Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Skynet Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (11th July 2009).
The Film

The summer of 1991 was one of the most memorable for me as a film fan. I was 13 years-old and the fan fare and marketing hoopla for James Cameron's sci-fi action extravaganza "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" was in full swing. Ads were in constant loop on television, Guns N' Roses' tie-in music video was on MTV, the toys were lining the shelves of Toys 'r' Us (an oddity at the time considering the film was 'R' rated, an action figure line was usually issued for movies rated 'G' or 'PG'). "T2" was everywhere, the film's star Arnold Schwarzenegger was dutifully making the talk show rounds and prompting the hell out of the film. July of that year would become, for all intents and purposes "Terminator" month. Upon release the film did as expected... it was a bona-fide blockbuster. Earning an incredible amount of money at the box office, daily newspaper ads were taken out informing the public of how much money the film was making (a fairly cocky move on the part of the studio), but the film connected with many people, broke ground with its special effects and introduced a whole new audience to "The Terminator" who added a collection of new catch phrases to the lexicon.

It took 7 years after the release of "The Terminator" (1984) to unleash the sequel, an uncommon length of time as studios tend to capitalize on box office hits almost immediately fast-tracking a sequel. In interviews both Cameron and Schwarzenegger talked openly that fans were screaming for a sequel, but rights issues held the production at bay for years until Carolco would pick up the rights in 1990 freeing the film from a tangled legal mess. The film's turnaround from that point was rather quick, considering the ambitious script, involving a series of complicated action set-pieces and special effects that introduced a whole new brand of "Terminator", with an all new liquid metal sheen. The production would rack up a massive budget (the highest at that time) but once the first frames rolled on opening day it was all worth it.

"Terminator 2: Judgement Day" follows the story of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), years after her encounter with the deadly Terminator that hunted her down. Now locked away in an insane asylum. Meanwhile her son, John Connor (Edward Furlong) is living with his foster parents in suburban California and comes under threat. John is the future leader of the resistance, and the machines want him dead. Failing to take out his mother, they decide to send back an all new T-1000 model (Robert Patrick) back in time to kill John. This new Terminator is made of liquid metal and can take the form of anyone and can also form stabbing tools to kill his victims. The resistance learns of the machine's plan and reprograms a captured T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and send him back in time to locate and protect John from the deadly T-1000. This task is further complicated when John orders the T-800 to help free his mother, as they regroup and form a plan to change the future by taking out the company that would eventually establish the Skynet system which brings the world to its knees and human kind on the brink of extinction.

By all rights "T2" should have been a failure, the legal rights issue pushing plans for the film farther into the future, the short turnaround time to make and release the film, the complicated special effects and the risk of investing in a film which would claim to be the most expensive produced could have derailed this film. But Cameron's vision was second-to-none and his keen eye for crafting interesting stories matched with action provided the perfect balance this film needed. One major change made could have ruined the entire film, the choice to return Arnold's character as the "good guy" could have proved disastrous if the fans didn't approve. But even that was quickly forgotten amid the coolness of the overall film.

Cameron crafted one of the finest sequels in cinema history (and it wasn't the first time he accomplished such a task, just look at 1986's "Aliens"). "T2" combines a fast-paced story that, much like the first, unfolds as the action progresses. This style keeps viewers at attention throughout the film, and Schwarzenegger does what he does best, and lets his action speak louder than words... after all he had some 65 lines in the entire film ("Theatrical" version). It was apt of Cameron to play on his star's strengths in this case and the big man delivers a performance that stands as the most memorable of his career. Matching his big screen persona, is his counterpart in Robert Patrick, who brings a slick and often creepy turn as the T-1000. His movements are calculated and purposeful, Patrick transformed himself into the character so well that it was hard to see the actor play any other role, and this is career never really took off as expected. Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor, and can be considered Sarah 2.0, a stronger and more powerful presence than she was in the first film. Her character has evolved from the frightened on the run Sarah. She's a solid rock in this film and remains as one of cinema's most bad-ass female characters. The weak link among the cast is Furlong as the young John Connor, he's whiny and cock-sure to the point of annoyance, however this passes in time and over the course of repeated viewings.

"T2" marks the start of a new era of special effects in motion pictures, the film combined both practical and CGI effects (while films today would use, or overuse CGI including creating explosions), the film's action sequences used actual stunts and fire gags that created explosions and bullet hits as well as Stan Winston's animatronics and make-up effects, while CGI was primarily used to create the liquid metal T-1000, an effect that evolved from Cameron's previous film "The Abyss" (1989) where the magicians at ILM created the water tentacle that mimicked Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio's face. The film's special effects would win the 'Best Visual Effects' Oscar, and deservedly so.

"T2" is an exciting and well made sequel in the "Terminator" cannon, it's a shame that studios went further with the franchise without Cameron's involvement, the first two films are the only ones worth the effort... even McG's recently released "Terminator: Salvation" (2009) was a stinker, with many calling into question why the film even exists? The series pretty much died with "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" (2003) which was average compared to the first two. At least fans can truly appreciate what Cameron created before the franchise was bastardized by the studios.

The film ranks among my all time favorites, and one of the all time greatest sci-fi action films. If you haven't seen a "Terminator" film then I suggest picking up the first and then "T2", you can pretty much stop there.


Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 in high-definition 1080p 24/fps and mastered with VC-1 compression. Before I get into the meat of this image review, it's worth noting that there has been a lot of talk about whether Lionsgate implemented DNR (digital noise reduction) filters on this transfer. The first impression is that the overall image a little softer than the previous Blu-ray release, it appears as though grain has been removed which makes of an unnatural looking image and waxy complexions. Lionsgate has in fact confirmed that no DNR was applied to this transfer, the reason for the softer image could lie in the codec used which applies a certain amount of DNR within its mastering process. So perhaps it's the VC-1 codec compression method that is responsible for the way the image looks? The Digital Bits actually had a chance to compare this release with the Japanese release that uses AVC MPEG-4 and that image was a fair bit sharper and retained grain a lot better than the Lionsgate release. So for cinephiles this release may not be the absolute best the film can look in HD. While it's a significant upgrade over the previous DVD's, the textures look good and the image features more detail than previous releases (shot on super 35mm film the format was made for HD presentation). Depth and clarity look good, especially wide shots that really make use of the wide 2.35:1 frame, but this is not entirely consistent with some shots looking a bit flat (just check out the mall scenes and some of the mental hospital scenes as well). Black levels are pretty good, but just that, there is room for improvement in this regard. Skin tones look natural (aside from scenes shot in the blue-hues) and while there are still a few specks here and there, the transfer was relatively clean. It's a good HD image but I was expecting a lot more from this release. "T2" needs to look great not just good...


Five audio tracks are included in English DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 surround mixed at 48kHz/24-bit as well as English Dolby Digital EX 5.1 surround, an English TheaterVision Audio Descriptive 5.1 surround, English Dolby Digital Headphone 2.0 surround and French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its DTS-HD audio. This is where the film's HD specs truly shines. The mix is incredibly rich, powerful and active on all levels. The first impression you'll get is a broad sense of range from Sarah Connor's haunting narration to the ambient effects that fill the environments with an immersive quality. The film's action scenes explode off the screen with a complex and well balanced surround experience; with robust explosions and sound effects that feel natural and never out of place. The film's score adds a further layer to the mix and overall it's an impressive audio track that'll rock your home theatre set-up.
Optional subtitles are included in English, English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.


Lionsgate has released this "Skynet Edition" with two audio commentaries, theatrical trailers, deleted scenes and a host of interactive features. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary with director/writer/producer James Cameron and co-writer William Wisher Jr. who provide a chatty and excellent track, Cameron and Wisher take us through the story process, the development of the film and its production. They remain screen-specific and take fans through a host of production information. They seem very comfortable together and deliver an enjoyable track, this is fifth time I've listened to it (as it was previously available on the "Extreme Edition" DVD) and it doesn't disappoint.

The next feature-length audio commentary with 26 members of the cast and crew and hosted by DVD/Blu-ray disc producer Van Ling. This track is ported over from the "Ultimate Edition" DVD release and features an incredible amount of information, almost every department is covered in this track from the demands of the script to production design to casting, stunts, effects, costumes, logistics, editing, music etc. It's all covered here in detail and the cast also feature in interview bits edited into the track and although it's very technical and dry but it's worth listening to.

"Ancillary Data" is a section that includes the following extras:

- Teaser trailer which runs for 1 minute 17 seconds.
- Theatrical trailer which runs for 1 minute 40 seconds.
- "Special Edition" trailer which runs for 2 minutes 27 seconds.
- "T2 THX" trailer which runs for 47 seconds.

Next up are two deleted scenes:

- "T-1000's Search" which can be viewed with optional audio commentary by actor Robert Patrick and director James Cameron, the scene runs for 1 minute 27 seconds, this is an extended scene where the T-1000 is seen searching John's bedroom for clues about the boy.
- "Future Coda" also includes optional audio commentary by special effects guru Stan Winston, director James Cameron, and actress Linda Hamilton and runs for 1 minute 50 seconds. The scene shows an alternate ending with an old Sarah Connor. It's laughable and was suitably cut.

There are a series of new Blu-ray exclusive extras under the section entitled "Interactive Modes" which features the following extras:

- "Visual Implants" BonusView picture-in-picture commentary which is accessible for those with profile 1.1 players or greater. This feature plays as you view the film and features almost all of the previous video extras that were available on the "Ultimate Edition" and "Extreme Edition" DVD's, this is great feature and provides an expanded viewing mode for fans to learn about the film's production history beyond the already excellent audio commentaries.

- "Trivia Data Overlay" BonusView text commentary, a series of production trivia and facts pop-up as you view the film and features a lot of information from the cast and crew from various interviews among other things.

- "Production Data Overlay" BonusView text commentary is another subtitle track that you can view while watching the film and features more information on the film's principle photography and provides more facts about the production, location, effects and technical details among many other things.

- "Linked Data Modules" BonusView slideshow commentary, is a neat interactive branching feature that when selected the disc jumps to a series of slideshows which feature audio.

- "Source Code" BonusView screenplay mode allows you to check out the entire script as you view the film, and provides an excellent comparison between what was written and what was shot.

- "Schematics" BonusView storyboard mode allows you to watch the film with all of the storyboards created for the film and much like the screenplay mode above it provides another fantastic comparison of the shots as planned and how they ended up being shot.

- "Query Mode" is an interactive trivia quiz, questions pop-up for you to answer to see how well versed fans are about the film. It's actually a better quiz than I though it would be and I found myself playing it for nearly the entire length of the film before I decided to quit.

- "Processor Tests" BonusView in-movie interactive games provides more games for fans to play as you view the film, it's a bit slow but once you've entered the set-up you can play the "mindgames" feature as you watch the film.

There's also some BD-Live access for profile 2.0 players only, the feature here is the "Skynet" data center which allows you to access more information about the franchise.

The disc is also D-Box enabled and you can also access the Blu-ray disc production credits as well.


Packaged in a Blu-ray case housed in a cardboard slip-case.


The Film: A+ Video: B Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A-


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