Terminator 2: Judgment Day Skynet Edition (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus needs your clothes, boots and another edition of T2 on Blu-ray...
‘Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.’ - Sarah Connor
Terminator 2 is a movie that’s so engrained in movie DNA that every time I see it, I’m transported back to the first time I saw it in the cinema back in 1991. From the Carolco logo, through the Sarah Connor voice over, the laser blasts of future war and right up to that spectacular fire filled theme and the T-800 coming through the flames. The opening still makes me as excited as I was when it first blew my brain out of the back of head in that darkened cinema seventeen years ago.
As the movie sails along with James Cameron’s mastery, pretty much every big moment remains as effective and amazing as it’s always been. The bike chase is still a sight to behold, the massive Cyberdyne shoot out is still the blueprint to the mayhem I try to recreate when mucking about with Grand Theft Auto and even though some of the CGI work is a little dated, everything the T-1000 does is still the ultimate nemesis for Arnie’s T-800 despite Terminator 3’s lesser TX attempt to outdo it.
The more I’ve watched T2 over the years, the more I respond to smaller and far more dramatic (than the genre dictates) moments. I adore how James Cameron plays on the audience's knowledge of the first movie, allowing the Terminators to simply do their jobs when locating their target and in pretty much the same way it played out in the original, rather than going with something new for the sake of it. The John Connor depiction of just being a kid is a bold move too. In fact the entire set up with Sarah in a psychiatric hospital and how John’s life is affected because of that is a far more rewarding experience than the mother and son moving from town to town preparing for the war which I probably expected at the time.
Sarah Connor’s journey up to the point where she almost becomes a Terminator herself has always been great, but on this viewing I really bought into that moment and the weight it carries for the larger story. The subtle approach to John’s ever evolving relationship with the Terminator is beautifully acknowledged in one of the many Sarah Connor voiceovers and Miles Bennet Dyson’s involvement in this story is always one that I’ve found incredibly well portrayed and really is an unsung element of what makes T2 as good as it is.
A large portion of the success of this movie is pinned on Schwarzenegger’s massive shoulders and rightly so. Movie icons don’t really get much bigger than Arnie in this Terminator performance, but T2 is still far, far more than just another Arnie action movie (even though, watching T2 as just that is still as effective). Terminator 2 is a genuine masterpiece, a modern day classic, the godfather of modern science fiction big budget event movies, the absolute blueprint of how to handle a sequel (even though I still don’t think it’s better than the original) but even with all that taken into account, it’s still more than that. Something about it just continues to resonate and despite its lacklustre sequels and modern sensibilities shying away from some of the grittier elements of what makes a good Terminator movie, T2 still shines like a beacon and easily terminates any pretenders to its throne.
The best thing to say about this new Blu-ray release is that the image is far cleaner than it ever was on DVD and probably more than I expected. The worst thing to say it that it’s kind of un-extraordinary.
At first I was extremely happy with how everything looked. There is hardly any grain, even in the darker moments, colours are bold and bright (especially in Sarah’s dream/nightmare) and generally everything was a noticeable improvement over what I was used to. The lighting is represented better. The sun never felt so warm in T2 and the metallic blues of the night shots also have a nice glow to them as well. The desert scenes do the best job at showing off the transfer, with deep blue skies and the HD quality giving a nice depth to the image.
However, on closer inspection, this all feels like a bit of a ruse because despite the cleanness of the image, the detail levels are incredibly mediocre for an HD transfer. For starters skin textures are all but nonexistent, especially when compared to many modern movie releases and generally nothing really feels noticeably better on the detail front, whether it is locations, sets or props and the image can feel a little soft in places because of it.
Being thoroughly bathed in HD transfers at this point, I might be a little too picky or maybe T2 has always had a pretty great transfer anyway, so the chasm to this HD transfer wasn’t as vast as other titles or maybe I just wanted a little bit more from a movie that sits high on my all time favourite lists, either way, this is a good enough transfer to be considered an acceptable upgrade but I’m still left wanting (and expecting) more.
This is quite a dynamic and spacious 6.1 track which I had a few issues with. To start with the jump from clear, level dialogue to big loud booms and bangs in the action was sometimes too much of a leap. Jumping for the remote to adjust the volume and tone it back got to be a little annoying from time to time. Also despite many of the sound effects like chains clanging, beeps of computer keys or wind chimes popping up in speakers and sounding more realised that they ever had before, sometimes felt a little forced or unnecessary as a surround sound show off rather than a layered addition to the atmospherics. Also I concur with Chris’s comment in his review about the odd lip sync issue as well.
With those issues aside, this is actually quite an impressive track for the most part. Everything is clear and well placed. The score is spread through the speaker system nicely and without the track ever becoming exceptional, this does a great job and gets across all of the subtleties of Terminators 2’s mix.
After sitting through the slow, but not painfully slow, Skynet themed load up screens (that were cool on the first T2 DVD release, but are getting a little dull now), we are presented with a number of option on the top of the screen.
Working from left to right, we have our staple T2 selection of what version we want to watch. So take your pick from the Theatrical Release, the Special Edition and the usual hidden Extended Special Edition, which you’ll need to enter the secret code to access (see the Easter Eggs section of the site for more details).
'Browse Timeline' is your scene selection, and moving onto 'Sensory Control', you get your pick of audio, subtitles and commentaries. One of which is by James Cameron and William Wisher, which is the usual great Cameron commentary, and the second is the Production Commentary by multiple participants that has been on many of the previous DVD releases. Also in here is a D-Box motion code option for anyone with a vibrating chair, a THX optimizer and the T2 Thx Trailer (00:47 HD).
Moving onto 'Interactive Modes', this is broken down into the following;
'Visual Implants' (Special Edition Only): These are the picture-in-picture elements of the release which didn’t strike me as having anything new from the previous umpteen releases of T2, just presented in a new way.
'Trivia Data Overlay' (Special Edition Only): Gives you text commentary and trivia information while watching the film. Choosing this option will automatically activate the 'Production Data Overlay' and 'Linked Data Modules' options as well.
'Production Data Overlay' (Special Edition Only): Allows you to view specific shot methodologies during the film independently of the other features.
'Linked Data Modules' (Special Edition Only): This option branches out from the film at various intervals to show short behind the scenes sequences independently of the other features.
'Source Code' (Special Edition Only): Will display the original script in time with the film. This option automatically engages the 'Schematics' feature.
'Schematics' (Special Edition Only): Will allow you to view original storyboard sequences in time with the film independently of the other features.
'Query Mode' (Special Edition Only): This is a text-based quiz that runs along with the film and asks you to answer multiple choice questions about on-screen events. I got bored pretty quickly with this one.
'Processor Tests' (Special Edition Only): This mode allows you to play Terminator-themed minigames. These take the form of sliding puzzles, timed combinations and the like. Again, pretty boring.
I’ll say at this stage that I had a few glitches with the Interactive Modes. Beyond the fact you have to remember to change the selection to ‘activate’ for it to actually start up within the movie, I had a handful of times where the drop down menu selection didn’t disappear after I made a selection or the bars stayed on screen. I didn’t have to restart the disc or anything extreme like that and after a quick play it disappeared but still, it was a little glitchy from time to time.
Moving onto 'Ancillary Data', 'Visual Campaigns' (08:16 HD): This includes the teaser trailer, two theatrical trailers, a trailer for the Special Edition DVD release and the THX trailer, all presented in 1080p. I am still totally in love with the original teaser trailer, even if it still looks like an eighties music video.
'Terminated Data' (03:17 HD): These are just the two deleted scenes, which appear in the hidden extended edition of the film. The first, 'T-1000's Search', comes with optional commentary from James Cameron and Robert Patrick, while the second, 'Future Coda', includes commentary by Stan Winston, Linda Hamilton and James Cameron.
'Dyson Protocol List' (01:48 HD) is just the credits for the disc production team and Skynet access, or BD live is the final selection.
My feelings on all these features are lukewarm. The fact, I’ve seen, heard and enjoyed most of these many times before in one shape or form took any new enjoyment I may have got from this release away. Yes, it’s nice to have it all in one package, yes a newcomer to T2 on Blu-ray will probably take a lot away from it and it’s a little quicker and friendlier on Blu-ray, but at this stage I would much prefer one massively overlong, well produced documentary for the future releases of T2 (and there will be more) as opposed to the constant dropping in and out of the movie to watch/listen to interviews or whatever else.
T2 is a classic but somehow the excitement of getting yet another edition for my collection is a little lost on me this time out. It’s a good Blu-ray edition for anyone going in fresh and for anyone with no prior knowledge of the editions that came before but for me, I’m over the menu designs and the Skynet themes, I’ve seen these features too many times. On a side note, but still important, I pray for the day T2 gets a decent cover as opposed to what they’ve tried to pass off as box art on the last few versions in all regions.
As for the movie itself, there’s enough going on in the AV department for this to be a consideration. T2 has certainly never looked or sounded this good in previous editions, even if there's still room for improvement. So if it’s been a while since you've seen James Cameron’s masterpiece, you’re in for a treat. If like me, this is just another in a long line of T2 editions, this will merely add to your ever growing collection.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 1st June 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 English, Dolby Headphone 2.0 English, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio 5.1 French, DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 German, Dolby Headphone 2.0 German
Subtitles: English, French, German, Turkish
Extras: Audio Commentaries, BonusView PiP, Deleted Scenes, Trailers, BD-Live
Easter Egg: Yes
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 156 minutes
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