Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

What editions are available?

  • Theatrical Cut (137 min.)
  • Special Edition (153 min.)
  • Ultimate Cut (156 min.)

The Terminator was true to his words when he said he’d be back –  He returned seven years later with a bang in 1991. Since then, Terminator 2: Judgement Day has had a special place in hearts of most sci-fi and action fans. It’s a grand spectacle of elaborate action scenes and visual effects, and almost three decades later it still holds up. The film has been released in three different cuts: theatrical cut, Special Edition and Ultimate Cut. The latter, Ultimate Cut, is simply the Special Edition cut with two added deleted scenes. The latest US and UK Blu-ray releases include all three cuts.

In 1993 Terminator 2 was released on VHS and Laserdics as a Special Edition where director James Cameron had added 16 minutes to the film. Pioneer produced the Laserdisc that came with a letter from Cameron where he opens up by saying:

“People sometimes ask why I would want to do a special edition of T2. Why “fix” something that ain’t broken? I see it not as a fix, but as an opportunity to do greater justice to the characters who live and breathe within the 136-minute confines of the film. This Special Edition in no way invalidates the theatrical cut. It simply restores some depth and character made omissible by theatrical running time and now made viable again by the home theatrical/laserdisc format.”

Source: A letter by James Cameron to owners of the 1993 Special Edition Laserdisc from Pioneer

The letter is quite ambiguous on which edition Cameron prefers but in his 2003 recorded commentary for the Special Edition DVD he flat out gives his preferred cut of the film:

“I still stand by the release version of the film. I don’t think we needed that dream sequence. I think we made the right decisions editorially, and I think that the dream sequence and some of the other things that we put back in for the extended version are good to sort of show the creative process, but, you know, essentially, making a film is an analytical and reductive process. You throw away the things you don’t need.”

About a half hour later in the commentary Cameron firmly states the following while watching a scenes that echoes the dream sequence mentioned above:

“The best argument for taking the dream sequence out of the movie was that it protected the strange nightmarish quality of this moment. Because if you had already seen that gag used earlier, it would water this down. I think that the film is more powerful, the released version is so much powerful because it doesn’t have all that slow-motion running in the hospital.”

Source: Audio commentary with James Cameron and William Wisher Jr. on the Special Edition cut on Blu-ray

The director’s preferred edition: Theatrical Cut

Comparison of the editions with courtesy of Movie-Censorship.com
Comparison of the editions with courtesy of Movie-Censorship.com

List of different editions with courtesy of DVDCompare.net: DVD | Blu-ray