Movie Review: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Seven years after the success of The Terminator, director James Cameron follows up with arguably the best sequel in cinema history in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
With the pseudo-reboot of the Terminator franchise in the form of Terminator: Genisys coming out July 1, let’s look at what many view as the best output of the franchise in T2.
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, two terminators are sent from the future. One, a reprogrammed T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is sent to protect a teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong) rather than kill him (as per the events of the first film) sent by John’s future self (Michael Edwards). The other, the more advanced T-1000 (Robert Patrick) made of liquid metal who can take on any organic humanoid shape as well as metal objects like stabbing weapons, who is sent by Skynet to kill John.
To improve chances of success, John orders the T-800 to rescue his mother, a very militant Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who was locked up in a mental institution for trying to blow up Cyberdyne Systems, the company responsible for Skynet and the terminators.
The film explores so many different facets of character depth and story far beyond anything the first film ever did. Not only do you have improved stunts from the cat-and-mouse game between Team Connor and the T-1000, but you also have an exploration of humanity from a cyborg. John bonds with the terminator teaching him the various facets of humanity from a teenager’s perspective while it absorbs and applies like a puppy would. So basically Arnold’s turned the T-800 into Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation sharing the innate curiosity a child would have while providing a wealth of information along the way.
The audience not only learns what a terminator is capable of as far as learning about interpersonal relationships, but someone like a Sarah Connor, learns that there’s room for humanity anywhere, even from a terminator.
Without going into further details in the plot, the rest of the film does provide a very satisfactory balance throughout the movie as well as raising the bar every which way.
Dr. Peter Silberman (Earl Boen) gets a much more expanded role as the lead facilitator of the hospital where Sarah’s being kept at. He gets an increase mix and tense and humorous segments this time around.
Also Joe Morton turns in a good performance as the unsuspecting Miles Dyson, the lead researcher who helps build the key programming behind Skynet and the terminators.
The principal cast does deserve the highest of praise turning in nuanced and deep performances, particularly Schwarzenegger, Hamilton and Patrick. Schwarzenegger turned his perhaps his finest dramatic performance of his career. He may be flexing his acting chops in more serious roles now, but it’s hard to beat what he put out in this film. It’s a credit to both Cameron and William Wisher for such a fine script.
Hamilton’s performance as Sarah set a bar for female action heroes not seen since Sigourney Weaver of the Alien franchise, which is not surprising considered that Cameron directed Aliens, the second and what’s regarded as the best film of the franchise. It’s a shame Hollywood couldn’t take more advantage of her dominating presence.
Patrick’s T-1000 was the polar opposite of what Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is: very unassuming or imposing. While the T-1000 is certainly a better infiltration unit changing not only voice, but body as well. The stark contrast and equally as ruthless as the 1984 terminator definitely left a lasting impression all the way until the end.
Stan Winston topped himself even further with modern CGI still at its infancy. Facial morphing effects, liquid manipulation created very realistic and more “fluid” motions, pardon the pun here. While the T-800 was a mix of organic and metal, the T-1000 was all liquid, making him an even scarier threat.
To finish that off, you have a more polished, orchestral and traditional score from Brad Fiedel.