It really is not possible to over exaggerate the importance of a movie like “Terminator 2″ to action filmmaking, and just filmmaking in general. Besides pioneering cinematic morphing technology (the technique that mimics one character “changing” flawlessly into another before our eyes), “T2″ remains the film to see for sheer excitement, tension, and suspense 12 years after its initial release. (Director James Cameron’s other movie, “Aliens”, ranks just slightly behind.) With the recent release of the “Ultimate Edition”, “T2″ is even more fleshed out than before, adding substance to the style, flash, and roller coaster ride that was the original.
Story-wise, “Terminator 2″ picks up some 13 years after the events of the original, with Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) locked away in a mental institution and her son, future rebel leader John Connor (Edward Furlong) living unhappily with foster parents. Like before, the computer intelligence that is trying to exterminate humans in the future sends a Terminator, this one the advance T-1000 (Robert Patrick), back in time to kill young John. And just as before, the resistance is able to send back a protector — a T-800 Terminator model (Arnold Schwarzenegger), which just happens to be identical to the Terminator originally sent back in time to kill Sarah.
What follows is two hours and 30 minutes of intense action and edge-of-your-seat tension as the seemingly unstoppable T-1000, made of “liquid metal” that allows it to morph into anyone and anything, relentlessly stalk John and his Terminator protector. After breaking Sarah out of the joint, the trio goes into hiding in Mexico; that is, until Sarah decides to take a shot at altering the future and heads off to kill Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), the computer genius who will eventually give life to the killer computer intelligence. The film then enters an explosive finale that is really a 40-minute running gunbattle that demolishes everything in sight and sets a new bar for what constitutes ballsy action.
Director James Cameron (“True Lies”) shows the uncanny eye for detail and film continuity here that he would eventually use on the mammoth “Titanic.” Every background character, every gunshot, and every special effects is where they should be, timed perfectly for the best effect. While then-newcomer Edward Furlong is sometimes spotty as John Connor, Linda Hamilton’s buff return as the slightly deranged and completely paranoid Sarah Connor more than makes up for it. The Big S. does his usual thing, which is look cool and throw people around without breaking a sweat. He’s got that down to a science.
The DVD includes two versions of the full movie — the one originally shown in theaters in 1991, and a special edition that features nearly 20 minutes of missing footages. The DVD itself features quite a bit of extras, but the only extra that should matter to fans is how much footage had been cut in 1991. The special edition returns the missing footages seamlessly into the flow of the movie, and if you hadn’t seen the original version, you wouldn’t know they had been re-added at all.
Some of the re-added scenes are more important than others. Of note is a dream sequence that reunites Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor with Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), the hero from the first “Terminator.” Another scene adds some “family time” for Dyson, but is not all that necessary. Other, more important scenes include a lengthy sequence where, after having escaped the T-1000 and saved Sarah from the mental institution, the Terminator is shut off, and Sarah nearly destroys his CPU after she removes it. The scene adds to the emotional gap between mother and son, and adds to Sarah’s continued distrust of the Terminator, which is very justified after the events of the original movie.
Another scene, shorter in length and not completely necessary, shows the T-1000, after having killed John’s foster parents, going outside to the family’s barking dog and retrieving its collar. Here, the killer Terminator discovers that it had been tricked. (Remember when the Terminator, using John’s voice, asked about the family dog using the wrong name, and the T-1000 didn’t know any better?) There are also a couple of dream sequences that adds to Sarah’s anxiety and helps to convince her that the right thing to do is to kill Dyson.
This Ultimate Edition of “Terminator 2″ definitely earns its name and then some. The film has never looked better, and there are enough extras in the DVD to choke a dozen horses. (Extras include a host of commentaries, including one by co-writer/director James Cameron and another by the Big S. himself.) If you love the movie, the DVD is a worthy addition to your collection. It definitely makes a great movie even better, something 95% of the DVDs out there can’t even think about saying, much less actually say.
James Cameron (director) / James Cameron, William Wisher Jr. (screenplay)
CAST: Arnold Schwarzenegger …. The Terminator
Linda Hamilton …. Sarah Connor/Narrator
Edward Furlong …. John Connor
Robert Patrick …. The T-1000
Earl Boen …. Dr. Peter Silberman
Joe Morton …. Miles Bennett Dyson