IronWatcher’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched on 3D Blu-Ray (Theatrical Version)
After the gloomy, grim, urban horror of The Terminator (1984), James Cameron continued his vision seven years later under changed circumstances. In 1991, the reinterpretation of the T-800 from a killer to a protector and father figure in a not-so-networked world and despite a major advertising campaign, must have been quite a blast. It was undoubtedly a clever move. The humor now finds its way into a place where before only overwhelming hopelessness prevailed.
Cameron prefered not to simply repeat himself and prefered other approaches for his sequel. Terminator 2: Judgement Day is visibly more playful in its staging and broader in its narrative structure, more open, less uncompromising, less gloomy and less pessimistic. The whole first half is again almost perfectly staged with great timing and a strong feeling for tempo and action and Cameron plays all his talent to the full. The incredibly efficient narrative never lets even a hint of boredom arise.
As in the predecessor, all four characters are brought into an excellent position, but about halfway and at the latest after the escape from psychiatry the tension flattens noticeably. A little idle creeps in here - not long, but long enough to ease the tension. In addition, Terminator 2 never reaches the quality of its predecessor in terms of exposure: where Cameron in The Terminator masterfully manages to tell his story without an explanatory dialogue and almost exclusively through visual language, the sequel always falls into the exact opposite.
Just as the cast of the T-8oo with Arnold Schwarzenegger had already proved to be an absolute stroke of genius, so it is now similar with Robert Patrick as T-1000, who radiates an uncommonly cold, expressionless, stoic, downright uncanny presence, which comes much less from the raw corporeality, but much more from its seemingly inhuman precision. While in the first part the T-800 was still the ultimate, unstoppable and merciless in its mission, now in direct comparison to its successor it seems almost antiquated, discarded and above all inferior.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is undoubtedly a top-class action firework that has redefined the limits of what is possible in its time, and can shine with various pretty twists and surprises. Although the film lacks the pioneering spirit of the first film, its basic structure is fascinatingly different. And yet Cameron's sequel isn't always as perfect on point as The Terminator, not as icy cold in its precision, and not as grim and devastating anymore, but noticeably brighter and more hopeful.
Taken together, the two films form a congenial unity with a worthy final point, which basically makes all further sequels obsolete. Cameron simply told his story to the end.