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TERMINATOR 2: SKYNET EDITION
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton
Director: James Cameron
Audio: DTS HD 6.1, Dolby Digital EX 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Lions Gate
Features: See Review
Length: 152 Minutes
Release Date: May 19, 2009

ďHasta la vista, baby.Ē

Film ***1/2

Few films, let alone sequels, have been able to exceed peopleís expectations like Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Here was the follow up to one of the most popular sci-fi action films of all time, The Terminator, and it ended up being completely superior to its predecessor in so many unimaginable ways. Looking back, I think itís very fitting to call it The Dark Knight of the early 90s.

When the film came out in the summer of 1991, audiences went in simply wanting to see Arnold Schwarzenegger return in his signature role. We all knew we were in for something really good, especially with Arnold playing a heroic terminator as opposed to the heartless killing machine he was in the first movie. But what the moviegoing public did not expect was to experience a pure revolution of cinematic special effects, just one of the many tricks director James Cameron had up his sleeve in his attempt to astonish every ticket buyer.

Eighteen years later, T2 has become not only the definitive film in the Terminator franchise, but a standard for all sci-fi action films to live up to. And as already indicated, itís simply one of the best sequels of all time!

By now, the plot of the movie should be familiar to just about everyone, so Iím going to keep plot summary down to a minimum. Picking up after the events of the first movie, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is now in a mental hospital, having believed to have gone insane. She insists that on a future date, mankind will be nearly wiped out by Skynetís army of machines on what will be known as Judgment Day.

As for son John Connor (Edward Furlong), who Skynet tried to prevent from being conceived in the first movie, is now ten years old and living under the care of foster parents. Resenting his mother, feeling that all the talk he got about being a future military leader was all a lie, John has already become a rebellious type and constantly in trouble with the law. He spends most of his days avoiding his foster parents and stealing money from ATMs via stolen credit cards.

But the past is about to repeat itself to benefit the future (yes, that was corny but I went with it anyway), as two Terminators from the future have arrived in LA with two different missions. A T-800 model (Schwarzenegger) has arrived with the intention of protecting young Connor. In another part of the city, a much more advanced model, the T-1000, has surfaced with orders to wipe the boy out.

What follows from this point on is a remarkably tense, fast paced, awe inspiring feast of exciting entertainment. Though the film runs well over two hours, it goes by like a speeding bullet. Cameron has become a master of epic action sequences that never let up, and the ones in T2 are some of the best ever committed to film.

As much as I admire the movie, and love it, the one thing that keeps me from giving it a full four star rating is one aspect Iíve never been able to warm up to. Iíve always found Sarah Connor to be completely unlikable and over the top. I understand that the purpose was to show how much different she is from when we last saw her, but her consistently crazy and angry demeanor is the one thing I never look forward to when revisiting the movie. The scene where Sarah snaps at her son after he and the Terminator break her out of the hospital has never made sense to me.

That one complaint aside, everything else in Terminator 2 is simply flawless. Schwarzenegger is nothing short of monumental in his career-defining role (no one on the planet sounds more cool when saying ďHasta la vista, babyĒ), and Robert Patrick creates one of the most chilling villains in movie history. And I donít even need to delve into the greatness of the special effects. If youíve seen the film, you know what Iím talking about and if you havenít gotten around to seeing it, you are in for one hell of a visual treat.

Say what you will about James Cameron, the man is a true cinematic innovator. Heís been one since he became a filmmaker, and T2 represents a big turning point in his directorial career. Visually spectacular and phenomenally action packed, it remains a powerhouse of a movie that demands a revisit every so often!

Video ***1/2

I actually bought the first Blu-ray release of this movie, at a very cheap price, a few days before I found out about the loaded re-release. I eventually sold my copy and held out for what I knew would include a better handling of the presentation. T2 has been through several stages of evolution since the birth of DVD, and though the presentation has gotten better over the years, this new Blu-ray contains the absolute best look youíre ever going to find, unless another edition comes along. Itís also a lot better than the first Blu-ray release! The edge of the picture is a lot better defined this time around, and the level of image detail is most spectacular. Given the amount of content they were able to fit on just one disc, Iím surprised the picture quality is this good. Thereís probably room for a small bit of improvement, but overall Iím more than pleased with this presentation.

Audio ****

The previous Blu-ray was one of the first movies to grace the format, and the DTS mix there is NOTHING compared to the vastly improved 6.1 DTS HD mix, which pretty much  makes everything in this movie sound more incredible than ever! And I thought the DVD release was as far as strong surround sound capabilities could soar. Man, I found myself being blown away just as much as when I first saw the movie in theaters. Gun fire, explosions, the epic score and virtually all set pieces provide stunning moments of lossless sound. All I can advise you to do is pop the disc in and STRAP YOURSELF IN!

Features ****

Man, where to begin. Lions Gate set to create perhaps the most loaded Blu-ray release to hit the market, and though I havenít seen what every Blu-ray has to offer, I think they may have accomplished just that with this new Skynet Edition. For starters, we have THREE versions of the movie on ONE disc; the Theatrical Version, the Special Edition, and the Extended Special Edition (in order to access the third version, you will be asked to enter a code, which is 82997). As far as extras go, letís start with all the interactive goods, which include Visual Implants  (Picture-in-Picture), a Trivia Data Overlay, Production Data Overlay (Textual Information), Linked Data Modules (Branching Feature with Behind the Scenes Slideshows), Source Code (Screenplay shows with movie), Schematics (Storyboard mode), a Query Mode (Quiz) and Processor Tests (mini-games). There are also two commentary tracks; one with James Cameron and co-writer William Wisher, the second with multiple cast and crew members. And another section of the extras, Ancillary Data, includes several trailers and omitted scenes. Lastly, thereís Skynet Access, in which you can use BD Live to download and view additional content.

Summary:

After many, many grand incarnations on DVD, Terminator 2: Judgment Day has made its mark on the Blu-ray format with a vengeance. The new Skynet Edition from Lions Gate is a remarkable accomplishment of  the format in terms of how much content can be allowed on one disc. And what an ideal movie to make use of the concept! Definitely a must have!

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