By Thomas Griffiths (Cardiff)
Du-rum dun-du-rum. Du-rum dun-du-rum. Du-rum dun-du-rum: one of the catchiest beats in cinematic history, and a part of the classic theme song to this great film.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day is directed by James Cameron and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick and Edward Furlong. It is the sequel to the stupendously successful The Terminator, and it is probably the best installment to the entire series as a whole. This film is based again in modern day, and depicts another Terminator being sent back to kill John Connor, but also there is a Terminator sent back by an older John Connor to protect the younger John Connor from the other Terminator…trust me, this is complicated, as time-travel always is.
This is an interesting development on the previous Terminator film, because in the previous one the Terminator was the main antagonist, and this takes place right after the first film where the consequences of that first film are coming into effect. Here, we learn a lot more about the Terminator, about Skynet, about John Connor and about Sarah Connor as well. Every main character in this movie goes through some kind of arc in some way, and this all starts with the Terminator arriving in modern times.
The opening scene of this movie, with Arnold’s Terminator entering a bar completely naked, and famously saying ‘I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle’. The build-up to that scene is entirely appropriate and magnificently well-done. Then the fight explodes all over the place and the Terminator wipes out everyone with his superior strength and combat systems, it’s all really fast-paced and well done – in fact, all of the action in this movie is done extremely well, especially the awesome motorcycle chase and the climax of this movie, which I will go in further depth about later on.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is awesome in this movie again as the Terminator, as he always has been – after all, whenever people think of the name Schwarzenegger they think of the Terminator in that jacket, on that motorcycle twirling the shotgun in one hand. He has a surprising amount of stuff to work with despite being a stoic, cold-demeanoured badass throughout the movie. However, the Terminator goes through an arc in this movie in that he learns to feel things and to be empathetic, and I’ll go into that as well later on.
Edward Furlong gives a great performance in this movie, and he acts a lot like the link between the Terminator and the capacity for emotion that all people should have. When he commences in this film, he isn’t the most likeable character – he’s a delinquent, he’s extremely cynical and acts stuck-up and coldly and sarcastically, but when the main villain, the T-1000, hunts after him, he turns visibly afraid, and we understand that he is a vulnerable person.
Robert Patrick as the T-1000 is brilliantly chosen and magnificently-performed, even though he hardly has that much to say, but he gives an ominous performance in this movie. He is probably the best villain we’ve had in a Terminator movie so far, even in comparison to the first movie, and five steps ahead of the T-X from Rise of the Machines. It’s an interesting idea with some fantastic possibilities, a man made of liquid metal that can morph physically into virtually anything, even a floor. His ominous presence throughout the film is one of the best aspects of the movie, since it shows technology in the future under Skynet and how it’s treated.
By far, the ultimate performance in this movie is Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. Hamilton knocked this right out of the park. I loved her in this movie, and not just because she is a good actress in general, but because the material she was given to work with was sensational: this takes place after her character’s last brutal encounter with the Terminator, and it’s left her shaken to pieces. She’s unstable, she’s paranoid, she’s convinced that other Terminators are out to kill her, and she is also a badass. She does some stuff in this movie that’s just awesome. The biggest part of her character is that she worries about her son John, and there’s a memorable scene where she speculates that the Terminator would be a better parent than she ever could be because he would always protect him and be a shoulder to cry on, and she was too unstable to do either of those things.
The score in this movie is fantastic, of course, and there’s some really catchy tunes. Also, the dialogue in this movie is brilliant – especially the words ‘Come with me if you want to live’. We also get an explanation as to how Skynet was built, and that it was originally built to pilot military computers but became so self-aware that it was soon a living being on its own and sought to wipe out humanity so that nothing could stand against its peace of mind. The reasons it was built are understandable, the reasons that those reasons went out of hand were understandable. That’s some pretty great film-making, to be completely honest. I was surprised by how good the story was.
The climax of this movie is terrific in so many ways, mainly because of the way that the action and the reactions of the characters are handled. The Terminator and the T-1000 meet at several points in the film and stand against one another, but it’s in the final battle of the movie that they physically come to blows. The one-to-one fist fight between the Terminator and the T-1000 doesn’t get enough credit – the choreography is great, the environment and screenplay and the lack of music makes this a really intense fight. Also, I love how brutal it is – the Terminator gets his ass kicked! The T-1000 dominates basically the entire confrontation and momentarily beats him before going after John Connor. This leads to the T-1000 eventually being destroyed when the Terminator blasts him with a grenade launcher, dropping him into a vat of molten metal.
The ending of this movie is handled extremely well, and the acting in this scene is great, and of course there’s the fantastic and powerful line ‘I know now why you cry…but it’s something I can never do’. This shows the pivotal moment where the Terminator learns to feel things and to be emotionally connected with a human being, when it was designed for the purpose of killing human beings. By the way, the final few seconds before the Terminator lowers itself into the molten steel – purely, utterly heartbreaking.
My one and only issue with this entire movie is the fact that, by convenient accident, the Terminator leaves behind one of its arms, so that there’s a reason for Terminator 3 to exist. James Cameron used the same trick as he did in the previous film. In my opinion, they could have let the franchise stop here and it would have given the Terminator franchise a much better reputation than it got, since most that people adore about the Terminator franchise are the first two films and the Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Apart from that, this film succeeds as an amazing movie with great direction, acting and whatnot, and deserves being acclaimed for being one of the best sci-fi movie sequels since Empire Strikes Back.
Rating it 9/10