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Reviewed September 25th, 2000 by Brian White


Terminator 2 is one of those movies that you really can’t avoid buying when you’re into home theatre. Like the Matrix, it should be included as firmware on all DVD players, as pretty much everyone ends up buying it anyway. It has already been released on DVD, and isn’t that bad. However, the previous release can’t touch the bag of goodies that is the Ultimate Edition. In the tradition of the feature-packed Abyss DVD, also directed by James Cameron, T2 is way over the top when it comes to the goodies that home theatre enthusiasts enjoy.

The story, if you’ve just come out from under that rock, is quite simple: this is a sequel, but you’re not missing anything if you haven’t seen the first Terminator from ‘84. In the future, man and machine go to war. The machines send a robot back in time to kill a military leader while he’s still in his youth. The humans reprogram another robot and send him (Arnold) back in time to prevent the other robot from killing the boy. That’s it. The movie is one long chase sequence. However, it’s a VERY COOL chase sequence with more whistles and bells than could be expected. While not Shakespeare, this movie hits every mark that it aims at. It is completely successful in telling the story it sets out to tell. Schwarzenegger was at the height of his popularity. If you want even more, you can select a special edition as well as the theatrical release.

This flick redefines the popcorn movie. The evil terminator can moph into any form. ILM created some truly awe-inspiring special effects. At the time, computer graphics had never been blended with live action in such a convincing way. Seeing this spectacle was a great experience; something completely new. The gee-whiz factor has settled somewhat in the ten years since, but it’s still quite nifty.

Before DVD, the T2 laserdisc was very much a demonstration disc. The most recent DVD incarnation lives up to that. While the brand new surround mix (the DD 5.1 mix, anyway) is not as overblown as that on Independence Day, it still gives all speakers a workout. And if you’re lucky enough to have a 7.1 (or a DYI 6.1) system, the mix is THX-EX. Geek note: the THX promo at the beginning even takes on a Terminator 2 theme… way too cool. Very cool. That’s not it though: there’s ALSO a DTS-ES mix. What does it sound like? I dunno, but I bet it’s cool too.

The new anamorphic, 2.35:1 transfer is absolutely beautiful. That THX certification thing actually means something every now and then. A THX “test signal package” is included to help the user configure all those speakers and that monitor.

The volume of extras is ridiculous. Perhaps this is a record. A second disc, or the flip-side of a DVD-18 (depending on where you buy it) is required for all of the extra goodies. There are two cuts of the film, the two 5.1 soundtracks, and an audio commentary stitched together from cast and crew interviews, and moved forward by creative supervisor Van Ling. Two documentaries detail all those great effects, a third featurette covers the T2 3D ride at Universal Studios. DVD ROM features include the script and a “virtual film school” suppliment. I should rent a PS2 to figure out what the heck that means. The packaging warns of possible navigation issues with some players. No such problems were encountered on my setup.

Minor gripe: It would have been nice to hear Cameron do a screen-specific commentary. Bring on the Ultimate Titanic DVD!

This disc is overwhelming. There are more extras here than you need! Don’t waste time. Buy it while it still comes in that fancy metal sleeve.


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