Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – James Cameron

 

The 101 Sci-Fi Movies, and the 101 Action Movies mesh with this title, appearing as a fin example of both genres.

Cameron’s film picks up 13 years after the original classic, and finds a rebellious John Connor (Edward Furlong) living with his foster parents, while his toughened, but possibly psychotic mother, Sarah (Linda Hamilton) is locked away in a mental institution.

Unfortunately, that leaves John vulnerable, and it’s at this moment that Cyberdyne decides to send back another terminator to attempt to assassinate Connor before he can become the man who leads the resistance to victory over the machines.

As before, the resistance was able to send back an ally, a protector, but like before, it’s a race to see who reaches him first.

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Building on the success of the first film, the second is bigger, louder, and more dynamic than the first, returning as the T-800 is Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this time he may be outmatched by the new liquid metal T-1000 (Robert Patrick) that can alter his shape and appearance.

After an explosive confrontation at a shopping mall, and subsequent chase, John learns that the T-800 has to follow his orders, and decides to go after his mother, from there, the film really kicks into high gear, as the T-1000 stalks, hunts, shoots and slashes them at every opportunity.

Deciding to take the fight to Cyberdyne, they decide to after the man most responsible for Skynet and the Terminators creation… Miles Dyson (Joe Morton).

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Sarah, no longer the young woman from the first film, but now a hardened warrior herself, almost becomes a terminator herself, when she decides to hunt him down and kill him to stop his work. This is happening in conjunction with John trying to educate the T-800 about why he can’t just go around killing people, a nice juxtaposition.

The film has some outstanding set pieces, a brilliant combination of practical and CG effects, and some strong performances. All of which are heightened by watching the special edition which reincorporated 16 minutes of footage back into the film (including scenes with Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), not to be confused with the special extended edition which includes a different, and terrible, ending).

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The late, and sorely missed Stan Winston and his studio turned in some brilliant work in this film!

There is also Brad Fiedel’s iconic score.

The main trio, Hamilton, Furlong and Schwarzenegger form a nuclear family of sorts, and all of them seem to perfectly compliment one another. John is happy to have his mother back, but she’s almost as cold and unrelenting as the Terminator, who in turn seems more human than she is. It’s an interesting role reversal, and it’s great to see Sarah try to balance her warrior’s edge with her love for her son, which is why she’s doing all she is, well, that and the fact that he’s supposed to be some ‘great military leader.’

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There are laughs, a tug at your heart-strings by film’s end if you get really involved in the film, and some fantastic action sequences. This along with the Abyss and Aliens, is probably some of Cameron’s best work, and are always the ones I point to as highlights of the genres.

The extended edition also gives the talented Joe Morton more to do, as we get to see him interacting more with his family and it allows you to see just how much he is sacrificing of himself to change fate.

But if the film has taught us anything… the future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves…

I remember seeing this one opening day (an afternoon matinée), and coming out so pumped, humming the theme, and I think I went right back that night to see it again with friends…

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