Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Robots > Time Travel > Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Blu-ray/Theatrical Version)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991/Lionsgate Blu-ray/Theatrical Cut)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Theatrical Film Cut: B



NOTE: This film has been issued in an upgraded Blu-ray edition, which you can read more about at this link:





Sequels are usually a disaster and so many bad remakes, sequels and retreads have befallen us in recent years that it is a great reminder how ambitious work continued into a second film can pay off.  James Cameron is as good at this as anyone and it is easy to forget how good Terminator 2: Judgment Day really is.  Sure, there are fans who will always prefer the first and especially since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic combo of Yul Brynner’s Westworld/Futureworld gunslinger and Charlton Heston’s well-armed scientist in The Omega Man as all-robot was evil in the original film, some though the twist here was a mistake.  However, it produces some interesting situations worth the change.


Taking place after the first film, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in an underrated performance) has been placed in a mental institute for both her perceived delusions and criminal “terrorist” activities.  Of course, she is telling the truth and her targets of destructions make total sense.  That leaves her son John Connor (Edward Furlong) with oaf uncle and problematic aunt, both bad parent/guardian figures, so he gets into his own brand of trouble.  However, another version of the original Terminator model has arrived and so has a skinnier visitor (Robert Patrick in a star-making role) both searching for him.  The new guy kills a police officer and steals his outfit.


It then becomes a race against time as to who will reach this future leader of the human resistance against a takeover by killer machines of artificial intelligence (fascist intelligence at that) and it is at this time that his mother is ready to break out of prison after many outrageous abuses and even sexual assaults.  The film is very readerly and has the usual beginning-middle-end booklike structure, so you do not need a lesson in the French New Wave to get what is happening, but that does not mean such a film has to be stupid and with an amazing amount of money at the time to work with, Cameron and company really put the bucks up on the screen.  He also proved the material from the first film had more mileage and that was proved again after he left and the underrated third film was produced and became a larger hit than the media seemed to want to acknowledge.


There are some truly great touches in the film in both the action and comedy department, but more than the picture or sound design, it is amazing how well the visual effects have endured.  I am specifically referring to the early digital work here too, which seems much richer and more solid than that of so many terrible, ugly and idiotic productions that look like the computer systems had less memory for the visual effects than anyone watching these disasters would have of the films themselves a few days later.  Though this is only the theatrical cut and was not as good as the later director’s cut, this cut is still very effective and is going to be an inaugural HD Blu-ray experience that will be the beginning of the end of standard DVD as the best format out there for thousands of people who see this particular title.


Originally produced by the late, great Carolco company (revived for a few projects recently as C2 Productions) who were willing to bankroll big budget actions films with some edge and point, Hollywood has become so politically correct and watered-down that they could not even do a sequel this great let alone something original.  This film in particular broke in digital visual effects and was a major high point for visual effects in general like nothing since the 1977 Star Wars, which begs the question why films and their effects look so bad, poor, tired, dark and cheap now.  Though nothing groundbreaking, the script and even the acting is pretty good for a genre film.  Even if you have seen the film before, including a few dozen times for fans, it is worth revisiting now, especially in this format at a time when Action and Sci-Fi films have become so bad.


The 2.35 X 1 1080p digital High Definition image is the best we have seen in Blu-ray so far and is up there with the better HD-DVDs we have seen to date.  Shot in Super 35mm film by Adam Greenberg, A.S.C., the film has been a favorite of action fans, Science Fiction fans, visual effects fans and home theater aficionados since it first arrived on home video.  When the VHS tapes were going for $100 and wearing out quickly, the 12” LaserDiscs with digital sound, widescreen, better picture quality and never wore out were going for $30.  Later, a massive 12” LaserDisc box was issued a few times with its faux leather shell slipcase and metallic “T2” logo (sliver, gold, then metallic blue) and sold well.  When Pioneer toyed with an analog 12” High Definition LaserDisc format in Japan, the title was (with Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct, both in their shorter theatrical cuts) initially offered.  Then came DVD and a basic DVD, a DTS DVD and an upgraded Extreme DVD without DTS, but a high definition version using Microsoft’s VC-1 compression now on HD-DVD.  That record gives it one of the greatest demo histories in home video history.  So how does this Blu-ray compare?


Very well.  This blows away all previous versions of the film on home video, though some might like the Extreme DVD with HD option, but the majority of the shots here are really good.  Yes, there is a little noise in places and some shots are detail challenged, but we suspect adding two audio commentaries cut into the picture a bit and otherwise, this is color, gray scale and Video Black consistent.  On plasma monitors, the black might flatten out detail, such as in the famous “war of the machines” opening.  I have seen an HD clip downloaded from the web of that very scene and can tell you though that was even sharper and more vivid.  This comes pretty close, but then that was not the entire film and it is easier to get away with a great clip or trailer than an entire copy of a film.  In any case, this picture delivers and until a 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray with this and the longer cut of the film surfaces, this will be a favorite demo yet again for a while to come just for the picture.


Then there is the sound.  A Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track is offered, but as with the old DTS DVD, a 5.1 DTS ES matrixed mix is also offered and it is the superior sound playback format.  The film originally came out just before the current multi-channel digital sound formats arrived and became one of the showcases for the CDS system, known as Cinema Digital Sound.  The last of four 70mm blow-ups featuring CDS with their print (one of three with a true 5.1 mix), Cameron and company delivered a truly groundbreaking sound mix with character and cleverness than mows over the gimmicky 5.1 mixes we get all the time in the genre now.  Truly creative and enduring, it remains one of the all-time great big screen sound mixes, in part because 70mm and not much smaller digital projection or smaller home theaters were the gold standard for the mix.  Add Brad Fidel’s on-the-money score and the combination of picture and sound are what action films can be all about.  For the new generation of HD playback, this will be a little gem that helps sell the format.


Extras are the two older audio commentary tracks for the theatrical cut, both excellent.  One is with Cameron and co-writer William Wisher, the other with 26 other cast & crew of the film.  That is nice, but I still think it cut into the quality a bit.  Still, that it looks this good on a 25GB disc is impressive and the THX Optimizer is even included to adjust your HDTV.  For Lionsgate and HD fans, this is a winner!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com