Terminator 2: Judgment Day 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
My first experience with TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY was when I was five-years-old. The movie had its f-bombs edited out for consumption on local TV. While my innocent ears didn’t get to experience a handful of words, my eyes devoured the film. Sure at that age it’s hard for a child to understand if they’re watching a good or bad movie, but it was a movie that I would always want to watch again and again. My dad would record the film event that night on VHS and that VHS tape would eventually get worn out from me wanting to watch it on weekends. I still find myself completely enamored anytime I pass it on TV.
For me, JUDGEMENT DAY is the superior film in the TERMINATOR franchise and I’m willing to admit it may be because I saw it before THE TERMINATOR. But to me JUDGEMENT DAY works beautifully as a stand-alone film, much like ALIENS. Both had Cameron tinkering with the basics and upping the ante in nearly every conceivable fashion to an exciting degree that’s not only logical to the mythos of the franchise, but also more infinitely memorable.
THE TERMINATOR laid the groundwork for a dystopian world that hasn’t come to fruition yet. Terminators are cybernetic assassins created by SkyNet, a defense system that became self-aware and initiated a nuclear holocaust of humanity. Fighting in the remnants and leading the human resistance is John Connor. Unable to quell the rebellion, SkyNet creates a time machine and sends back one of its Terminators, covered in a fleshy and hulky Arnold Schwarzenegger exoskeleton, to kill Connor’s mom, Sarah (Linda Hamilton).
JUDGEMENT DAY picks up a little over a decade after the film’s previous events. The movie is titled after the day when SkyNet pulls the trigger on the U.S. nuclear arsenal, August 29th, 1997. Two years before that day, Sarah Connor is in a mental asylum for attempted terrorism (trying to blow up a computer processing factory) and John Connor (Edward Furlong) is a rebellious pre-teen. With the hope of still eliminating the rebellion before it ever starts, SkyNet sends another assassin from the future, but this time it’s a newer model.
This is where Cameron’s creativity and work ethic to outdo himself comes into play. The T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is pure liquid metal, morphing its limbs into weapons, like knives, and is equipped with the ability to take the form of any human because of its lifelike exterior. Once again, knowing of the plan, future John Connor sends a soldier back, but this time it’s an older model Terminator, the same brand that once tried to kill his mom.
There’s a reason AFI has listed the Terminator as one of the top 100 greatest heroes and villains. THE TERMINATOR felt like a fully realized evil entity with minimal dialogue and pure drive to kill. JUDGEMENT DAY gives Schwarzenegger a bit more dialogue without cheapening the impact of its mechanic and cold analytical views. Schwarzenegger who’s no stranger to being the hero, suits the role comfortably without forcing it. Replacing Schwarzenegger’s previous role is Patrick, who’s just as cold, cruel and murderous, killing everyone that stands in his way of his mission.
The themes of humanity’s reliance on what will inevitably kill them is amplified in JUDGEMENT DAY as Sarah comes to hatch a plan to use the Terminator’s unstoppable drive to put an end to SkyNet before it can become the greatest threat known to man. It also helps when you utilize your worst enemy’s greatest tool. Furlong, whose dialogue is seemingly all ADR, provides a nice balance to the Terminator.
Once he realizes he can control the Terminator, because inherently he sent it back, he controls it to go against its protocol to murder. There are even moments where the two bond, much like a father and son. The scenes of them together, chatting about life in general, makes you wonder if the Terminator is genuinely curious about humanity’s quirks or is simply initiating a program that calms his master’s fears.
Once the T-1000 finds Connor and attempts to kill him in a busy shopping mall, JUDGEMENT DAY doesn’t let up. The action sequences feel natural as they flow into one another, using the action to not only progress the story but peel back layers of the characters psyche. By 2017 standards, the action sequences are barely dated and are still as thrilling. The graphics are a little rough, they still surpass the late night SyFy Channel graphics featured in SHARKNADO by miles.
JUDGEMENT DAY is a classic, in terms of action, sci-fi and pure popcorn entertainment. Cameron is responsible for some iconic films, like THE ABYSS, TITANIC and even TRUE LIES. The man is a perfectionist and it spills over into every facet of his work. Seemingly without effort, Cameron created a franchise and helped lay the building blocks for a geeky subculture to build a universe around. Just Google THE TERMINATOR and see what kind of books, fan fiction, comics and games have been spawned from his ideas. They’re all wonderful and add another fascinating backstory to the rich tapestry, but nothing can ever top JUDGEMENT DAY.
Note: the following video/audio portion of the review was written by Brad Sturdivant
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: When it comes to writing 4K reviews for movies that are 25+ years old, you can go one of two ways. You can focus on comparing it to all versions that have come before it and take into consideration the source material, or you can compare it to the reference quality discs that exist today. Thankfully, I didn’t have to decide which route to take with TERMINATOR 2 because not only is this the best this film will ever look, it also looks fantastic, even by recent 4K release standards. Is it perfect? No, but it’s close. If you want to nitpick certain scenes, you can find some faults, usually whenever live action and heavy CGI meet. And this goes back to the fact you’re watching CGI from 26 years ago. But if you become laser focused on the imperfections, you’re going to miss out on how impressive this transfer is. Look at the scene as Arnold and Edward Furlong are riding on the motorcycle early in the film; everything in the scene is crystal clear. I’ve avoided saying this in a 4K review because I know how hokey it sounds, but I’ll say it here; watching T2 on 4K UHD made it feel like I was watching it for the first time. This is a movie I’ve seen dozens of times, but I noticed details this viewing I had never noticed before. This is a great looking transfer for an older film and one that even casual fans should pick up.
Audio: The DTS-MA track is impressive in its own right, but I’m sure certain fans will complain at the lack of Dolby Atmos or DTS-X audio.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film that I believe carries over many of the special features found on the previous SkyNet edition Blu-ray. That said, I didn’t recognize the 55 minute documentary, which includes some new(ish) interviews with the stars and filmmakers.