Ah, the 1980s: A decade of big hair, shoulder pads, heavy synths, and multiple violent robots and androids. Two stood out from the pack though – Robocop and Terminator – and in our latest episode of Vs. we’re going full robot wars, pitting Paul Verhoeven’s ultraviolent black comedy against James Cameron’s groundbreaking and grungy time-travel actioner. Host Mark Ellis (who comes with zero robot parts), will compare the two original films across multiple criteria including box office performance, Tomatometer and Audience Score, the quality of their characters, and more. Who will be the last bot standing? Tune in to find out.

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All Christian Bale Movies Ranked

Welcome to Rotten Tomatoes, where we’ve got Bale by the barrel! There’s skinny Bale (The Machinist) and big Bale (American Hustle), edgy Bale (The Fighter) and business Bale (American Psycho). Not to mention two varieties of P.O.W. Bale (Empire of the Sun, Rescue Dawn)! We’ve got cowl Bale (The Dark Knight) if that’s your fever, along with cool Bale (Equilibrium) and magic Bale (The Prestige). Then there’s bard Bale (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) if you’re a person of letters, which we suggest pairing with a biblical Bale (Exodus: Gods and Kings). A Christian Bale, if you please.

Bale’s been nominated for an Oscar four times (winning in 2011 for The Fighter), with the latest in 2019 for Vice. Ford v Ferrari wasn’t nominated for any of its performances, though it did land one for Best Picture. And now he’s in talks to jump from the world of DC to Marvel for a role in Thor: Love and Thunder. Come what may in 2021: First, we’re ranking the best Christian Bale movies (and the worst) by Tomatometer!

Adjusted Score: 31338%
Critics Consensus: The cinematography is gorgeous, but the movie plays it fast and loose with history and the novel it was adapted from. Mostly, the movie fails because the romance between the leads strains credulity and the story is largely uninvolving.
Synopsis: An epic tale about the enduring hope of love and the devastating brutality of war, set amid the Italian occupation... [More]
Directed By: John Madden

Adjusted Score: 38865%
Critics Consensus: While sporadically stirring, and suitably epic in its ambitions, Exodus: Gods and Kings can't quite live up to its classic source material.
Synopsis: Egyptian Princes Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) are raised together as brothers. When Ramses becomes pharaoh, Moses is... [More]
Directed By: Ridley Scott

Adjusted Score: 43830%
Critics Consensus: With storytelling as robotic as the film's iconic villains, Terminator Salvation offers plenty of great effects but lacks the heart of the original films.
Synopsis: Although Judgment Day has in fact occurred, the future for which John Connor (Christian Bale) was prepared has been partly... [More]
Directed By: McG


Newsies (1992)

Adjusted Score: 41683%
Critics Consensus: Extra! Extra! Read all about Newsies instead of suffering through its underwhelming musical interludes, although Christian Bale makes for a spirited hero.
Synopsis: In this musical, homeless New York City newsboy Jack "Cowboy" Kelly (Christian Bale) befriends two newcomers to his trade, brothers... [More]
Directed By: Kenny Ortega


Equilibrium (2002)

Adjusted Score: 42450%
Critics Consensus: Equilibrium is a reheated mishmash of other sci-fi movies.
Synopsis: In a futuristic world, a regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and... [More]
Directed By: Kurt Wimmer

Adjusted Score: 42729%
Critics Consensus: Zhang Yimou's stylistic flair is in full bloom during The Flowers of War, but his colorful treatment of a historical genocide ultimately does a disservice to the horrifying events' inherent drama.
Synopsis: An American (Christian Bale) tries to protect a group of Chinese students and prostitutes from Japanese soldiers in 1937 Nanjing.... [More]
Directed By: Zhang Yimou


Reign of Fire (2002)

Adjusted Score: 46559%
Critics Consensus: Reign of Fire gains some altitude with its pyrotechnic action and a smolderingly campy Matthew McConaughey, but the feature's wings are clipped by a derivative script and visual effects that fizzle out.
Synopsis: In present-day London, 12-year-old Quinn watches as his mother wakes an enormous fire-breathing beast from its centuries-long slumber. Twenty years... [More]
Directed By: Rob Bowman

Adjusted Score: 49154%
Critics Consensus: Beautiful, indulgently heady, and pretentious, The Portrait of a Lady paints Campion's directorial shortcomings in too bright a light.
Synopsis: Ms. Isabel Archer (Nicole Kidman) isn't afraid to challenge societal norms. Impressed by her free spirit, her kindhearted cousin writes... [More]
Directed By: Jane Campion


Knight of Cups (2015)

Adjusted Score: 57170%
Critics Consensus: Knight of Cups finds Terrence Malick delving deeper into the painterly visual milieu he's explored in recent efforts, but even hardcore fans may struggle with the diminishing narrative returns.
Synopsis: A Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) indulges his wild side with a stripper (Teresa Palmer), a model (Freida Pinto) and... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick


Harsh Times (2005)

Adjusted Score: 51716%
Critics Consensus: Despite a dedicated performance by Christian Bale, Harsh Times suffers from a heavy-handed and overly bleak plot.
Synopsis: Jim (Christian Bale) is a Gulf War veteran and he believes it is his sworn duty to protect Americans by... [More]
Directed By: David Ayer


The Promise (2016)

Adjusted Score: 61641%
Critics Consensus: The Promise wastes an outstanding cast and powerful real-life story on a love triangle that frustratingly fails to engage.
Synopsis: Brilliant medical student Michael (Oscar Isaac) meets beautiful dance instructor Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) in late 1914. Their shared Armenian... [More]
Directed By: Terry George

Adjusted Score: 35797%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In 1880s London, pornographic bookseller Verloc (Bob Hoskins) is a double agent for the Russian government, providing information to Chief... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Hampton

Adjusted Score: 57812%
Critics Consensus: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle brings impressive special effects to bear on the darker side of its classic source material, but loses track of the story's heart along the way.
Synopsis: Human child Mowgli is raised by a wolf pack in the jungles of India. As he learns the often harsh... [More]
Directed By: Andy Serkis


Swing Kids (1993)

Adjusted Score: 55745%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: American big-band jazz beats in the hearts of young German friends (Robert Sean Leonard, Christian Bale, Frank Whaley) confronted by... [More]
Directed By: Thomas Carter

Adjusted Score: 60866%
Critics Consensus: While it may not make the most of its incredible cast, Out of the Furnace is still so packed with talent that it's hard to turn away.
Synopsis: Steelworker Russell Baze (Christian Bale) works a dead-end job and holds tight to his sense of family, duty and loyalty.... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper


Pocahontas (1995)

Adjusted Score: 58349%
Critics Consensus: Pocahontas means well, and has moments of startling beauty, but it's largely a bland, uninspired effort, with uneven plotting and an unfortunate lack of fun.
Synopsis: This is the Disney animated tale of the romance between a young American Indian woman named Pocahontas (Irene Bedard) and... [More]


Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Adjusted Score: 59975%
Critics Consensus: Velvet Goldmine takes a visual and narrative approach befitting its larger-than-life subject, although it's still disappointingly less than the sum of its parts.
Synopsis: Glam rock star Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Myers) plays a character on stage named Maxwell Demon who predicts his death... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes


The New World (2005)

Adjusted Score: 69491%
Critics Consensus: Despite arresting visuals and strong lead performances, The New World suffers from an unfocused narrative that will challenge viewers' attention spans over its 2 1/2 hours.
Synopsis: Arriving with a British expedition in Virginia in 1607, Capt. John Smith (Colin Farrell) is captured by Native Americans. His... [More]
Directed By: Terrence Malick


Metroland (1997)

Adjusted Score: 65094%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In late-1970s suburban London, Chris (Christian Bale) and Marion (Emily Watson) have settled into a comfortable yet all-too-predictable middle-class existence.... [More]
Directed By: Philip Saville

Adjusted Score: 65487%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Bobby (Christian Bale) is a mentally handicapped young man with an affinity for animals. He runs away from home after... [More]
Directed By: Jeremy Thomas


Vice (2018)

Adjusted Score: 87578%
Critics Consensus: Vice takes scattershot aim at its targets, but writer-director Adam McKay hits some satisfying bullseyes -- and Christian Bale's transformation is a sight to behold.
Synopsis: Gov. George W. Bush of Texas picks Dick Cheney, the CEO of Halliburton Co., to be his Republican running mate... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay

Adjusted Score: 70062%
Critics Consensus: Faultless production and shining performances display the Bard's talent propitiously.
Synopsis: This version of the renowned comedic play finds the world of humans intersecting with the realm of magic. The lovely... [More]
Directed By: Michael Hoffman


Shaft (2000)

Adjusted Score: 70184%
Critics Consensus: With a charismatic lead, this new Shaft knows how to push the right buttons.
Synopsis: Crooked cops on the take -- small-time drug lords -- sleazy informers and sadistic rich kids ready to kill ---... [More]
Directed By: John Singleton


Public Enemies (2009)

Adjusted Score: 78789%
Critics Consensus: Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.
Synopsis: Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger's (Johnny Depp) charm and audacity endear him to much of America's downtrodden public, but he's... [More]
Directed By: Michael Mann


Laurel Canyon (2002)

Adjusted Score: 71398%
Critics Consensus: Though the movie itself is flawed, McDormand is fantastic as Jane.
Synopsis: Sam (Christian Bale) and his fiancée, Alex (Kate Beckinsale), move to Los Angeles for the summer to stay at the... [More]
Directed By: Lisa Cholodenko


American Psycho (2000)

Adjusted Score: 74646%
Critics Consensus: If it falls short of the deadly satire of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, American Psycho still finds its own blend of horror and humor, thanks in part to a fittingly creepy performance by Christian Bale.
Synopsis: In New York City in 1987, a handsome, young urban professional, Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), lives a second life as... [More]
Directed By: Mary Harron


Hostiles (2017)

Adjusted Score: 83455%
Critics Consensus: Hostiles benefits from stunning visuals and a solid central performance from Christian Bale, both of which help elevate its uneven story.
Synopsis: In 1892, legendary Army Capt. Joseph Blocker reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back... [More]
Directed By: Scott Cooper

Adjusted Score: 79377%
Critics Consensus: One of Steven Spielberg's most ambitious efforts of the 1980s, Empire of the Sun remains an underrated gem in the director's distinguished filmography.
Synopsis: Jamie Graham (Christian Bale), a privileged English boy, is living in Shanghai when the Japanese invade and force all foreigners... [More]
Directed By: Steven Spielberg


The Prestige (2006)

Adjusted Score: 83670%
Critics Consensus: Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is a dazzling period piece that never stops challenging the audience.
Synopsis: An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman), against each... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan


I'm Not There (2007)

Adjusted Score: 83246%
Critics Consensus: I'm Not There's unique editing, visuals, and multiple talented actors portraying Bob Dylan make for a deliciously unconventional experience. Each segment brings a new and fresh take on Dylan's life.
Synopsis: Several actors portray legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan at different stages in his personal life and career. In 1959 a guitar-strumming... [More]
Directed By: Todd Haynes


The Machinist (2004)

Adjusted Score: 80912%
Critics Consensus: Brad Anderson's dark psychological thriller about a sleepless factory worker is elevated by Christian Bale astonishingly committed performance.
Synopsis: Factory worker Trevor Reznik (Christian Bale) suffers from insomnia so severe that his condition has taken its toll on his... [More]
Directed By: Brad Anderson


Batman Begins (2005)

Adjusted Score: 95916%
Critics Consensus: Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.
Synopsis: A young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels to the Far East, where he's trained in the martial arts by Henri... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Adjusted Score: 103517%
Critics Consensus: The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan's franchise in spectacular fashion.
Synopsis: It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman), vanished into the night.... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

Adjusted Score: 92524%
Critics Consensus: Exquisitely illustrated by master animator Miyazaki, Howl's Moving Castle will delight children with its fantastical story and touch the hearts and minds of older viewers as well.
Synopsis: Sophie (Emily Mortimer) has an uneventful life at her late father's hat shop, but all that changes when she befriends... [More]
Directed By: Hayao Miyazaki


The Big Short (2015)

Adjusted Score: 101793%
Critics Consensus: The Big Short approaches a serious, complicated subject with an impressive attention to detail -- and manages to deliver a well-acted, scathingly funny indictment of its real-life villains in the bargain.
Synopsis: In 2008, Wall Street guru Michael Burry realizes that a number of subprime home loans are in danger of defaulting.... [More]
Directed By: Adam McKay


3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Adjusted Score: 97742%
Critics Consensus: This remake of a classic Western improves on the original, thanks to fiery performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as well as sharp direction from James Mangold.
Synopsis: Outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) terrorizes 1800s Arizona, especially the Southern Railroad, until he is finally captured. Wade must be... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold


Rescue Dawn (2006)

Adjusted Score: 94175%
Critics Consensus: Director Werner Herzog has once again made a compelling tale of man versus nature, and Christian Bale completely immerses himself in the role of fighter pilot (and prisoner of war) Dieter Dengler.
Synopsis: During the Vietnam War, Dieter Dengler (Christian Bale), a U.S. fighter pilot, is shot down over Laos and taken captive... [More]
Directed By: Werner Herzog


The Fighter (2010)

Adjusted Score: 99782%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
Synopsis: For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell


Little Women (1994)

Adjusted Score: 94167%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to a powerhouse lineup of talented actresses, Gillian Armstrong's take on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women proves that a timeless story can succeed no matter how many times it's told.
Synopsis: In this 1994 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic, the March sisters confront growing pains, financial shortages, family tragedies and... [More]
Directed By: Gillian Armstrong


American Hustle (2013)

Adjusted Score: 103246%
Critics Consensus: Riotously funny and impeccably cast, American Hustle compensates for its flaws with unbridled energy and some of David O. Russell's most irrepressibly vibrant direction.
Synopsis: Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) dabbles in forgery and loan-sharking, but when he falls for fellow grifter Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams),... [More]
Directed By: David O. Russell


Ford v Ferrari (2019)

Adjusted Score: 114298%
Critics Consensus: Ford v Ferrari delivers all the polished auto action audiences will expect -- and balances it with enough gripping human drama to satisfy non-racing enthusiasts.
Synopsis: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics... [More]
Directed By: James Mangold


The Dark Knight (2008)

Adjusted Score: 107468%
Critics Consensus: Dark, complex, and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.
Synopsis: With the help of allies Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) has... [More]
Directed By: Christopher Nolan

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We bet those pesky xenomorphs are getting smug now that their last two movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, have gone Certified Fresh.

Enough with the space jockeys, unqualified cartographers, and people who run in straight lines: How about terrorizing someone who can put up a real fight? Vote on our 10 suggestions below or leave your dream Alien deathmatch in the comments!

Rotten Tomatoes looks at 24 unresolved TV cliffhangers, ranging from poisoned presidents to adrift interstellar spaceships. We couldn’t possibly solve these mysteries. Can YOU?


Terminator Salvation

In the fourth instalment of the Terminator series, we finally see the dark future that we have been hearing so much about in the earlier films. Skynet rules the world and armies of machines seek to annihilate the last few remaining humans. The much-hunted John Connor (Christian Bale) is fighting the fierce fight as a leader in the resistance and the world is basically a post-apocalyptic, dusty grey hell.

In true Terminator-style, the mission is to save Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) for future benefit. Reese might be a scrappy teenager now but when he grows up, he will be John Connor’s father. If the plot gets convoluted, which it sometimes does, don’t worry, there is always something explosive to distract you from the story.

Christian Bale, for all his husky-voiced earnestness, is once again upstaged by a young Aussie actor. Sam Worthington, who plays Marcus Wright, a convicted killer who donated his body to science many years ago, is the stand-out in this film. John Connor may be the hero but Worthington is most definitely the star.

There is no question that Terminator Salvation is missing some of the brilliance that we found in James Cameron’s The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, if you separate this film from its golden predecessors and instead view it as a big budget action film in its own right, you can have fun watching the machines go bang.

If you love your special features, be careful which version you pick up at the video store. The standard, single-disc DVD is sadly without any special features whatsoever, not even so much as a leaked Christian Bale rant. They have saved all the good stuff for Blu-ray with a host of unseen footage, a set tour, a great feature on the visual effects of the Moto-Terminator, featurettes, commentaries, cast and crew interviews and Maximum Movie Mode, in which director McG breaks down the movie’s key scenes and sequences.

And if all that doesn’t lure you in, the surreal Arnie cameo is definitely worth the hire.



Based on Neil Gaiman’s fairytale novella of the same name, this cautionary tale warns children everywhere to be careful what they wish for. When Coraline and her parents move into the faded Pink Palace boarding house, Coraline wishes fervently for a more exciting life with more engaged parents.

And it appears that dreams do come true when right there in her own home she finds a doorway to the other world. Here her affectionate, domestically-attentive Other Mother, and suave and dapper Other Father, are waiting to greet her with open arms.

All is not right in this other world, however, and as this creepy tale grows more and more sinister, we are whisked along a surreal ride that combines traditional fairy tale grimness with one of the most original and beautifully grotesque animations of recent times. In fact, in a year which has seen the release of some truly wonderful animations such as Pixar’s Up and Studio Ghibli’s Ponyo, Coraline more than holds its own.

Directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), this stop-motion animation is an over-indulgent feast on the senses. The 3-D drags you right into the craziness and both the DVD and Blu-ray come with 3-D glasses and content. Rather than using 3-D for the sake of the technology, Coraline is one of the finest examples of its form. The supporting characters are fascinating and often heartbreaking (Wybie) is a particularly tragic figure), but your heart will go out to each and every one of them. And the fable itself is one that never gets old.

For those who like to explore the mechanics of stop-motion, a substantial making-of feature is included on the disc, covering everything from concept to casting and creation (and guest-starring Neil Gaiman himself). There’s also an interesting feature commentary by Selick.



Australian movies are often deeply personal stories based on quirky characters and family dynamics. Every now and then, however, an Australian film tells a story of national importance and Balibo is one of those films.

In the 1970s, as Indonesia was preparing to invade East Timor, five Australian television journalists disappeared. Those journalists were named the Balibo Five and their story has been largely untold. Balibo redresses that fact.

Directed by Robert Connolly (Three Dollars, The Bank) and written by playwright, David Williamson, this is a very powerful film, and not just because of the important story it tells. It is deeply moving and the fact that it was filmed on location, the first feature film to be filmed in East Timor in fact, brings a strong authenticity to the story.

The structure of the film follows veteran journalist Roger East, played well by Anthony LaPaglia, who attempts to unravel the fate of the five reporters. By flicking between the two plots, some of the intensity is lost, but perhaps that is necessary. There is a lot of anger in this film, as well there should be, and the distance created by seeing the action through East’s eyes, makes it something an audience can watch.

There are some interesting special features on both the DVD and Blu-ray release. There are the usual deleted scenes, commentaries and behind-the-scenes coverage but there are also six contextual documentaries and footage of Greg Shackleton, one of the Balibo Five, reporting from Timor, dated October 1975.

Pickings are indeed slim this week for new releases on home video. While we have the requisite new releases, which include a couple of major pictures that opened earlier this year (Terminator Salvation and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian) and a couple of lesser-known flicks (Paper Heart and A Christmas Tale), the offerings were decidedly lacking in terms of special editions and newly packaged items. As such, we’ve decided to profile a handful of Blu-Ray reissues of films we already know and love (well, most of us, anyway), like Gremlins, The Mask of Zorro, and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Check out our complete list and see what tickles your fancy this week!


Terminator Salvation

Way back in 1984, a relatively unknown director named James Cameron introduced the world to an expectant mother named Sarah Connor and the Schwarzenegger-powered robot from the future who was sent to kill her, thereby launching both a beloved sci-fi franchise and a cinematic career known for technological innovation. After spawning two well-regarded sequels and a popular television show, the Terminator series returned for another chapter in 2009 under the direction of McG (Charlie’s Angels), this time focusing on the near future (2018, to be precise) and the grown John Connor’s efforts to unravel the mystery behind mankind’s possible annihilation. Though critics felt that Terminator Salvation‘s special effects and action sequences were impressive, they weren’t as thrilled by the film’s storytelling, which has been solid throughout the franchise. Nevertheless, for those who are fans of the series, and those who enjoy watching a bleak Christian Bale knocking the shine off a horde of evil robots, Terminator Salvation will be a an action-packed addition to the DVD or Blu-Ray library.


Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Ben Stiller is back as Larry Daley, a once down on his luck night guard turned successful entrepreneur, in the sequel to the hugely successful Night at the Museum. In addition to Stiller, the sequel returns director Shaun Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen), Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Robin Williams, and Ricky Gervais as their original larger than life museum icons that come to life at night. After discovering that his exhibits-turned-friends are moving into deep storage and into hostile exhibit territory at the Smithsonian, Larry goes to Washington, D.C. in order to help his friends in their new surroundings. With a new love interest in Amelia Earhart (played by Amy Adams) helping him in this fantasy-filled turf war, Larry finds inspiration again by helping his nocturnal friends. Another huge commercial success, Battle of the Smithsonian is filled with over the top special effects and slapstick comedy directed at its younger audience.


Paper Heart

The lines between fiction and documentary are blurred and combined in Paper Heart, which stars Charlyne Yi (also screenwriter and producer) as herself — a skeptic of the fairy tale brand of love, the one subject she doesn’t understand. Charlyne travels across the country interviewing couples, strangers, lawyers, children, and anyone in between to craft a documentary about what love really is in hopes of discovering if love actually exists. Along the way, Charlyne meets Michael Cera, also playing himself and consequently wearing a hoodie, who begins to fall for her on camera, accelerating her need to understand the mysterious subject as she comes face-to-face with her own chance at love. The film was a limited release and questions around what parts of the film were documentary and what parts were fiction seemed to split critics as Paper Heart puts a different face and twist on the representation of a modern love story. You can pick it up on DVD or Blu-Ray this week.


A Christmas Tale – Criterion Collection

Come Christmas time, the Family Comedy usually erodes from reputably wholesome entertainment into fodder for the critical bonfire. So when a Family Comedy meets a Holiday Film and they love each other very much, supremely rare circumstances may present themselves to allow the Holiday Film and the Family Comedy to produce many happy reviews-as was the super rare case with the ultra-gallic, Yule Tide, smarty fest that was A Christmas Carol. Starring the highest of French pedigree actors (Mattieu Almaric and Catherine Deneuve, the goddess herself), A Christmas Tale watched a family of intellectuals reunite in the interest of saving their matriarch (Deneuve) from a degenerative cancer. The Criterion DVD includes interviews with the stars, an improved English subtitle translation (because we don’t all know French), a booklet featuring an essay by Phillip Lopate (to stoke the geeky-flame) and L’aimee, the doc that director Anton Desplechin made about the selling of his family home.


The Green Mile – Blu-Ray

Most remember The Green Mile for its gauzy and nostalgia-hued view of the depression and institutional corrections (it does take place almost exclusively in a prison). Some remember the bombastic melodrama (Michael Clark Duncan explodes the electric chair!). What we remember best was the animal stunts. Mr. Jingles was played by 15 different stuntmice – 15! Tell me that wouldn’t make a great youtube pet clip. According to reviews, the transfer to blu-ray is a tad dark, in some cases swallowing some of the visual detail, but the extras look to make up for the loss. After the director commentary by Frank Darabont, the dvd features more than 2 hours worth of making-of documentary. This almost dethrones the film’s death-row-like running time, but since the making-of footage likely features a good dose of Mr. Jingles, I think we can let this one slide.


Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch – Blu-Ray

Before RocknRolla, before Revolver, and certainly before his marriage to Madonna got him Swept Away, Guy Ritchie made quite a name for himself with a couple of highly stylized capers that put British gangster films back on the map. 1998’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the director’s feature debut, and its 2001 follow-up, Snatch, were intricately plotted action-comedies with large casts of colorful characters, oodles of witty banter, and plot twists galore, and critics responded positively to both (71% and 72% on the Tomatometer, respectively). It’s just too bad that the formula didn’t quite work the third or fourth time. With Ritchie’s vision of Sherlock Holmes set to hit theaters later this year, this seems like the appropriate time to release his two best efforts on Blu-Ray, and while there are only a few new special features to be found for either film, the hi-def transfer may be enough to sway fans into picking them up. They both become available this week.


Gremlins – Blu-Ray

Some films hold up quite well over time, while others end up feeling dated and obsolete. Joe Dante’s 1984 horror-comedy classic Gremlins tends to fall into the former category for most, even if only for its nostalgic value, and you’d be hard pressed to find many other winter holiday-themed movies that are this… bizarre. For those who are unfamiliar, Gremlins tells the story of an inventor who happens upon a mystical creature in a Chinese curiosity shop, brings the creature home as a pet, and discovers that breaking the three rules of rearing the creature yields disastrous results. This week, Billy, Gizmo, and Stripe get the hi-def treatment, and the Blu-Ray disc contains many of the same special features seen on previous editions, including director and cast commentaries and a vintage behind-the-scenes featurette.


Gimme Shelter – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

Gimme Shelter is the Maysles brothers’ documentary chronicling the events surrounding a free Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway in 1969. Who could have guessed that hiring the Hell’s Angels for security duties at a concert where alcohol, drugs, and public nudity ran rampant would be a bad idea? Oh, wait… Right. While the ensuing chaos (which included an on-screen stabbing) is well known now amongst those familiar with the event and the film, Gimme Shelter loses none of its poignancy upon repeat viewings. This week, the Criterion Collection edition of the film finds its way onto Blu-Ray, and while there are no new special features, the hi-def transfer itself is cleaned up for a tidy picture quality that should make for a more engaging viewing experience.


The Mask of Zorro/Legend of Zorro – Blu-Ray Double Feature

With a cast that included Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, and a relatively unknown Catherine Zeta-Jones, as well as an entertaining story and loads of action, 1998’s The Mask of Zorro was a critical and commercial success, achieving Certified Fresh status with an impressive 85% Tomatometer. Unfortunately, its sequel, The Legend of Zorro, failed to earn the same respect, despite the return of Banderas and Zeta-Jones. The first was everything a moviegoer could ask for in a period action film, but the shift in tone of the second film (largely to a much more tame, kid-friendly movie) proved to be too much (or too little) for most. Still, the pairing may prove to be a fortuitous one for families; after the kids get their kicks out of Legend, the grownups can put them to bed and find something a little more age-appropriate in Mask. Both are available this week on Blu-Ray, either individually or as a two-pack, and they include special features found on previous editions.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: XVI – Limited Edition

For those of us unsatisfied by the drama-club theatrics present in our run-of-the-mill B-pictures, we always have an extra outlet for it via the commentators of Mystery Science Theater 3000, who see the snarkly, half-sincere, histrionics of schlock films and raise them tenfold. More than just a collection of obscure and low-rent anti-classics, MST3K makes faux-critical non-art out of our inferior genus of native film. It’s half pop-up video and half (non) director commentary slathered liberally on top of films none of us has any legitimate reason to know exist. In the XVI Limited Edition Box Set alone we have: Santa Klaws (and you thought Mom’s plum pudding was dry), Night of the Blood Beast (a good rehydrating agent after Santa Klaws), The Corpse Vanishes (absolutely no relation to Hitchcock) and Warrior of the Lost World (because if Turkey, Brazil, and India have Star Wars remakes, dadgum it, so will America). A blindingly shiny Tom Servo figurine goes along with the kit, like MST3K‘s own little Cracker Jack prize.

For every movie that ends with a hero walking off into the sunset — no matter
how perfect or appropriate the ending — somewhere, Hollywood is thinking of the
sunrise, the following day, the realm of the ever-after, where the sequels live.
“What if Butch and Sundance jumped… into a river!? And made their way down
toward… the jungle!?.” It’s simply not in the nature of the industry to let a
good thing die. Better, one assumes, to let it wither, slowly, in the hopes of a
great and final gasp. And, as if by accident, we are somehow entertained along
the way, perhaps we’ll come along, hopeful yet reluctant, for a fourth, or a
fifth, or a sixth film in any given franchise.

Terminator Salvation is much the same way, entertaining but ultimately
unnecessary, despite the promise of the robot apocalypse we’ve hungrily
anticipated since Kyle Reese first spoke of it to Sarah Connor. And on the
surface, it all makes sense — to illustrate the future war and reveal a portrait
of the world-weary, battle-hardened John Connor, rapidly approaching the time
when he must decide to sacrifice his father in order to save himself.

On paper, the idea of a full-length movie devoted to those too-brief glimpses of
conflict shown in the first and second Terminator films seems like a fascinating
notion. We have the visual effects now to expand upon the future in a way that
director James Cameron never had available to him, and certainly the war between Skynet and the Resistance would provide for an action-packed, visually-stunning
sci-fi/action film. And while the aesthetic reasons to make this sequel — the
first in a proposed trilogy — seem firmly in place, true fans of the franchise
are bound to ask whether there’s a strong enough narrative reason.

Given what we know at the end of Terminator 2 — arguably a masterwork of the
genre — was negating that film’s conclusion in order to set up this
post-apocalyptic vision ultimately worth the potential sci-fi sacrilege? Sadly,
the answer to that question remains unclear.

Score: 6 out of 10 [rtimage]MapID=1197277&MapTypeID=2&photo=63&legacy=1[/rtimage]
Video and Presentation

The harsh, permanent grays of Skynet’s future are given a solid 1080p transfer.
Image detail is top notch, with every pore on Christian Bale’s pissed-off face
in close-up coming through, and every servo and piston on the Terminators
appearing with photorealism. The dark color scheme and frequent night scenes
would normally create havoc on the black levels, but not the case here. Black
levels are relatively consistent and colors are strong, despite the movie’s
bleak aesthetic.

If there are any complaints with this transfer, it’s that they are too digital
in some places and too soft in some scenes. Kyle Reese’s wannabe inspirational
speech inside the Harvester appears muted color-wise, as does a scene where
Reese is outrunning a very mean T-800 model. The transfer’s best scenes are
early on, such as the opening titles and the one-take that follows John Connor
down in a helicopter in the wake of a nuclear blast’s EMP. The Harvester and
Hunter-Killer sequence is the standout showpiece for this transfer. From the
fire reds of violent explosions to the charred skies that the H-K hovers
against, this sequence will make you glad you splurged on Blu.

Score: 8 out of 10 [rtimage]MapID=1197277&MapTypeID=2&photo=62&legacy=1[/rtimage]
Audio and Languages

The bullet-ridden landscape and the constant concussion of explosions and
weapons fire provides Salvation with a balls-to-the-wall DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
track. Lossless audio lends itself well to every aspect of the film. Danny
Elfman’s electronic-heavy score hits all the right notes in both the front and
surround channels. John Connor’s first field encounter with a metal torso is
full of bullet pings and the grinding of Skynet tech. And the final
confrontation with Skynet’s pet projects, in a factory that produces nothing but
shadows and sparks, is full of surround activity.

For fans of mixes with heavy bass, then you are in for a treat as this DTS track
literally rattles your face off your skull. Those who don’t like to feel their
guts earthquake while they watch a movie will take issue with being pummeled by
a merciless track that takes advantage of the dynamic sound field. From dialogue
to ambient sound effects, this mix is clear and consistent, just shy of
reference quality. DTS gives Dolby a run for their money here, especially if you
like your action movies to play at 11. And then some.

Score: 9 out of 10
Extras and Packaging

Here’s the thing: The extra features on 3-disc sets should never number less
than the number of discs you are paying for. Terminator Salvation is a big
summer movie and yet the lackluster run of extras here are more suited for non-tentpole

With only two featurettes, and a distracting picture-in-picture visual
commentary, Salvation feels like its producers misplaced the bonus feature
budget. Disc One features the director’s cut (which includes Moon Bloongood’s
nude scene and a few more violent cuts to the action). Disc Two has special
features and the theatrical cut and disc three has the digital copy of the

Skynet sends us the following bells and whistles:

  • “Maximum Movie Mode” Feature
  • “Reforging the Future” Featurette
  • “The Moto-Terminator” Featurette

McG, for better or worse, hosts the “Maximum Movie Mode” feature, which is
hybrid of picture-in-picture commentary and a timeline highlighting key events
and people within the Terminator universe as they appear. McG stands before two
monitors that provide behind-the-scenes looks at the film’s set pieces and the
various production members responsible for them. The creation of special effects
and this future’s production design are consistent topics of the feature, along
with cast and crew interviews and B-roll from the set. We would prefer a
standard audio commentary, if more nothing more than to hear McG address certain
story faults and overall fan reaction to the film post-release. “Movie Mode”
offers us a peak behind the curtain, but it doesn’t give the man on stage a
chance to comment on his magic tricks.

All of the above cutaway segments are in 1080p and can be accessed on their own
via “Focus Points”.

“Future” is a rushed production documentary, which runs less than 20 minutes and
burns through the development of the film. Little time is spent on
pre-production and the development of the script, with the thrust of the
featurette devoted to many of the topics covered in “Movie Mode.” Various
producers and special effects technicians dominate this feature, and really
enjoy talking about the various Terminators that had to be created (Hydrobots
FTW!) and the task of bringing back Arnold’s Terminator model from the first
film. Surprisingly, the most significant insight gleamed here is the
production’s use of practical effects whenever possible, such as using a mix of
rubber suits and blue screen to create a walking, rubbery T-600 model.

This featurette feels like it should be longer; one would think that a
production as epic as this would have plenty of making-of footage to fill a
feature-length doc that’s customary nowadays. We got more from Internet news
stories and Wired magazine pieces than we get here.

Terminators transforming and rolling out as sentient death bikes is the subject
of “The Moto-Terminator.” Here, we see how CGI and practical effects were
employed to give the movie its standout action sequence.

While we admire the effort to make the main feature here more interactive, we
can’t help but think how a commentary with the talky director would have better
serviced this 3-disc set. Warners should provide more extras given the
pricepoint and the real estate 3-discs afford.

Score: 6 out of 10[rtimage]MapID=1197277&MapTypeID=2&photo=60&legacy=1[/rtimage]
The Bottom Line

McG’s Terminator: Salvation boasts a very expensive idea at its core – how the
beginning of the Future War unfolds – that could have been a good movie, but
instead falls somewhere below Terminator 3’s mediocrity.

The main character only exists to give John Connor his heart, literally, and
that’s a problem when the “in” to your movie is not the guy responsible for
saving what’s left of humanity from the machines hell bent on wiping them out.
Also a problem are the limited special features on this 3-disc set. Any home
video release that comes with more than one disc should come with more than two
rush-job featurettes and an intermittent video commentary hosted by the
director. No deleted scenes? No standardized extras? Rack your shotgun, Sarah
Connor-style, and target practice on this Blu.

The picture is shiny, the sound is deafening, but the overall presentation is
surprisingly thin for such a robust blockbuster’s Blu-ray debut.

Overall Score: 7 out of 10 (not an average)[rtimage]MapID=1197277&MapTypeID=2&photo=59&legacy=1[/rtimage]
For additional IGN coverage on Blu-ray, including more reviews, news, and
previews, visit bluray.ign.com. And for RT’s
own coverage, visit our Blu-ray

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