Review: Relive James Cameron's classic with T2 Judgment Day: Skynet Edition

If the mere existence of Terminator: Salvation weren't evidence enough that the series still deserves a proper tribute, Lionsgate reminds fans of the last time the word Terminator meant something cinematically with the release of the T2 Judgment Day: Skynet Edition. Offering not one but two versions of the film, a new 6.1 DTS-HD soundtrack, multiple audio commentaries and loads of extra features, the Skynet Edition is vastly superior to its predecessor and for all intents and purposes the definitive version of this sci-fi classic in high definition.

The first advantage this set has over the original T2 Blu-ray is the option to watch two versions: the original theatrical cut and the 1993 Extended Cut. The Extended Cut is the same one available on both VHS and DVD, but this is the first time it's been offered to folks on high definition. At the same time, however, the quality of both transfers is good, but not great; though the film looks marginally better than standard-definition editions, it's not window-clear as some might expect. That said, audiences can definitely pick up additional visual details that have previously gone unseen.

The audio options, on the other hand, are gloriously clear, featuring some of the most immersive and muscular sound design a home theater can offer. In addition to the 6.1 DTS-HD track, which occasionally over-emphasizes the rumble of Schwarzenegger's Harley-Davidson but otherwise perfectly balances the dialogue, score and sound effects, the disc offers two audio commentaries, one by screenwriter William Wisher and director James Cameron, and one that compiles recollections and reflections from 26 members of the cast and crew. Both of these tracks provide significant insights into the production and design of the film, but they are the same tracks that were on earlier DVD editions, and ironically pale in comparison to the other extras.

In the "Interactive Modes" section, viewers can choose from a variety of visual and audio supplements that further examine the conception and production of T2. These include picture-in-picture video, branching video clips, a trivia track, a track detailing the production processes that went into every shot and special effect, a mode in which the screenplay and/or storyboards are visible, a trivia quiz mode, and an interactive mode that allows viewers to play mini games while watching the film. Additionally, there's an "Ancillary Data" menu which compiles deleted scenes, trailers, and disc credits, most or all of which have been previously available on other sets but are nevertheless welcome for completists.

While some of this information was no doubt previously available, the sheer volume of content contained in these different options far and away eclipses the presentation of DVD and even Blu-rays past. For example, in the Galleria shootout and subsequent chase sequence, audiences can learn how Robert Patrick survived shotgun blasts to the chest—including how the "blasts" were achieved—while being directed to highlighted product placement, and then learn that the aqueducts were steam-cleaned to ensure the health and safety of the actors and stuntmen who participated in the motorcycle-big rig showdown.

Overall this set is again superior to most or all previous versions and truly offers the most and most comprehensive look available at T2. One important detail to note, however: this disc is designed with so many specific applications and extras that it literally required a software update on my Sony Blu-ray player before I could explore all of them. Otherwise, however, the T2 Judgment Day: Skynet Edition is a really great, entertaining, and informative set, and it's a must have for Terminator fans—whether it rekindles their interest in subsequent big-screen adventures, or merely reminds them of the series' best days.