"Schwarzenegger Collection" on DVD
Video and Artisan Home Video have re-unleashed a trio of Arnold Schwarzenegger
titles are are arguably among the star's best works.
That's the good
news. The bad news is that two of the three titles don't appear to have had any
remastering done to them to take advantage of the wonders of the DVD format.
All seem to be straightforward transfers of the laserdisc (which is certainly
better than a straightforward transfer of the videocassette!).
The best of the three is Terminator 2: Judgment Day,
James Cameron's classic action film that sends a positive, hopeful
anti-violence message all while expending thousands of rounds of ammo,
depicting various graphic stabbings, and destroying more than its share of
This may not be
surprising, however. T2 is the newest of the films, had the biggest budget, and
the laserdisc was spectacular. In fact, it wasn't too many years ago that the
T2 laserdisc was the demo disc of choice at consumer electronics shows and home
reunites Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, both of whom had their
reputations enhanced greatly by the original film. But where T1 had Arnold as
the villain, in this outing he's sent back in time as a robotic protector and
must take on a much more sophisticated machine hell bent to assassinate the
young John Connor before he can grow up and fulfill his destiny.
Along the way,
the future of the human race is saved, we get a strong antiwar, anti-violence,
and anti-technology message - while the Terminator learns the value of humanity
T2 is a THX
disc, so the picture and audio quality are, not surprisingly, terrific, and the
soundtrack has been remixed to Dolby Digital 5.1 (there are also Dolby Stereo
2.0 sound tracks in English, French, and Spanish). There's also an abundance of
extras, including a really thoughtful "Descriptive Video Service" for the
visually impaired in which a narrator describes the onscreen actions between
lines of dialogue.
there are also chapter stops (including a menu that shows clips from the
chapter in little windows), cast/crew info and production notes - and
T2 is often
misunderstood as a simpleminded and violent action film, but it's much more
than that. As a DVD, it's also an excellent example of what one can get from
this format when the manufacturer puts its mind to it.
Judgment Day, from Artisan Home Video
139 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1),
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward
Written by James Cameron & William Wisher
Directed by James Cameron
review refers to Artisan's Special Edition of the DVD, released Autumn 2001,
which is a far superior package to the previous, non-anamorphic version.
Based on a
Philip K. Dick short story, Paul (Starship Troopers) Verhoeven's "Total Recall" plays mind
games on Arnold Schwarzenegger and the audience as well.
This is the
film's second DVD incarnation, and it's a welcome one. The new version fixes
the omissions of the first, by adding a new anamorphic widescreen video
translation (though the original also offered a "Pan&Scan" version for
those with an aversion to black bars) and a slew of new extras. More about them
Total Recall is
the ultraviolent story of a construction worker who suddenly discovers he isn't
who he thought he is. Or is he?
We won't spoil
the movie for those who haven't yet seen it; suffice it to say you never really
know whether you're watching "reality," a dream, or a combination of both. It's
a wonderful mind game.
was the creation of Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett, of "Alien" fame, with help
from Jon Povill, and it's full of imagination.
Total Recall is
a nifty yarn and great sci-fi. Unfortunately, the violence is a bit over the
top at times and this mars what would otherwise be a fine science fiction
adventure. Unlike the violence in "Starship Troopers" which was just as graphic
but which seemed in context in the wartime setting, "Total Recall" seems at
times graphic for the sake of being graphic.
Still, it's one
heck of a ride, and there's enough humor to make the mayhem almost
The bew DVD is
a big improvement over the original, though it's far from perfect. The picture
is now in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and the image is very good
in most places, excellent in some. It isn't as good as some DVD's we've
reviewed, but it's a huge improvement - especially the anamorphic widescreen
presentation, which doesn't force owners of 16x9 TV's to zoom the letterboxed
picture out to fill the screen.
The audio is
Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's also very good, though not excellent. There appears
to be a lot more bass in this release, which helps during explosions, special
effects scenes and the like.
Then there are
First of all,
there's the packaging - which we'll call "unique" rather than "dumb." Okay,
it's dumb. The DVD comes in a little round metal box designed to look like the
planet Mars, which is cute. Unfortunately, it just sits on top of the cardboard
sleeve and once you've removed the shrink wrap it'll fall out without another
thought. It also doesn't lend itself to sitting in a DVD shelf. Not only that,
but getting the disc out of the metal box is an invitation to putting finger
marks all over it.
So while you
have to give Artisan credit for trying something new, we'd prefer they tried
something new that actually makes sense rather than just being a
include an excellent documentary "Imagining Total Recall" and a most welcome
running commentary featuring star Schwarzenegger and director Verhoeven. There
are also some legitimate Mars featurettes that are quite interesting, a
selection of conceptual art, storyboards, production notes, a photo gallery and
One really lame
extra is "Rekall's Virtual Vacations," which are three mercifully short virtual
landscapes you can watch and listen to, but which have nothing to do with the
movie and are complete wastes of time.
Still, on the
whole, this is an excellent version of a really ripping sci fi yarn, and we
from Artisan Home Entertainment
113 minutes, anamorphic widescreen
(1.85:1), 16x9 compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox,
Screen Story by
Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett and Jon Povill; Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, Ronald
Shusett, and Gary Goldman
Produced by Buzz Feitshans and Ronald Shusett,
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
The Running Man
No, it has
nothing to do with Ex-lax. Instead, the Running Man is a TV game show in which
contestants are convicts trying to win their freedom by running a gauntlet of
"stalkers" bent on ensuring they don't win their freedom.
Kind of like
"Jeopardy!" in real life...
Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, a cop wrongly (and deliberately) convicted
of mass murder who ends up as the latest contestant to "come on down" to the
game show. The difference is, of course, that Arnold's heart is pure and he can
therefore overcome all odds.
This is a neat
flick and, while it's violent, the violence is more restrained than in "Total
Recall." But there's action aplenty, and some laughs, too. The story is based
on a Stephen King (as Richard Bachman) novel.
mention the presence of Jesse "The Mind" Ventura in a supporting role, too, for
those who'd like another chance to see the Minnesota Governor in a previous
The DVD is
widescreen only and there aren't a lot of extras. Picture and sound quality are
good (not great) - and despite the package's labeling (it claims to be Dolby
Stereo 2.0 and Dolby Digital, depending upon where you read) the soundtrack is
in Dolby Pro Logic Surround.
limited to the theatrical trailer and chapter stops.
Man, from Live Home Video
101 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto,
Screenplay by Steven E. deSouza, based on the novel "The
Running Man" by Richard Bachman
Produced by Tim Zinneman and George Linder,
Directed by Paul Michael Glaser
Arnold and a
band of elite soldiers take on an alien creature out for a rewarding hunt in
director John McTiernan's action adventure yarn.
Sent into an
unnamed central American country to supposedly rescue some hostages held by
guerrillas, Arnold et al soon find they've bitten off far more than they can
chew as one by one they're hunted down and killed (and worse) by the unseen
galore (what a surprise!), and plenty of gore inflicted and cordite expended
until the climactic "mano a alieno" confrontation between the sole surviving
human (guess who?) and the creature. It's a case of pure escapism and mayhem,
and is carried off very well. Also watch for Jesse Ventura, again, as one of
Arnold's men, and he gets to utter the line that became the title for his
autobiography: "I aint' got time to bleed."
The DVD looks
great for the most part, though there are some shots that look a tad grainy.
The audio is in Dolby Surround and is also excellent for the most part, with
some distortion during some of the particularly "explosive" scenes.
The film is
presented in widescreen, though not anamorphic, and includes chapter stops,
alternate languages, and the usual theatrical trailer (which is actually a
pretty lousy trailer for what turns out to be a pretty good movie). Liner notes
are virtually non-existent.
are great "popcorn entertainment" and are not only good action/adventure yarns,
but are also interesting cases in point if you're curious to watch the
development of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a movie star/actor. He may not be Oscar
material, but he has a likable screen persona and usually plays a heroic
character - a nice feature in an age when there are precious few
20th Century Fox Home Video
107 minutes, widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura
Written by Jim Thomas and John Thomas
Produced by Lawrence Gordon Joel
Silver and John Davis, Directed by John McTiernan
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think