Film Review: Terminator 2 Judgment Day 3D
James Cameron’s 4k restoration of Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D breathes life into a film whose rerelease celebrates its 25th anniversary. The often quoted line, ‘I’ll be back’ synonymous with the Terminator franchise will come to actualisation when the film is restored and will be released in cinemas for a limited run. Indeed, Arnie was back and I found myself taking a trip down memory lane seeing a 4K 3D preview screening of a film I grew up watching.
I remember the Terminator franchise as having always been a part of my childhood, where I’d spend time watching the films on VHS and seeing repeats broadcast on TV. There was merchandise, including posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger, on bedroom walls as the advanced cyborg ‘The Terminator’ from the future, tasked to protect a young John Connor (Edward Furlong) in a film that addresses ideas about the ever-present fear of technology during the 90s and the uncertainty of the future. There were also the nightmares I used to have, imagining that the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) would seep though my home in its liquid metal form in order to kill me.
Stripping away the 4K and 3D elements which is a mark of our modern era, restorations and anniversary screenings engage with our feelings of nostalgia brought back by those who have grown up with the film and its franchise. The 4K restoration process which involves the scanning of the original negative 35mm film in order to convert films like Terminator 2: Judgement Day to 3D is this sort of homage to our adoption of the digital from the analogue, rendering the prior somewhat obsolete.
Although a mark of is time, Terminator 2 doesn’t feel too aged, having become a cult classic and still enjoyable to see on the big screen, especially in 3D which itself has changed from the cardboard red-blue glasses to the modern day polarised glasses worn today.
Looking back, now that the 90s have come and gone with most fans having grown up, I was curious to see whether the use of 4K and 3D could reshape the way I viewed the Terminator film. Upon attending the screening I sat with a group of strangers and we bonded over our memories of the film, chatting before the opening credits and giving feedback on it after. We spoke how we loved the action sequences, the big explosions, and the car chases and the fashion from the late 80s which included a mullet hairstyle and double denim and flannel vest combination.
Personally, I found it difficult to tell the difference between 4K on the big screen and the quality of original film (most likely cause it had been at least 12 years since I had seen the film), but the 3D, which was selectively done, reminded me of the holographic trading cards I used to own as a kid. There were some parts of the film that worked well in 3D, the restoration helping distinguish the foreground and background elements of each shot by separating the frame into layers to create depth in the frame.
There has always been the assumption that technology would become an integral part of society in how humans would interact and with films like Terminator 2 and the rise of computer and artificial intelligence which brought this to light. Terminator 2: Judgement Day addresses an ever-present fear that the dehumanisation of humans could be due to the adoption of new and intelligent technology. Whether it be the rise of VR technology, the retrospective look at how technology has and will shape us, Terminator 2 seems to bring forth a possibility of the events in the film happening in what is a sombre post-apocalyptic representation of what could come.
That said, like many others growing up watching blockbuster films such as Terminator 2, the story of the film isn’t really about the rerelease of a 25-year-old film, or its conversation from 35mm film to 4K and 3D, but a tribute to fans of the franchise and a truly memorable shot: Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses and riding a Harley down the highway.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D is in Australian and NZ cinemas from August 24 for a limited season – one week only! It is released in the UK on August 25. For release dates in other territories, check local listings.
Review by Addy Fong.