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  1. #1
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    A DVD REVIEW: TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES (Warner Bros./InterMedia)

    2-DISC FULL SCREEN EDITION

    Now, I know this is one of those CLASSIC examples of what most folks in here DONT watch, and there is absolutely no denying that this is nowhere near as monumental in terms of influence on the art that is cinema as many of the other titles discussed by other members --- titles that are much more solidly rooted in culture, history and overall substance. But I cant help it --- as a lover of those "check your brain at the door" pieces of film, Jonathan Mostow's Terminator 3 just simply did it for me the moment a friend brought the DVD over when it first hit shelves (I missed it in the theaters). I am in no way, shape or form going to even suggest that I am attempting to compare this action fest to those films perhaps currently being discussed by everyone in here because that is simply comparing apples to oranges to put it plainly.

    Here's the real kicker: I am not a fan of this franchise. If you can believe this or not, I did not enjoy the original Terminator and fell asleep on it almost every time it was on my TV screen. The second one was saved by Robert Patrick's performance and a kick ass DTS track on one of the special DVD releases. But THIS one, the third in the series, is an absolute edge of your seat hoot to watch, and I actually was involved in an interview with director Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown, U571) for Home Theater regarding what went into this picture and what his VISION was in making it; his points seemed fascinating, as he explained to us that the "crane crashing scene" is going to be regarded in the same "demo quality" breath in terms of audio performance along with the depth charge sequences in U571, which can rattle your walls loose if your sub is up too high.....he also went on to explain how this third installment in the Arnold Schwarzenegger saga was actually kind of designed to stand on its own as a downright awesome action picture, one which can be enjoyed by fans AND non-fans of the franchise....and thats exactly what it delivers, as it entertained me as action film of the year and I am not a general fan of the franchise.

    The plot gets a bit convoluted here by Mostow, as he clearly seems to be taking the concept of the Terminator films and duplicating them into his own concoction which makes the whole John Connor/Skynet thing even more confusing than ever before. Nick Stahl turns in a very good performance here as the older John Connor, living, as he calls it, "off the grid" with no identification in order to hide from any potential terminators looking for him. But before you can say "I'm back" a sexy, new "terminatrix" is sent to modern day Los Angeles (played by the very sexy Kristanna Loken) to stalk John and some of his future "subordinates" who are fellow teenagers in his neighborhood.....and so, part 3 simply becomes an action-infused, over the top "remix" of the two first films put together......another version of Arnold's terminator arrives, naked again (I didnt complain when Loken arrived naked although her breasts looked a little weird in her slight nudity part----but that body....oh my G-d.....), to protect John and his "future" wife (Claire Danes). However, along the way, John learns that this particular terminator has been sent back in time to follow Dane's orders, not his, although he is there to ensure the survival of both of them.

    What follows are absolutely breathtaking top tier action sequences which look a bit oddly edited if you look closely, as police cars and vehicles seem to be moving in a "choppy" way, and some of the best demolition, destruction and chase scenes from any film which debuted the year of Terminator 3, easily earning it Best Action Film of the Year. Of particular note is the aforementioned "crane" scene (which is probably THE demo scene on the disc, audio wise), where the evil terminatrix is driving a giant crane truck and simply smashing everything in sight --- telephone poles, houses, cars --- attempting to hunt down John Connor and Catherine Brewster (Danes) while Arnold's terminator arrives on motorcycle to battle the terminatrix and stop her. The scene is downright wild to watch, and the audio that accompanies it is the best I have ever heard via Dolby Digital encoding technology; but I'll get to that.

    The whole subplot regarding Dane's father and the control he had and lost over the Skynet system had me scratching my head, and the awfully confusing conclusion of the film definitely suggests a fourth installment as Stahl's narration tells us "The battle has just begun......" But what is Arnold to do now that he's head of California and not really hitting the gym any longer? Are we going to get a new lead for the fourth Terminator? And here's the best question of them all......IS a fourth Terminator REALLY necessary?

    I really am at a loss of words to say anything else regarding the plot of Terminator 3, to be honest.

    This two disc set from Warner Brothers was simply PACKED with material regarding this film, AS WELL AS sporting a demo-quality audio presentation and nice visual delivery as well --- something I'm not so quick to pat Warner on the back for.

    As I mentioned and highlighted in the beginning of the review, this was the 2 DISC FULL SCREEN edition I demoed, as its part of my personal collection and was bought the very next day after my friend brought it over to watch in my previous aparment I had; he brought over the widescreen edition, but after hearing this Dolby 5.1 track, it was THE next DVD purchase for me.....almost on that merit alone. Let's take a closer look....

    DISC 1:
    VIDEO SPECIFICATIONS:
    DUAL LAYER STANDARD FULL SCREEN VERSION MODIFIED FROM ORIGINAL VERSION, FORMATTED TO FIT THE SCREEN

    Warner Brothers and InterMedia offer a nice transfer for T3, but I can clearly remember my friend's widescreen version looking a tad bit better than this full screen reformatting; while the overall look is very good and clean, colors dont seem to "jump" off the screen here, and there are some rare moments of dirt that creep into certain scenes if you look very closely. Shots of the blue sky outdoors exhibit dirty-looking artifacts if you look VERY closely at the clouds --- but its not really distracting. In general, a pleasant transfer to look at albeit full screen format which was stretched a bit because of my DVD player's tendency to do so on 16X9 sets with full screen material and my display set on STANDARD mode.

    AUDIO SPECIFICATIONS:
    DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 AUDIO FOR MAXIMUM HOME IMPACT, 2 COMMENTARY TRACKS WITH THE STARS AND DIRECTOR, FRENCH LANGUAGE TRACK (DUBBED IN QUEBEC), SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, FRENCH & SPANISH

    THIS is what makes this DVD......and warrants a purchase of it all by itself, if you are so inclined to do such strange things as I am. The first mental complaint I had going into this was......you know......NO DTS? But then I cranked up the Dolby Digital track Warner has supplied here. I have yet to hear a more impressive Dolby Digital soundtrack outside of Columbia's Bad Boys II than Warner dropped on this disc, and that is saying a lot for this studio. From beginning to end, this track will rattle your walls with LFE and fill your soundstage with loud, bombastic audio --- every channel is utilized almost all of the time, and your subwoofer will just not stop as Arnold and the terminatrix beat the living **** out of each other, bullets and machine guns blast, cars explode......you get the point.

    Some scenes of particular note to demo are as follows: in the beginning (and dont let the VERY quiet opening title sequence, which is near silent, fool you because the track DOES heat up), when Stahl is narrating and the missile flies over your right shoulder from the right surround into the center of the screen and explodes.....wow....an AMAZING effect with loads of LFE....the aforementioned "crane chase" scene, where Arnold is being flung around by the termanatrix on a crane and then on a fire truck while the crane truck is smashing everything in sight.....jaw-dropping surround effects are used here, along with deep LFE once again.....the end sequence where Arnold and the termanatrix come crashing into the plane hangar via helicopter.......you will sit up in your favorite sweet spot chair and actually THINK helicopters are breaking into YOUR home if you have that volume up enough. Really, really demo quality audio work here --- ESPECIALLY for a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix; Mostow was already respected in the home theater enthusiast community from the sound work he contributed to in his U571 from Universal; here, he seems to be on top of his game in the demands of the audio to serve the film as well.

    If there was ANY complaint whatsoever about the mix it was that dialogue, once again, seemed weak and anemic in output as compared to everything else that was going on in this chaotic soundtrack.

    DISC 2 contained these exhaustive extras:

    -INTRODUCTION BY ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
    -GO ON SET WITH THE HBO FIRST LOOK MAKING-OF DOCUMENTARY
    -SGT CANDY SCENE "TERMINAL FLAWS" GAG REEL
    -T3 VISUAL EFFECTS LAB: BUILD YOUR OWN EYE POPPING ACTION SEQUENCES
    -SKYNET DATABASE OF WEAPONS AND PERSONNEL DOSSIERS
    -TERMINATOR TIMELINE
    -STORYBOARDS: "DRESSED TO KILL," "TOYS IN ACTION, "THE MAKING OF THE VIDEO GAME"

    DISC 1 also includes the downright spine tingling theatrical trailer for the film as well as trailers for the video game.

  2. #2
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    big fan of this movie for my HT. Read on imdb.com that Arnold wasn't going to do this sequal until James Carmeron told him to 'just ask for a sh*tload of money'. The studio paid the man and he signed.
    Also, the studio cut the scene where Arnold is on the crane as it crashs through the car dealership, but it was completely paid for by Arnold himself since he thought it should be in the film (i agree)

    You mention the dialogue is weak and difficult to hear. I don't have the same recollection. I remember it clear and well recorded. Oh, well...enjoyed the review.

  3. #3
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    You mention the dialogue is weak and difficult to hear. I don't have the same recollection. I remember it clear and well recorded. Oh, well...enjoyed the review.
    It sure was clear on my system as well.
    Sir Terrence

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  4. #4
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    I don't recall a voice problem.... That's it! Now you've gone and done it! I'll have to watch it all over again tonight. See what you guys did? Geez...
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  5. #5
    Kam
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    filet - o - fish Kam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    big fan of this movie for my HT. Read on imdb.com that Arnold wasn't going to do this sequal until James Carmeron told him to 'just ask for a sh*tload of money'. The studio paid the man and he signed.
    Also, the studio cut the scene where Arnold is on the crane as it crashs through the car dealership, but it was completely paid for by Arnold himself since he thought it should be in the film (i agree).
    You have no idea... his deal pretty much hs never been done before, and i dont think has been done since (some elements individually yeah, but not in this kind of scope). He started with a 30mm pay or play deal, which meant he got the money REGARDLESS if the movie ever got made. He got approval of the director, his fellow co-actors, and every little mini detail down to his cook. he got an additional 1-2mm for perks like private jet, etc. He got 20% of EVERYTHING gross sales (dvd, games, boxoffice, worldwide, tv, inflight movies, etc) and that's a hard gross, not the way hollywood uses smoke and mirrors to hide the gross and cut it down to avoid big payouts. arnie got his big payout BIG time. everyone else... got screwed. The movie's grossed about 430mm worldwide, but barely breaks even (even in normal accounting) because of arnie's deal (and the $175++mm (some list its final at $200mm) production budget NOT including marketing of about $40mm). He even got a huge tax break because the studio's contract wasnt with him, but his corporation who "lent" arnie's services to the studio to make the movie so he didnt pay normal taxes on it. and his lawyer fees were paid by the studio! how's that for getting paid, the deal he made with the studio, he didnt even have to pay his own lawyer for making the deal. he even had a clause of $1.6mm a week for every week it went over production (it was about 3 weeks over schedule, so that scene that arnie "paid for by arnold himself" was really him just agreeing not to charge the production the extra $1.6mm they were going to pay him for going over time). and it makes sense for him to get as much up front as possible, without cameron attached to it, without cameron writing it (hell it was written by the guys who wrote Catwoman!), it was gonna be ****e, and it was. linda hamilton passed for good reason, as did lance henrickson and all the other cameron regulars.

    and... of course... Terminator 4 is supposedly in development... but at least it looks like it will get scuttled. i pray it does.

    peace
    k2
    /create

  6. #6
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    "big fan of this movie for my HT."

    Same for me, Tar.....this just plays back SO WELL on a home theater....reread my assesment of the effects portion of this Dolby track and you'll see what I mean. Absolutely agreed that this film is really made for home theater, not for ground breaking cinematic techniques or dialogue. LOL.

    "Read on imdb.com that Arnold wasn't going to do this sequal until James Carmeron told him to 'just ask for a sh*tload of money'. The studio paid the man and he signed.
    Also, the studio cut the scene where Arnold is on the crane as it crashs through the car dealership, but it was completely paid for by Arnold himself since he thought it should be in the film (i agree)"

    Yes, I know, and true.

    "You mention the dialogue is weak and difficult to hear. I don't have the same recollection. I remember it clear and well recorded. Oh, well...enjoyed the review."

    Thank you very much for the kind words about the review and for reading it, Tar....my original assesment of the dialogue level was a bit skewed and misunderstood in the first analysis; it is not DIFFICULT to hear per se, just lower than the overall levels of other things going on in the mix----I know this is readily staple when talking about Dolby Digital, but I was just pointing it out. It was simply lower in output as compared to the chaos going on in the surround and main channels for action sequences.

    Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    I don't recall a voice problem.... That's it! Now you've gone and done it! I'll have to watch it all over again tonight. See what you guys did? Geez...
    Michael,

    Its not really a "voice problem" per se; as I just explained to Tarheel, the dialogue track just seems lower in comparison to the remainder of the mix, and I have my center channel bumped up three decibels higher than the other channels in the system.

    But.......ANY excuse to pump this one up in your home theater is a good one, so dont complain!

  8. #8
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Talking hhmmm....

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Michael,

    Its not really a "voice problem" per se; as I just explained to Tarheel, the dialogue track just seems lower in comparison to the remainder of the mix, and I have my center channel bumped up three decibels higher than the other channels in the system.

    But.......ANY excuse to pump this one up in your home theater is a good one, so dont complain!
    This seems to be much more complicated than I originally thought. I'll have to have a few buddies come over tonight and help me listen for this subtle difference. Now I'll need to stop on the way home and pick up more beer and chips. Man! I can't believe you are doing this to me.
    When the little misses asks me why I'm doing all this, I'll have no choice but to blame you. This really sucks dude. Are you coming over too? What do you drink?

    Any others? I know this is a pain but it's something we have to get done. Anyone coming should bring their own pen and paper to keep notes on.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    This seems to be much more complicated than I originally thought. I'll have to have a few buddies come over tonight and help me listen for this subtle difference. Now I'll need to stop on the way home and pick up more beer and chips. Man! I can't believe you are doing this to me.
    When the little misses asks me why I'm doing all this, I'll have no choice but to blame you. This really sucks dude. Are you coming over too? What do you drink?

    Any others? I know this is a pain but it's something we have to get done. Anyone coming should bring their own pen and paper to keep notes on.
    Dont blame me please..... its all in good fun of the home theater hobby!!!

  10. #10
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Wink Hobby?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    Dont blame me please..... its all in good fun of the home theater hobby!!!

    Hobby? HOBBY!? Was painting just a hobby to Rembrandt? Is making money just a hobby for Bill Gates? No I say. HT is not just a hobby. It's a lifestyle. We few who have found our true calling in life can not label HT as merely a hobby. We have to embrace it as if it was life itself.

    Now get your butt over here to explain this to Marisa.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    Hobby? HOBBY!? Was painting just a hobby to Rembrandt? Is making money just a hobby for Bill Gates? No I say. HT is not just a hobby. It's a lifestyle. We few who have found our true calling in life can not label HT as merely a hobby. We have to embrace it as if it was life itself.

    Now get your butt over here to explain this to Marisa.
    LOL.....you are 100 percent right.......it IS a lifestyle.....and dont worry.....I couldnt make my ex girlfriend understand that either, although she did sit and watch discs with me and understand the difference between DTS and Dolby Digital....LOL....

  12. #12
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    LOL.....you are 100 percent right.......it IS a lifestyle.....and dont worry.....I couldnt make my ex girlfriend understand that either, although she did sit and watch discs with me and understand the difference between DTS and Dolby Digital....LOL....
    You were one up on me then. When I try to explain something as simple as a frequency curve, my wife looks at me like she's a deer caught in my headlights. When I try to explain to her that my Bose (yes, I have a Bose system in the car) has large gaps at certain frequencies, she suddenly becomes intensely interested in a piece of lint on my shirt.
    When I have tried to show her the difference between DD and DTS she just puts her hands over her ears and says, "it's too loud. Turn it down."
    Lucky for me, she does understand one thing. She understands that it's important to me and she puts up with it.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    You were one up on me then. When I try to explain something as simple as a frequency curve, my wife looks at me like she's a deer caught in my headlights. When I try to explain to her that my Bose (yes, I have a Bose system in the car) has large gaps at certain frequencies, she suddenly becomes intensely interested in a piece of lint on my shirt.
    When I have tried to show her the difference between DD and DTS she just puts her hands over her ears and says, "it's too loud. Turn it down."
    Lucky for me, she does understand one thing. She understands that it's important to me and she puts up with it.
    You know, Mike, every time I read one of your replies it makes me smile because I can relate; my ex, while enjoying the home theater hobby, always looked at me like I was nuts when running a ferocious DTS soundtrack on the system and was like "Does it really have to be that ****ing loud?"

    Mind you, it was NOWHERE NEAR reference level when she made these comments......

  14. #14
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    my wife looks at me like she's a deer caught in my headlights.
    I find it much more enjoyable when I get caught in my wife's headlights.

  15. #15
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    I find it much more enjoyable when I get caught in my wife's headlights.
    Intersting twist. I'll go talk to her about that now. (My wife that is, not yours)
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  16. #16
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Women

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    You know, Mike, every time I read one of your replies it makes me smile because I can relate; my ex, while enjoying the home theater hobby, always looked at me like I was nuts when running a ferocious DTS soundtrack on the system and was like "Does it really have to be that ****ing loud?"

    Mind you, it was NOWHERE NEAR reference level when she made these comments......
    In the imortal words of Al Bundy, "Women, can't live with them, can't shoot'em."

    Glad to make ya smile....
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  17. #17
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    Intersting twist. I'll go talk to her about that now. (My wife that is, not yours)
    Sorry, this was the only thread with any action today and I had nothing intelligent to contribute.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Sorry, this was the only thread with any action today and I had nothing intelligent to contribute.
    Hey----what are ya tryin to say about my review!?!?! LOL.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    In the imortal words of Al Bundy, "Women, can't live with them, can't shoot'em."

    Glad to make ya smile....
    Very true G......and thanks for the smile....I need it every now and then.......

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    I find it much more enjoyable when I get caught in my wife's headlights.
    I was GOING to say which headlights are you talking about.........

  21. #21
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Sorry, this was the only thread with any action today and I had nothing intelligent to contribute.
    I liked it.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  22. #22
    Can a crooner get a gig? dean_martin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lexmark3200
    I was GOING to say which headlights are you talking about.........
    Without being too explicit in answering your question, she hasn't tried to run over me...yet.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    I liked it.
    Thanks, as always, G.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dean_martin
    Without being too explicit in answering your question, she hasn't tried to run over me...yet.
    LOL....okay.....

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