Terminator 2: Judgement Day film review

James Cameron made one of his biggest early hits with the sequel to the popular Terminator, Schwarzenegger’s baddest-ass role to date. Sent back in time (again) to protect the young leader of a future resistance group, Arnie does battle with a superior model of himself (Robert Patrick). Of course he wins, but not before dazzling the world with some of the finest special effects put to film, 90% of which still look state of the art 10 years after their creation.

Too bad Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) is even less likable in this film than in the original – her character, long suffering in a mental hospital, is one-dimensional and overdramatic. Her son (Edward Furlong), supposedly the future leader of "the resistance," comes across as whiny and fragile. And as for that T-1000, well, the technological leap to go to from a standard cyborg to a liquid metal machine with no visible parts… seems like that might take a bit longer than 10 years to create.

Quibbles aside, T2’s effects have been quite profound. The anti-technology screed has been picked up by the mass media; even former futurist Bill Joy’s year 2000 paranoid ravings can pretty much be traced back to the film’s mythos. While the rest of the world begs for a sequel, most of us will have to be patient and happy with the T2 special edition on DVD. The disc features the original plus a new cut of the film, with a substantial number of restored scenes (including the infamous happy ending if you can ferret out the secret code), 60+ documentaries, interviews, and behind-the-scenes bits, trailers (even the Japanese ones), and a commentary contributed by 26 cast and crew members. What more could you possibly want?

A true classic, though I still miss the grit and nuance of the original.

Updating again… here comes the third DVD edition of Terminator 2, the so-called Extreme Edition which features most of the goodies from the Special Edition (including a new metal case that ripped the hell out of the plastic case when I took it out), though I can no longer find the happy ending on this set. What’s really new is the remastered cut of the film, designed for HDTV and THX audio. Supposedly this is the highest-resolution film ever released on home video. If you’ve got one of them $50,000 TVs, well, this is the disc for you. Cameron also offers his first commentary track ever on this disc.

Review by Christopher Null © 2000 filmcritic.com