Owing to the phenomenal success of The Terminator (1984), director James Cameron always intended to follow up this film with a sequel. For one reason or another, seven years would elapse before Terminator II: Judgment Day (1991) made it to the big screen. By then Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career had made him a household word, but in the intervening years he was no longer the physical colossus he had once been. As such, Schwarzenegger's robust bodybuilding physique so prominently showcased in the first film is largely kept under a brutally weather beaten leather jacket in T2 with only brief glimpses from the chest up during an early bar room brawl.
The wrinkle in T2's script by James Cameron and William Wisher Jr. is that Schwarzenegger's Terminator is no longer the bad guy. He has been reprogrammed in the future by the human resistance and sent back to 1995, this time as the protector of Sarah Connor's child, John (Edward Furlong). Meanwhile, after having attempted to blow up Cyberdyne Systems - the company inadvertently responsible for the looming future apocalypse - Sarah (Linda Hamilton) has been incarcerated in a maximum security mental institution for the criminally insane.
John's foster parents, Janelle (Jenette Goldstein) and Todd (Xander Berkeley) have a loose hold on their young charge who has been reduced to the status of a common punk in the absence of any real parenting. Meanwhile, John's futurist assassin, the T-1000 terminator (Robert Patrick) has arrived in the present to destroy him. Able to assume the body of anyone he touches, the T-1000 murders a police officer and assimilates his presence to search for John.
Discovering John at a local arcade, the T-1000 is thwarted by the original Terminator. After a harrowing chase on motorcycle, the Terminator and John become more intimately acquainted and John realizes that all the stories his mother told him while he was growing up about being a great warrior for the future of mankind are true. The Terminator and John break into the facility housing Sarah on the eve that she has staged a daring escape. The T-1000 arrives and another violent confrontation occurs with The Terminator, Sarah and John narrowly escaping.
Isolated and alone once again, Sarah is determined to murder Dr. Miles Bennett Dyson (Joe Morton); the brilliant computer systems engineer who will inadvertently create the technology that destroys civilization. Paring off from John and The Terminator, Sarah arrives at Miles stately home and narrowly carries out her plan. She is prevented in completing the assassination by John and the Terminator with Miles learning the truth about his stake in the future and thereafter vowing to help Sarah, John and the Terminator destroy all of his research currently housed at Cyberdyne Systems.
Unfortunately, the police are alerted to the break in at Cyberdyne. In the resulting mayhem, Miles is killed by sniper fire and the T-1000 relocates Sarah, John and The Terminator. Racing down a lonely California highway, the T-1000 meets up with his targets at a steel smelting plant. The Terminator fires several rounds into a tank of liquid nitrogen and momentarily freezes the T-1000.
However, the intense heat from the smelting reverses this effect and the T-1000 pursues John and Sarah to a scaffold high above a pit of molten steel. The Terminator, badly beaten by the T-1000 manages to fire several rounds into the T-1000, knocking it into the boiling pit of fire below. In order to secure a different future for humanity, the Terminator reasons that he too must be destroyed. Sarah agrees and lowers him into the fire.
The most expensive movie made to its date, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an even more bleak and depressing film than its predecessor. Yes, there are memorable action sequences a plenty and, then, state of the art special effects supplied by Industrial Light and Magic and Stan Winston to distract the viewer from the obvious message beneath all the pyrotechnics. However, the sobering reality that mankind may one day invent its own destructor is ultimately what remains most enduring about the film. On its release, T2 grossed a whopping $519 million worldwide; reaffirming that Cameron and company would return yet again for another bite at apple.
However, in the years since the film's release, the reality of world events that seem to suggest we may somehow actually be nearer to that dangerous timeline of extinction have superseded any fictionalized account that Hollywood film making of this ilk could offer. In the final analysis, T2 is a film of few questions and even fewer answers.
Alliance Atlantis Skynet Blu-Ray edition of T2 easily bests any of multiple re-issues the film has endured on standard DVD. One immediate complaint this reviewer has about the Blu-Ray is its delayed upload on standard players as this disc's programming is set to search for a Blu-Ray player hooked up to the internet in order to download additional content only available online. After several long moments a message appears on players not hooked up to the internet suggesting to either retry the disc or cancel its operation entire. Selecting 'cancel' will force independent players to upload content available on the disc only.
As for the image, it is much improved over previously issued DVDs. However, it is far from perfect. The biggest complaint I have here is that a lot of the image seems more softly focused than I remember it being in theatres. Contrast levels are a tad too weak with a loss of fine detail as the direct result. Colors too are less punchy than I expected. Close ups and medium shots look the best, but long shots seem to have a rather unimpressive rendering on the whole. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and not up to snuff for a thrill ride experience of this vintage. Extras on the disc alone are limited to audio commentaries and a few vintage junkets. This reviewer did not have the time to evaluate online content for this disc at the time of this review.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)