T2: JUDGMENT DAY: Blu-Ray (Carolco, 1991) Alliance Atlantis Home Video
Interesting, in retrospect, to consider where the career of Arnold Schwarzenegger might have gone had it not been for The Terminator (1984), the movie to effectively take his little known presence outside of the niche sport of bodybuilding, and elevate not only the stature of the man, but the sport itself to Herculean popularity with the masses. Consider this: that the ‘fitness craze’ was not a ‘thing’ until Schwarzenegger’s arrival on our movie screens, suddenly to make every teenage boy in the audience want to possess the bulging body of a superhero: even more impressive, given Schwarzenegger’s role in the original Terminator was that of the villain. It mattered not his cyborg killer was out to decimate mankind. Arnold became the instant sun god of the steroid sect, parlaying his Mr. Olympia’s into a movie career that spawned imitators aplenty. Muscles were suddenly sexy again and the bigger the better. So, gyms – then, possessing no real corporate sponsorship, and, once thought of as grungy little bastions for the socially insecure and superficially vane, suddenly became fashionable and mainstream; their designer grade status further elevated as some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Sylvester Stallone and Jane Fonda began putting out their own ‘get healthy’ vibes to promote the lifestyle. Clearly, Schwarzenegger’s influence had grown beyond his biceps, which were formidable to say the least.
Owing to the phenomenal success of The Terminator, director, James Cameron always intended to follow up with a sequel. For one reason or another, seven years would elapse before Terminator II: Judgment Day (1991) made it to the big screen. By then, Schwarzenegger was a household word, having come to dominate the summer blockbuster in a series of rough-and-ready adventure yarns that pit his brawn against seemingly insurmountable odds. Alas, legends do pass their prime, and Schwarzenegger’s was ever so slightly on the wane by the time Cameron came to call for this sequel. Indeed, Schwarzenegger’s physical colossus had shifted with the trajectory of focus on his future ambitions. No longer considered a pro bodybuilder, the Schwarzenegger emerging in Terminator II would not be privy to any such gratuitously impressive full nudie shots as he had appeared in for the original sci-fi classic. Instead, he would be sheathed in a brutally weather-beaten bomber jacket, T2 allowing only for the briefest glimpses of Schwarzenegger’s still well-developed chest, during an early bar room brawl. Also, this time around Schwarzenegger would be cast – not as the evil incarnate cyborg, threatening to finish the job he had begun in the original movie, but as Sarah Connor’s savior, reprogrammed by the humans of the future, and, sent back in time to protect her from an even more lethal derivative of the A.I. intelligence, capable of replicating itself into any human form, thus making it far more difficult to spot.
This wrinkle in T2's script, co-authored by James Cameron and William Wisher Jr. proved winning with audiences who, by now, would likely not have accepted Schwarzenegger as anything less than the hero of the piece. As such, his ‘terminator’ has been reprogrammed in the future by the human resistance and sent back to 1995, to endure both Sarah Connor and her child, John (Edward Furlong) – the future leader of the resistance, live out their natural lives. Our story picks up some years after the ominous finale of the original movie. After attempting to blow up Cyberdyne Systems - the company inadvertently responsible for the looming future apocalypse - Sarah (Linda Hamilton) has been incarcerated in a ‘maximum security’ institution for the criminally insane. John's foster parents, Janelle (Jenette Goldstein) and Todd (Xander Berkeley) have a loose hold on their young charge who has been reduced to the status of a common punk in the absence of any real parenting. Meanwhile, John's futurist assassin, the T-1000 terminator (Robert Patrick) has arrived in the present to destroy him. Able to assume the body of anyone he touches, the T-1000 murders a police officer and assimilates his presence to search for John.
Discovering John at a local arcade, the T-1000 is thwarted by the original Terminator. After a harrowing chase on motorcycle, the Terminator and John become more intimately acquainted and John realizes all the stories his mother told him while he was growing up about being a great warrior in the future are true. The Terminator and John break into the facility housing Sarah on the eve she is also poised to stage her own daring escape. The T-1000 arrives and another violent confrontation ensues with The Terminator, Sarah and John narrowly escaping. Isolated and alone once again, Sarah is determined to murder Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton), the brilliant computer systems engineer who will inadvertently create the technology that destroys civilization. Paring off from John and The Terminator, Sarah arrives at Miles uber-modern home and narrowly carries out her plan. She is prevented in completing the assassination by John and the Terminator with Miles learning the truth about his stake in the future. Thereafter, he vows to help Sarah, John and the Terminator destroy all of his research currently housed at Cyberdyne Systems.
Unfortunately, the police are alerted to the break-in at Cyberdyne. In the resulting mayhem, Miles is killed by sniper fire and the T-1000 relocates Sarah, John and The Terminator. Racing down a lonely California highway, the T-1000 meets up with his targets at a smelting plant. The Terminator fires several rounds into a tank of liquid nitrogen and momentarily freezes the T-1000. However, the intense heat from the smelting furnaces reverses this effect and the T-1000 pursues John and Sarah to a scaffold high above a pit of molten steel. The Terminator, badly beaten by the T-1000, manages to fire several rounds into the T-1000, knocking it into the boiling pit below. The intense heat is enough to vaporize the seemingly indestructible machine, and Sarah and John look on as the immediate threat to their well-being is wiped out. However, in order to secure a different future for humanity, the Terminator reasons he too must be destroyed. Sarah agrees. After a bittersweet farewell with John, Sarah lowers the Terminator into the molten furnace where he too perishes.
The most expensive movie made to its date, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an even more bleak and depressing sci-fi saga than its predecessor. Yes, there are memorable action sequences a plenty and, then, state of the art special effects supplied by Industrial Light and Magic and Stan Winston to distract the viewer from the obvious message beneath all the pyrotechnics. However, the sobering reality, that mankind may one day invent its own doomsday device, is ultimately what remains most enduring in the memory. Intelligently wrought, but devastatingly dour, T2 grossed a whopping $519 million worldwide, reaffirming that Cameron and company would return yet again for another bite at apple. However, in the years since the sequel’s release, the reality of world events suggest we may somehow actually be nearer to Cameron’s danger zone timeline of extinction than originally thought. In the final analysis, T2 is remains a movie of few questions, and, even fewer answers.
Alliance Atlantis Skynet Blu-Ray edition of T2 easily bests any of multiple re-issues the movie has endured on standard DVD. One immediate complaint – the prolonged delay upload of the movie, even on today’s state-of-the-art players. After several long moments a message appears on players not hooked up to the internet, prompting either retry the disc or cancel its operation entire. Selecting 'cancel' will force independent players to upload content available on the disc only. As for the image, it is much improved over previously issued DVD’s. However, it is far from perfect. The biggest complaint comes in overall refinement. The image here just seems softer than it did before. Contrast levels are anemic with a loss of fine detail as the direct result. Colors less punchy too. Close-ups and medium shots render adequate detail. However, establishing shots remain wholly unimpressive. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and not up to snuff for a thrill ride experience of this vintage. Extras on the disc alone are limited to audio commentaries and a few vintage junkets. Bottom line: not an exceptional transfer.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)