Comparison between the edited Theatrical Version (PG-13) and the uncut Director's Cut (Rated R), both on the British Blu-Ray from Warner Home Video (BBFC 12).
16 Cut scenes = 2 Min. 50,5 Sec.
3 Alternative shots
Running time data is taken from the Theatrical Version. The remeining difference derives from rounding to whole or half seconds.
It's not like the announcement of a forth part of the "Terminator" franchise – or a completely new trilogy for that matter – has led to much rejoicing among the fans. The first Terminator in 1984 was a milestone for the genre and the second film was the consistent continuation of the story, just like the first one a product of its time in terms of action, fusing together Arnold Schwarzenegger with the role of the Terminator for good. The second sequel was determined to keep up with the first two movies and was also not as serious as they have been but was already fighting against the lack of innovation.
Thus, part four came along, presenting itself not as a sequel but rather a "Re-boot", marking the beginning of the already mentioned trilogy. Rumors spread quickly – is Arnold Schwarzenegger gonna be in it, who's gonna play John Connor, will Sarah Connor show up, who will direct the movie, and so forth.
With the basic constellation established, skepticism was bound to grow. On the one hand the budget was somewhere around 200 million dollars with an additional 100 million for marketing alone and also Christian Bale had signed up for the role of John Connor. On the other hand, McG, responsible for the "Charlies Angels" movies and a few music videos for The Offspring, Cypress Hill or Sublime was going to direct it. On top of that, John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris, writers of "Terminator 3" and yes, also "Catwoman" were going to write the script. Also, the Schwarzenegger cameo was his head, digitally grafted to the body of the much younger Austrian bodybuilder Roland Kickinger. Also, the script was rewritten (in order to give Bale more screen time) by additional writers such as Anthony E. Zuiker & Jonathan Nolan so heavily that even Alan Dean Foster, author of the novel after the movie, had to rewrite his already finished and handed in manuscript.
Although Style over substance seemed to be the first rule of the production it has become a decent movie. The average viewer got the polished, loud and effect driven movie he came to expect.
However, the story is somewhat shallow, the actors aren't doing more than they have to while the viewers attention is pushed into the various plot holes already presented in the other three movies as well as slapped in the face by numerous ideas "inspired" by almost every major sci-fi movie of the last years.
Christian Bales reduced acting may fit perfectly well into films like "Equilibrium", "American Psycho" or the "Batman" movies by Christopher Nolan; but for John Connor fans and critics alike had wished for a bit more. Michael Ironside, Moon Bloodgood and Anton Yelchin (as Kyle Reese) remain expendable as well. Most notably, Bryce Dallas Howard as John Connors wife Kate does nothing more than dropping a few lines and staring vacantly into the camera. Only Sam Worthington as Marcus does put a bit more flesh on his character. "Terminator Salvation" is missing not only the heart – but the teeth as well. Nevertheless (or because?) the movie does its best to establish a rather dark atmosphere – which just doesn't seem right considering how tame this movie is..
The Terminators are strong in number but unfortunately far less "badass" as they were in the other three movies – machines simply programmed to kill have become wrestlers. The introducing action scene presents itself as astonishingly innovative while one of the main action scenes in the middle of the movie seems to be a blatant copy of what the viewer had to put up with in "Transformers".
SkyNet is still presented as the ultimate threat to humanity – somewhat hard to believe with the resistance blowing stuff up, rescuing prisoners and pretty much coming and going as they please, thanks to the more or less clever plot point that SkyNet has not only one location but is more of a worldwide network.
Even better: The once threatening, distant as well face- and formless super computer on its never ending course to wipe out humanity now carries the pretty face of Helena Bonham Carter - and is, according to the script, not even able to keep its own infiltration units on a leash.
Yes, we understand that the action and sci-fi genre is predestined for its flaws and simplicities but as soon as those flaws reach a certain number the movie is bound to suffer from it. Compared to a well written script like that of "Terminator 2" the story of "Terminator Salvation" seems a bit too simple and boring. So the Style over substance trend strikes again: Everything is loud and impressive, the action sequences are roaring across the screen, the sound is amazing – but nevertheless the whole package seems dull and boring since no well-written script is present to back up the action and spice things up a bit.
Rather paradox for such a massive budget (that has been earned back by the movie that has nevertheless stayed behind the expectations of certain investors – so a fifth and sixth movie are nowhere near realization) and raising the question why this heart of every movie is not provided with more budget and time for proper development.
Those who recognize the events described now are probably thinking of Die Hard 4.0 - the events concerning ratings and censorship were almost identical. The more money went into the movie, the more the investors wanted the movie to be seen by as much people as possible. Especially when the movie is part of such a big franchise. Already a year before "Terminator Salvation" it was discussed whether the film should aim for an R or a PG-13. The director claimed that the studio was gonna let him make the movie and should it be an R rated film then that would be the way it is.
That was 2008. In spring 2009 at the WonderCon things sounded a bit different: McG claimed that Warner Brothers were demanding a PG-13 and had ordered him to cut a topless sccene of Moon Bloodgood (that the director wanted to keep in the movie if at all possible). And although no information about further cuts was known it was safe to assume that the violence would have to be edited as well. Then the rating was official, and McG stated that the editing of one single sequence, in which Marcus stabs someone with a with a screwdriver, would guarantee a PG rating and it would be ridiculous to keep children from watching the movie because of this. According to im they were inspired by 'The Dark Knight' which also got the PG-13 rating.
Indeed, no additional or alternative footage had been shot for the PG-13 rating. However, not only the stabbing sequence and the topless scene – which is in the DC as well and not only among the bonus footage as McG had stated earlier – were cut, as this report will show. About a dozen censoring cuts can be observed, including editing of gory bullet wounds and overall toning down of violence in good old MPAA fashion. On top of that a few storyline sequences have bee re-integrated into the movie that are supposed to deepen some of the characters relationships.
All in all the original version is in no way more violent or story driven compared to the Theatrical version. Also, the "topless" scene as a reason for a higher rating is a bad joke because you don't get to see anything. So the question remains why almost an entire minute had to be cut when a simple blurring or frame cut would have done the job. So it doesn't seem that the Theatrical Version had been more violent before the editing and after watching the DC this can be confirmed. The extensions are neat and okay but they do not make it a different movie. Those who already enjoyed the Theatrical Version will like the DC even more, and those who didn't are not likely to become fans now.
According to up-to-date information, the Director's Cut will be released only on Blu-ray worldwide. All DVD releases will contain the Theatrical Version only.
Connor looks around a bit longer when suddenly a machine emerges from the water behind them. The soldiers open fire, the machine is destroyed and Connor turns back around.
The last radio call "It's almost like they're waiting for us." is put over the next shot in the Theatrical Version.
General Ashdown says "Let's get one thing straight.", walks around Connor, pulls a weapon and says "I don't believe in prophecy." he cocks his gun, aims at Connor and goes on "Not only one can rewrite the future in a heartbeat. Are we on the same page?". John turns to the General and answers "Yeah...we're on the same page."
Ashdown secures his weapon and says "Good!" twice. He then walks back to the table and begins the dialogue also contained in the TV("...what the hell are you doing here?") with "So soldier...".
Marcus goes to a car and opens the door while Blair takes off her top and bra to wash herself. We see her topless for a brief moment before she puts some water on herself and covers her breasts with her hands. She turns around and looks at marcus who then turns around himself. Both look at each other until Blair puts her clothes back on while Marcus shuts the car door.
As mentioned, not much "R footage" is seen here, but at least the scene puts a little emphasis on the relationship between the two and makes future events a bit more plausible.
Marcus stabs the screwdriver all the way into the guys shoulder before releasing him. The man screams in pain.
The guy pulls the screwdriver out of his shoulder.
After he heard the gun cocking, Marcus uses the man as a shield while another one fires at him. The guy takes several hits and the bullets exit his back. The TV continues as Marcus throws the dead man to the ground.
Another shot of Marcus hitting the man in the face with the butt of his gun, accompanied by an appropriate sound effect and an additional hit in the face.
The TV shows Blair shooting while in the DC she is shooting from the off and we see the bullet hitting the man in the leg. Also, the shot of the man holding his leg is arranged differently in both versions.
The scene is a bit longer in the TV.
The shots of Marcus sitting in front on the fire and Blair throwing another log on the fire before joining him are shown in reversed order in the DC. Also, the shot of Marcus begins a second earlier in the DC and the shot of Marcus and Blair is longer (6,5 Sec.), with her looking at him and asking "Thinking about your past?" before looking into the fire again.
(Partly) Alternative shot
In the TV the shot starts with Blair looking at Marcus while he still looks into the fire. He then looks at her and this sequence is over (2 Sec.).
In the DC she turns to him while he already looks at her. The scene continues as Blair says "Do you know what i have learned, Marcus? That you can focus on what is lost...or you can fight...for what is left." Cut to Marcus (27 Sec.).
Of course the scene is longer in the DC.
The refugee is gunned down from behind. The front shot starts a bit earlier; the bullets exit the mans chest. The TV continues as he slides down the barrier.
(rather obvious cut in the TV).
Connors speech is extended in the DC, with shots of the resistance fighters cut into it.
Connor: "I once knew a woman, who told the people to fear the future. That the end was coming. That all would be lost. Nobody wanted to hear her truth. Society locked her away. That woman was Sarah Connor...my mother. Now we know that what she predicted has all come to pass."
Both versions are showing different shots of the resistance members listening to the speech.
(part of the shot from the TV has already been used in the DC at 1:16:52 ).
No time difference
The T-800 rams the concrete block into Marcus a second time, Marcus is thrown back and slides down the column.
The T-800 hits Marcus two more times, shattering the concrete block in the process.
Connor hits Marcus' ribcage one more time before breaking down exhausted.
Connor gives Marcus another shock to reanimate him.
During the ending credits of the DC the team responsible for the Director's Cut is mentioned (not included in the counting of the cuts made).