Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Directed By: James Cameron
Running Time: 137 Minutes
UK Release Date: 29 August 2017
BBFC Certificate: 15
Terminator 2: Judgement Day 3D is in UK cinemas for one day only – August 29th 2017
There are few things in life that are better than revisiting one of your all-time favourite films on the big screen. I would hope that most people who read this will have seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day since its initial release in 1991 – I first watched this amazing film when I was 8 (I know, a bit young). It was the catalyst for my love of movies and while most people grew up with Star Wars, I had a film about a boy and a cyborg.
Since then I have owned various versions of the film and finally saw the Special Edition on the big screen to promote Terminator Salvation in 2009. It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing a film I have watched more than 40 times become something new in a different environment, with an audience full of die-hard fans and those who haven’t seen it before enjoying the spectacle.
It was a fantastic experience that’s now been bested by this new 4K 3D transfer – and if you haven’t seen Terminator 2 before then you must go to see this limited release! However, if you have seen it before then you still must go to see this limited release!
For those who don’t know the story, an integrated military missile defence computer system called Skynet becomes self-aware on August 29th 1997 and instigates a global nuclear attack. The survivors of the war face a new danger; a war against the machines which lasts for decades.
John Connor leads the human resistance and on the eve of victory, Skynet sends a Terminator (a metal endoskeleton surrounded by living tissue which looks like an Austrian bodybuilder) back to 1984 to kill John’s mother Sarah, but John sends back soldier Kyle Reese to protect her. In doing so Kyle becomes John’s father and sacrifices himself to save Sarah, who then ultimately destroys the Terminator in a hydraulic press.
Fast forward to 1995 (and Terminator 2) and a second Terminator is sent back in time to kill John. As before, the resistance is able to send back a protector – one who looks exactly the same as the bad guy from the first movie. But it’s just a question of which one will reach him first…
There are many things that I love about this film and I’d advise skipping this paragraph if you haven’t seen it. Firstly, there is the role reversal of two central characters. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has gone from a young naive waitress to a hardened solider who is prepared to kill to protect her son John (Edward Furlong) and prevent the war. By contrast the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has gone from an unstoppable killing machine to a guardian. While this T-800 model cyborg evolves throughout the movie to become more human, the emotionless and often closed mouthed T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is a genuinely chilling and menacing villain.
There’s also the philosophical side, which delves into human nature and our desire to destroy ourselves; scientists creating an advanced A.I. without thinking of the potential consequences; and as John teaches humanity to the Terminator the film asks the eternal question: what makes us human?
To be honest this review is biased as it’s for one of my all-time favourite films but I have 3 main questions about this re-release.
What version is it?
It’s the theatrical version, which is fine but I much prefer the Special Edition as the extra scenes add depth to the characters and the plot, and the scene where Sarah and John access the Terminator’s CPU is one of the best deleted scenes of all time.
Does the 3D or 4K transfer add anything new?
In all honesty the 3D doesn’t add much. One of the opening shots of a scorched Los Angeles looks great and there are a few moments where guns being pointed at the screen pop out, but on the whole the 3D isn’t anything special. The majority of 3D films we see these days are shot in 2D and the 3D effect is added in post-production. Take any Marvel film and everyone will tell you that the overall picture is fairly dark so that the 3D elements, mostly CGI, stand out.
This is not the case with Terminator 2 as the overall picture is bright and rich with colour and this is thanks to the amazing 4K transfer. A few years ago I was all for 3D re-releases of classic films, but after seeing this restoration I am all for 4K! It was like seeing this film for the first time and the overall picture quality is stunning! The familiar environments look amazing due to the colours and lighting, and unsurprisingly it’s a lot richer compared to the VHS copy I grew up with.
A few shots have been brushed up and noticeably for the better. For example the shot of the Terminator descending into a storm drain on a motorbike has been altered so that you can’t see the wires and Schwarzenegger’s head has been superimposed on top of the stuntman’s. These are little changes but the danger of any digital restoration is exposing or aging the special effects, but the ground breaking T-1000 effects still hold up remarkably well compared to current uses of CGI.
The sound has also been remixed and audibly polished. The countless explosions really leap out and Brad Fiedel’s iconic score has never sounded better.
How well has the film aged and how does it compare to modern action movies?
In all honesty it has aged remarkably well due to its locations, costume design and overbearing themes of fear of technology and nuclear war, which are still prominent today.
Granted this film helped pioneer CGI but its use of practical effects, models and animatronics add a sense of realism which I feel has been lost in the majority of modern action movies, ironically due to the liberal use of CGI. The film is ultimately one long chase sequence with a never-ending sense of dread. It remains one of the all-time best action movies with some of the greatest action sequences put to film, which are still thrilling to watch 26 years later.
Director James Cameron’s perfectionist approach to his films has done nothing but produce some of the best and highest grossing films of the last few decades. Without doubt this is his finest work, and the ending still has the ability to reduce grown men to tears.
Overall Verdict: I urge you all to get a ticket to this one day event screening as you will be seeing one of the best action films ever made either for the first time, or seeing it again in a brand new light. Terminator 2 is a masterclass in storytelling and action, and even if you have seen it before you deserve to see it again.
Reviewer: George Elcombe