Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
The sequel to James Cameron’s iconic 1984 film The Terminator is widely regarded as being one of the finest action movies of all-time. Developing the mythology from the first film – which had a cyborg arrive from the future to kill unassuming waitress Sarah Connor to prevent the conception of the child that is destined to lead the human race in a future war against sentient technology – Terminator 2: Judgement Day had a similar cyborg arrive to protect the child in question, against a more advanced, deadly machine.
As it is, the theatrical cut of this sequel is flawless. From pacing to characterization to the level of exposition in a story built on a complex time-loop plot – writer/director James Cameron keeps proceedings tight, focused and in perpetual motion. There is not one speck of excess on the exo-skeleton of this project, and every moment of screen time is used for maximum impact. However, being so well-received and popular, a director’s cut inevitably followed in 1993. This included 17 minutes of additional footage, featuring several moments in which the teenage John Connor attempts to bond with the cyborg protecting him (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and, most significantly, a dream sequence focused on Sarah Connor and the character of Kyle Reese from the first film (played by Michael Biehn).
While many fans of the franchise rejoiced at the release of this extra footage, its inclusion in an edit of Terminator 2: Judgement Day is simply to the detriment of the work as a whole. The rhythm of this perfectly paced sci-fi movie is thrown entirely off by the insertion of 17 additional minutes of footage and, crucially, it adds nothing that moves the story along.