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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 7/2/02

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1991 (2002) - Carolco/Lightstorm Entertainment (Artisan)

D-VHS D-Theater

A Few Words on D-VHS

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsHigh Definition 1080i

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Film Rating: B+

Tape Ratings (Video/Audio): B/A

DVD Comparative Ratings (Video/DD Audio/DTS Audio): C-/B+/A*

*if graded on D-VHS scale

Specs and Features

134 minutes, R, High Definition 1080i, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, clamshell case packaging, languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0 - 576kbps), subtitles: none, Close Captioned

John Connor: "We're not gonna make it are we? The human race I mean..."

The Terminator: "It's in your nature to destroy yourselves."

As most of you should know, the original Terminator saw an android killer from the future (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent back in time to present day L.A.. It's mission was simple - kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). You see, there's this artificial intelligence called SkyNet - yet to be invented - that will (one day) get placed in control of military computers and decide to launch a deadly nuclear attack against the human race. With the future Earth a wasteland, it seems the remaining human resistance to SkyNet will eventually be led by one John Connor, Sarah's son. Still following? When SkyNet sends back its Terminator to kill his mother, the future John sends back a protector (Michael Biehn) to save her... who will eventually become John's father. So as the original film wraps up, the Terminator is destroyed, the protector is killed, and Sarah is pregnant with John.

T2 starts more than a decade later. Basically, no one believed Sarah and her story about Terminators from the future and the end of the world, so she's been locked in the nut house (and they've thrown away the key). Meanwhile, her now 10-year-old son, John (Edward Furlong), has been placed in foster care. But, raised as he was by a mother determined to turn him into a "great military leader", he doesn't quite fit in with the other kids. Good egg or not, John is still the key to humanity's future, so SkyNet sends another Terminator back in time to kill him. And, naturally, John's adult self sends back another protector. One of these time travellers is played by Robert Patrick (soon to be of X-Files fame) and the other is good old Arnold again. The question is, which one is John's protector and which wants him dead? More importantly, which one will reach him first? Throw in tons of action, nifty special effects and a cool subplot about a computer scientist named Dyson (Joe Morton), who is the inventor of SkyNet because he's found the pieces of the Terminator from the first film, and you've got a great, high concept sci-fi story, with plenty of bad-ass cool.

The video quality of this film on D-VHS exhibits a noticeable improvement in direct A/B comparison to the DVD version (reviewed here). However, the difference in quality isn't as great as it is for the other D-VHS titles I've seen thus far. There is much greater color fidelity on D-VHS than the disc exhibits (although there does seem to be a slight red push on the D-VHS version), along with superior contrast and shadow delineation. As one would expect from the 1080i resolution, the D-VHS also delivers more subtle (and no-so-subtle) improvement in detail. Still, the video image looks noticeably softer overall than the other D-VHS movies I've reviewed, and print artifacts are somewhat more visible (the occasional bit of dust and rougher film grain). Strangely, the same tiny bit of edge enhancement seen on the DVD is also visible on the D-VHS version, but (as with the DVD) the picture doesn't suffer for it. In the end, the D-VHS image quality is definitely superior to the DVD, but the difference isn't as dramatic as I expected. I've only seen a handful of other D-VHS transfers as of the time of this review, but suspect that Terminator 2's high-def image quality will eventually fall in the very good, but not superior, category.

The sound quality on this D-VHS release is also somewhat improved over the DVD, but again, not enough to really blow you away. There is greater clarity and detail in the midrange, but I almost prefer the DTS version on the Ultimate Edition DVD. There seems to be slightly more kick to the low end of the mix on the D-VHS, and there's a greater degree of subtlety in surround ambience - particularly the film's score. But again, the differences are not great. The D-VHS's Dolby Digital soundtrack has the marginal edge on its DVD counterpart, but the disc's DTS track is very close to the tape in terms of overall sonic quality.

With no extras on this D-VHS version, of course, it's going to be a tough sell for the vast majority of fans of the film - particularly given the higher costs to upgrade to the D-VHS format in general. And while the picture quality is somewhat improved on this high-definition tape, it's not a knock-out. Bottom line: if you're looking for reference quality D-VHS video, you might be wise to pick up a different title instead. I'd recommend staring with Universal's U-571.

Bill Hunt
[email protected]

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