'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' Review - Blockbuster's Everest

Updated on June 27, 2018
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie survival movies, but I love classics and various cult pieces too.

Terminator 2 Pushed Movie Making To The Turn Of The Century

Let's say it from the start. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the pinnacle of what a blockbuster should be. It's the highest quality point of comparison when it comes to making a high budget film that aspires to have wise storytelling, memorable characters and unforgettable elements of action, sci-fi or both.

For current standards, T-2's visual effects are beginning to look a little outdated. It doesn't matter. Not only have they flawlessly endured almost two decades, but they also marked a trend and influenced millions. Only The Matrix's bullet-time effect can recently be compared to the impact that T-2's morphing and CGI had in film history.

Of course, FX aren't enough to raise a movie to the status of a classic. The characters in T-2 are iconic, incredibly well written, ideally planned and perfectly cast.

A Strong Cast With Archetypical Characters

The one character that impresses from the first second is Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sarah is all that she wasn't in The Terminator. She's tough, self-aware, independent and the complete opposite of naive. The fact that Hamilton makes it credible (You can see glimpses of good ol' innocent Sarah when she is at her most vulnerable) speaks volumes about her incredible histrionic abilities. This is an excellent physical performance.

Arnold Schwarzenegger manages to deliver the necessary twist to his T-800 stoic role, being now one of the good guys who also can learn and understand human actions and emotions. His role as John Connor's brief father figure is perfection.

And then there is the revelation. John Connor (Edward Furlong) is the heart of the film and the perfect abstraction of the "cool rebel spirit" of the early 90s. John wears a Public Enemy t-shirt and a grunge flannel. He listens to Guns N' Roses, talks like Bart Simpson and has the Johnny Depp/River Phoenix hairdo. The magnetism of the future leader of the resistance is strong.

When I first watched the movie I was seven or eight years old, and I remember Robert Patrick as the T-1000 scaring the hell out of me. An enemy that could change into anyone, was nearly unstoppable and was able to have blades for hands.

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Blockbuster Action Story With Some Heart

And of course, a great story is as good as its villain. The adamant-looking, clean-cut killer T-1000 is as menacing as they come. The T-1000 is simply one of the best villains in cinematic memory.

And then, of course, there is the fantastic script, full of explosions, violent deaths, persecutions and profound musings about our destructive nature. I still laugh out loud--while dying inside--at the scene where John Connor sees two children angrily playing with toy guns, sighs and then sadly asks "We're not gonna make it, are we?” before continuing working towards their plan. T-2's greatness is that even though it is surrounded by pessimism, our protagonist trio power through.

The temporal paradox, a subject suggested in The Terminator (with the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor conceiving John and creating the whole situation they wanted to prevent), is even bigger in T-2. John Connor's favorite phrase is, "the future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves." But all his actions (both in the future and present) seem destined to create that same future. In general, all of T-2's actions appear to fit perfectly with the unwanted future... but there's also definitely a change.

That's the greatness of Cameron's storytelling. When a sci-fi film decides to tackle the theme of time travel, it must decide whether its version of the future will follow the theory of the "predetermined fixed timeline" (as seen in films such as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or 12 Monkeys) or the multiverse theory (Back to the Future, Star Trek reboot). T-2, determined not to be defined by any stereotype, resists the norm and manages to be ambiguous and satisfying at the same time.

Has the future been modified or have all the chips fallen perfectly in their respective positions?

The answer, sadly, was found in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Luckily I only have great youthful memories from the first two installments and I'm happy to ignore later mistakes.

Movie Details

Title: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Release Year: 1991

Director(s): James Cameron

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick a.o.

5 stars for Terminator 2: Judgement Day


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