Emo Philips’s review published on Letterboxd:
With The Terminator still fresh in my head, it is astonishing how this movie is superior in every way, and perfectly fulfills the definition of a great sequel:
- It meaningfully expands the Terminator universe with new lore, both in the present with Cyberdyne and in the future with Judgment Day. While the first movie was a survival horror, this is much more a "saving the world" movie.
- It introduces a new villain who is even more evil than the original Terminator, who is now good AND the movie's comedic relief. This is such an inspired choice, and really what turns this movie into a solidly action franchise.
- The bigger budget ($100M vs $6M) enables a TON of blockbuster action moments. While the T-1000 is the most obvious addition, scenes like Judgment Day, the assault on Cyberdyne, the mental asylum escape, the helicopter highway chase, and the final scene at the steel mill all are incredible. The mixed use of CGI and practical effects for the T-1000 was a very smart choice, adding realism that has aged as well as a 30-year-old movie can (it just turned 30 two weeks ago!).
- The plot takes on much more thematically and is deftly executed without being heavy-handed. The biggest themes, all of which figure significantly into the plot, include the role of the Terminator as a father figure, criticism of society's treatment of the mentally ill, the hubris of technologists and government, and mankind's contradictory capacity for violence and redemption.
Some final thoughts:
- John is kinda annoying, but also he's a kid, isn't he supposed to be. It has never really bothered me, but I see why people wouldn't like him.
- Linda Hamilton is fine as hell and gives such an incredible and badass performance. I love the plot leading you to think she'll kill Dyson, but her realization that she can't do it and subsequent breakdown is heartbreaking and I loved it. Great writing and a great performance to match.
- Joe Morton is great in everything I've ever seen, I should watch more of his stuff.
- The Judgment Day and highway chase scenes are just so visually and aurally unrelenting and intense. I miss modern movies with real, huge explosions and cars flipping. And the skeleton 😳
- What a massive improvement in soundtrack throughout, a much better match to the genre and critical to creating the atmosphere of a blockbuster action movie.
- I love the comedy in the fight scenes with the Terminator, especially the first scene where he stabs a guy in the shoulder and sticks him to the pool table, casually bringing his gun out to kill a good Samaritan, and all the kneecap shots. It's played so indifferent by Schwarzenegger, I can't help but smile every time.
Minor plot hole: Sarah's vision is never explained. Why does she get that premonition?
I love this movie so much, it's certainly an all-time favorite for me, and the top of my list of The Terminators, Ranked!