Rated R for strong sci-fi action and violence, and for language.
137 min / USA:152 min (director’s cut) / USA:154 min (extended special edition)
Written and Directed By: James Cameron
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boen, and Joe Morton
On August 29th, 1997, it’s gonna feel pretty f**king real to you too. Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock is gonna have a real bad day. Get it? -Sarah Connor
Terminator 2 attempts to combine so many different elements of film making and story telling and amazingly it succeeds, in fact, it flourishes. It’s an action adventure science fiction drama special effects dynasty with so many complex character developments it wouldn’t seem possible to fit all in one movie. But all of the elements are there for each genre of movie.
The action adventure aspect of the film hits hard with some insane chase scenes involving a motorcycle and semi truck which turned into one of the most amazing special effects and action scenes ever on film. It also has the uncomplicated main character, played by our re-programmed cyborg friend. His personality is simple, he follows orders, and though later he begins to learn and change, for the better part of the film, he is simply a machine.
Judgement Day is just around the bend, and the elusive future has not yet been altered despite Sarah Connor’s many attempts to destroy to company that will eventually create Skynet. In her attempts to alter the future, her fanaticism has landed her in a maximum security psychiatric prison under the care of none of than Dr. Silberman. John Connor is now nearing adolescence and has been taken in foster care. His mother has been preparing him for the future, though he often has difficulty enduring it’s truth. With Sarah locked away unable to protect him, Skynet has sent a newer and even more dangerous version of the Terminator to kill him. It’s called the T-1000 and can mimic anything of solid creature, like knives and stabbing weapons, but even more formidably, it can disguise itself in the form of another human and mimic their voice and appearance. John Connor responded in kind, sending back a re-programed version of the Terminator that killed Kyle Reece and tried to kill Sarah as protection. With teenage John giving the orders they attempt to rescue Sarah from the Psych Ward even though the Terminator is certain, “The T-1000 will definitely try to reacquire her there.”
The science fiction aspect of this film, really focusing on the possibility of the future and asking real questions about whether or not it can be changed, and gets philosophical enough to create a scene where Sarah realizes she has become as inhumane as the machines that threaten her species when she goes after Miles Dyson with no remorse for the fact that he’s a human, and so far is innocent. The choices she makes there may or may not change the future, but at least she’s kept her humanity. That’s just plain and simple good Sci-Fi.
The special effects and CGI team of this film were the same group that worked on The Abyss and Jurassic Park, two cutting edge films in this category. The creation of the T-1000 and it’s ability to change from human, to liquid metal, and morph into something else was and still is visually breath taking to watch. It was some of the most ground breaking technology in that field and opened doors for all the movies and shows we see today with CGI.
Though things are constantly blowing up, people being shot, killed, and car chases everywhere the character’s of this film is what separates it from other Science Fiction or Action films. Sarah Connor’s character alone, the complexity of it, and the horror she faces in seeing the cyborg that changed her life so many years before sitting next to her as an ally is mind boggling. John Connor himself, a young boy, not yet a man that has only see darkness for his future and knowing that he will be the one who tries to bring the world to salvation, is a lot to take on. With the proof of the Terminator he can no longer question his mother’s sanity and now must face his future. The relationship between himself and the Terminator, boy and machine, and the paternal aspect the Terminator takes on gives even more insight into the nature of humanity. Is it learned or is it something we are born with? These are not small questions, and yet they lie everywhere hidden under the mask of an action film.
Obviously Arnold was a star as the stoic killing machine that bonded with Ed Furlong, but it was Linda Hamilton’s performance as Sarah Connor that is one of the most intense and complicated performances in the history of actresses and actors. Sarah is no longer the frightened and unknowing waitress from the first film. She has become jaded, hardened, and obsessed. She suffers the fury of knowing the future and no one believing her. She lost her one true love, and now is burdened with his memory and the desire to protect her son, the boy who will one day become the man to lead mankind. In her maternal instinct she tries desperately to change the future in order to protect her son from the death and destruction that lies before him. In every attempt she fails. The depth of her character, and Linda Hamilton’s ability to switch gears from ass kicking militia woman, to nurturing mother is astounding. In the moment where she wants to kill Dyson and knows she cannot do it, when she sees him as a human, a father, instead of a killing machine, her humanity burns through. That scene alone should have won her an Oscar. Whether it was overlooked because it was a genre of Science Fiction or not I will never understand, but this role and her performance is not to be taken lightly.
Terminator 2, Judgement Day may come gift wrapped in the decoration of an action/science fiction film, but the truth behind it’s flash and bang is a film that really evaluates serious questions about the nature of humanity and it’s coupling with violence and technology. The questions it asks about the destructiveness of our own kind is not punished by God in this film, but by ourselves, as we are the ignorant source of our own demise. There is a very realistic fear about this as we see these changes in technology and violence surround us everyday. Are we truly making progress or are we taking steps back in the evolutionary process? These are only some of the questions this film evokes from the brain. There is no doubt it is plain and simply entertaining, even funny at times, but truthfully the darkness of it’s undertones is what makes it stand apart from so many other films in existence today. This is one of the greatest films ever made.
No Fate But What We Make.
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