I have a real good memory of seeing this in the theater back in 1991. They showed it a day early at a special midnight screening and me and my then girlfriend went to it. After my best friend from high school, Gerry, joined the army back in summer of 1988, I hung around ever so briefly with his younger brother, Tony, which was unexpected since I kind of viewed him as a douche throughout the years I knew him. But, for some reason, he shed that douchy image after Gerry left, but here I was in the summer of 1991 and walking up to the theater—by the way the parking lot was packed—and there’s this kid sitting on the curb, as I approach I hear, “Is that Shawn Francis?!” I looked, and it was Tony. We briefly said, hi, and went into the theater, but my impression of Tony was now back to that douchy kid I knew from high school. When we got seated in the theater, it was packed wall to wall. After it was over I loved it as much as James Cameron’s The Terminator (1984), maybe, more so.
For those not familiar with The Terminator it’s about a post apocalyptic future where an artificial intelligence created by the government finally became so “aware” it decided to nuke the earth, take over and turn the human survivors into slaves. Human soldiers are constantly at war with these humanoid cyborgs called, Terminators. In this future exists a man named, John Connor, who’s in charge of this resistance, and the machines feel so threatened by him they come up with a plan, and the accompanying technology, to time travel back to 1984 and kill his would be mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), so he’ll never exist. The Resistance gets wind of this plan and sends soldier, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), to protect her, but in one of those “timey-whimy” twists by the end of the film we see Sarah is pregnant and learn Reese is John’s father (Sarah and Kyle have sex at one point in the flick), and as the film ends (both Kyle and the Terminator are dead by this point in the film), pregnant Sarah is off to Mexico to try and survive the oncoming takeover of the machines.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day could also be subtitled ‘The Origin Of John Connor,’ for in this film we get to see what’s happened to Sarah and her now ten-year-old son, John, and it ain’t pretty. To prepare John for the role he’ll eventually play Sarah became a hard ass military oriented chick getting trained and in turn having John trained in all manners of weapons and survival, but in so doing Sarah wasn’t that “loving mother” John needed. At at some point she was arrested for trying to blow up a computer chip factory and was subsequently confined to an asylum once she began to reveal why she tried to blow it up. In fact, her psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Silberman (Earl Boen), was in the first movie in a small part handling Kyle Reese after he was arrested and started talking about where he came from, and why he was here, so he was already familiar with Sarah, but when they first met she wasn’t a believer yet in who Reese was.
I will hand it to Cameron for coming up with a clever way to get Arnold Schwarzenegger back as a Terminator, which at first glance wouldn’t make sense, since this T-800 (model 101) failed in its mission to kill Sarah, but Skynet isn’t stupid, it knows that and decided to try again with a more advance model, this time attacking John Connor himself when he was a kid, with a T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a shape-shifting machine made of “polymorphic liquid metal.” It can mimic anyone or anything roughly its size, but it cannot replicate other machines, only stabbing-type weapons. In its natural form it appears to be just that “liquid metal.” But the resistance had a contingency plan for this too, and like the first go-around they sent another to protect the kid, that’s where Schwarzenegger comes into play. The Resistance got a hold of one of them 101 models and reprogrammed it. The movie, however, keeps you in the dark as to who’s the protector and who’s the killer, duping us for a little while and making us think, maybe, it’s still Arnold, because it couldn’t be the other one who’s now posing as a cop? Or could it? The T-1000 fits in a little bit better, since its natural build is average human. But once the both of them track Connor down at a mall, and intercept him at the same time, it’s the T-1000 who’s revealed to be the enemy! Don’t be fooled, even though he’s average human sized his strength is equal too, if not more than, the 101’s. In the final battle between the both of them the T-1000 actually manages to kick the 101’s ass, severely damaging it.
Once Connor comes to the conclusion his mother wasn’t crazy and this reprogrammed cyborg has also been configured to take orders from him and him alone, the next step is to break his mother out of the asylum. But here’s where the time travel logic gets wonky, noticeably wonky, I mean. Sarah thinks the only way to stop Skynet permanently is to prevent it from ever being “born,” so-to-speak, so she targets Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton). During the battle between Sarah and the Terminator in the first movie where she finally defeated it by squashing it in a hydraulic press, its arm survived, and not thinking about what the consequences would be of having a piece of futuristic tech left behind in the past that’s where it stayed, until it was found and reverse engineered by Dyson, who used what he learned to create Skynet. So, yeah, it makes a lot of sense that if you kill Dyson Skynet should never exist. Well, Sarah’s assassination doesn’t go as planned, and instead John and his 101 bodyguard decide to dissuade Dyson from his work rather than kill him. Same difference. Dyson believes every crazy word of they tell him he’s about to do. It helps when you have a cyborg that can peel back the skin on its arm and show you the proof right there in front of you. So, now, that Dyson refuses to carry on with his work the present time line we’re watching should cease to exist, but it doesn’t. Why? Well, logic dictates someone else carried on his work, thus allowing Skynet to still exist. Okay, Plan B, find the arm they’re learning all this shit from and destroy it. Yes, they really would work, and they eventually do it, but the time line that is Terminator 2 continues to play out right to the end when the 101 is the only evidence left to show the Skynet future existed and it does the noble thing and destroys itself. The entire ending takes place in a steel mill, with the T-1000 being destroyed by getting dumped into a vat of molten steel, and this is how the 101 “dies” too, by letting John lower it into a vat. Still, though, with the destruction of the arm, the movie should have stopped existing.
Cameron manages to top himself with the action scenes, adding exhilarating new ones while homaging the first film’s scene of the Terminator trying to run down Sarah and Reese in that tractor trailer. And with Cameron always pushing the visual effects into new territories with every movie he does he gives us a state-of-the-art effects(at the time) of shape-shifting liquid metal never before realized on screen. Before Steven Spielberg officially heralded in the age of CGI with his dinosaurs in Jurassic Park two years later, Cameron wowed us with CGI polymorphic liquid metal super tech.
Surprisingly, Cameron never owned the rights to his creation, and because of that is why it took seven years to get a sequel made. Cameron departed the franchise after Judgement Day, but Schwarzenegger stayed with it, even for Terminator: Salvation (2009), where only his CGI likeness was duplicated in the final act. Salvation tried to tell the story from John Connor’s point of view in the future, a sort of prequel. I remember seeing it on cable, but don’t remember a whole lot about it, a clear indication it didn’t do anything for me. The last installment, Terminator: Genisys (2015) I skipped altogether, it looked too comic book-ish, tried to recon events from the first film, and recast the characters of Sarah and Reese; for me Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn are those characters. Period. Luckily everyone hated it and the proposed Genisys franchise never went beyond the first one. The good news, however, is Cameron has either gotten the rights back, or will soon get them back, and plans to produce another movie that takes place after Judgment Day, completely ignoring chapter three’s Rise Of The Machines (2003), Salvation and Genisys. Perfect, I say.
Lionsgate released Terminator 2: Judgement Day in this 4K Ultra HD/Blu-Ray Combo back on December 26, and you can buy it right here on Amazon!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 2160p 2.35:1 ultra high definition widescreen–5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio, 5.1 French DTS-HD Master Audio, 7.1 German DTS-HD Master—English, French, German.
I’ve read several reviews of this prior and they seem to condemn the transfer for being awash in DNR (Digital Noise Reduction). Too much of it takes out the natural grain in a movie, and makes it all look very artificial. Details are gone and it can make skin texture look almost like a CGI creation. The clarity on this version, however, was incredible, blacks were deeply rendered, but I will admit there was some scenes that displayed an all-too smooth skin texture, and I saw that mostly on Arnold. He was “shiny”in some shots. But I didn’t hate it as much as those other reviewers. Keep in mind Cameron signed off on this transfer and he also took the opportunity to go back and CGI in, or out, continuity errors, like, Robert Patrick’s balls, A cigar burn, a smashed windshield on a semi that shouldn’t be smashed, and putting Arnold’s head on obvious shots of a stuntman we could all see.
Extras included . . .
Disc 1: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Ultra High Definition Theatrical Cut):
Disc 2: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1080p Blu-Ray Theatrical/Special Edition/Extended Special Edition/Extras Via Seamless Branching):
- 23 Members Of Cast & Crew Commentary
- Commentary With Director James Cameron & Co-Author William Wisher
- T2: Reprogramming The Terminator (NEW) (54:07)
- The Making of T2 (’99 Doc) (30:54)2 Deleted Scenes With Commentary: T-100 Search (Commentary With Robert Patrick & James Cameron) (1:28) & Future Coda (Commentary With Stan Winston, Linda Hamilton & James Cameron) (1;49)
- 4 Trailers
That new T2 documentary can be considered a retrospective with just about all the main movers and shakers interviewed. Now, you’d think, surely, they didn’t get Edward Furlong, but they did. The ironic thing is they couldn’t get Linda Hamilton. I can’t imagine she didn’t want to be a part of this, I can only assume something came up that prohibited her from participating. It’s a great doc, though, so check it out.