04th Dec2017

‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ 3D Blu-ray Review

by Matthew Turner

Review by Matthew Turner

Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein, Xander Berkeley | Written by James Cameron, William Wisher Jr. | Directed by James Cameron


Twenty-six years after it blasted onto screens in the summer of 1991, James Cameron’s smash-hit Terminator sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day has been given an immaculate clean-up and 3D conversion treatment for this missed-it-by-a-year anniversary release. Supervised by Cameron himself, the newly tweaked 3D effects are reason enough to see the film again, but does it still hold up after all this time? The short answer is yes. Yes, it does.

The plot, in case you somehow needed reminding, picks up ten years after the events of 1984′s The Terminator, with Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) locked up in an asylum, muttering about an imminent apocalypse, and future resistance leader John Connor (Edward Furlong) still just a snarky ten year old kid in the L.A. foster system. When an evil shape-shifting robot (Robert Patrick as the T-1000) arrives from the future and tries to kill him, John is shocked to realise that his mother has been right all along, and attempts to free her from the psych ward before he gets, well, terminated.

Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of an old T-800 model Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), reprogrammed by Future John Connor and sent back in time to protect his younger self. While fleeing a series of attacks from the T-1000, John bonds with his unlikely metal father figure, while Sarah decides to take radical action in order to prevent the apocalypse and sets out to murder Cyberdyne engineer Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), the man she believes responsible for the creation of Skynet.

It’s a testament to the incredible effects work that the CGI still looks astonishing, even a quarter of a century later. The ‘liquid metal’ effects – considered ground-breaking at the time, though much more commonplace now – have lost none of their power to shock, whether it’s the sight of the T-1000 growing hooks for hands in order to hang onto a speeding car (memorably parodied in The Simpsons), or simply walking out of an explosion as a silver humanoid and morphing back into Robert Patrick (in a cop uniform, which somehow makes it even more chilling).

In addition to the jaw-dropping effects, Cameron’s masterful action sequences remain unsurpassed. Most action blockbusters are lucky to have even one brilliant action set-piece, but Cameron lines them up one after the other, from the still extraordinary freeway chase at the beginning to the thrilling finale. His sense of pace is particularly worthy of note – the film is nearly two and a half hours long, yet it doesn’t flag for a second.

As for the 3D conversion, it’s pleasing to note that Cameron hasn’t just gone for the sense of visual depth that characterised the 3D work on Avatar, he’s also decided to have a little fun with it, so the various shotguns and pointy objects (metal bars, hooks and so on) all loom out of the screen at you at regular intervals.

In addition, the central sci-fi story itself has lost none of its power, and its vision of nuclear annihilation is, if anything, even more terrifying in the age of Trump than it was back in 1991, when the Cold War was coming to an end. The script is also surprisingly emotional – particularly in its treatment of Morton’s character – and there are lots of nice little time-travel touches to chew on, such as the idea that the remnants of the Terminator (discovered by Cyberdyne) from the first movie lead to the eventual creation of the Terminators themselves and might have even accelerated the process.

If there’s a lasting niggle with the film, it’s really down to the marketing rather than anything else. The scene where John Connor first encounters Schwarzenegger’s T-800 (striding down a corridor, shotgun drawn) is meant to be an utterly terrifying moment, but thanks to the film’s relentless promo campaign, literally everyone seeing the film in the cinema in 1991 knew in advance that Arnie was the good robot this time round, so the impact of the scene is completely lost.

Inexplicably, Cameron tries the same trick a few scenes later when a terrified Sarah Connor encounters the T-800 for the first time at the asylum, only this time the staging of the scene is actually annoying, because Sarah’s reaction is dependent on John taking a ridiculously long time to exit a lift. (And while we’re at it, the T-1000s tracking circuits are obviously on the fritz at the asylum, because it takes him AGES to find Sarah, despite arriving a good twenty minutes before the T-800).

It’s also fair to say that T2 lacks the sheer primal terror of the original movie, because a terrified, powerless waitress being pursued by Arnie the Unstoppable Killing Machine (who has already killed the man supposedly sent in time to save her) is inherently scarier than a now pumped-to-the-gills former waitress watching two robots beat the hell out of each other, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s still one of the all-time great blockbuster sequels.

In short, it’s always great to watch Terminator 2: Judgment Day again, even without the conversion treatment, but the impeccably realised 3D effects ensure that this re-release is and essential purchase for fans and newbies alike.

**** 4/5

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is released on 4K UHD (incl: Blu-Ray), 3D Blu-Ray (incl: Blu-Ray), Blu-Ray, DVD & Digital Download on December 4th.


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