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Terminator 2: Judgment Day(1991)
The Terminator returns in this explosive action-adventure spectacle. Now he's one of the good guys, sent back in time to protect John Connor, the boy destined to lead the freedom fighters of the future. Sarah Connor, John's mother, a quintessential survivor has been institutionalized for her warning of the nuclear holocaust she knows is inevitable. Together, the threesome must find a way to stop the ultimate enemy-the T-1000, the most lethal Terminator ever created.
For more about Terminator 2: Judgment Day and the Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray release, see Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 31, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron, William Wisher, Jr.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton (I), Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boen, Joe Morton
» See full cast & crew
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray Review
My own Terminator!
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 31, 2009
This is gonna blow 'em all away.
In the entire history of motion pictures, few, if any, sequels hold as many distinctions as James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Perhaps the biggest follow-up ever to a modestly-budget film, T2 arrived in theaters on July 3, 1991 to intense scrutiny, incredible hype, and colossal expectations. The film aced its many tests, delivering a perfectly-balanced story, groundbreaking special effects, and wonderful performances, all the while adding to the lore of the Terminator universe established in the first film without sacrificing its integrity. By 1991 The Terminator had become a fan favorite, not to mention the film that would mark the beginning of a string of mega-hits helmed by Director James Cameron that would carry him to nearly unparalleled heights as one of the industry's leading and most bankable directors. Still, it was 1991's Terminator 2 that would solidify his career and pave the way for his effort on Titanic, the film that would sink all box-office records, still holding that distinction more than a decade after its theatrical release. Of all the films in his repertoire, though, T2 may be the most important. Though not his highest grossing film or perhaps even his best (rivaled by 1986's Aliens and the original The Terminator), Cameron's T2 will always be remembered as a film that redefined the summer movie experience by delivering dazzling and innovative special effects, an intensely-paced and incredibly smart story, and featuring Hollywood legend Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator) in his career-defining role.
In the future, machine wages war against man. Controlled by a powerful supercomputer called SkyNet, a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 (or T-800) Terminator (Schwarzenegger) was sent back in time to the year 1984 to eliminate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of the future leader of the human resistance, John Connor. That Terminator having failed, SkyNet again sends a Terminator back in time, this one a more advanced model known as a T-1000 (Robert Patrick, Bridge to Terabithia), to kill John (Edward Furlong, American History X) while still a young boy. The resistance is again able to send a warrior to protect its leader in the past, this time a reprogrammed T-800 model, the same formidable machine SkyNet sent in 1984, but this time outmatched by the T-1000, a machine capable of morphing itself into most any organic matter of similar size, manipulating its structure to form crude stabbing and blunt weapons, and virtually instant regeneration from injury. With Sarah, John, and the T-800 on the run from the seemingly unstoppable force, the decision is made to not hide from the future but to confront it directly in hopes of preventing the rise of the machines.
With Terminator 2, Director James Cameron delivers the quintessential summer blockbuster Action picture, a reference-grade piece that captures the imagination, tells a quality story, pours on the action, features infectious dialogue, captures plenty of raw emotion, continues on with the legacy of its predecessor, and breaks new ground with its then-state-of-the-art special effects that still hold up some 17 years after the film's debut. The film also -- smartly -- walks a fine line between grisly violence and tame action segments. T2 never shies away from strongly visual and graphically-staged violence. Still, it never crosses the boundary of taste, lending to the film not necessarily a family-friendly feel, but rather a moderately safe one where the action takes on a splendid realism yet refrains from displaying it with absolutely no reservations. Just as importantly, the action is loud, expertly staged, and features plenty of variety in the weapons, locations, and choreography along the way.
Though primarily an Action film, Terminator 2 delivers more than just a rain of bullets and explosions. The film features a first-class story around which the violence is framed, lending heft, importance, and immediacy to the action. Though time travel quandaries often make for passable-at-best and head-scratching-at-worst material, T2 manages to make a complex issue work easily within the context of the story. Also of note is the wonderful score courtesy of Brad Fiedel, his music seemingly itself telling the story as it unfolds. The theme that plays over the opening credits at once both haunts and entices, perfectly synching with the film's themes of urgency and the terrible destruction that awaits should the day be lost.
If Terminator 2 features one identifiable flaw, it comes not with the film itself but rather with its proliferation into popular culture. There comes a time where a film reaches a saturation point, a point that sees it lose some of its luster and grandeur not because the movie has been found to be a lesser picture than originally critiqued, but because of simple sensory overload. The film has reached a point where it has become the franchise, where the first film, and the third for sure, seem mere afterthoughts, though the first is, arguably, the superior film. With the pending release of Terminator Salvation, one may only hope that, much like "The Sarah Connor Chronicles", it will breathe some much-needed life into and offer a fresh perspective on the Terminator universe. One area where the home video market has indeed benefited T2 is in its ability to showcase the film in an extended cut that, much like the longer edition of Cameron's Aliens, adds to the story line and fleshes out some additional details without interrupting the flow of the film.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray, Video Quality
Terminator 2 again morphs onto Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. T2, inherently, does not seem to offer the potential for dazzling, eye-catching visuals. The film is generally dark and steely in appearance and with a rather flat look about it. Still, the movie holds up well when taken into proper consideration. This VC-1 encoded "Skynet Edition" seems to have more in the way of noise reduction applied to it versus the previous release, but it also looks a bit sharper, offers a slightly improved range of visible detail, and looks a bit darker in comparison to the original Blu-ray release. When watching the film -- whether during the exterior shots of each Terminator's arrival to the past, the late-night interior scenes inside the Pescadero State Hospital, or the interior shots of the Cyberdyne building -- this transfer reflects the heavily blue-tinted and, frankly, visually uninteresting look of the film well. As noted earlier, such scenes lack much in the way of depth, texture, and fine detail, and at times looks a bit soft. Daytime exterior shots or brightly-lit interior shots, particularly those inside the Galleria or partway through the film as Sarah, John, and the T-800 Terminator travel towards Enrique's home, offer more in the way of visible details, textures, and depth. Flesh tones never veer too far away from "normal," and blacks hold up fairly well, though sometimes appearing slightly too gray and bright, and occasionally meshing with the many dark blue color schemes. The transfer appears rather smooth in many scenes; grain is not heavy at all, and the print exhibits the occasional speckle. At the end of the day, though, one may wonder whether this edition looks "better" than the last. That's a matter of subjective opinion, though there is no doubt that this edition has seen more in the way of noise reduction but also enjoys a bit more in the way of clarity, sharpness, and fine detail.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Terminator 2 features a plethora of audio options, highlighted by the inclusion of a DTS-HD MA 6.1 lossless soundtrack. The film's futuristic battle sequence always serves as a potentially reference-grade sonic moment, and while it's not quite up to the level of excellence as more recent mixes, this lossless edition serves up wonderful clarity, amazing directionality, and rumbling bass, bringing to the sequence a new life and sonic excitement never before heard in the home. The track throws sound effects all over the soundstage throughout the course of the movie; they each play crisply and distinctly, though sometimes sounding like they don't quite belong where the track is placing them. Still, this one is a blast to listen to. Bass devastates the listening area in all the action scenes. Very impressive is a battle scene featuring the T-800, Sarah, and John firing a model 1911 .45 and a 12-gauge shotgun inside a closed elevator at the T-1000 above. Not only do the shots present room-shaking bass and power, but the reverberations of the discharges in the tiny enclosed space reflect the cramped location and, most importantly, draw the listener into the action by placing them inside the elevator with the characters. The track also features plenty of atmosphere, with many small nuances finding their way into the track that seemed to have been lost in the shuffle on previous VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, and even Blu-ray editions of the film. Rounded out by strong dialogue reproduction, this "Skynet Edition" of Terminator 2 represents the best the film has ever sounded for home listening.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This six-disc "Complete Collector's Set" of Terminator 2 comes impressively packaged in a nearly life-sized replica of a model T-800 Terminator head. The box measures 14.5" in height, 8" in width, and 8.25" in depth, that size practically identical to the head contained inside. The skull appears rather sturdy for its intended purpose as a display piece, though would seemingly break if handled too roughly or dropped from several feet, knocked over by a cat roaming the top of a bookshelf, for instance. According to the package, the skull's eyes glow red and sound effects from the movie play when a switch located on the bottom of the unit is pushed to the "on" position. Unfortunately, the sample used for this review does not work. Neither the included three AAA batteries nor a fresh set resulted in any sort of function. Nevertheless, the base includes a slip-out tray that may store all six discs in the set, stacked one atop another, should one choose not to leave them in the included DVD-style case that also houses all six discs stacked one on top of the other. This set contains the standard single-disc "Skynet Edition" Blu-ray release, a digital copy disc, the two-disc "Extreme Edition" DVD set, and the Two-disc "Ultimate Edition" DVD release, the DVD releases each packed with supplements. Below are the reviews of the supplements found on the Blu-ray disc and the exclusive digital copy disc.
Update: Thanks go out to reader jshep5 for pointing out that, in addition to flipping the power switch to the "on" position on the bottom of the base, a small, circular button on the side of the base must also be depressed to activate the glowing eyes and sound effects. The test unit functions flawlessly.
Skynet Edition Blu-ray
Terminator 2 travels onto Blu-ray packed with a decent but somewhat underwhelming selection of mostly recycled supplements, all of them squeezed onto the same 50 gigabyte disc that houses the feature film. The menu is also cumbersome to navigate and only remains on-screen for several seconds before vanishing, in many cases not allowing viewers enough time to figure out which option they would like to select. The disc begins with a pair of commentary tracks, the first dubbed "Production Commentary" and hosted by Creative Supervisor Van Ling. The track features a hodgepodge of participants, recorded separately, sharing a wealth of information about the film. Each is identified atop the screen with a title, name, and photo. Track two, labeled "Writer/Director Commentary," features Writer William Wisher and Director James Cameron. A more traditional track but not necessarily more entertaining, Cameron and Wisher offer plenty of pertinent and interesting information about the shoot, the locations, the scriptwriting process, the acting, and most any other movie-related tidbits. Both tracks come highly recommended.
Interactive Modes features several picture-in-picture options. To access these features, users must first select the feature from the menu, and then return to the top of the menu to "activate" it, a needless extra step in what is already a cumbersome menu navigation system. The following summaries of the pieces are taken directly from the disc menu. Visual Implants allows users to "view picture-in-picture video about the making of the film during the feature." Trivia Data Overlay provides "text commentary and trivia during the film." Production Data Overlay allows viewers to see "specific shot methodologies during the film." Linked Data Modules "branch[es] out from the film to [allow users to] view behind-the-scenes slideshows with audio." Source Code allows users to "view original storyboard sequences in sync with the film." Query Mode provides a "T2 trivia quiz during the film." Finally, Processor Tests allows users to "test [their] skills with minigames during the film."
Ancillary Data begins with a selection of 1080p teaser and theatrical trailers for the film (1:17, 1:40, 2:05) followed by trailers for the special edition version of the film (1080p, 2:27) and the T2 THX trailer (1080i, 0:47). Also included are two deleted scenes, T-1000's Search (1080p, 1:27) with optional commentary by Robert Patrick and James Cameron, and Future Coda (1080p, 1:50) with optional commentary by Stan Winston, James Cameron, and Linda Hamilton. Also included are the Blu-ray disc production credits. Moving along, Skynet Access is a BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) feature that was unavailable at time of writing. Finally, this disc is D-Box enabled.
Sampled on a second generation iPod touch, the video features massive blocking in dark backgrounds but otherwise presents a fair presentation with adequate detail and color. On the other hand, the soundtrack impresses in context, with gunfire in particular packing a nice wallop while music and dialogue play clearly.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Terminator 2 leaves behind it a lasting legacy as both the cornerstone film in what is now a four-film series and as a benchmark Action picture that remains nearly as fresh and enticing as the day it was released to theaters. Though some films both before and after its release top it on the intensity of the action, the merit of the story, or the quality of the special effects, few capture the entire spectrum and excel across the board quite like Terminator 2. Oddly, the film's one negative is its massive proliferation, seemingly having reached a breaking point where overexposure and countless home video releases seem to have -- slightly -- lessened the film's magic. Unfortunately, this Blu-ray release features more of the same. Included is a decent video presentation that, while different in several areas from its predecessor, offers neither a substantial upgrade nor a sharp decline in quality; an excellent lossless soundtrack; and plenty of recycled extras making up the bulk of the bonus presentation. As to this "Complete Collector's Set," fans should be satisfied with the presentation. Though the DVD releases seem superfluous, they make for a nice bonus to the nuts-and-bolts of the collection, namely the Blu-ray disc, digital copy, and collectible statue. No doubt T2 will see yet another re-release somewhere down the road, but until then, serious fans should be placated by this impressive collectible release. Highly recommended.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Other Editions
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Terminator 2: Judgment Day Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Blu-ray Producer Van Ling Talks T2 Skynet Edition - May 11, 2009
The new editions of 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' on Blu-ray (the Skynet Edition and the Complete Collector's Set), which street May 19, push the envelope of the high-def format. The producer of these releases, authoring veteran Van Ling, discussed some of the challenges ...
• New Terminator 2 Releases Confirmed (UPDATED) - February 23, 2009
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has announced that they will release 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Skynet Edition' to Blu-ray on May 19th. Additionally, Lionsgate will release the 'Limted Edition T2 Complete Collector's Set', a six disc set which will feature the ...
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