Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★

Is it ok for me to remain neutral when it comes to which Terminator film I like more? I feel like after nearly 30 years since the original's release, most people would have their minds made up by now, but not me.

Aside from having the same name, director, and a few of the same characters (this becomes a little sticky when you throw in the time travel bit. "Hey bro, I'm gonna need you to go back in time and bang my mom), Terminator and Terminator 2 are vastly different from one another and are very good in their own separate ways. Where the first film almost resembled a horror flick, with its indestructible monster relentlessly pursuing the female lead until their climax, the second is an all out display of state of the art effects and beautifully directed white knuckle, nonstop action. Some people will carry the "less is more" argument to their grave, but I on the other hand really enjoyed what they did with Terminator in the sequel. I mean, it would've been boring if they would've just had Arnie come back as the bad machine again for the second time around, so why not shuffle things up a bit? Reverse the roles and throw a whole new player in the game? Why not? I feel like they really retained the feeling of being relentlessly pursued in the first film by bringing in Robert Patrick as the incredible T-1000 for the sequel. The T-1000 is played with sleek and chilling power by Patrick and even though he is slimmer, smaller and easily tossed around by Arnie, he still always feels like he has the upper hand. The soundtrack changes to a low key almost stressful theme when he populates the screen and it subconsciously makes the viewer uncomfortable and vulnerable when he is on the screen. A great villain. A great display of special effects and movie magic. That's one thing Terminator 2 has going for it; the immense sense of big budget thrills and a high bar of quality. Its got heart and it packs a big mechanical punch but like any piece of robotic technology, its still got its faults.

The biggest being probably the over reliance on cgi and action that makes the script and writing in general seem kind of lacking. Why should we care? The Terminator is killing people (or not killing people) and blowing shit up, why should we care about the writing? Well, Terminator 2 kind of unintentionally dug its own grave with that one. With a plot that involves time travel, paradoxes and meanings of past and future, you would think that the plot would at least try to be more tight. But its actually pretty silly when you step back and think about it. "Bad writing" not only includes the lacking plot but also the dialogue and script itself. Lines you thought were cool as a kid kind of give you a sad cringe now. And sometimes it just gets straight up cheesy. And I might get flayed for the next two comments but ill go anyways.

First one: I didn't really like Sarah Connor's character in this one. I thought she was actually kind of an ass (the scene of her trying to murder that father always bothered me) and the minuscule relationship with her son never really makes us feel like she is related to anybody. She is kind of just there to shoot things and say "hey I remember this stuff."

Second one: Furlongs performance isn't that bad. Some people make fun of it or condemn it but I find myself giving him credit. He is an annoying squeaky fuck sometimes but honestly he was pretty relatable and I LOVED his scenes when he was bindi with the Terminator. And his lines are pretty dumb and the delivery takes a while to get used to but Hell. He played that role with confidence. He acted like he didn't know or care that his performance was weak so kudos for that. But what the fuck happened to him now?

Those are my main problems with Terminator 2. But in the grand scheme of things, they are mostly easy to forgive. There is still something about this movie that makes me look on with childlike wonder as nostalgic memories of watching this film with my brothers and sister rush over me. This film is like an action packed wave of déjà vu that STILL flaunts its mechanical and methodically staged, and impressively explosive action pieces today. Some modern action movies dream of capturing even a fraction of the magic that Terminator 2 achieved. The villain, the hero and the characters sprinkled in between the large action pieces sent this film into the annals of American action film history and has its own special place tucked into my childhood memory. Today, I think the action peaks at the impressive highway chase towards the end (the helicopter beautifully gliding under the bridge and arcing over the next one) and kind of drags on from there. The climax is great in its own nostalgic ways but gets a little ass numbing. The ride to that point however is still one of the most consistently impressive pieces of American blockbuster film making.

Off the top of my head there aren't a whole lot of just as big films that have come close to matching the quality and entertainment since then, and one could almost say that this was the death of the blockbuster. The last Big Bang.

But if you wanted to go further you could also say that the American blockbuster was born and subsequently killed by Jaws but that's a discussion for a different time.

As for now, Hasta la vista. Baby.