Terminator 2: Judgment Day Skynet Edition Blu-ray Review
The disc presents all three films as theatrically correct widescreen 2.35:1 1080p transfers encoded with the VC-1 codec. Although I concentrate on the director's cut picture, its relevance can be transferred to all of the versions presented.
The transfer used in this edition is close to the Studio Canal print on the HD DVD version and an examination of the two yields some tweaking. First up what is most apparent is the slight contrast change that has brought out some stronger primaries in the new edition; the blue is rather deeper, check out when Arnie first arrives, the blue of his skin, of the trucks and background. Look too at the reds of the damaged caused by the time sphere to the ground and truck, they are brighter, more vivid; this is better seen when we are introduced to the teenage John, the red of the tool box in the garage is deeper, more vivid. The opening of this panning shot shows the street with a water sprinkler, the contrast is not as harsh here as on the HD DVD, the whites and edges are cleaner and more defined. Fire and explosions have always looked 'hot' and they still do here. This contrast change has brought out the black level even more so, being deeper and more significant adding to the frame depth.
Cameron's filming style and stock have always meant that Terminator 2 is a rather course looking film, the backgrounds have always been somewhat hazy and ill-defined while close up detail suffers with a lack of clarity; grain too has always played its part in the look and shape of the picture. This, in part, was addressed with 1080p, the greater resolution bringing out much more than was previously visible, I point to the T1000's four hands during the helicopter chase, which are now extremely well defined and visible, whereas this used to be almost guesswork. This new edition is now even clearer and more detailed and includes a reduction of grain. Backgrounds are still somewhat hazy, they always will be, but definition is definitely a little better, take a look at that beginning garage scene, the depth to the street, the grass, the drops of water from the sprinkler, look close at the texture of the tool box; these have greater clarity than before. Close up detail has also benefited, skin detail, clothing weaves and endoskeleton are all better defined than ever they were. But what of the grain reduction? Has DNR been applied? I spent an age comparing and contrasting several scenes, much to the chagrin of my wife, trying to answer that question. It is true that there appears less grain on the new version. It also appears there is greater detail. These two don't normally go together. So, I have come to the conclusion that while the increase picture quality must be due to a higher bitrate than has previously been given to the film - having the benefit of raising the detail level and thus reducing noise, but there has still been some slight cleaning up of the image.
Digitally there were no compression problems, no posterization or artifacting, the “protect and serve” on the police door still looks to contain the merest hint of edge enhancement otherwise this was a non issue too. In all a spectacular image, not a massive improvement and whether or not that merit's an upgrade is up to you, however this is best looking it ever will be, even if, due to the inherent filming process, it will always fall just short of reference.
Of the sound tracks included for the film I concentrate on the English DTS HD-MA 6.1. Terminator 2 has always had an aggressive surround mix and it is replicated faithfully here. Right from the off, the future battle scene sets the tone for the film, with deep rumblings from the sub for explosions, filling out the thump of gun shots (both laser and gunpowder), sweeping directionality, ambient effects assaulting the surrounds, covered smoothly by the score and Sarah's monologue being clearly audible over all the mayhem. This is pretty much the way of things through out the run time. Surrounds bring up ambience when called upon, with plenty of effects, both stereo and front/back when needed. Bass is solid to ground everything with plenty of LF effects, the best of which is probably the destruction of the Cyberdyne labs, a hefty rumble with debris spraying around the room.
Dialogue is always natural sounding and never lost in the action. The score is fantastic with the metallic chimes and bass keeping the neighbours up. In all a terrific action based sound track that matches well the actions going on, on screen. A shade away from reference.
It should be noted that there are some issues loading up this disc when using a PC and Total Media Theatre. Basically when the disc boots it opens to a “confidential Skynet information” pre-menu page, a map of your continent listing your actual location plus other useless bits of info like temperature. From here, if internet enabled, will load a “full animation menu”, a big wobbly light circling in the centre of the picture. TMT crashes at this point, even if it manages to get past the first pre-menu. Patches are coming out soon, but that did not help our reviewer Gerry Magnier, who was down to cover this title (and compare against the previous Blu-ray release) who had to admit defeat since we needed this title published.
- Audio Commentaries
A reprising of the two previously recorded commentaries from 1993 and 2003 respectively.
The first is with twenty six of the production crew and contains a wealth of information that never stops coming. I found it best to watch with the subtitles option since it gave you a picture of who was talking making for a far more enjoyable experience.
The second is with Cameron and co-writer William Wysher and is certainly no slouch. Cameron created these characters and this world and his passion for them is unparallel, this enthusiasm comes across as he speaks in what is a thoroughly informative and entertaining track.
- Deleted scenes (Ancillary Data)- 0.01.27 and 1.01.50 HD
The two deleted scenes (T1000's search and alternate ending) can be played with or without commentary, nothing new and can been seen incorporated in the SCE.
As the name suggests, trailers for the film, including two theatrical, teaser, special edition and the THX logo, all nicely rendered in 1080.
- Interactive features
A whole host of material here, much of it culled from previous edition DVDs, presented as overlays to the film.
Picture in Picture (Visual Implants) shows a number of behind the scenes filming, interviews and the like the pop up at during the relevant section of the film.
Trivia track (Trivia Data Overlay) provides much information, recycled or otherwise, about everything happening on screen.
Production trivia track (Production Data Overlay) details about specific shots locations etc.
Production drawings and information (Linked Data Modules) has pop up pictures with a commentary about them.
Storyboard pictures (Source Code) various storyboard pictures pop up during their relevant scenes.
Some of these can be viewed simultaneously, doesn't really clutter the screen since the overlays are in the 'black bars', and although all the info can be found on other releases it pretty good to be able to access it all during the film.
Interactive games (Query Mode and Processor Tests) answer questions and play 'minigames' during the film run - keeps a note of your score so you can come back anytime.
Another wealth of information here and not just the 'ad for Terminator Salvation' that you might think. A number of behind the scene featurettes that can be downloaded or streamed include:
Making T2, the 1991 production feature running at 31 minutes
T2 More than meets the eye, the 1993 EPK feature discussing the missing scenes, runs 22 minutes
Making of T2 3D, the 1996 feature of the MCA/Universal 3d themepark ride
No Feat but what we Make, the 2003 feature discussing Cameron's and this films contribution to digital effects in films
A host of Japanese trailers, teasers A,B and C and the theatrical trailers A,B and C
There is a chess game and a database section telling you what you already know about cast and crew.
Motion control if you have the kit
Set up your system according to their presets - but we're already calibrated aren't we
A note about the extras menu; takes a little getting used to and not just talking about the time it takes to load them (even with the efficiency of the PS3!). The interactive features, annoyingly have to be activated, i.e. you pick what you want, then activate it then the film plays - luckily once running it is easy to toggle between the various streams, there is, though, no indication as to when any PiP will show, and it can be frustrating to be waiting on these short segments when it's all you want to see (may not affect non-reviewers). The interactive games remove the chapter skip and waiting on the next question or 'game' can also find you chewing your arm off (again may not affect non-reviewers).
In all, though, if you want all your T2 extras available on one disc this is the way to go. Yes, I know, it's all available on other discs, and sometimes better presented, but never before on Blu-ray
So, once again, we have a release of Terminator 2, how many is that now? No matter, with three editions of the film, upped picture and sound, all the extras and more on this Skynet edition, Lionsgate have really pushed the envelope on what the format can do. Fully interactive, even taking into account getting used to the menus and their long load times, once up and running there is not another disc out there that can match it for sheer technology. All this and one of the best sequels of all time!
Does all the above candy justify another dip, well, with such an all encompassing disc as this, and cheap to boot, it remains to be seen if the buying public will swallow this ad for Terminator Salvation. As for me, I think this is the definitive version.
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- Audio Commentaries