detail
as Cameron does, and little detail got lost from board to screen.
For those who really
want to understand story structure, the disc does have commentary from
Cameron on the deleted scenes. In those, he offers sound reasons why
these ultimately proved unnecessary, and offers great insight into streamlining
a story. (This advice does not apply to almost any later film by Cameron.)
Interestingly, a couple of the deleted scenes end up really being the
seeds for T2: Judgment Day. Add in the original idea of Henriksen
as The Terminator, an everyman who can come out of nowhere to kill,
and you can see how the spawning of the sequel. With the various drafts
of the script on the disc (and an over-written treatment), this should
provide aspiring filmmakers with some great lessons.
the film itself has no commentary. Luckily, it is a rip-roaring
movie anyway, with a really nice transfer and excellent sound.
So the question
is, should you buy it? The Terminator stands out as one of those
rare movies that, as Cameron himself comments, people can really watch
over and over again. Time has not dulled the fun of it. Even if you
have an old VHS copy, you owe it to yourself to get this on DVD.
It lists for $26.98,
but you can buy
it here for $20.24.