Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the most celebrated sequels in the history of film. T2’s seamlessly blends strong acting, memorable set pieces and awe-striking computer generated visuals. What makes the film truly memorable, however, is its magnificent writing that juxtaposes a high adrenaline action movie plot about killer robots with the very human story about how family always comes together when survival is on the line. T2 was released nearly two decades ago and in that time no other film of its kind – including the tepidly received Terminator 3 – has been able to hurdle the bar T2 set. Now that Terminator 4: Salvation has been released, it only makes sense to release Terminator 2 concurrently on Blu-ray to gin up nostalgia.
If you’re late to the party, the plot of Terminator 2 is similar to the first Terminator where the machines of the future send back one assassin machine to kill the future leader of the human resistance: John Connor. This time, however, John (Edward Furlong) is an adolescent instead of being unborn. Like in the first Terminator the crafty humans of the future send back one soldier to save John, except this time it’s another Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) that was captured and reprogrammed to protect instead of kill. Unfortunately, the assassin Terminator (Robert Patrick) is a more advanced model created from liquid metal that can shape-shift, which allows it to look like anyone as well as create lethal stabbing and cutting weapons out of its own body. Meanwhile, Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) – John’s mother and heroine of the first Terminator – is busy cooling her heels in a maximum security detention center after having tried to prevent the rise of the machines on her own by bombing a weapons factory. Slowly, but surely, the individual characters come together for mind-numbing thrill ride full of bullets, explosions and perfectly timed one-liners, proving once again that Terminators are a real bitch to kill.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Skynet Edition is the most comprehensive version of the film by large. The Blu-ray features both theatrical and extended versions of the movie, which should be a real treat for filmgoers that never saw the deleted scenes, which add all new depth to an already excellent film. Other features include quizzes, games and a storyboard-script mode that allows viewers to compare the final produced shots with the storyboard drawings. Film buffs will appreciate the audio commentary with director James Cameron and co-writer William Wisher as well as the commentary of 26 cast and crew members. With over 8 hours of interactive special features and 140 minutes of behind-the-scenes video and galleries, the Skynet Edition is the definitive incarnation of Terminator 2.
What’s excellent about T2 – and Cameron’s films as a whole – is its staying power. T2 can still hold its own against films made today. The action is still gripping. The acting is natural. The special effects still delight the eyes. T2 only shows its age in a few technology-heavy shots, like when the T1000 comes walking stiffly out of the burning wreckage of the semi early on. The comparison to modern films during these rare moments may elicit grimaces, but fortunately these sights are few and far between. The few other times the film may pull viewers out of the experience are when a stunt double is onscreen. Cameron couldn’t have anticipated such clarity in home viewing. Regrettably, the stunt doubles are obvious, especially the rider for Furlong. Also, depending on the quality of the television, the makeup effects can look downright fake. In many ways, the movie magic of Terminator 2 is sacrificed at the altar of technology, which is a shame. On the other hand, T2 has always been a film that was truly larger than life and if Blu-ray’s clarity brings audiences the feeling of “being there” who would really complain?