Terminator 2: Judgment Day The Ultimate Edition Review
The Film & The Plot
James Timothy has already taken a look at the Region 1 release of Terminator 2: Judgement Day for DVD Times. You can find James' review here.
This review of the Region 2 release is intended to compliment James' review, and offers the reader a chance to take an in-depth look at all the features available in this European Release and provide a comprehensive Region Comparison between the two.
My intention is to be able to give the reader enough information to make a better and more informed choice, when considering which of the two versions you should add to your DVD collection.
To that end, I see very little point in going over the same ground James has already covered with regards to the film itself and the plot. If you want to have more detailed information about these then I suggest that you go take a look at James' review and then pop back here for all the goodies. But before you dash off, just a quick word of warning. You may need to pour yourself a strong cup of coffee or tea (or something stronger) before continuing ... this is a disc that truly lives up to it's tag as an 'Ultimate Edition' so much so that by the time you will have finished reading this review, the sun would have gone down and a new day would soon be to follow.
Before we delve into this 2-disc treasure chest I'd just like to make it clear that I am not that much of a fan of this movie. I loved the original and was initially hugely disappointed by this 'effect' clever, eye candy, 'pop corn' flick when it was released in the cinema. So much so, that the next time I was to see this film was when the Region 1 DVD Ultimate Edition was released. A lot of time had passed between these two viewings and my appetite was wetted by the promise of the great many extra features this DVD offered and the many different versions of the film that you would be able to watch and enjoy.
This time around I accepted the film for what it was, see above paragraph, and enjoyed it a little more. The tremendous transfer to DVD and stunning dts track greatly helped my enjoyment of the film - but even so, I still find myself unable to whip up any enthusiasm for the film itself. The plot is full of holes and the film itself riddled with errors. You only have to pop along to the Internet Movie Database for an example of this. Take a look at their Goofs section and you will see what I mean. You can find this here: here.
But in saying that, the film is full of high adrenaline action sequences and some fairly good performances from the cast. However, it is the effects that are really the stars of this film. But even here there are certain things that were a little bit of a let down, even way back in 1991. The biggest problem to my eyes was the introductory Future Wars sequence - which I found very poor indeed. The good thing about this is, that it makes later effects shots look absolutely out of this world, and it has to be said that even by today's standards, some of these look faultless.
At the end of the day I would definitely recommend anyone taking a look at the film, just don't expect it to live up to the hype and do not expect it to live up to the original superior film.
Regardless of all this - the film is very entertaining in parts and loved by a great many people. So let's take a look at what you can expect when you get your hands on this Ultimate Edition.
Picture - This disc features a top class near perfect Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio transfer. It is a really stunning transfer, right from the get go, and very nearly reference material - it's as plain and simple as that. If I was to demonstrate my DVD player to someone, I would certainly consider playing the opening few chapters of this disc. Give it a spin and I am sure that you will be as impressed as I was when I first played this movie.
For this review I spent some time analysing certain scenes from the Region 1 NTSC release and this PAL Region 2 - any differences in quality I found were marginal to say the least. As far as I am concerned there is nothing really between the two, but I am sure that some people would prefer the PAL transfer over the NTSC. As I say, after a good hour staring at the screen I have to admit that I could not recommend one over the other.
Sound - This disc comes with a choice of 3 sound tracks, and I was especially pleased to see that all of these tracks are the ones available on the Region 1 release, including, very importantly, the dts track.
dts 5.1 ES - After selecting this track you have the pleasure of viewing the 'Yamaha Piano' dts trailer intro, which is followed by a stunning THX logo in full on dts 5.1 and I mean full on. Expect to be well and truly impressed with this - you will be showing this one short clip to your friends for months to come - I will not spoil any enjoyment for people here - but do not expect the more standard THX logo we have recently been accustomed too. And all this before the actual film begins!
Dolby Digital 5.1EX - Selecting this audio option presents you with the lovely Dolby Digital 'water logo sequence' trailer. This is then followed by the stunning THX logo mentioned above that sounds divine. Following this impressive audio display the film begins.
Dolby Digital 2.0 - Finally, selecting the 2.0 option you will be presented with the THX logo, which even though is in 2.0 and not full on 5.1 surround sound, still sounds very impressive indeed. The film then follows this sequence.
Here is how the 3 tracks compare.
If you have the full home cinema audio set-up then you are in for a real treat. Of this there is no question. The Dolby Digital 2.0 track is perfectly adequate and a very strong and powerful track at that. But once you have listened to the other tracks you will be stunned by how bland this track is when compared to these vastly superior tracks. What I once considered to be a cutting edge advancement in home cinema sound all those years ago, now sounds like it is being played next door, and not in my own living room.
When comparing the three tracks I used certain key scenes that I selected from the film. There is no need to wax lyrical about these three tracks - there is a very obvious and clear winner, and that is the stunning dts mix.
Typically the dts mix offers you a much tighter sound with a wider, clearer stereo image, along with some pretty cool directional effects. Every sound is perfectly reproduced with such realism you will be looking round your living room for someone to say 'bloody hell' too. Even down to the little effects and sounds, such as the creak of Arnie's leather jacket - it's that good.
That is not to say that the other tracks are poor - this simply is not the case. It is just that the dts track really is that much better. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a stunning soundtrack in it's own right. I can practically guarantee that you will not have heard (nor seen) T2 this good before. It really adds to the film and is a quality absorbing mix. So, if you do not have the good fortune to own a dts cinema amp, do not despair. You will be in for quite a ride with this 5.1 track, that's for sure.
For people who do not have one of these systems set up in their living rooms - believe me, start saving those pounds now and go treat yourself sometime soon to a cool Cinema Amp and speaker set up - you will be thanking me from here until Judgment day - and that's no exaggeration!!
Packaging - I am unable to comment on the packaging of this product as the discs supplied for this advance review are test discs. These are simply the plain discs supplied in a clear CD case for review and demonstration purposes only.
The Region 1 release came in a standard Amaray style case containing the 2 DVD's. (Initial copies were actually on 1 single DVD 18 disc) This, along with an informative booklet, was then housed in a metal slipcase. Unfortunately this slipcase had no top or bottom. I use the word 'unfortunately' because when you first pick it up off a shelf, the DVD and booklet inside simply slip out of the bottom and crash to the floor. Not exactly amusing when this first happens to you….but you will learn! This case looks nice on the shelf, but that's all. It will be interesting to see if the Region 2 release will have similar packaging.
Menu System - The menu systems are practically identical to the Region 1 release. All are animated in some way and have a nice look and feel about them. The only difference between the 2 occurs when an option is not available due to the fact that a feature is missing from the R2 release. For more information on this, please see the following text, below.
The menu systems are of a sufficient high standard to perfectly help you navigate around a rather splendid DVD release.
Easter Eggs - Please see the text in the Extras section below - this will explain the hidden features available on the R1 release, and those that are missing from this R2 release.
Disc's One and Two and all the Extras
When you insert the first disc into your DVD player you will be greeted with a nicely animated Cyberdyne Systems Menu Screen, which will then offer you the following choices
Play Special Edition
Jump Into Timeline
From this initial Menu Screen you will be able to activate a Hidden Easter Egg by hitting the numbers 8-2-9-9-7 on your DVD players remote control. This takes you to a static screen where you can view two deleted/alternate scenes; T-1000 Searching Johns Room and Future Coda - Alternate Ending.
Both these scenes are in high quality Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen - complete with Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 and DTS tracks along with an audio commentary track.
It is sad to see that the Region 2 release does not feature the branching option available on the Region 1 release to view the film with these deleted scenes included seamlessly into the Special Edition, but at least you get to see them here.
To be honest - this is not such a big deal as it sounds. The Searching Johns room is over very quickly and even the alternative ending is over before it begins - so viewing these separately, in my opinion, will not overly spoil your enjoyment of this film.
One hugely annoying point here, is that once you have enabled this Easter Egg, you can not get back to the Main Menu - there is no option to do this! Instead you have to stop the disc and play it again to get back to the Main Menu.
Looking at each of the menu options in turn we come to 'Play Special Edition' first. No surprises here - this plays the only version of the film available on this release. Unfortunately the Region 2 release loses the original Theatrical Edition of the film along with the extended Special Edition version mentioned above. This is a huge shame, and I would have liked to have had the option to have at least been able to have viewed the film in its original Theatrical Presentation.
Next up we have 'Sensory Control' which takes us to the options to play the Special Edition with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX, DTS 5.1 ES, Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 or the Audio Commentary. Additionally you may select English, Spanish, Portuguese or Dutch subtitles on this screen.
I personally found the Audio Commentary to be a highly informative and enjoyable track - even though it suffers slightly by obviously being a number of recorded tracks cut into the one single track- I think it works fairly well and would definitely recommend anyone checking it out.
Pressing left to get back to the Main Menu will highlight a THX logo, although not a hidden Easter Egg as such, it is a little bit difficult to see on the screens menu until it is highlighted. Selecting this will take you to the LUCASFILM THX Optimizer where you can fine-tune your Home Cinema set up using Audio and Video tests provided. It is good to see these options available on certain discs, especially quality titles such as this one. Spending some time setting up your system will reap huge rewards and it is well worth spending some time if you have not done so already.
Back at the Main Menu we come along to the 'Mission Profiles'. Selecting this takes you to the Cast and Crew biographies for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, James Cameron (writer/director), William Wisher (co-screenwriter), Adam Greenberg (director of photography) and Brad Fiedel (composer).
These biographies and filmographies range from extensive and informative, for example, 14 on screen pages for Arnold t Schwarzenegger to a handful of pages for some of the other Cast and Crew. Generally speaking these are above average and interesting and informative.
Finally we come to the 'Jump Into Timeline' option which takes you to the stylish Scene Selection Menu System, which is well designed and animated. Here you will be able to access any of the films 80 chapters - yes, you did not read that wrong, 80 chapters!!
R1 vs R2 Disc One Region Comparison: The R1 Artisan Entertainment release gives you an initial Menu Screen that leads into the Main Menu screen detailed above. Here you can choose to view either the Theatrical Version or the Special Edition Version. This then takes you through to the main Menu screen, which is practically identical to the R2 release with the following exceptions.
1. The Terminator has only one eye lit up in red and there is an option to swap over to Special Edition Version or the Theatrical Version dependant on which version you initially selected.
2. The hidden Easter egg described above is present, but activating this lights up both the Terminators eyes and gives you the option to Play the Extended Special Edition -which allows you to watch the Special Edition version with the 2 deleted scenes included using seamless branching.
3. On the Mission Profiles Screen you have an additional option and that is DVD ROM - activating this gives you a message from John Connor telling you about a Resistance Training Program hidden on the Internet. If you have a DVD ROM then you will be able to access this through a secret link on the DVD along with the Script and artwork.
After inserting this disc you will be asked if you require subtitles while viewing this extras packed second disc. You have the option of Espanol, Portugues and Netherlands or no subtitles (the default option).
Cyberdybe Systems logo is displayed and a flashy introduction sequence takes you to the Main Menu Screen, which offers you the following options:
Information Programs (featurettes)
Data Hub (Disc Supplements)
Visual Campaigns (Teasers And Trailers)
There is a hidden Easter Egg on this menu Screen. Wait 30 seconds without selecting anything and the square in the Data Hub lights up along with some dramatic sound. Somehow you have to highlight this square while this burst of sound and activity occurs to access some random features. During this time, if you leave the screen unattended for long enough, the T-1000's head will morph out of the screen and tell you to 'Get Out' - However, I could not select the square to activate these features. These are easily activated on the Region 1 release and seem to have been disabled for the Region 2 version.
R1 vs R2 Disc Two Region Comparison: - The R1 release begins with an Artisan Promo Trailer and then leads into identical menu Systems to the Region 2 release. The Easter Eggs described above are fully functional and will lead you to the following hidden features: 'Join The Resistance' (DVD ROM message) and an amusing Swelltone Beethoven Logo.
Let's take a look at the first option on the Main Menu, 'Information Programs' which takes you to:
The Making of T2:Judgement Day (30 min documentary) Presented in Full Screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This interesting documentary takes you behind the scenes and although average, is definitely worth a look. You may wish to note that the layer change occurs during this feature at approx 14:44 and that the feature ends suddenly, with no credit run.
T2: More Than Meets The Eye (22 min special discussing omitted scenes and the special edition) Presented in Full Screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, this takes an in-depth look at the reasons certain scenes were cut from the Theatrical Edition and presents comparisons between that and the Special Edition. It shows how much work went into these scenes that were then later removed for the cinema release. It also shows how the removal of one scene impacts on later scenes, requiring them to be trimmed or even cut altogether. This finishes with credits and was a presentation of Showtime Networks inc.
The Making of T2 3D: Breaking The Screen Barrier (23 min featurette on the Creation of the MCA/Universal Studios 3D Theme Park Attraction) Presented in Full Screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, this takes a behind the scenes look at the production of the Theme Park ride. I found this feature a little tedious and was disappointed not too see an actual demonstration run of the ride itself. Still worth looking at, but not one I would watch again.
Back at the Main Menu and 'Visual Campaigns' takes you to the following Trailers:
Teaser Trailer (Building the perfect Arnold)
Theatrical Trailer (This Time There Are Two)
Theatrical Trailer (Same Make, New Mission)
T2 Special Edition Trailer (More Than Meets The Eye)
All trailers are Non Anamorphic Widescreen approx 1.66:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, with the exception of the Special Edition Trailer, which is presented in Full Screen.
There is a hidden Easter Egg (as such) in the bottom left hand corner - but again this icon, frustratingly, is not accessible on the R2 release.
R1 vs R2 Disc Two Region Comparison: - On the R1 release you have access to the above Easter Egg which leads you to the following five Japanese Trailers: Teaser Trailers A & B and Trailers A, B and C.
Back once more at the Main Menu and we can access the 'Data Hub'. From here we can take a look at the following things:
Source Code (Script) - 574 still frames containing the entire final shooting script. It is good to see that the script has been included for people to view the script straight from the DVD, without the need for DVD ROM access. However, while this is good to see on your TV - I can not see many people sitting down in front of the TV for hours reading this script - plus you can not book mark it to return to the page you were last viewing and will have to skip through all the pages to get to where you last finished off.
Interrogation Surveillance Archives (Video Segments) - Here is a complete list of all the video interviews/behind the scene features/audio/visual comparisons etc available in this section. The number is initially mind-boggling, however some of these are very short and usually run for around a minute with some lasting for only a few seconds. The result is that everything is a bit stop/start and it spoils the enjoyment. This would have been better served as a full length documentary with a full chapter index, with the audio/visual segments under a separate menu.
Still there is plenty of info here and it is well worth spending the time to go through. There is well over an hours footage here and is a small treasure trove for the T2 fans out there.
The multi audio demonstrations are fascinating but frustratingly short and on some occasions difficult to navigate through. You will often find that you have 7 audio tracks available but four of them will all be playing the same track. You may have to re-run this feature a few times to get the best out of them ie when you have figured out just what the hell is going on.
Here is each feature available to view here:
Writer/Director James Cameron and Co-Writer Bill Wisher Discuss working together on the script
Writer/Director James Cameron and Co-Writer Bill Wisher Discuss the writing process
Writer/Director James Cameron Discusses researching for the film
James Cameron and Designer Steve Burg discuss the design challenges of the film.
Effects designer John Bruno discusses the pre-visualization process
Casting Director Mali Finn discusses the casting of the film
Mali Finn, James Cameron and actor Edward Furlong on the casting of John Connor
Mali Finn, James Cameron and actor Robert Patrick on the casting of the T-1000
Co=producer Stephanie Austin discusses the logistics of filming T2
Production designer Joseph Nemec iii on approaches to T2's production design
Robert Patrick, Linda Hamilton and trainer Uzi Gal discuss the weapons and physical training fr the film
Behind the scenes montage on one of the costuming challenges of the film
Makeup effects creator Stan Wilson, Key makeup artist Jeff Dawn and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger discuss the Terminator makeup work
Behind the scenes montage on the location shooting the film
Behind the scenes montage on the stage shooting for the film.
Stunt Coordinator Joel Kramer discusses stunts and practical effects
Behind the scenes shooting of the SWAT van crashing into the Cyberdyne Lobby
Behind the scenes on the preparations and shooting of the Cyberdyne explosion
Behind the scenes on the practical effects in creating the look of the steel mill
Behind the scenes on the shooting of the Tow Truck jump into the flood control channel
Behind the scenes on the shooting of the tanker truck sliding on its side at the steel mill
Stembridge Gun Rental's weapons master Harry Lu discusses the weaponry of T2
ILM's Steve Williams and Visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren discuss building a digital puppet of the T-1000
ILM's Mark Dippe, Steve Williams, Jay Riddle and Dennis Muren on animating the T-1000 character.
ILM's Mark Dippe on putting the computer-generated T-1000 character into the scene
ILM's Steve Williams, Mark Deppe and Dennis Muren discuss doing the computer graphics shots
ILM's Dennia Muren and Steve Williams on working with writer/director Fames Cameron
Terminator effects and makeup creator Stan Winston on creating characters
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the T-1000 shotgun hits
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the T-1000 posing as John's foster mother Janelle Voight
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the burning Sarah puppet for the nuclear nightmare
Behind the scenes on the creation and the shooting of the Terminator walking puppet used in the cyberdyne shoot out
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the T-1000 'donut-head' effect
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the T-1000 'cleave-body' effect
Behind the scenes on the creation and shooting of the T-1000 'pretzel-man' effect
Fantasy 11 Film Effects VFX supervisor Gene Warren Jr. discusses the future war sequence
Fantasy 11's Gene Warren Jr. discusses the stop-motion endoskeleton process shot that took three months to complete
Fantasy 11's Gene Warren Jr. discusses the creation and shooting of the miniature tanker truck
4-Ward Productions VFX supervisor Robert Skotak discusses the creation of the nuclear nightmare sequence
4-Ward productions supervising DP Dennis Skotak discusses the radiating blast shot from the nuclear nightmare sequence.
4-Wards' Robert and Dennis Skotak discuss the miniature building shots from the nuclear nightmare sequence.
4-Ward's Dennis Skotak on shooting mercury for the reforming of the T-1000 at the steel mill
James Cameron, effects supervisor John Burno and co-producer Stephanie Austin discuss the use of process photography in the film
James Cameron and film editors Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt and Richard Harris discuss the editing of T2
Multi-Angle presentation of the dailies from the helicopter acquisition sequence, with subtitles for shooting dates and locations
The final helicopter acquisition sequence from the film, with subtitles to illustrate shooting dates and locations
Sound designer Gary Rydstrom on the sound design philosophy for the film
Multi-audio demonstration of sound effects layering for a single shotgun blast, with Gary Rydstrom commentary on an alternate audio channel
Sound desogner Gary Rydstrom on sound effects editing
Multi-Audio demonstration on the creation of T2 sound effects, with final film audio on the main track and isolated sound effects on an alternate channel
Multi-audio sound layer demo for the steel mill fight, with ambience, foley, sound effects, music, final mix, and two Gary Rydstrom commentaries on alternate audio channels
Composer Brad Fiedel and music editor Allan Rosen discuss music mixing for the film
Demonstration of the video transfer process on T2 for separate letterbox and Full-Frame (pan & Scan) versions froma super-35 negative
James Cameron discusses the creation and validity of Special Editions
Omitted scene of the T-1000 searching John's room, with commentary by James Cameron and Robert Patrick on an alternate audio channel
Omitted scene of the original 'Future Coda' ending, with commentary by James Cameron, Stephanie Austin, Stan Winson and Linda Hamilton on alternate audio channels
Brief montage of the Terminator fan convention held in Los Angles just before the release of T2 in 1991
The Polygot Terminator
Also available from the Data Hub Menu is 'Tactical Diagrams' which are the original Story Board Sequences for:
Finally we have the 'Data Core' option - This section is by far the best way to view the contents of the disc. From here you will be able to view the entire contents of the supplementary features.
The whole disc is presented in rough chronological order through 50 chapters. All these chapters feature page upon page of written information along with stills from the film and behind the scenes action with links to video features and documentary footage. Prepare to spend a big chuck of your life reading and viewing this disc, as you immerse yourself in this material.
Core Data Sampling (Browse Chapters) - Selecting this gives you the option of jumping to any of the discs special features. This is broken down into a mind boggling 50 Chapters all with text introductions.
Full Implementation (run complete supplement) - takes you through the entire disc - be warned this will take you many many many hours to sit through!!!!
It is probably best to use the Browse Chapter option as the complete supplement takes you through to the screen play, which means that you have to skip through all the screen play. Pressing the Menu button will take you to the chapter selection menu screens in order that you can bypass the screen play if you wish, and continue on through the supplements - so I think that the complete segment is not really a practical option especially as it would take you many, hours to sit through this in one sitting.
R1 vs R2 Disc Two Region Comparison: - apart from the comparison differences noted above, everything listed here is identical to the Region 1 release.
Well if you are still with me, well done! You do not need me to tell you that this is one hell of a disc set and a genuine Ultimate Edition.
It has it all and more.
If you want a disc to show off how stunning and detailed and crystal clear some transfers can be from film to DVD, you have it here. If you want to show off your new Home Cinema Surround Sound System to some envious friends, then stick this in your player and give your ears a treat. They want to see extra features, well tell them to put their feet up and go check on them the following day.
As you have already guessed, I cannot recommend this title enough to fans of this film. It is an essential purchase. Even to someone with a passing interest, like myself, there is really value for money here and again highly recommended.
As far as recommending the Region 2 release over the Region 1 release, well I cannot I am afraid. There are too many things missing or inaccessible on the Region 2 release. Some of the Easter Eggs are no big deal, but are nice to have - but it is the missing 2 versions of the film and DVD ROM content that is hard to swallow.
If you have a Multi-Region player then there is every chance that you have this title already - otherwise I would recommend you get online and order a copy - it has been available in America for some considerable time now.
If you do not have a Multi-region player or are obsessed with the PAL vs NTSC video issues, then there will be only one choice for you and that is this Region 2 release.
At the end of the day this Region 2 release is a quality product that is highly recommended - and Momentum are to be congratulated for bring as much as they possibly could over from the Region 1 release.