Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★

This review is for the Director's Cut / Extended Edition

If The Terminator was a horror film, then T2 is an action adventure (much as with Alien and Aliens). That said, the change in direction works just fine, making for fun, excitement, drama, and a rollicking good time.

Schwarzenegger plays the title role, of course, and his leaner features than during the first outing just making him more menacing. He does a competent job of both deadly cyborb and slowly learning companion to John Connor. Linda Hamilton is leaner and more muscular than before, believable both as a woman who has remade herself as protector and trainer of her son, and as brittle woman on the edge.

Edward Furlong as John Connor struggles with some awkward lines in places, but never quite rises to the better ones, though not so much that it hurts the movie. Robert Furlong does well as the advanced (and increasingly unstable) T1000. And Joe Morton plays the hapless, tragic Miles Dyson with sympathy.

T2 was the intro of CG effects (thus, the T1000), but what's noteworthy is how good the practical FX by Stan Winston, et al., are. From endoskeletons and cybernetic fighters of the future, to Ahnold's increasing damage, to the various dramatic damages done to the T1000. Today it would (and will be in the new Terminator: Genisys be handled through CG; it's remarkable how well it holds up even today.

(Also noteworthy are old, favorite tricks, like the use of twins, both the psych guard and Linda Hamiton's sister, Leslie.)

The extended edition includes both the scene where the T800's memory is changed from read-only to learning-capable, and (in the last act) increasing visual glitches for the T1000. They don't add a huge amount, but their good scenes and effects nonetheless. (The Director's Cut doesn't include the alternate "future playground" ending, which is worth tracking down elsewhere for completion's sake, but, yeah, the striped highway into darkness is a better wrap).

The movie was written to make the beginning deceptively ambigious -- like the original, you have a Terminator coming back, and a human soldier, both searching for John Connor -- and it's not until the shopping mall that the role switch is made clear. Of course, spoilers at the time rendered the deception moot by the time the movie opened up -- but my 14yo had daughter had never seen the film before, and, darn, it worked exactly as planned. So, well done, James Cameron.

In sum, good movie, and one worth rewatching every now and again.