Terminator 2: Judgement Day 4K Ultra HD
He's Back! Check out our review of Terminator 2: Judgement Day on 4K!
This review covers the 4k Ultra HD/Blu-ray set.
Ten years after stopping a cyborg from the future from killing her, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) discovers that her son John (Edward Furlong) is now facing a new challenge: two Terminators have been sent back in time and are looking for him. One, however, is programmed for a very different mission. Stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Robert Patrick. Produced and Directed by James Cameron.
In the special features of the T2 4K Blu-ray, director James Cameron admits that initially, he wasn’t exactly keen on doing a sequel to the surprise 1984 hit. Producer Mario Kassar convinced him to do it (a big payday helped), and movie fans worldwide were treated with a film that stands easily as one of the greatest action/sci-fi movies ever made. At the time, Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the most expensive movie ever made, but the viewer sees every last penny on the screen, in a film that is both epic and personal, equal parts roller coaster ride and cautionary morality tale.
While most sci-fi films age poorly, T2 is the rare exception: its lesson on the dangers of an over-reliance on technology has only gotten more timely in today’s internet age. With every new innovation in robotics, someone will always make a Terminator joke, and the role of the internet in our daily live makes Skynet no longer a far-fetched concept.
Rather than go on about a film that has been reviewed over and over for decades, let’s focus instead on what the 4K offers us, and in particular, what you get in the Limited Edition Terminator EndoArm Set. I should note that this appears to be basically the same 4K release put out by Lionsgate last year, but without that version to compare, I cannot say definitively that this is the same video transfer from the 2017 release, which was initially delayed for quality issues initially. For hard-core collectors though, the prop set is the main draw for this release.
Retailing at $174.99, the EndoArm Set is numbered to only 6,000 worldwide and will feature (in addition to the 4K Blu-ray) a life-size replica of the T-800 EndoArm on a “Terminator” base with James Cameron’s facsimile signature on it. The replica is spot-on, but note that it is made of plastic, not metal. Still, it makes for a cool-looking conversation piece.
For the 4K release, we get to watch our choice of one of three different versions of the film: the original theatrical release, the “Special Edition” version, and the “Extended Special Edition” version. The original theatrical version is viewable in 4K, but two other versions include previously cut scenes that aren’t remastered or restored, and are only available to view on the Blu-ray. The image quality difference in the extra scenes is noticeable, as the color correction and film grain does not match the surrounding scenes.
The special edition versions include some notable additions, including the “emotion chip” scene and the original alternate ending. There’s also a great dream sequence which brings back Michael Biehn.
There aren’t many better action films than T2 - I’d only rank Cameron’s Aliens and McTiernan’s Die Hard ahead of it - and this 4K release is certainly a necessity to truly appreciate what Cameron achieved here.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
I’ve been into 4K for only a few months, and while I have loved the look of newer blockbusters in the format, watching classics like T2 in 4K resolution really gives an appreciation for just how amazing the resolution quality can be. This isn’t a perfect transfer, but the upgrade in quality overall is impressive.
I’ve been disappointed in other home video releases of T2, which showed too much noise and grain, and overall did not look as good as I remember seeing it in a theater in 1991. The video transfer for this disc is the same restoration used for the 2017 3D release, as the opening titles refer to the 3D version. Obviously, there isn’t a 3D version included here, so it is strange that some effort wasn’t made to clip that reference from the opening titles.
While the 4k transfer, at times, can be jaw-dropping in its quality, it appears Cameron (who reportedly oversaw the restoration) employed digital noise reduction (DNR) to sharpen the image and reduce film grain. In some aspects, the result is great - I did not think a film that is over 25 years old could look this good, with a level of detail that looks like it was shot yesterday.
The use of DNR, however, can compromise the quality of the image and add an overall appearance far different from the original theatrical presentation. For example, Disney’s use of DNR on some of its animated classics changed the overall look, and not for the better, Colors were over-corrected to be too bright and cheery, resulting in an overall mess.
For T2, the use of DNR means a loss of film grain, and most will love how sharp it looks, but some close-ups look a bit too artificial. Thankfully the DNR isn’t too pronounced to ruin the video presentation.
If there is a drawback to the 4K transfer, it is that the high resolution does betray some of the special effects. The practical models (like the fake Arnold head) don’t translate very well, and some of the CGI separates itself a bit from the rest of the image. Amazingly, however, most of the effects were so well done that they hold up under this new transfer.
The audio is a standout, with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs. It will give your system the workout you expect - loud, boisterous, and floor-rattling. I saw T2 in a theater on opening night, and the sound system was so perfectly set that Brad Fiedel’s score during the opening credits sent a pulsating bass through the seats like no other film had before. On my home DTS system, I got that exact same playback and experience watching the 4K.
However, 5.1 DTS is a standard for Blu-ray, and 4K discs often feature Dolby Atmos mixes with 7.1 sound. It is disappointing that a better quality sound mix wasn’t included - at least in English. The German audio track on the 4K disc is 7.1 DTS, which makes you wonder why the English version wasn’t included.
It’s surprising that for the 4K release of such a landmark film, there aren’t more extras included in the set. The headliner here is a new retrospective documentary, with all-new interviews, and it’s very well done. Deleted scenes and trailers are also included.
The special features included in the set are:
Three Versions of the Film. As mentioned earlier, There are three different versions of the film to watch: The Theatrical Version (137 minutes), The Special Edition version (154 minutes), and The Extended Special Edition Version (156 minutes). Only the theatrical version is available to watch in 4K.
“T2: Reprogramming the Terminator” documentary. This new documentary, produced just for this 4K release, includes new interviews with most of the principals, including Schwarzenegger, Cameron, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, William Wisher (co-writer), and Dennis Muren (Visual Effects Supervisor), among others. Running Time: 54:07
“The Making of T2” featurette. This featurette, produced in 1993, reeks of cheesy 90s over-promotion, but there’s a great behind-the-scenes footage to see, as well as a vintage Arnold interview. Unfortunately, the video quality is terrible, which is likely due to the original source material. Running time: 30:54
Deleted Scenes. Two deleted scenes, “T-1000’s Search” and “Future Coda,” are included. The T-1000 scene (involving a search of John Connor’s bedroom by the T-1000) can be viewed with an optional commentary by James Cameron and Robert Patrick. The “Future Coda” scene (with the alternate ending) can be viewed with an optional commentary by James Cameron, Linda Hamilton, and the late Stan Winston.
Two Audio Commentaries. Two fantastic commentaries are included with the film. In one, 23 different members of the cast and crew are included via interview excerpts, with Van Ling acting as a host, introducing voices to the commentary so you know who is talking. Everyone from Schwarzenegger to Cameron to Linda Hamilton is featured. A very informative, interesting commentary to listen to.
The second commentary features a pretty informative James Cameron and William Wisher discussing their approach to writing the film. Cameron is fascinating to listen to, as he explains his creative process throughout the movie.
Trailers. Four trailers are included: “2017,” “This Time, There Are Two,” “Same Make, New Mission,” and “Building the Perfect Arnold.” The 2017 trailer promotes the 3D version of the film, which is sadly not included in this set. The other trailers are various vintage trailers, including the “There Are Two” trailer, which included a clip of the deleted Michael Biehn dream sequence. The “Building the Perfect Arnold” trailer is the infamous teaser, showing no footage from the film, but instead a specially-made clip of the T-800 being made.
Ultraviolet Exclusive Extras. Redeeming the digital code actually provided three featurettes not available on the Blu-ray disc:
*“More Than Meets the Eye” (Running Time 22:02) is a behind-the-scenes special made for Showtime, featuring a number of interviews with the cast.
*“No Feat But What We Make” (Running Time 24:23) explores the special effects of the film.
*“T2: On The Set” (Running Time: 8:22) is a collection of B-roll from the set.
Digital Copy. An Ultraviolet code, which can unlock a digital version of the theatrical film with services like VUDU, is included. Strangely, the code only unlocks an HD version of the film, not a 4K version.
Release Date: July 17, 2018
Running Time: 137 minutes (theatrical version)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, German 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Audio Description (Theatrical Only)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German
Special Features: Three versions of the film; “T2: Reprogramming the Terminator” documentary; “The Making of T2” featurette; Deleted Scenes; Digital Copy.
Audio Commentary: Two commentaries - one with 23 members of the cast and crew, and one with James Cameron and co-writer William Wisher.