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DVD REVIEW: T2 (EXTREME)

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DVD REVIEW: MANHUNTER (DC)
July 5, 2003

DVD REVIEW: T2 (EXTREME)

BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Artisan
Buy me!MSRP: $19.98 RATED: R
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
· All-new commentary by James Cameron and William Wisher
· 16 minutes of additional scenes never before seen in theaters
· Extreme interactive mode with graphic commentary
· Dolby headphone audio track
· THX optimizer
· "No Feat But What We Make"
· "T2: On the Set"
· "T2: High Definition"
· Infiltration Unit Simulator and T2 FX Studio
· Skynet Combat Chassis Designer
· Metal collectible sculpture embossed package
To say that you weren’t amazed when you saw Terminator 2 for the first time way back in 1991 is most likely a case of revisionist thinking. While some of the spectacle and veneer may have peeled a little, at the time of its release this was the biggest action film ever made. There are almost enough versions of this film on DVD now it can almost compete with Army of Darkness for the title, but does this new “Extreme DVD” warrant a quadruple dip?


The first publicity still from the upcoming superhero film Condensed Face & The Accountant.

The Flick

Lester was stunned, vowing never to drink on nights where he knew he’d witness Vaseline Night at Ghidrah’s place.

You all know the story: Death-dealing cyborg arrives from the future to hunt the poof-haired Sarah Conner only to be thwarted by the resourceful then-waitress and her time traveling beau Kyle Reese who shoots his seed in her before being offed by said metallic beastie, which is then polished off by the woman and all is well. Then, another cyborg is sent, this one with new skills and bigger ears. Its goal is to not only kill the surviving Sarah but additionally her teenage skater punk kid who will eventually save the world, but in the meantime is taking up space in arcades with his poofy-redhaired friend. Also sent is another incarnation of the first death dealing cyborg, this time as a protector. The plot thickens. While it seems that logistics would make it impossible for all these guys to keep getting sent back in time, especially since the Conner clan keeps kicking their asses (we’ll see if Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines continues the trend, my bet’s that they’ll take NO risks with the thusly ironclad formula), the bottom line with these films is entertainment. In 1991, this was as good as it gets. While the film has aged very well in some areas and not so well in others, this is still one helluva ride.

Nick enjoys the heat in Prague as he waits to get onto the set of Hellboy.

The Terminator was a rekindled Westworld with all sorts of science fiction and cyberpunk archetypes tossed in, resulting in something old and new and perfectly timeless. This film takes those themes and takes the apocalyptic stakes and cranks it to 11, adding in sheer spectacle in lieu of the original’s stealth approach. Sarah Conner is now an institutionalized nutcase, knowing good and well the danger humanity’s in store for and powerless against it. Using her as a meal ticket, her doctor not only ignores her pleading, but encourages it. The more off their rocker a patient is, the more funding and attention the research gets and there’s nothing quite like a muscular and violent chick with Armageddon on the brain when it comes to showing off the power of psychiatry. In addition, though trained by his mother for his future in world saving, John Conner is about as likely a hero as Marge Schott. Using his considerable hacker skills to filch ATM’s, the boy is the personification of troubled youth.

Robert Patrick is ELF 32, coming soon from Renegade Pictures.

Until the T-1000 appears, that is. Essayed by the then-unknown (and still rather underappreciated) Robert Patrick, the T-1000 is a leaner, meaner terminator. Where imposing size and hydraulic metallic physicality was what made Arnold Schwartzenegger a movie star despite his limited dramatic range, the new machine relies on cunning and it’s Swiss Army knife of a body. The contrasts in styles lead to tons of opportunities for James Cameron and his technicians to cut loose. Even now after we’ve seen over twelve summers’ worth of action films add their baggage to the pile, so much of this film is seamless and exciting. If there was a Mt. Rushmore of genre trendsetters and ‘higher beings’, Cameron’s face would be up there with a few familiar bearded heads holding equal if not superior share of the respect. The guy doesn’t just shoot movies, he evolves the format and while there doesn’t seem to be a day that goes by where we aren’t force fed some ratty CGI there’s no debating the monster step the business took here. After the water tentacle wowed audiences and hard drives in The Abyss, the liquid metal here blew CGI literally out of the water. And, no shortage of ink was spent on that fact over these years.

A screenshot of the winning entry in the "Find a Mate for Charlotte Church Sweepstakes".

With that said, the CGI was worthless. It was how Cameron used it that was so phenomenal. Using every trick in the book for when CGI wasn’t needed and then as seamlessly as possible mixing the styles together, that’s the invaluable part. That way, whether we see a man “birthed” out of a checkered floor, metallic bullet wounds appearing on the film’s villain, or someone surfing on an overturned tanker a “wow!” is achieved. The end result is the key. All of the FX honchos did a bang-up job.

Between takes, Arnold tried to help the career of Edward Furlong.

There are tons of moments that rank in the all-time greats, but it’s Cameron’s touch that makes the film more than an armature for special effects. It’s obviously a perfect role for Arnold, one he wears so well and while a monosyllabic bruiser might seem like a role he could do in his sleep, there’s a fine bit of character work here. He really, REALLY delivers a performance here, a fact that might go unnoticed for people who assume the Austrian’s really a monosyllabic bruiser. Linda Hamilton also dives into her role with both feet, fulfilling her wish to portray Sarah Conner as a lean, mean killing machine who’s at the picnic a few sandwiches short. Seeing her here makes one wonder if perhaps she could have moved onto the A-list if she’d made the effort. Robert Patrick’s solid work has already been mentioned, and Joe Morton’s NEVER bad in a film, ever. Known for his work in John Sayles flicks (if you don’t know the man’s work, you’re hurtin’), the actor lends a very warm human side to a film loaded with testosterone and bombast. Which leaves Edward Furlong.

Lady Deathstrike. Hot chick, but a lousy eye surgeon.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it, he is the film’s albatross. Plucked by Cameron from a mall where his slacker ways didn’t need to anchor 100 million dollar films, Furlong shows his lack of acting experience by delivering a performance that alternates being unconvincing and just plain grating. It’s the only aspect of this film that hurts it, though. The overall package is still among the best the genre has to offer. For a mainstream film and an expensive summer tentpole sequel, Cameron’s film has a lot on its mind and a serious technical tool belt to deliver its extremely ambitious story. It’s one that for a while seemed to show its age, but somehow now seems like a film that’d be right at home this or any other summer.

This still offended 800,000 Americans, prompting Jim Cameron to remove the cigarette and replace it with a walkie-talkie.

A great film, one that made the summer of 1991 a very special and successful one. Point of note: This is the oft-discussed new "special edition" cut of the film that features sixteen minutes or so of new footage, some of it strong and some of it weak. Most of it fleshes out the story and gives us a little more depth, but the highly publicized Michael Biehn (pronounced "Bean") dream sequence is as clunky and familiar a storytelling device, that I wished they left it out. Heavy handed? Oh, yeah.

9.1 out of 10 The Look

"Are you sure that me grinding my ass against you is going to make the future Earth safer?"

The packaging touts that this version has been "Digitally mastered from a brand-new 1080p, 24sf high-definition digital telecine transfer for superior video and audio quality" and for a bewildered primate like myself that means it looks damn good. While the super-duper special high definition Windows Media Player version mentioned on the back of the box gave me nothing but grief (read the special features section of this review for more), there’s no denying the sheer majesty of this transfer. This is crystal clear and as vibrant as Cameron allowed his apocalyptic film to be. Colors come through sharp, there’s no artifacting (something that did give my first DVD of this film a taint), no telling bits of digital overcompensating (stare at one spot on your screen while watching some DVDs and the image will seem to "jog"), and no discernible weaknesses. This is a really nice disc, one that’s a damn good demo for your system. 9.5 out of 10

Bob Patrick eats bars. His reply? "Tastes like Jerry Mintt".


The Noise Uh, BOOM! Discussing the technical delivery of a James Cameron film is usually a moot point (hey, where’s my Piranha II: The Spawning Criterion Collection disc coming?), since the man is obviously wholly devoted to that side of the process. As a result, this THX laden bit of rapture is no exception. I need say nothing more than the aforementioned"BOOM!". My speakers had to smoke a cigarette after playing this DVD. 10 out of 10 The Goodies The last T2 DVD release, The Ultimate Edition, was stacked like a Vegas strip club. This version isn’t as laced with everything under the sun as opposed to a hearty series of new, mostly strong material. James Cameron is not a director who often graces his DVD and laserdisc public with commentary tracks. He’s usually on to the next thing, the next technology, and his time is not often spent on the past. Surprisingly, he offers a commentary here (with William Wisher, the film’s co-writer), and the resulting track is not only a rarity but a mile-a-minute bit of time share with the filmmaker. For the most part, Cameron rules the track. In fact, I lost count of the times he didn’t allow Wisher the chance to finish a thought. That said, Cameron’s the star of the Terminator series (a fact we’ll probably be hit with very hard when T3: Rise of the Machines hits) and the track exists because of his participation. It’s loaded with info and in my mind makes this DVD already more important than the obsolete… I mean, “Ultimate” Edition. Additionally, there’s the most elaborate text commentary of all time on this disc. In the same way the amazing text track for The Abyss was a nonstop immersion of information on the film, so is this. The difference is, in addition to the constant stream of text at the bottom, there’s also green text in the top left that describes all of the elements used in every scene. Add to that the fa ct that every two minutes, the little Cyberdyne logo pops up to allow all sorts of behind the scenes stuff and the results are phenomenal. You want to talk about information overload? My head exploded six times during the viewing. There are also two rather robust documentaries on the film that were not available on the other disc that further enforces the value of this edition. The retrospective is particularly solid, but both complement the central commentaries. Boiled down, there’s a lot of crossover material from the older DVD, and while I’m not going to get rid of the 2000 release, I think the supplements here reflect a wiser and more coherent group of features to match the film. Plus, the involvement of Cameron makes all the difference. There are a few neat little DVD-ROM type features and another one I was really excited about but got frustrated with that I abandoned the whole endeavor. There’s a neat new concept being offered here, a really high-definition version of the film on Quicktime 9 that you can watch on your PC. Great idea in concept, but by having the monumentally shitty Interact be the required transport vessel for the version, you’re screwed. I tried it on three different DVD-ROMs to no effect. Screw Interact. Screw it with a giant rubber shaft. Still, the commentary and text commentary are AMAZING. Well worth a purchase just on features alone. 9.3 out of 10 The Artwork
Buy me!The word "Extreme" immediately takes any coolness out of a special edition, and to proclaim this DVD as thus does hurt the overall score. That said, the quality of this tin case is a lot better than the previous edition, a package that slid around like vomit at zero g’s. The embossed Endoskeleton is cheesy, and the idea to "go extreme" makes this disc reek of opportunism like the recent "Tricked-Out Edition" of The Fast and the Furious, but it’s not so bad, really. 7.0 out of 10
Overall: 9.3 out of 10
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