This apocalypse is fictional, but you can still celebrate the anniversary of our demise because the end of the world is getting a real event (and who doesn’t want to celebrate the end of the world?). Twenty years after Miles Dyson screwed the human race, Terminator 2: Judgment Day comes to theaters in 3D.
Little need is there to review T2. James Cameron’s time-traveling terminator robot picture is recognized, rightfully, as one of the great action/sci-fi films. Twenty-six years after its release, dear reader, you already know if you’re inclined towards spending 3D-money for ticket to a movie you can rent at home for $2.99.
But just in case you’re wavering, let’s take a second to think about what James Cameron is asking you to do. It’s a serious ask, after all: movie tickets are expensive, and 3D tickets even more so, and this is a movie many of us are familiar with.
The first thing to know is that James Cameron oversaw the 3D conversion himself. Much has been made of this fact, and for good reason. With Cameron being a technically driven obsessive perfectionist, his involvement in the conversion process should instill confidence that T2 is not going to be another Jurassic Park / Phantom Menace cash-grab conversion.
One knock against T2-3D is that 3D remains a mixed bag in general. 3D has had varied results that lean towards the slap-dash and terrible (all the Marvel stuff, John Carter,). Though some productions are acceptable, if unnecessary (Fantastic Beasts, Prometheus). The only theatrically released 3D film that demanded the treatment was Avatar, another James Cameron sci-fi epic. Avatar was built to inhabit a 3D theater and take audiences into a 3D world, and it worked. To achieve that, Cameron used atmospheric 3D elements better than anyone ever has: the bubbles in the air, the ashes, the glowy-tree thing. Everything else, the battles, the flying, the simple running and leaping of Avatar, work because the world itself is built and executed to be 3D.
Terminator 2 was simply not built for the same 3D experience. There is no denying that fact. T2 was made with incredible special-effects that enhanced the fantasy storytelling and conceptual science-fiction thematics. It is damn near perfect as a 2D picture, and doesn’t demand, in any sense, a 3D release.
But we have one. So, should you spend your hard-earned dollars on this 3D adaptation?
The answer is both yes and no.
I saw a critics’ screening of T2-3D, and it was glorious. Simply breathtaking. Rest assured that the conversion is, at worst, neutral. It took nothing from the pleasure of the film, and there were some surprisingly effective moments when the treatment may have actually enhanced the experience (there’s a lot of stabbing, after all).
Largely, the pleasure I experienced was not a result of 3D. James Cameron works on a scale that asks for the sound and size that only the big-screen can deliver. This 3D version is the first opportunity I’ve had to see it on the big screen, and I would have taken that opportunity in 2D, 3D, 4D (smell-o-vision?), any number of Ds frankly. If you love T2, and have never seen it in the theater, you should pony up, because James Cameron does the work to earn the big screen, 3D or not.
If you don’t love T2, well, it’s an awful lot to ask someone to spend $12-20 bucks to see a converted 3D picture of a movie that you could just watch at home. Save your money, in this instance, and go see Logan Lucky.
–Christopher Zumski Finke