johnlink ranks TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

When converting to Blu Ray, the T2 DVD was one of the few movies I kept the older format of, despite getting the newer one as well. When I started collecting movies, that DVD had the coolest Easter Egg: If you typed in the date of the movie’s titular Judgment Day, then you were able to unlock an entirely different version of the film which was longer. I thought that was so cool. Of course, I only did it once and then never watched it again. But at least it’s sat on my shelf collecting dust for over a decade. So it’s got that going for it. Which is nice.


I watched TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991) on 5.20.15. It was probably my seventh or eight viewing of the film, but my first in over ten years.

It is a short list of sequels which are clearly better than their predecessor. TERMINATOR 2 improves, in every way, over the original TERMINATOR – which is a pretty respectable film in its own right. The special effects are better, and indeed, they provide a stronger aesthetic than many of the pumped out blockbuster effects gracing our screens nearly 25 years later. Specifically, the liquid design of the evil Terminator (Robert Patrick) is inspired, scary, and never cheap.

But, amazingly, that villain disappears for large sections of the film to allow for some character development. In a lesser film, such a detour would ruin an action flick. Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a Terminator who has been reprogrammed and now protects a young John Connor (Edward Furlong), shows surprising depth. This sequel plays up the comedic aspects of a Terminator in a human world; another concept which might ruin a worse written movie. Instead, JUDGMENT DAY gets pretty much every one of these bits right with the proper levels of levity balancing out some intense action,

And the action scenes are spectacular. John and his new Terminator buddy have to spring mom (Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah Connor) from the psych ward. This would be tough enough on its own without the other Terminator in pursuit. The ensuing chase is wonderful. But it is nothing compared to an extended sequence which takes place at the corporate headquarters of the place which will soon start making Terminators, Cyberdyne.


The first film has a nice script, solid action, some shoddy acting, and a dated musical score. T2 is filled with a driven script, top-level action, impressive acting moments, and a strong musical score. A scene with Sarah Connor dreaming of the demise of the world is memorable enough that seeing it again, over a decade after a previous viewing, feels like watching something seen yesterday. Director James Cameron has made many memorable films which cross genres. He even had an amazingly impressive action/sci-fi flick on his resume already with ALIENS. But TERMINATOR 2 still manages to set a bar for action films.

Consider a sequence in the home of Cyberdyne worker Miles Dyson (Joe Morton). This is a moment of high drama and proves as exposition for the newly introduced character over half-way through the film. But because of everything the movie has worked towards, this exposition is something we have been hungry for. Seeing Arnie cut his skin off to reveal the robotic arm underneath works on a level to satisfy us based on our preconceived notions of the first film, our desire for people who don’t believe in time travels from the future to be forced into our perspective, and on the less lofty level of enjoying some gore for its own sake. Everyone in this scene nails it, and we are privy to multiple levels of character (from human to Sarah’s robotic humanity, to The Terminator’s lack of humanness). It’s not the most memorable scene from the film, but it is one which points to how good of a whole this is.

I certainly didn’t go into this viewing expected to be reminded that TERMINATOR 2 is one of the best genre films of all time. But it is. And I’m glad I watched it again.



The bonus point is for the special effects, which might still be top 10 all time even 24 years later.


Final Score: 8.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on May 22, 2015.

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