Terminator 2


A Few Opening Words

   Terminator 2 was initially slated for a Region 4 release in July 1999. Just before it came out, it was mysteriously delayed. Initially this delay was to be only a week or two, but then we got word that it was indefinitely delayed. Various stories of why the disc was not released surfaced, many revolving around layer change issues.

    We got word that the initial batch of discs, which had already been replicated, were to be destroyed because of quality control concerns. Inevitably, this begs the question of just what was wrong with the disc.

    Through the kindness of <name deleted>, I have been loaned a copy of the disc from the pressing that was supposedly completely destroyed, and have put it through my usual review process.

    Remember, that this disc is NOT the disc to be released in the future - Columbia Tristar have gone back to scratch and are completely remastering this disc, so this review can in no way reflect the quality or otherwise of the disc which will be released in the future. However, I was personally extremely interested in seeing just what this disc actually looked like, and what it was about the disc that caused it to be rejected and destroyed at the very last moment. Consider this review as more of an interesting education about the DVD format and its perils rather than any reflection whatsoever on the quality of the upcoming Terminator 2 release.

Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - Teaser
Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1991 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 131:17 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (62:18)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director James Cameron

Columbia Tristar
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger
Linda Hamilton
Edward Furlong
Robert Patrick
Case Transparent
RRP $34.95 Music Brad Fiedel

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG 2.0 
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (MPEG 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles French
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    IN SHORT: Arnie doing what he does best!

    What can I say about Terminator 2 that hasn't been said before? This is a landmark movie in the history of filmmaking, with hitherto unseen special effects and a landmark storyline. James Cameron has a history of pushing the filmmaking envelope, and Terminator 2 was no exception.

    For those of you that are unfamiliar with the storyline, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Terminator. In the original Terminator, he is sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she gives birth to her son, John. Arnie fails in his mission and is reprogrammed to protect John Connor (Edward Furlong) from a more advanced Terminator (Robert Patrick) in this second outing.

Transfer Quality


    This disc was not authored by the Sony DVCC, but rather by Columbia Tristar France and hence has the typical French look and feel about it.

    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is generally sharp and clear, though there are a few scenes which lack a little in definition. In particular, some of the early blue-lit scenes when the two Terminators arrive in the present time are a little more blurry than I would have expected them to be. Shadow detail is good and there is no low level noise.

    The colours were well rendered and quite bright at times with no evidence of colour bleeding.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. No film-to-video artefacts were seen. More film artefacts than I would have expected made their way into this transfer, particularly early on, detracting markedly from the quality of the transfer. There are a significant number of quite noticeable scratches in the transfer. A full length scratch was present in some of the shots from 120:23 to 120:30.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 62:18, between Chapters 13 and 14. On my Pioneer DV-505, the movie locked up at the layer change. I could continue by pressing the chapter skip button, whereupon playback would recommence at the start of Chapter 14.


    There are three audio tracks on this DVD - French MPEG 2.0 surround-encoded, English Dolby Digital 5.1, and English MPEG 2.0 surround-encoded. The default soundtrack on my player was the French MPEG track, but I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to follow at all times.

    Audio sync was problematic with this disc on my Pioneer DV-505, with the sound frequently out of sync with the picture. Particularly notable for this problem were Chapters 14 and 15. On another DVD player (Noriko DVD-390K) and on my DVD-ROM, this was not a problem.

    The score by Brad Fiedel is unusual, frequently heavily reliant on percussion and percussive effects to create the appropriate atmosphere. It is an integral part of the overall experience of this movie, and superbly suits the on-screen action at all times.

    The surround channels were used heavily by this movie, with frequent and precise placement of sounds within the soundfield. This soundtrack has been remixed from the original 2.0 matrix surround mix, and I personally prefer the matrix mix to the discrete mix. The discrete mix, whilst having more precise sound placement, seems very thin and anaemic-sounding to me, especially early on in the movie.

    The .1 channel received insufficient signal early on in the movie, but this improved as the movie progressed. The latter portion of the movie utilizes the subwoofer very well and very heavily.


    This disc has a very limited selection of extras.

Menu - 16:9

    Chapter selections are incorrectly labelled, with Chapter 1 leading to Chapter 2 on the disc itself and so forth.

Trailer - 2.35:1 16x9 DD 2.0 mono

    This is actually the teaser trailer rather than the theatrical trailer - no actual footage from the movie is shown at all.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     Whilst it sounds like a lot, there is nothing compelling about the extras above which would lead me to favour one version over the other.


    Terminator 2 is an all-time classic.

    The video quality, whilst generally very good, has more flaws than I would have liked. It is below Columbia Tristar's usual standard and below the standard I would have expected for an important movie such as this. The layer change is problematic.

    The audio quality is acceptable if you do not have a Pioneer DVD player. If you do have a Pioneer player, then you will be bothered by the Pioneer audio sync problem with this disc.

    The extras are limited.

Concluding Remarks

     I look forward to comparing this rejected version of the Terminator 2 DVD to the new forthcoming master.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna
29th October 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer