Terminator Genisys (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Jun 01, 2018
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Terminator Genisys (4K UHD Review)

Director

Alan Taylor

Release Date(s)

2015 (June 12, 2018)

Studio(s)

Skydance Productions (Paramount)
  • Film/Program Grade: D+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A+
  • Extras Grade: B-

Terminator Genisys (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray)

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Review

In the year 2029, John Connor (Jason Clarke) leads the final Resistance assault on Skynet, the AI that destroyed most of the human race in a nuclear Armageddon back in 1997. With his trusty lieutenant Kyle Reece at his side (played here by Jai Courtney), the attack succeeds and all is well. There’s just one final bit of business that Connor must tie up: Sending Reece back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (now played by Emilia Clarke, better known as Khaleesi from Game of Thrones). But just as Kyle is whisked away by the time machine, he sees John being attacked by a Terminator. When he then lands in 1984, it’s fair to say that things don’t play out as he expects them to. Kyle discovers that Sarah is already a robot-busting warrior and she’s already being protected by none other than the original Terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom she calls “Pops”). It’s Sarah and Pops who end up saving Kyle, instead of the other way around… and that’s when things start to get weird.

About thirty minutes into Terminator Genisys, I found my attention wandering to the point where I began trying to figure out exactly why this was happening. And I think it’s this: Genisys is trying too damn hard to be clever for its own good. The film essentially forces itself into the story of not just the original Terminator, but Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and I’ll admit it’s intriguing the way it attempts to do so. But in the process, all of the threats from those films – the very things that made those original films so tense, edgy, and compelling in the first place – are handily dispatched and in short order. Meanwhile, your attention is drawn to things other than the story. You find yourself thinking, for example, “Oh, look – how neat the way they’ve de-aged Arnold Schwarzenegger.” As a result of all this, for most of the film’s first act, there’s almost no dramatic tension whatsoever. Then Genisys missteps again, slowing down for a bit of obligatory character service. Unfortunately, the performances of Courtney and Clarke (as Kyle and Sarah) are as one-dimensional as can be, with just a single emotional note shared between them. And that’s roughly when my attention detached from the whole exercise like the soul of a hapless moviegoer killed by boredom. To its credit, once the film starts trying to tell its own story, it actually does get a little bit more interesting. But Genisys never becomes more than a mere paint-by-numbers exercise in plot-driven digital whiz-bang – a convoluted mix of bluster, blasts, and bullets.

Terminator Genisys was shot digitally in the ARRIRAW codec (at 2.8 and 3.4K) using ARRI Alexa XT Plus cameras and Panavision anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, upsampled to 4K, graded for high dynamic range in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and is presented here on Ultra HD at the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Even though it’s been upsampled, the resulting image offers nice detailing overall, if perhaps a little less fine detail than films with higher resolution image capture. Contrast is good and is nicely enhanced by high dynamic range, though the grade is a bit more restrained than some other titles. It’s worth noting here that while Terminator Genisys was first released in 4K Ultra HD last year in Europe, it included only HDR10. So if you’re a fan (and, obviously, a 4K videophile) the fact that Paramount’s new edition has both HDR10 and Dolby Vision might be a selling point. The wider color gamut also enriches the colors a bit and smooths out the transitions between one shade and another (the Dolby Vision has a slight edge in this regard given that it’s 12-bit). Either way, this new edition offers a very solid 4K image and is a definite upgrade over standard Blu-ray.

Primary audio on the 4K disc is presented in English Dolby Atmos, and it’s the exact same mix found on the previous Blu-ray edition (which was one of the earliest Atmos mixes released on disc). The mix is spectacular, offering plenty of sonic sturm and drang. The staging is huge, the surround play and panning are lively, precise, and smooth, and the bass is incredibly robust, kicking in with much gusto at just the right moments. The height channels are used often for vertical extension, particularly in set pieces (and there are many), with combat sounds, HK fly-overs, and the like. There’s also an especially good sequence involving a school bus flip-and-rollover on the Golden Gate Bridge that shines in Atmos. Additional audio options include English Audio Description and 5.1 Dolby Digital mixes in French, Spanish, and Portuguese, with subtitles available in English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

There are no extras on the 4K disc itself, but the package includes the film in 1080p HD on Blu-ray as well (though note that the Blu-ray 3D version is not included). This is the 2-disc set that was available exclusively at Best Buy. The movie disc adds the following extras in HD:

  • Family Dynamics (15:51)
  • Infiltration and Termination (25:29)
  • Upgrades: VFX of Terminator Genisys (15:07)

The second Blu-ray is a special features bonus disc that adds the following content in HD:

  • Reset the Future: Constructing Terminator Genisys (in 8 parts – 140:25 in all)
  • Battle on the Bridge: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown (3 parts – 10:05 in all)

The first three features are boring EPK filler that you’ve seen a million times now. The instructions for putting in attic insulation are more interesting than this. What’s worse, every time the film’s writers and producers open their mouths you wonder why in God’s name these people were put in charge of reviving the Terminator franchise. Because seriously. However, the feature-length documentary on the bonus disc is actually pretty great and fairly substantial. It’s well worth your time if you’re a fan. And you get a Digital code too on a paper insert.

Frankly, the Terminator is on life-support at this point and that’s a blasted shame. It deserves a lot better. But I think the recent attempts to revive it all suffer from the same problem as the Alien franchise: Everyone keeps trying to tell the same story, just in ever more clever and convoluted ways, rather than working to really break new ground. In any case, I’m starting to wonder if the best way to revive Terminator isn’t to create a new TV series out of it (perhaps on HBO). Because frankly, the most compelling storytelling we’ve seen in this universe since T2 was Fox’s The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which the network killed just as it was getting interesting. This film is a hot mess. But hey… if you like it (and fair play to you, brave viewer), Paramount’s new 4K release is definitely the best way to experience it (and mad props to them for including the Best Buy bonus disc in the package too).

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

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