Friday, August 24, 2012


After seeing THE TERMINATOR last weekend at the Paramount, I had a hankering to watch TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY again. I did so this afternoon.

I hadn't seen T2 since it first came out in the summer of 1991. It's hard to believe that it's been twenty-one years since I saw this film as a first run feature at the old Lincoln Village cinema (which was a state-of-the-art theater in the day). T2 is an amped up version of the first film, this time with two unstoppable Terminators, one good (Schwarzenegger) and one bad, the T-1000 model played by Robert Patrick. Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor and Edward Furlong makes his screen debut as John Connor, the young man upon which the entire narrative hinges.

T2 is a long movie but it's never dull. The action set pieces are more elaborately staged and more frequent than those in the first film. Director James Cameron had a bigger budget to work with this time and with the smash science fiction action films ALIENS and THE ABYSS under his belt, his direction and orchestration of action is more assured in T2 than in the first film.

But the real star of this film is the groundbreaking special effects. T2 was one of the first films to make extensive use of the then new technology of CGI. The effects are used to bring the T-1000 to life (and death) in mind boggling ways. The robot is supposedly composed of shape-shifting liquid metal and the silver skinned android morphs through some incredible shapes and sizes. It was simply breathtaking in 1991 and it holds up well today even though the CGI technology has vastly improved.

When I saw those special effects for the first time I remember thinking, "okay, they can do anything in a film now, it's just a matter of money and time". With effects like those seen in T2, I imagined potential future films based on such DC Comics characters as the Metal Men, Metamorpho and Plastic Man (all of whom are shape shifters). I thought the metallic Terminator was a perfect template for Marvel's Silver Surfer and at the end of the film, when the T-1000 starts absorbing various surface textures, I thought "if there's ever a Thor movie, they could use these effects for the Absorbing Man." Well so far, we've seen both the Surfer and Thor on the big screen but the others remain (for now) in the realm of unwrought things.

Arnold utters three classic catch phrases: a reprise of "come with me if you want to live" from the first film, another "I'll be back" and "hasta la vista baby." Oh, and the product placement for Pepsi is almost wall-to-wall in this film. I half expected the T-1000 to morph into a Pepsi soda machine at some point.

TERMINATOR 2 is bigger, louder and faster than the original. There's a small armory worth of weapons used in the film and things blow up real good. Arnold brings a touch of humanity to his Terminator character at the end of the film and you really don't want to think too hard about the whole time travel/time paradox can of worms. Even though Sarah and John are still alive at the end of the film, their future still seems locked in stone if for no other reason than that Kyle Reese must be born at some point in time in order to return to the past and father John Connor because his birth sure wasn't an an immaculate conception.

I enjoyed T2 immensely but if I had to choose, I'd go with the original TERMINATOR film as the best. You just can't beat Arnold as an unemotional, unstoppable killer robot.

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