Laserdisc Review

The Terminator (1991)

MPAA Rating: R

Details Movie Rated: R; Genres: Action/Adventure, Mystery and Thriller, Sci-fi and Fantasy; With: Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger; Distributor: Orion Pictures

While this laserdisc edition of director James Cameron's original Terminator is generously ''chapter-encoded'' at 33 separate points, allowing you skip to favorite bits of mayhem right away, it offers no other clear advantages over Hemdale's recent cassette reissue, which costs only half as much. On tape, Terminator's imagery fills your entire TV screen, lending a menacing sense of bulk to shots in which cyborg assassin Arnold Schwarzenegger charges after another hapless human. But in the ''wide-screen edition'' laserdisc, with the film's mildly rectangular compositions set off by black bands above and below the picture, the action seems tamer, more contained; it's a distracting trade-off that gives you only a negligible amount of additional picture at the sides, such as a bit more of one actor's face in shots in which two people converse. The color also looks brownish and washed out compared to the tape, and there is no significant difference in sharpness or detail. For a movie so shrewdly attuned to the uses of high technology, this disc is a disappointingly low-tech effort. B

Originally posted Aug 16, 1991 Published in issue #79 Aug 16, 1991 Order article reprints

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