Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★½

marking my three-hundredth review with James Cameron’s successor to the film that launched his career, which equally launched a milestone for not just the action/sci-fi genre, but for filmmaking as a whole.

many sequels fall prey to either piling additions to a rehashing that creates “more,” but does not enhance, or being completely unnecessary and not offering any worthwhile progression to an original’s plot. Terminator 2: Judgment Day not only completely avoids this, but redefines its predecessor in a way that honors The Terminator while making it a irresistibly magnetic, fruitful, and efficacious. the film is flawlessly paced for an almost two and a half hour runtime with no moment of strain - in fact, every moment is recognized to such precise attention that nothing feels out of place or overstaying its welcome. this is mostly due to the incredible framing and cinematography that prevents any speck of action from going unnoticed, making sure the death-defying stunts and the remarkable practical and special effects are not only noticeable, but in full focus at all times. achieving this naturally ramps up the thrill, but also grants an element of horror and anxiety to produce elevated tension, as if that was not already felt via the astoundingly colossal presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick’s stone-cold and threatening cybernetic organisms. centering the plot around John Connor’s role in the future is revisited, but carried out in new form, giving Arnold’s Terminator a step towards humanism in its most innocent, innate form, which, in turn, includes empathetic notes on humanity with laughs, but introduces a notion of pain that the first film only knew through violence. with Sarah Connor’s nightmares painting a wicked picture of apocalypse stemming from trauma of her past, fear for the future, and a hole in her heart on both ends, the dreary fantasies of altering what is known to come meshes with the bleak tone of her desire to be whole again with her son in such a distinct, all-or-nothing manner that throttles the film to the core. though this is a strong point for her and for the film, Sarah remains relatively unlikeable, and young John can be a nuisance who seems to exist solely for script’s sake. and to tie into the moment of Sarah’s nightmares, the sequence in Mexico to gather their weapons was yes, crucial to the Terminator’s continued development of understanding for humans and for this nuclear visual we receive, but it came across as almost out of place and a little forced. however, in perspective with everything going on around these maybe ten-ish minutes, this refrains from being too much of a setback for me. 

for a first viewing thirty years after its initial release, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is still identifiable as a world-class achievement in cinema and exists beyond standing the test of time - more as a historical crowning moment that can live and will live eternal. a textbook definition of a blockbuster, and another installment in James Cameron’s series of being ahead of it all.

“hasta la vista, baby.”

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