Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Terminator 2 (5 Stars)

Today is 29th August 2017, the 20th anniversary of the destruction of human civilisation in the event known as Judgement Day. To celebrate our survival "Terminator 2" has been re-released in glorious 3D.

Does that make you shudder? If you dislike 3D films as much as I do you'll be hiding your head under the blankets. For me 3D is all about silly gimmicks like things flying out of the screen to frighten the viewers. Fortunately this isn't what we get in the 3D version of "Terminator 2". The 3D effects are very subtle, sometimes adding more depth to scenes, but mostly unnoticeable. That's the sort of 3D I can live with.

What makes the film I saw today truly worthwhile is the remastering. I've watched the film on Blu-ray four times, which is often enough for me to verify that the picture I saw today was superior. There's a perfect clarity to every scene, especially the facial close ups.

This is one of my favourite films of all time, in my top 10 at least. It's amazing that it looks so good, considering that it's 26 years old. In 1991 computer graphics were still in their early days. The first Terminator film, made in 1984, looks dated, like a 1980's film, but "Terminator 2" looks like it was made last week.

There's no way the story can be faulted. There were hints of temporal paradoxes in the first film, but they become the central themes in the sequel. The film is so well structured, perfectly paced, and Arnold Schwarzenegger proves that he can act if he really needs to.

The only negative today is that I had to watch the film in German, i.e. dubbed into German. No cinemas here are showing it in the original English version. However, I got used to it as the film progressed. The German dubbing is so good that I almost forgot it was in German.

As I've said before, German dubbing is good in general, far superior to that of films dubbed into English. Voice actors ("Synchronsprecher") are picked for each actor, not for individual films. Germans audition for the part, and priority is given to those with acting experience. They have to commit themselves to dubbing the actor over a long period of time. The voice actors have to be approximately the same age as the actors they dub, for practical reasons. If a Hollywood actor is 30 years old a 55-year-old voice actor can't be picked, because it might be necessary to dub the actor for the next 40 years. The German cinema audiences expect an actor to sound the same from film to film.

I was speaking with German friends yesterday, and they knew the names of the voice actors who are responsible for the German voices of the biggest American stars. This amazed me, but my friends were equally amazed that I didn't know their names. Obviously it's something that serious film fans in Germany are expected to know.

The German method of dubbing can lead to clashes. Thomas Danneberg is the voice of both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. In "The Expendables" he dubbed the voices of both actors. I'm curious to hear what the film sounds like.

Sometimes a voice actor is exchanged. For instance, Stephan Schwartz was Tom Cruise's voice in 11 films from 1986 to 1993. When he was asked to dub his voice again in "Eyes Wide Shut" he said he was too busy, and a replacement was hired for the one film. In a television interview Stephan said that the real reason he had turned down the role was that he had just discovered that Tom Cruise was a Scientologist. Tom Cruise heard about this and insisted that the replacement, Patrick Winczewski, be retained for all his future films.

Yes, the German voice actors are so important that their Hollywood counterparts know them. It's not uncommon for them to meet to discuss a role. That shows how serious dubbing is taken in Germany.

Thomas Danneberg did a good job as Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice today. If anything, he sounded even colder and more mechanical than Arnold himself. German fans who have never seen the original version of the film are not missing out.

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