Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★½

Seeing this in the summer of 1991 is one of the most important moviegoing experiences of my life. For one thing, it was my first R-rated movie. (I was 10 at the time, and the last of my friends to go see an R-rated movie — and I was so pissed off at my parents about that and now that I’m a parent I can’t believe my dad let me see this when I was 10 years old what the hell was he thinking??) The rating made it a big deal — but the movie itself was what made a lasting impact on me. The effects, the action, the visuals, the tension, the humor; when I was 10, this felt like the greatest film ever made.

But I liked a lot of absolute garbage when I was 10. Terminator 2 holds up. Every time I watch it, I find new little things to admire, like how carefully the screenplay sets up later plot twists with early dialogue or action. I really focused this time on Cameron’s use of close ups; when he moves the camera, and when he keeps it still. The use of purple light in the frame to tie the shots of Cyberdine and early Skynet technology to the scenes in the future is another brilliant, subtle touch. (I wrote about that at length in this article timed to the film’s recent 3D release.)

Also, the 22-person commentary track on the 4K/Blu-ray set is one of the better nuts-and-bolts-of-filmmaking tracks I’ve ever heard. And if you think there was no pun intended with nuts and bolts, I have one thing to say to you: Hasta la vista, baby.

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