Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (Skynet Edition) ** Blu-ray **
Arguably the finest movie of its kind, Terminator 2: Judgment Day captured Arnold Schwarzenegger at the very apex of his Hollywood celebrity and James Cameron at the peak of his perfectionist directorial powers. Nothing the star did subsequently measured up to his iconic performance here, spouting legendary catchphrases and wielding weaponry with unparalleled cool; and while the director had an even bigger hit with the bloated and sentimental Titanic, few followers of his career would deny that Cameron's true forte has always been sci-fi action. With an incomparably bigger budget than its 1984 precursor, T2 essentially reworks the original scenario with envelope-stretching special effects and simply more, more, more of everything. Yet, for all its scale, T2 remains at heart a classic sci-fi tale: robots running amok, time travel paradoxes and dystopian future worlds are recurrent genre themes, which are here simply revitalised by Cameron's glorious celebration of the mechanistic. From the V-twin roar of a Harley Fat Boy to the metal-crunching Steel Mill finale, the director's fascination with machines is this movie's strongest motif: it's no coincidence that the character with whom the audience identifies most strongly is a robot. Now that impressive but unengaging CGI effects have come to over-dominate sci-fi movies (think of The Phantom Menace), T2's pivotal blending of extraordinary live-action stuntwork and FX looks more and more like it will never be equalled.
On the DVD: Oh, if only every DVD could be like this. Here is a DVD package worthy of this monumental movie, with so many extra features the viewer will spend hours simply trying to find them all (the animated menus alone are worth watching over and over again.) On the second disc there are three extensive documentaries (all good, all relatively straightforward), but things get more complicated as you burrow down through the menu layers of Cyberdyne Systems into the "Data Hub": the entire screenplay, storyboards, text features, dozens and dozens of video clips, deleted scenes, and thousands of stills.
The movie disc itself will cause even hardened surround-sound enthusiasts to gasp with joy as these explosive soundscapes come alive in Dolby 5.1 or DTS (hear that Harley roar!), while the anamorphic widescreen picture of the original theatrical 2.35:1 ratio is jaw-droppingly impressive. The exhaustive commentary is a patchwork of interviews with various key cast and crew members. The only disappointment here is that, unlike the almost identical Region 1 version, this Region 2 package does not include the DVD-ROM features nor the option to play the original theatrical release and the hidden "Ultimate Edition"--the only version here is the Director's Cut Special Edition, although the few extra scenes that make up the "Ultimate" edit can still be found in the "Data Core" section of the second disc. --Mark Walker
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robert Patrick, Joe Morton, Jenette Goldstein, Edward FurlongDirectors: James Cameron, Adam Greenberg