Steve Daly
December 17, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

He did say he’d be back. But when Arnold Schwarzenegger’s skeletal puss first adorned multiple laserdisc editions of Terminator 2: Judgment Day in December 1991, who knew that this holiday season he’d be cloned yet again for Terminator 2: Judgment Day-Special Edition? And who could have predicted that this new, exclusive-to-laserdisc set, which edits 16 minutes of cut scenes back into the film, would be so much better and more elaborate a package than the previous top-of-the-line, $90 ”limited collector’s edition” laser?

Unless you’ve got a time machine at your disposal, there’s no trading in the old disc set for an upgrade now, and that’s pretty galling-especially since this is the third time writer-director James Cameron has reworked one of his blockbusters after it became a video best-seller (Aliens and The Abyss were the others). Of course, fans of the disc format probably won’t quibble with the expense when they see the job Cameron has done here. Remastered with the help of George Lucas’ THX quality-control fanatics, the sound and picture will make you feel like a hypersensitive surveillance cyborg; the detail feels nearly microscopic. And if the added scenes make the whole enterprise a bit butt-numbing, there’s also a new sense of fullness in the characters, especially in the conversations in which pubescent messiah-to-be John Connor (Edward Furlong) slowly shapes his guardian Terminator into the ultimate toy dad (best moment: He teaches the Schwarz to smile). Since this is a Cameron laserdisc enterprise, these extras are just for starters. The real meat is a gargantuan, often blatantly self-congratulatory how-they-did-it databank that takes up three disc sides. It’s all so fact- filled and technocentric, it perfectly matches the cybernetic saga it frames. Too bad it may terminate so many laserphiles’ Christmas-club accounts. A-

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