After the first Terminator movie, I didn’t have super high hopes of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It’s not that I didn’t like the original—it’s just that it wasn’t all that impressive.
I was wrong, of course, not to expect much.
T2 is a fantastic film. I watched the Special Edition with 16 extra minutes, but it didn’t feel excessive at all. I’ve never seen the original so I have no idea what they added. Regardless, I loved every minute of it.
Here’s a quick rundown of the plot for the uninitiated: Years have passed since Sarah Connor first got a visitor from the future. She’s now in a mental institution and her son, John, is in foster care. Judgment Day is approaching and she’s desperate to escape and save her son and the future. Unfortunately for both of them, another robot is being sent back through time to kill them. This time it’s a robot made of liquid metal called the T-1000. Their only hope is a T-800 that Future!John reprogrammed to save them.
Initially, what stuck out to me about T2 was that the action and special effects were miles better here than they were in The Terminator. I guess that’s a difference a new decade makes. There weren’t any weird animatronic heads or claymation robots (I don’t know if they were claymation in the original, but that’s what they looked like). The action was also way more exciting. I loved that 80% of the movie was not taken up by car chases. There were still car chases, sure, but when you throw a semi and a helicopter into the mix they become a lot more exciting. There was also added variety what with all the explosions, shoot-outs, and liquid robots stabbing people.
Speaking of liquid robots, the T-1000’s looks were the weakest special effect in the movie. I’m sure it looked cutting edge in 1991, but in 2015, it’s like your villain is Alex Mack. Thankfully, it stayed in human form for most of the film.
The Terminator himself was way cooler in looks and personality in this film. I knew he became a good guy in this movie, but it was pretty awesome to see the tin man get a heart. His interactions with John added much needed humor to the franchise too. I wish Sarah could have been the lead in T2, but I have to admit that the T-800 did a pretty good job carrying the movie.
As for the story, there were two major plotlines in the film. The first: Find Dixon (the inventor of Skynet) and destroy him and/or his work before it can be completed and end the world. The second related to the T-1000 being sent back through time to kill John. The first plotline was by far the strongest. I loved the dynamic it set up between John and Sarah. While Sarah was willing to do WHATEVER to save the world (including killing Dixon), John couldn’t bear to end a life no matter the cost. T2 sets John up to be a different sort of action hero. Instead of being all about death and destruction, he teaches the Terminator that it’s wrong to take a life and eventually he teaches his mom that too. The body count in Terminator 2 is relatively small compared to most action movies because of John’s compassion. There is no wanton loss of life, and I loved that. I find the absurd amount of death in most action movies to be gross. It’s refreshing to find a film (outside of the new Planet of the Apes movies) that treats life as important. It’s that detail that made me love this movie.
The T-1000 aspect of T2, unfortunately, couldn’t stack up to the “Kill Dixon, Save the World” plot. Never once in the film did the characters talk about how to destroy the T-1000 and yet they have everything needed in hand to do so by the finale. That makes the ending awfully convenient. While the final throwdown is cool, it wasn’t very convincing. I wish the characters had come up with some plan like Sarah and Reese’s in the first movie. Without a plan, I felt like they probably should have all been dead by the time the credits rolled.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day definitely stands up to the test of time. It’s nearly 25 years old, but it’s still an all around good action movie. While The Terminator might not be a frequent rewatch for me, I know I’ll have to own Judgment Day.
I can’t wait to see how Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines stacks up. I hope this isn’t the peak of the franchise, because it seems like there should still be a lot of time traveling robot-y goodness to be had.
What’s your favorite movie franchise?
Image Source: Leave Me the White