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.
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.
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 Encounters, Men in Black, Independence 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.
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): 2017, This 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.
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.