Terminator 2: Judgement Day UHD Review

Arnold's back....in UHD 4 Stars

Terminator 2: Judgement Day is the first of director James Cameron’s films to arrive on 4K UHD Blu-ray with a new 4k transfer, but the discs have some sloppy authoring (after being delayed) and many of the bonus features from previous releases on other formats are missing.

Terminator 2 (1991)
Released: 03 Jul 1991
Rated: R
Runtime: 137 min
Director: James Cameron
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Writer(s): James Cameron, William Wisher
Plot: A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her ten year old son, John Connor, from a more advanced cyborg.
IMDB rating: 8.5
MetaScore: 75

Disc Information
Studio: Lionsgate
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: R
Run Time: 2 Hr. 17 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, UltraViolet
Case Type: 2-disc UHD eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 12/26/2017
MSRP: $22.99

The Production: 4.5/5

With the surprise success of 1984’s The Terminator, which made Arnold Schwarzenegger a movie star, and the rising status of director James Cameron as a creative force to be reckoned with after the release of Aliens and The Abyss, a sequel was becoming more and more likely. It was the financial troubles of the original film’s production company and rights holder, Hemdale, that was problem, and was resolved when Carolco, who would go on to produce some of the most successful (and some of the most bloated) action films of the 1990s, purchased the rights to the Terminator series, paving the way for the $100 million dollar budgeted sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day to be released theatrically in 1991. The film reunited writer-director Cameron with stars Schwarzenegger (as the T-800) and Linda Hamilton (as Sarah Connor), but this time the T-800 is sent to back in time to 1995 to protect an adolescent John Connor (Edward Furlong) from being executed by an upgraded T-1000 (Robert Patrick) made of liquid metal and having the ability to change shapes and emulate almost anyone it wants to. T2 was the first live-action film to use computer-generated imagery extensively after the breakthrough water tentacle sequence in Cameron’s The Abyss, with Dennis Muren and his team of wizards at Industrial Light and Magic creating jaw-dropping effects (for their time) that would win them an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects and two years later change the landscape of visual effects forever with Jurassic Park.

Disregarding many of the timeline references that have now since passed, T2 is a movie that still holds up rather well (even though some of the effects do not). Schwarzenegger gets to show off his lighter side, with his robotic character trying to deal with being reprogrammed to not be a killing machine. Linda Hamilton continues Cameron’s creation of strong female characters that began with Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in Aliens, bulking up and learning battle techniques. Robert Patrick is cool as a cucumber, which adds to the creepiness of the T-1000. The weak link, though, is Edward  Furlong as the future leader John Connor, whose line readings are often cringe-inducing. T2 is a prime example of 1990s blockbuster action film making.

Video: 3.5/5

3D Rating: NA

In 2016, current worldwide rights holder Studio Canal commissioned a new 4K scan and 3D conversion of the theatrical cut of T2, under the supervision of James Cameron, that was then released theatrically in a very limited run in select theatres this past summer. The various companies around the globe that hold the home video rights to the film are now releasing the movie in 4K UHD Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray, and (in select regions that do not include the US) a 3D Blu-ray version. Here in the US, Lionsgate is distributing a 4K UHD Blu-ray and 2D Blu-ray combo pack, and those discs are either multi-region or region-free, simply repackaging the discs authored by StudioCanal with the user selecting his country from a static menu that first appears when the disc is loaded, and then proceeds to play the home video loo for the company holding the rights in that region. My main complaint here is that  StudioCanal should have re-worded their opening credits that appear after the StudioCanal logo and before the Carolco logo on both the 4K UHD and 2D Blu-ray, which remind us that “This 3D version has been produced by StudioCanal.” Um, okay, but I’m not watching this in 3D….and Lionsgate is not releasing a 3D version here in the US. I can imagine Joe Consumer inserting either of these discs in his player and, upon seeing that opening graphic, considering returning it to the place of purchase because someone must have placed a 3D version in his package, or worse, thinking that his 3D TV is not working.

There has been some early reviews on other sites indicating that this new 4K UHD transfer (and its 1080p Blu-ray counterpart) are a travesty. That may be an overstatement and even an over-reaction, but I can see where these other reviewers could possibly be coming from. The good things, first. Colors are more vibrant and stable, while contrast overall is also improved with stronger and deeper black levels revealing a much brighter foreground image during many of the night time sequences, courtesy of HDR10. Detail seems sharper here than on previous home video releases, but that may be because T2 has never looked great at home, with most transfers appearing washed out or faded. The bad news is, like its predecessors, DNR has been used to reduce film grain to a minimum, often smoothing out the image and further reducing any sense of depth. Some of the complaints have also been with regards to possible changes in color grading, claiming this transfer has a more bluish tint, but I’ve always remembered this film being rather cool in its visual tone. While this transfer doesn’t come close to other catalog titles on the format (Close EncountersMen in BlackIndependence Day, etc.), it should be noted that the transfer was approved by director James Cameron.

The 4K UHD Blu-ray disc contains only the 1991 theatrical cut. The included 1080p Blu-ray contains the theatrical cut taken from the same 4K restoration, plus the two extended cuts via seamless branching that utilize the additional footage from older transfers of the film elements.

Audio: 4/5

At first, I was rather disappointed that T2 did not receive an updated, object-based soundtrack utilizing Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. But the English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track still holds up after all these years. as the film was originally released in 70mm Dolby Six Track (which in most instances was really 4.1) and the short-lived CDS 5.1 sound system in both 70mm and 35mm engagements. While it won’t knock your socks off like some more recent releases, the 5.1 track does provide a nice wide front soundstage with some occasional discrete rear surround activity. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout, and bass response is even and not overbearing, but, again, it is nowhere near to what a more modern soundmix could achieve.

The UHD disc does have some sloppy authoring when selecting your choice of audio and subtitles, in that once you select a language, nothing appears to happen on screen (like moving down to subtitle choices or going back to the main menu), even though the player has recorded your language of choice.

Special Features: 2.5/5

There are no special features included on the UHD disc, all of the available special features can be found on the included 1080p Blu-ray, but many of the features from the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases were not ported over. Readers who still have the DVD-18 (or 2-disc DVD) edition from Artisan (now Lionsgate) are urged to still hold on to that version, which was very rich in special features. The disc also has some sloppy authoring here, too, in that when a special feature has concluded, it returns you to the main menu instead of the Special Features menu.

T2: Reprogramming the Terminator (480i; 54:07): A recently produced documentary that includes new interviews with James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, William Wysher, Mario Kassar, Dennis Muren, etc. But why is this in 16:9 480i?

Audio Commentary with Director James Cameron and Writer William Wysher

Audio Commentary with Cast and Crew Members

The Making of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (480i; 30:54)

Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary (480i; 3:18): T-1000’s Search and Future Coda.

Trailers (480i; 6:33): 2017This Time There Are Two, Same Make New Mission, and Building the Perfect Arnold.

Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy through Ultraviolet partner Vudu. Unfortunately, the copy is an older transfer (including the old Tri-Star logo) available in HDX only.

Overall: 4/5

Terminator 2: Judgement Day on 4K UHD Blu-ray is a mixed bag. While an improvement over previous home video releases, the transfer still is visually disappointing, as are the lack of extras on this release.

Published by

Todd Erwin



  1. Wow!
    I *really* need an updated T2 transfer. While I still own the old two disc DVD “Ultimate Edition” release for the extras; my Blu-ray iteration of this movie is the dreadful “Skynet Edition” release which takes forever to load.

    I guess I’ll spring for this — only due to the very reasonable price point and the new documentary — but keep my previous releases *sigh*.

    … And this release really dampens any enthusiasm I had for possible future HD releases of “True Lives” and/or “The Abyss SE” (not to mention “Aliens”, “Titanic”, or “Avatar” on 4K).

    The Bottom Line is that Cameron has (mostly) ignored Home Theater Enthusiasts since the 2003 DVD “Extreme Edition” release of T2, and that apparently isn’t going to change anytime soon.

  2. I feel dirty.

    I ordered the 4k version of T2…before seeing any reviews…and I'm not even fully 4k-ready yet.

    I saw "4k"…I saw "T2"…and I saw the low price and my trigger finger was quicker than my brain and my sense of reason.

  3. I did the same thing do not feel bad! I saw 4K & T2 and bam I pre ordered it that fast and I honestly do not pre order much and almost always wait for the video to be in stores.

  4. Dave Moritz

    I did the same thing do not feel bad! I saw 4K & T2 and bam I pre ordered it that fast and I honestly do not pre order much and almost always wait for the video to be in stores.

    Big difference, though, Dave…is that you are fully 4k ready!

    I ordered it and it'll be a while before I replace my Panasonic Plasma with a 4k display. I've got a 4k player and receiver, but I don't see replacing my 55ST50 until it goes down for some reason. So I've ordered some 4k titles (mostly new releases) but have only been watching the included Blu discs so far. So I really needn't have rushed!

  5. I saw the price on the Sony 75" 4K UHD TV and even though I have a Samsung 55" 4K UHD TV I think I would have pulled out the old credit card if I had one, rofl. Though I would have had to relocate the equipment rack and run a long HDMI cable to the tv and run longer speaker wire I would have done it if I could.

  6. Mike Frezon

    Just budget and an "if it ain't broke, don't replace it" attitude.

    The other thing is…I'm really happy with my current set. It's NOT 4k, obviously. But I am continuously "wowed" by how great the picture is. So, without having a 4k set to show me the error of my judgment, I remain blissfully ignorant and happy. 😀

    I keep thinking about how lucky I am to have the pieces in my system that I have that I consider myself blessed to have such nice things (which I know runs rather counter to the expected thinking from a hobbyist). But after putting two kids through private schools and high-end colleges on a lower-middle income salary, I never thought I'd be able to have the nice components that I now have. Priorities and all that. 😉 I think that contributes to the thinking of only upgrading when breakdowns occur or special occasions permit. 😎

  7. The other thing is…I'm really happy with my current set. It's NOT 4k, obviously. But I am continuously "wowed" by how great the picture is. So, without having a 4k set to show me the error of my judgment, I remain blissfully ignorant and happy. 😀

    Absolutely nothing wrong with that Mike! You do not have to have 4K to be happy with what you have!

    I keep thinking about how lucky I am to have the pieces in my system that I have that I consider myself blessed to have such nice things (which I know runs rather counter to the expected thinking from a hobbyist).

    Oh I can identify with that more than you know. For many years I have ended up in jobs that honestly did not pay that great and I dispite that I have managed to push it and get nice things for myself. I actually have had a few people tell me I will not have something or that I can not afford it but yet I found a way to get it despite what they may have said. And even if I am not able to make a few more upgrades and was to get stuck where I am now I feel lucky and blessed to have what I have. On top of that I feel blessed as I used to deliver appliences to peoples homes and so many people back in the late 2000's did not have HDTV or blu-ray and only had an old CRT tv with maybe a dvd player and a cable box. And I couldn't even tell you how many people did not have surround sound so I totally agree with you that I also feel lucky. I am glad you have something nice and that you appreciate it! The sad part is that there are some people that have something nice and they are never happy they always want something they do not have!

  8. My copy of Terminator 2 4K UHD BD just arrived today which was nice because I was not expecting it till after new years day. So I decided to bring out the 1080p blu-ray copy and play some of it then watch my new 4K UHD blu-ray to see the differences for myself. And to be honest I almost tried to cancel it but I decided to just let it come and keep it anyway since I feel I got it cheap enough.

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    As you can see I have been collecting terminator movies for awhile and I upgraded my HD-DVD version of Rise Of The Machines to upgrade from Dolby Digital Plus to Dolby True HD. So back to the newest release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

    So I got my copy today and decided to watch a little of the 1080p blu-ray to see what the quality is like to refresh myself as I have not viewed it in awhile. I believe I have the 1st release on 1080p blu-ray so the video quality was most likely much better in the later release of the regular blu-ray. I place myself in the camp that appreciates the film grain that is included in the original film when it was originally released. Maybe it was what the director intended and maybe it was an inherent byproduct of that particular film stock that was used when the studio filmed the movie. So while some consumers may look at film grain with disgust and hate it when it shows in a video release I for one along with many here prefer to have the original film grain intact. So right off the bat even though my previous release on blu-ray was in lossy DTS-ES which sounds very good I might add, I love getting a new DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track! And as many of you know that I have been in the past very pro DTS! But if this 4K UHD BD release would have used a Dolby True HD track instead of DTS-HD Master Audio I would have been just as happy.

    So in my brief refresh of watching some of my 1080p blu-ray I noticed film grain but to my untrained eyes it looked more like noise then what I think film grain looks like on a well done transfer. It still looks better than the dvd so I watched part of it before putting in the new 4K UHD blu-ray that just arrived. I have been seeing some not to flattering feedback on this release and I came close to canceling my order but decided to just let it go and see what it looks like when I get it. I originally was going to include screen shots using my smart phone with HDR turned on but decided I was not getting an accurate enough capture of what I was actually seeing on my display so I deleted the pictures before I actually posted.

    So here is my take on this release as I am not a professional and my display was calibrated by myself and not done professionally. The one thing that is quickly apparent and noticeable through the entire movie is the lack of film grain which others have talked about. And for some who might find this a deal breaker I personally for some reason didn't mind it for some reason. Don't get me wrong I would have preferred that the film grain was intact but what is left over in my honest opinion is a sharp enough image that in many places has that visual pop. The video has good black levels and there is a good amount of detail some scenes more than others but good detail overall. If anything there seems to be a little inconsistency in color saturation where it seems like the color level is a bit low but still looked decent enough. The black levels look very good in the opening scene with the merry go round and the flames IMHO. The sharpness of the image was not great but good but in one case when looking at certain scenes hair seemed to be over sharpened and this could be edge sharpening or just a over sharpening of the entire frame I honestly do not know. But even with some flaws the overall presentation was good and was enjoyable to watch at least on the 55" display I own. I may or may not feel the same with this same title on a projection system with a 80" – 120" screen? The digital effects of the liquid metal on the T-1000 do look a little dated but I have always loved this movie and the story and action keep you glued even if most of us know many of the lines by heart already. This in my opinion is still one of the best movies in the Terminator series and holds a special place in my heart. I do approve of Cameron digital fixing the dreaded window scene in the tow truck after crashing through the barrier on the bridge coming after young John Conner. The audio track is still very good and retains good tonal balance and dynamic punch during weapons fire! And for those who had the 1080p blu-ray with the lossy track the inclusion of a lossless track is very welcome.

    So I will wrap this up as I am not a professional reviewer and am not in the industry so while this release is not perfect and maybe it is not what we completely expected in this 4K UHD release. I found the release worth the purchase and if you have the same blu-ray release I do or maybe you have the dvd release. You might find this release gives you enough bang for the buck to warrant the purchase. For myself even with the lack of film grain and the over sharpness of the hair in some scenes I feel the purchase of the 4K UHD blu-ray was a upgrade from the former blu-ray copy in the area of picture and sound. I would like to thank Robert Harris and others for there honest reviews and there thoughts on the Terminator 2 4K release. It is because of this forum and the professionals involved bring us information so we can know when a transfer has been really messed up like in the case of Patton and a few other releases. There is only one way I will buy this movie again and that is if there is a flawless 4K transfer with the film grain intact before I buy this movie again! For me 4K is my personal studio master quality and I do not need anything better after that. I would love to hear from Cameron why he felt it was a good idea to remove all signs of film grain! I would how ever love to see a new transfer done as I am sure it would be better than what we did end up with. I would love to see this title with a perfect 4K blu-ray transfer!

    Image 3.8
    Sound 5.0
    Upgrade from Blu-ray – In some ways no but in others yes and depending on the actual blu-ray release you have. Overall in my untrained mind I would say yes but it is by no means a strong yes!


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    Pioneer Elite SC-05 Receiver
    Samsung UBD-K8500
    Samsung UN55F9000 55" 4K UHD TV
    Upgraded Samsung Evolution Kit
    Altec Lancing A-7 Voice Of The Theater (L&R)
    Bowers & Wilkens HTM61 S6 (Center Channel)
    Advent Marble (Surround Side & Back Channels)
    HSU Research VTF-3 MK5 HP 15" Subwoofer
    Audioquest Cinnamon HDMI from Samsung 4K UHD player straight to evolution kit on Samsung 4K TV

    Planning on updating receiver and upgrading surrounds to matching Bowers & Wilkens bookshelf to match the center channel. If I ever remove the Altecs I will most likely get matching Bowers & Wilkens floor standing towers as well.

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  9. I first got T2 on laserdisc before I even had a LD player. (Roger Ebert was responsible for that). I then had at least two T2 DVD's. But I stopped there. I will never buy this movie again until video gets 5/5. I can't believe they released a sub-par UHD of this.

    As for the other Terminator movies that followed, they all suck. Even James Cameron said he is going to 'erase' them in his forthcoming Terminator movie. (Just wish Cameron was directing)

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