Plot: What’s it about?
In 1984, a then relatively unknown director by the name of James Cameron made a film with rising star Arnold Schwarzenegger. Aptly made for a man of Arnold’s “proportions”, The Terminator became an instant hit and at the same time, a cult classic. While the dark nature of the film was intended, and even after the financial success of the film, the creative forces that be found that it would be more popular and more profitable to make Arnold a good guy (cyborg). Like the motto of the film “The Future is Not Set”, seven years later the sequal was turned out with the same cast as the original…well, most of the same cast. While Michael Biehn starred as the protaganist, Reese, in the original, the theatrical cut of the sequal found him suprisingly absent (of course, he did die in the first one, so that might have been a key). Aside from Batman and Dick Tracy, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was one of the first “must see” summer blockbusters of the time. Well, it’s been nearly 10 years since then and a lot has changed. Though the film featured state of the art special effects at the time (and they are still considered to be some of the best around), nearly every film has similar effects now. But the groundbreaker was this second of many collaborations between Arnold and Director James Cameron.
While The Terminator has a lot of influences in the future, the movie is set in the present. Exactly seven years after the first installment ended, this one takes up. Sarah Conner has now been committed to a mental institution due to her constant predictions of “Judgment Day” that was supposed to occur on August 29, 1997 (six years in the future at the time). She has had a child from her one night with Reese by the name of John. The story centers around John, as in the future he was a great military leader responsible for the rebellion against the robots. Only a teenager, John Conner (Edward Furlong) is more at home stealing money and hanging out at the galleria. The movie opens as Arnold is beamed into the present day. What we overlook is that all the models of that terminator look like Arnold, so it’s not just a coincidence that it’s the same machine…because it is! Arriving naked as a jaybird, he strolls into a local biker bar looking for clothes. After roughing up a few of the local rednecks, he emerges with his signature Gargoyles sunglasses and hops off on his new motorcycle. At the same time, we meet the infamous T-1000 (Robert Patrick) who is a newer model of terminator, capable of changing it’s shape to match that of any being it’s shape and size.
Both of the terminators share one thing in common…one is to kill John Conner, the other to protect him from the other terminator. Being machines, they never change and they exist for a single purpose…one to kill, the other to protect. Now finding John is not hard, he all but leaves a trail of paint, and after the T-1000 (disguised as a police officer) flashes John’s picture a few times, it’s not long before the first confrontation between the two terminators is met. Barely escaping the mall alive, it’s one of the more memorable chase scenes that lead into the sewers (nice sewers, though) of Los Angeles, and it’s then that we see that this new terminator is one tough cookie. The rest of the movie is literally spent on the run. After rescuing Sarah from her mental prision, the three form some bonds, and it’s not long before Sarah accepts that Arnold is not there to kill her, but protect her and her son from the T-1000. On somewhat of a subplot, a man named Miles Dyson (Joe Morton) has founded Cyberdyne Systems based on the two items that were left from Schwarzenegger’s previous terminator. A robotic arm and a broken microchip are all that was left of the previous cyborg, but it has jumpstarted research that leads to what could become Judgment Day.
Fleeing to Mexico to get some help and arms, the group race back to Los Angeles when they find out that the microchip and robotic arm exist. By destroying Cyberdyne systems, it’s the one way to insure that the future that the terminators come from, will not exist. An ending that lasts about 45 minutes, starts in the Cyberdyne office building where they go to get the future technology to have it destroyed, this leads to a chase down the Los Angeles highway and finally into a steel mill where either one or both of the terminators will meet their fate. Sporting almost 20 minutes of deleted scenes this edition of Terminator 2: Judgment Day closes a lot of gaps over the previous version. While extra scenes with Reese and various others do make it intot the film, I feel that this version should have been the standard one all along. It’s Cameron at his finest, as well as Arnold. For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, this is the definitive version to own (no telling if it will be the last, as there have been 6 different versions on Laser Disc). This, of course, gives new meaning to the phrase…”I’ll be back.”
Video: How does it look?
If there’s one constant in the universe it’s that every time a new home video format is released, this movie will be among the first to be on it. Face it, it’s a fact. The good news is that if you’re a die hard fan of the “Terminator” movies, they’re all available on a HD format (“The Terminator” and “Terminator 2” on Blu-ray and “Terminator 3” on HD DVD). That said what of the picture? The previous Extreme edition was mastered from a 1080p print and that was four years ago. This new Blu-ray version contains this same print and it doesn’t look at all bad. Though I’ve seen the movie on so many different formats, it’s hard to really tell them all apart. The movie is 15 years old now, and that’s a fact. Naturally no matter how much they do to the transfer, it just simply won’t look as good as a movie shot in the present, but all that aside I was pretty impressed with the visuals on “Terminator 2”. The 2.35:1 HD transfer does look good with striking contrast and no edge enhancement to speak of. I did notice that a few of the nighttime scenes were a tad bit soft around the edges, but compare that with the rest of the movie and it’s not that big of a deal. Colors are sharp, bright and vivid throughout and try as I might, I really couldn’t find a lot wrong with the way this looks. It’s easily the best the movie has ever looked on a home video format and as such, is an easy recommendation.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the video is on par with the previous Blu-ray release, the audio is the main thing that’s different with this “Skynet Edition.” We finally get a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack and it makes its presence known very early and rarely lets up. “Terminator 2” has always been known for superior sound and this Blu-ray finally gives us what we were missing. Soincs are vastly improved and we get a more active, robust sound stage. Vocals are still strong as they were with previous editions but the sheer amount of action taking place in the surrounds is what really made the difference to me. Everything seems bumped up a notch or two and it really does heighten the movie-watching experience. For those that have been clamoring for an uncompressed audio track will be in heaven here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
There’s no shortage of supplemental material that exists for “Terminator 2” and this “Skynet” edition does a pretty good job of compiling it all into one disc. The previous Blu-ray disc contained the two commentary tracks (here as well), but not much else. We also get some six minutes of deleted scenes as well as a few trailers for the film. Where this disc really excels is with the Blu-ray supplements and the different modes that you can enjoy with this movie. These are all sort of playing off one another in terms of functionality and the “pop up video” factoids are a bit stale, but the bonus view modes really do make this a worthwhile viewing experience. You can view the film’s screenplay, get a running visual commentary with Cameron and crew and get some production notes from the crew of the film. Suffice it to say that no matter how many versions of this movie that we’ll get on a home format, they do try to push the envelope in terms of what’s possible. Still no Guns and Roses video for “You will be mine” though. Maybe someday…