The new Terminator 2 Blu-Ray arrived earlier this week. It’s an interesting one - there are definitely some reasons for fans to check it out, but there are also some elements that aren’t ideal.
One of the major reasons to check it out is the documentary - a new hour-long retrospective that features interviews with most of the major players involved with the movie (with the notable exception of Linda Hamilton), and runs through the conception, production and release of the film. Due to its length, it only has time to touch on a lot of things fairly lightly, but it’s a reasonably comprehensive look at the movie.
It’s great to see some of the original screen-test performances for some of the actors involved (including a very young Furlong, an interesting section with the T-1000 dressed in the old Arnie biker leathers - a weird combination - and shaky footage of Hamilton’s first day of weapons training), and hear them talk about their approach to their characters. Everyone is also fairly candid about the making of the movie - with Cameron openly admitting that he did it for the money, Arnie saying he initially thought the idea of a ‘good’ Terminator was idiotic, and several of the key ideas within the film being motivated as much by practical circumstances as being active creative choices.
The hardest interview segments to watch are the ones with Furlong, though. I never previously appreciated that he obviously had a hard life before making the movie - the casting director talks about him being small and malnourished when he was originally discovered in a youth club - and he has clearly had a rough time of it since.
I appreciated his willingness to talk on the documentary, but some of the stuff he says is heartbreaking - such as how he channelled his unhappy feelings about his own home and family when acting in some of the more emotional scenes of the movie, and how he looks back on his days filming T2 as being the best times of his life. And to be frank, he looks a bit of a mess in general in his talking-heads segments. I’m glad he did it but it’s sad to see. I hope he gets a break soon.
Anyway, the documentary is very good, and required viewing for a Terminator fan. There’s also lots of old material included as extras - including the previous 1993 making-of, all the trailers, and the two deleted scenes (with the T-1000 searching John’s room and with the abandoned future-set ending) that have all been seen on previous sets.
As for the film itself, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Not the movie (obviously!), but the presentation of it here.
Having read quite a few reviews of the Blu-Ray before buying it, I can see where the complaints are coming from. While the picture looks very sharp (I’m not a geek about technical stuff, but it seems like a very marginal improvement over my old Blu-Ray copy), I can see what people mean about the DNR making people look a bit plastic-y and waxwork-like.
The colour timing is also quite interesting - there’s a definite case of orange-and-teal here, with an odd overly-cold blueness to some scenes, and some of the gentler, warmer colours of previous versions done away with. It’s more noticeable in some scenes than others - for example, the famous bar scene where Arnie gets his clothes, boots and motorcycle. I remember this as having a noticeable pink haziness to it, but it’s quite cold and blue-looking here.
You don’t necessarily notice this kind of thing a huge amount while watching the regular edition as the colour is all very consistent, but if you watch the extended edition of the film (my preferred version) - which on this Blu-Ray uses seamless branching to cut between the old and new material - the colour changes really stick out.
That’s because the stuff that isn’t in the theatrical edition hasn’t been similarly overhauled, so you’ll get jarring switches from one colour palette to another, often within the same scene. The corridors in Sarah’s hospital go from blue-ish to pink and back, John Connor’s home suddenly looks like the walls have been painted a different colour, stuff like that.
The new colour rarely looks wrong (although there are a couple of bits in the opening future-war scene where yellow-orange explosions look like they’re tinted green at the edges), it’s just different, and actually more in line with the remastered version of the original Terminator from a few years ago.
There are some good comparison pictures here, anyway, if you want to see more detail of what I’m talking about:
It’s interesting that this version has also seen Cameron make some slight ‘fixes’ to the movie - but they’re very minor changes (more on the scale of the Blade Runner Final Cut than the Star Wars Special Editions). There’s a bit where an obvious stuntman in the bike/truck chase sequence has had his face replaced with Arnie’s; the truck windscreen has been reinstated in one or two shots to correct a continuity error; a couple of effects elements (wires and concealed limbs) have been erased in the steel mill sequence. It’s all unobtrusive stuff that you don’t even notice when watching, so it doesn’t matter much to me either way.
Ultimately, I think the movie still looks great in this version (despite the niggles above), and it remains one of those incredibly watchable and enjoyable films of the kind that if you start watching it from any point in the story, it becomes very difficult to turn off. For less than a tenner this is well worth picking up for fans, and the new documentary is the icing on the cake.
If you’re reading this far into this post then you probably love the Terminator movies as much as I do, and buying this Blu-Ray has reminded me what a brilliant film T2 is, how much of it is seared into my mind from countless rewatches, and how much genuine affection I have for the film. This release does it justice, and has got me excited about the movie all over again.