Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though much of the film looked fine, the transfer didn’t quite live up to my expectations for Blu-ray.
Sharpness appeared fine for the most part. A few mild examples of softness manifested themselves in wider shots, but those examples remained very minor. Overall, the image maintained good definition and clarity. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Unfortunately, occasional print flaws appeared, as I saw periodic instances of specks. These never became terribly intrusive, but they were noticeable.
Color reproduction looked fine. Unlike the often bluish tint of T2, T3 favored no tone over another, and it maintained a generally natural appearance. The hues invariably seemed tight and accurate, with no flaws on display.
Blacks looked firm and distinct, and most low-light shots portrayed the material well. The early images of John at night were a bit murky, but otherwise, shadow detail seemed clean. Overall, this was a more than serviceable image, but the print defects and the mild softness knocked my grade down to a “B-“.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Terminator 3 was more impressive. As one might expect, it used all five channels to great advantage. Since so many action sequences popped up, the movie got tons of opportunities to work the various speakers, and it did this well. Music emphasized the front but came from all around, with some particularly good percussion from the rears. The effects were accurately placed and blended together smoothly. The various channels displayed excellent delineation and combined neatly. Surround usage was very good throughout the flick. From weapon fire to vehicles to explosions and general mayhem, the rear speakers played a strong role in the proceedings and added much life to the movie.
Audio quality came across without any hitches. Speech consistently sounded crisp and natural. I discerned no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and dynamic, with tight highs and rich lows. Effects played the most important role, and their reproduction worked well. The various elements seemed accurate and distinctive, with solid clarity and kick. Bass response always sounded tight and firm, as I noticed no boominess in that realm. I found nothing about which I could complain, for the soundtrack of T3 was a winner.
How did the picture and sound of this Blu-Ray compare with those of the original DVD? Both offered virtually identical audio. Unlike most Blu-rays, this one didn’t provide a lossless option; it presented the same 5.1 track on the DVD.
Despite my complaints about the Blu-ray’s transfer, I still thought it worked better than the DVD’s visuals. While the DVD looked fine for its format, the Blu-ray exhibited better definition and clarity. It’s not a great transfer, but it outdid the DVD.
The Blu-ray of T3 provides the extras from the original DVD plus some new elements. I’ll note Blu-ray exclusives with special blue print.
We start with three separate audio commentaries. The first offers remarks from director Jonathan Mostow plus actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Claire Danes, Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken. Mostow and Danes chat together for their parts, but all the rest sit on their own, and the track combines the results of the various sessions. Overall, this adds up to a reasonably informative commentary.
We get notes about casting and the training through which the actors went for their roles, adjusting to the expectations and requirements of a big-budget effects flick, and various character issues. As usual, Schwarzenegger tends toward hyperbole as he stresses how everything was the biggest and the best, but he doesn’t come across as too obnoxious, and the others help balance out his mild bombast. Overall, the commentary seems good but unspectacular.
The second commentary offers a solo discussion from director Jonathan Mostow. He provides a running, screen-specific track. Mostow covers a lot of bases in this informative track.
The director discusses how he became involved in the project, issues connected to working in a world created by Cameron, story and character concerns, effects, sets, locations, and many other topics. The best part of the commentary stems from the detail Mostow adds. Whereas many directors simply relate locations, Mostow gets into why he chose specific places and information related to them. He provides a consistently interesting and enlightening look at the film.
For the third track, we hear from director Jonathan Mostow, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, director of photography Don Burgess and production designer Jeff Mann. They cover story/script/character subjects, visual design, cinematography, and a few connected areas.
Across the board, we find an engaging chat here. Screenplay topics dominate and prove to be quite interesting, especially when we learn about altered/deleted concepts. The other areas offer good material as well, and all parties mesh together to make this another useful piece.
For another Blu-ray exclusive, we go to the In-Movie Experience. Hosted by Mostow, this allows you to inspect a variety of elements as the movie runs. All of these come from picture-in-picture segments. They show interviews, storyboards, and behind the scenes footage. In terms of the soundbites, we hear from Mostow, Loken, Danes, Stahl, creature creator Stan Winston, producers Mario Kassar and Andrew Vanja, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, visual effects supervisor Pablo Helman, production designer Jeff Mann, and a few unnamed participants. (Actually, all except for Mostow are essentially unnamed, but I knew who they were so I could identify them here.)
The picture-in-picture comments discuss directorial/sequel challenges, various story/character areas, sets and locations, cast and performances, the film’s use of storyboards, editing, effects and stunts, cinematography, and a few other production tidbits. After three commentaries, we’ve heard a whole lot from Mostow, and his Plan for Blu-ray Domination continues with the “In-Movie Experience”. While this feature presents info from a good array of participants, Mostow really dominates.
I don’t find this to be truly objectionable since Mostow remains interesting and informative, but I will say that there’s not a lot to differentiate “Experience” from the commentaries. Sure, it throws in some storyboards and footage from the set, but “talking head” shots dominate. The “Experience” is perfectly enjoyable, but it does feel a bit superfluous and redundant at times.
We can watch an introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This 32-second clip has Arnie tell us what we’ll find on the disc. He refers to the “DVD” because this snippet transfers over from the old release. It was useless there, and it hasn’t improved with age.
Next we find a fairly brief HBO First Look about T3. The 13-minute program includes the usual assortment of movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We get notes from director Mostow, Winston, Schwarzenegger, Loken, Danes and Stahl, and Kassar and Vanja. Film snippets dominate this superficial program. Don’t expect much good behind the scenes material, as the show mostly just promotes the movie.
After this we locate a deleted segment. The Sgt. Candy Scene runs 110 seconds and gives us a glimpse at the roots of SkyNet and the terminators. It’s a pretty amusing sequence that’s a good addition to this set. In the three-minute Terminal Flaws: Gag Reel, we get a pretty standard collection of goofs and wackiness; nothing here stands out as particularly interesting.
Once we move to the Storyboards area we find splitscreen comparisons for the film’s climax. This three-minute and 53-second piece presents a decent look at the original drawings and the final product. Dressed to Kill examines the costumes of T3. The 131-second piece features behind the scenes and movie clips, examples of clothes designs, and comments from Mostow, Schwarzenegger, Stahl, Danes, and Loken, and costume designer April Ferry. It’s marginally interesting but too brief and superficial to tell us much.
A glimpse of the film’s action figures appears via Toys In Action. The six-minute, 35-second piece includes comments from McFarlane Toys founder Todd McFarlane as he shows us the different toys. We learn a little about the creation of the figures, but this six and a half minute featurette nonetheless feels more like propaganda to sell us toys.
Speaking of which, we now get more information about the T3 game. We find the PC game trailer along with Making of the Video Game. During this eight-minute and 55-second piece, we hear from Mostow, Vanja, Kassar, Winston, Schwarzenegger, Loken, and Stahl, game lead designer/producer JC Boone, Black Ops Entertainment CEO John Botti, and game director Jose Villeta. As with the toy program, some minor information pops up here, but mainly it comes across as a long advertisement.
Does the Blu-ray lose anything from the DVD? Yup. It drops a “Visual Effects Lab”, character notes under “SkyNet Database”, and a “Terminator Timeline”. The “In-Movie Experience” replicates some parts of “Lab”, but it’s still too bad the whole thing doesn’t appear. The other two aren’t great, but they’re also mildly unfortunate deletions.
As a film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines didn’t make me forget the glories of its predecessors. However, it rose to the occasion fairly well and seemed significantly more compelling and enjoyable than anyone had a right to expect. The Blu-ray presents decent but unexceptional picture with excellent audio and a very nice package of extras. A well-executed and exciting sequel, T3 kept the Terminator series alive in fine fashion.
To rate this film visit the original review of TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES