Scott Bailey’s review published on Letterboxd:
"If a machine ... can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too."
Much like how I reviewed and rated the first two Alien movies 5-stars because of the fact that both films are exceptional and groundbreaking in different ways. I think the same thing applies to the first two Terminator movies as well. They are two of the best science fiction films ever made, and to be completely honest I always have a difficult time picking which film I like best because they feel so different to each other.
Much like the first film, the sequel also thrives on a very simple plot without ever feeling convoluted in any way. It keeps the focus where it should be, on the characters and the action, and that's what makes the story so memorable.
I think watching this again I think what stands out most about this film is Robert Patrick as the T-1000. Probably an understatement given the fact he's one of the deadliest villains in movie history. He's unrelenting, has probably one of the coldest scariest looks I've ever seen and is more than a match for Arnie. In my opinion though I love the fact that throughout the whole film, apart from the times he shape-shifts into something else, he is dressed as a police officer. Absolutely nobody would think to question his motives as to why he wants to get a hold of John Conner. Like the scene where he visits the foster parents for example and they just give him a picture of him, without even thinking twice all because he just asked for it. He's not only scary as the films villain, but he's also calculated.
Eddie Furlong is the 13 year old John Conner, in this film and to be honest he's a bit of a punk early on in the film, he's shows complete and utter disregard for his foster parents and generally he is rebellious. Gradually though the film does a great job of developing a good character arc where it is believable that he is destined to be the great military leader in the war against the machines. I thought Furlong was really good in the film, he feels like a believeable character who has lacked structure in his life because of his father getting killed and his mother being locked away. I really like the relationship between him and the robot and how he grows attached to it. It feels very real and who doesn't end up with a lump in their throat by the time the film ends.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is given a much more challenging role in this film too as the 'good guy' Terminator in my opinion. He is so much fun to watch in the first film with minimal dialogue, showing virtually no expressions killing absolutely anyone who gets in his way. Here though he is assigned to protect John Conner, not only that he is also commanded not to kill anyone, although he seems absolutely fine with putting people in wheelchairs instead. :)
He is also reassigned so that he can learn more from his interactions with humans, and this of course leads to the machine to become something of a father figure to John. Despite the fact it is such a massive change compared to the remorseless first Terminator robot, this role really does work for this film in my opinion even if you could see it as a little far fetched.
Linda Hamilton is amazing in this film as the now muscular, lean and badass Sarah Conner. Her role was another massive contrast to what she was like in the first film, yet it's pulled off so well, because I felt like it happened so organically from the first film. This time she is locked away in a mental institution because she attempted to blow up a computer factory. The whole scene where she attempts to break out while the T-1000 is targeting her is just incredible. And as the film progresses after she escapes from the institution, I love the dynamic between her, John and The Terminator where she simply does not trust it because of the events of the first film. Generally she is a complete and utter badass.
Even people in the smaller roles like Joe Morton as Miles Bennett Dyson or Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman not only feel memorable in the film, but also feel important. I mean seriously have you ever watched this film once and not felt like you wanted to give Dr. Silberman a slap?! Joe Morton gives a really good performance as Dyson, who as it turns out is the one directly responsible for starting the war between humans and machines, but you see when he's doing the research that it clearly isn't his intention.
The film clearly takes the time to establish characters as well as being an absolutely incredible action movie that is bigger and just colossal in scale when you compare it to the original. While the original was made on a small budget of just $6m, the sequel was made on a staggering budget of $102 million, and you can tell absolutely no expense was spared on it. Terminator 2 is credited for its use of CGI and how it was a game changer in how we look at Hollywood filmmaking today, which to a large extent is true, but theres also a ton of great practical effects and puppeteering that makes the effects look realistic and natural in its approach, because of this, the action always has so much tension to it throughout the film. Every action scene in this is spectacular and despite the fact the CGI was done back in 1991, it still holds up incredibly well today because it doesn't feel overblown and is only really used when it's necessary.
I have but one problem with Terminator 2 and that is the pacing, I felt like the scene where they are in Mexico was a bit drawn out for me and I notice that between that scene and then the assassination attempt of Miles Bennet Dyson, you don't see the T-1000 at all. It's nothing that affects my enjoyment of the film, but it is a flaw for me and it's always worth noting even the very best films aren't perfect. The scenes do feel slightly jarring to me because of just how tightly edited the first film is.
I generally like the Theatrical Cut the most, but the Special Extended Cut does have some interesting scenes in there, for instance I loved the scene where it shows the T-1000's weakness after he is affected by the liquid nitrogen, and no longer has any control of what he morphs into. It's a simple addition that is very effective. However most of the additional scenes I felt only really served as unnecessary exposition.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the perfect way to end the series in my opinion and I don't think any of the sequels since have done anything to justify their existence.