Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time (1996) — The forgotten sequel

“Let’s bust a move.”

Justin’s rating: All you got to do to win against Skynet is CTRL+ALT+DEL his program. Or put him on Windows Vista. YES I JUST MADE A WINDOWS VISTA JOKE.

Justin’s review: In the messy and sprawling roster of Terminator follow-ups, there’s one entry that I consider to be the most overlooked — even though it had millions of fans. In 1996, Universal Studios Florida opened the doors to Terminator 2 3-D: Battle Across Time, a blended show that utilized both film and stage acting along with 3-D effects and massive speakers. For a while, this was running in all three parks, although as of 2021 only the Japan location still runs it.

What makes T2 3D (as it’s shorthanded) really notable is the fact that it is a direct $60 million, 12-minute sequel to Terminator 2, directed by James Cameron and starring the three principles from the highly popular 1991 film. Similar to the Back to the Future Ride, my interest in this sideways sequel was piqued to give it a watch.

The stage show starts with Cyberdyne showing off the capabilities of the new T-70, a more primitive predecessor to the T-800. John and Sarah Connor break into Cyberdyne to shut down the terminators when a T-1000 shows up to fight them. At that time, an Arnold T-800 comes through a time portal with a motorcycle, picks up John, and heads into the future.

At this point, the film proper takes over, with John and the T-800 fleeing the T-1000 through the Future War. Lots of explosions ensue, and Arnie takes John into the Skynet pyramid (which reportedly was designed to look like the pyramids from Blade Runner). There, they face off against the stupidly named T-1000000, a terminator that’s mid-1990s CGI to the max.

Like with the Back to the Future ride, the emphasis here is obviously more on an experience than a narrative. It’s a long chase/battle scene with 3-D effects (and some dorky flying robots), but precious little is given to creating any sort of story. There’s really not enough time for it.

Still, it’s pretty great to see Schwarzenegger jumping back into this role while he was still not-old, and Edward Furlong gets a nice reprise as an older teenager. I think the Future War was a good idea for an extended action sequence, since it allows the filmmakers to pretty much throw a variety of robots and very cheesy quips our way (“Friend of yours?” John asks of an exoskeleton’s head. “College roommate,” says the T-800.)

CGI flying disks aside, this looks pretty fantastic, and you can see where the budget for this went. While they couldn’t go as graphic or violent as the movies, T2 3D delivers enough nods to the 1991 blockbuster while adding a few new visual treats for fans to be mollified.

It would’ve been pretty great to have sat through this back in the day, as you’re missing out on part of the show by watching it over YouTube, but I’m happy it exists and has been preserved for the sorely abused Terminator fanbase.

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