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Josh Enjoys Seeing Terminator 2: Judgment Day Back on the Big Screen!

As I have written here before, I love the idea of revival showings of great classic movies.  It is a special treat to get to see a terrific older movie back on the big screen, where it belongs!  I wish this was done more often.  It’s a pleasure whenever a studio gets behind this sort of thing.  In the past two weeks I was delighted by the chance to see two wonderful movies back on the big screen: a new 3D version of James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and a 40th Anniversary showing of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Both were fantastic!

Let’s start with T2, which I saw first.  I didn’t need a 3D conversion; I would have jumped at the chance to see this blockbuster back on the big screen in its original form.  But that being said, the 3D was fun.  The 3D conversion was done exceedingly well.  No surprise, since it was overseen by James Cameron, who launched the modern wave of 3D films (a wave that has already mostly died out) with Avatar in 2009.  The 3D is subtly done, adding depth to the image without ever being distracting.  The new 3D effects are most exciting in the brief “future war” sequence at the start of the film; it’s a ton of fun to see the Terminator robots and all the exploding ships and trucks in 3D.

I love T2, and it’s incredible how well this 1991 film holds up more than twenty-five years after its release.  It’s a great story, with vivid characters and spectacular action.  This could be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s greatest performance (though I am also partial to his work in True Lies, another great James Cameron film).  Some of the story beats are a little cliche twenty-five years later, but I still found this story of a killer robot learning to care for a human boy to be remarkably affecting.  Linda Hamilton is terrific as this hardened version of Sarah Connor (a far cry from the waitress damsel in distress she played in the first film).  I know some people don’t love Edward Furlong’s work as John Connor, but I think he does a great job at embodying this young nineteen-nineties kid.  And the action — wow.  There are few directors better at crafting extraordinary action sequences than James Cameron.

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this film’s groundbreaking-at-the-time CGI effects held up, projected on the big screen, twenty-five years later.  Often times I find that films that are the most cutting-edge can age poorly, as their pioneering effects are improved upon by other films and filmmakers who stand on their shoulders.  I was worried that, when seen on the big screen, any flaws in the film’s 1991 computer effects would be magnified.  But I was surprised and impressed that the visuals — particularly the liquid metal T-1000 — were still pretty damn great!  This is a testament to the incredible skill of Mr. Cameron and his team.

One of the great pleasures of seeing this film back on the big screen was getting to hear Brad Fiedel’s terrific score really, really loud.  I love his Terminator main theme — just hearing that burst forth from the theater’s speakers over the opening credits put a smile on my face.  But the whole score — particularly all the chase music — is terrific, and it was a delight to hear it the way it was meant to be heard, as opposed to coming out of my TV’s speakers.

I am a huge fan of the extended Director’s Cut version of Terminator 2.  For years now, that has been my preferred version whenever I re-watch this film at home.  There’s a lot of cool stuff added into that version, including a they-never-should-have-cut-it scene with Michael Biehn, reprising his role as Kyle Reese; lots more stuff showing Sarah’s unpleasant incarceration in the mental hospital; a lengthy sequence in which we see that Sarah and John have to remove and adjust the Terminator’s CPU chip in order to activate his ability to learn, and then lots more stuff in the middle of the movie showing the Terminator’s gradual process of learning and becoming more human while bonding with John; and a whole cool subplot running through the final fight in which we see the T-1000 glitching, having not quite repaired itself 100% after being shattered by the liquid nitrogen.  That’s all cool stuff and it adds a lot of textures to the film.  So I hadn’t actually seen the theatrical version for a while.  Watching this re-release reminded me of just how awesome the theatrical version is.  I still prefer the extended cut, but boy without all that extended material the theatrical cut really MOVES.  This is an amazing piece of blockbuster entertainment.  It has wonderful characters and a lot of heart, but above all this is just a ferocious action/adventure.  It was a joy seeing it on the big screen.  (For the first time!!  I didn’t see this film in theaters in 1991.)

I’ll be back on Wednesday with my thoughts on the 40th Anniversary screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind!

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