OK, first up I didn't see this movie in theatres and the Blu Ray has been sitting on my shelf unwatched since I bought it. This fan edit gave me the push to finally sit down and watch the thing, and I'm glad it did.
The 720p MP4 I watched looked and sounded lovely throughout. In a couple of the shots of the command submarine I got some contrast gradient artifacting uncharacteristic of my setup, and the one really dark night scene (where they test the signal) was just this side of comfortably visible - but both were extremely minor issues in an otherwise flawless encode. Kudos on the crisp visuals and punchy sound.
Absolutely top drawer. I honestly wouldn't know this was a fan edit from the visual editing - it's extremely professionally put together. The cuts are clean and natural; and as everyone else has commented, the colour correction is wonderful. It lends the whole movie a pitch perfect atmosphere, at once post-apocalyptic and yet extremely reminiscent of the franchise. And the pacing is spot on.
If I were feeling critical, I might dock half a point for the cut to the seeker drone after they fix the car engine - something about it was visually *ever so slightly* jarring. But I think the fact that that's the WORST example of visual editing is testament to the skill employed in the edit. All round, it's visually pretty freaking seamless. Seriously nice work.
This one is actually the trickiest for me to score, oddly enough. I'm in love with the soundtrack - it totally brought the whole thing together as a Terminator flick for me. Amazing sound and musical cues, good soundstaging and brilliant little touches like the restoration of Sarah Connor's voice on the tape. Ten out of ten, right?
Unfortunately, it was let down just a little by some off levelling in some scenes. Now, as I say, I haven't seen the theatrical cut so I can't attest to how much of this is present in the original - but on the strength of this edit alone, in some scenes I definitely could have done with a little more volume on a voice here, a little less on a sound effect there, a quieter score over there. So much so that in some scenes I had to turn the volume up to catch a bit of dialogue, and then in others turn it down so as to not terrify the neighbours.
In short, it's a beautiful sounding edit which smacks the nail right on the head in terms of overall tone, but which is just a tiny bit rough around the edges. Nonetheless, I couldn't honestly say those minor issues detracted from the experience - and I'd almost certainly recommend this cut for the sound alone!
I feel like, from reading previous reviews, I should have something negative to say about the plot. But based solely on this cut, it totally worked for me. Everything I'd been worried about... I forgot. It took me on a crazy Terminator ride. Marcus was an intriguing element, it was largely believable (well, y'know), there weren't any glaring plot holes, it was a bit Hollywood in places but never more cheesy than awesome, and generally the machines and the humans both came across as knowing what they were doing.
I especially liked what Agent 9 did to convey a sense that the machines didn't yet know the significance of Kyle Reese - it genuinely felt like that was an ace the resistance had up their sleeves, what with Skynet being so singularly obsessed with John Connor. (I actually got that sense during the movie, and only on reading the cut list afterward realised no-one who saw the theatrical cut would have felt the same - how cool is that!?) Sublime.
As if I need to say more here. Still not the best movie ever made, and not even close to being the best Terminator movie - but I like it a lot more than the theatrical cut of T3, and might even, as I'm feeling pretty stoked about it still, place it pretty much on a par with T1. And that's pretty high praise indeed.
Agent 9's re-working of key scenes in this edit does a lot to help resolve the many issues this film has. Marcus' new "origin" works well (The less we know about his past the better IMO) and the narrative flows a lot better. The original music cues are a nice touch, and the removal of Star as the walking talk Swiss army knife also works well. What I like most though it the re-colouring. It looks a LOT better. Thumbs up for this one.
Pretty much exactly what ssj wrote.
The intro credits were very well done.
Some music changes were too obvious and distracted me from the movie experience.
The bitrate of the 720p version was not high enough in the darker scenes, which caused very visible artifacts.
This was a good fanedit, the changes all improve on the original, but it does not make this a great or even good movie and this will have been (if there is not another even more daring fanedit) the last time I have willingly watched any of it.
Perhaps my expectations were too high on this one; the superhigh ratings from the others, who watched it, tempted me.
I really, really, really wanted to enjoy myself with this edit, to experience the magic of T1 & T2 all over again, or the magic of watching Uncanny Antman's sublime version of T3.
And Agent9 did a great job of hosing away tons of crap—needless scenes, useless dialogue. The addition of classic terminator tunes also improved the tone of the film, though the volume was a bit high in some places.
Unhappily, the theatrical version has so many issues that it would be difficult to hose them all away. It's like the movie has a core crap holding chamber, ginormous and sealed and possibly impervious to fanediting. A monstrous terminator appears silently out of nowhere to snatch resistance fighters in the desert, apparently in the mere service of a surprise moment and a cartoony action sequence (which made me yearn for the brilliance and natural flow of action in the first three terminator films); John Connor throws caution to the wind and mentions the names of his mother and father to a machine he suspects is a terminator, for the sake of dumb exposition (but without Connor's indiscretion, the whole rescue-Kyle-Reese plot cannot be set in motion); terminator worms are swimming not far from Connor's base, even though such machines should have alerted their heavier-duty brethren long before the movie started; resistance air bases are out in the open where any aerial survey could find them. And why aren't terminators continually syncing their data with the network, i.e., why isn't any contact with a terminator shortly followed by a wave of killing machines coming down on a human's ass? Is it wise to detonate nuclear devices while hovering in a helicopter over prime mushroom cloud territory? And how much of this silliness could be removed without disrupting storytelling coherence?
I applaud Agent9 for doing a tremendous job salvaging what he could from a serious mess of a movie. Terminator Salvation gave me a headache; The T4 Cut was very watchable. I'd rank the theatrical release a 2/10 on the enjoyjoy scale and Agent9's version considerably higher, which has me very much looking forward to his future fanediting projects, especially if they're based on better substrate.
Warning: I watched this edit in 640p. Please take that into account when reading this review.
There are three problems with the initial release of Terminator Salvation. One: the far from airtight (even for a Terminator movie) story that took itself far too seriously. Two: Sam Worthington. Three: despite some awesome Skynet monstrosities and a surprisingly great depiction of the T-800 it just didn't feel like a Terminator movie, despite heavy handed and misguided attempts to do just that.
Agent9 ended up taking these issues and wiping them out.
A/V Quality: 10
-Video Editing: 10
The cuts were numerous and welcome. That goofy "musta heard the music" gag is gone, as is a lot of Worthington's introduction, which was only a plus and almost made Marcus an interesting character despite Worthington's mighty effort in dullness. Oh, and Star isn't a walking Deus Ex Machina anymore. That deserves nothing but praise.
The color correction was probably my favorite thing in this movie and really added to a much needed bleak atmosphere. When I first saw the green filter I immediately thought, "Now this is a Terminator movie."
The reinsertion of the original music was one of Agent9's best decisions for this cut and injected some emotional depth better than around half the actors in this movie. Hearing Sarah Connor's actual line from T2 was a nice touch. The removal of some silly lines was seamless. I couldn't find any inconsistency at all.
The pacing has been greatly improved now, but certain decisions are still baffling (through no fault of your own, Agent9). For example, Skynet's system not immediately shutting down Marcus after he came back and, you know, the idea of sending him in the first place. Sadly these were both pivotal things that were impossible to fix without deleted scenes that, from what I know, simply don't exist.
Was this edit still better than its source, though? Oh God yes.
The quality of this originally bland as all hell film has skyrocketed. Where at first it was pretty much on par with Terminator 3, it's now about twelve steps above it. If I ever feel the need for a Terminator marathon, my DVD copy of Salvation will continue to collect dust. This is my go-to copy from now on.