Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★

I probably have little to say on this movie that hasn't been said. It's a movie that goes too far in either direction to ever really settle on a tone that 100% pleases me (going from goofy robot trying to act cool jokes in one scene to showing a nuclear holocaust happen on screen and showing our protagonists and multiple other people turn to papery ash). Much of the non-action stuff seems either dated or unnecessary. Other than Robert Patrick, most of the acting is either negligible or straight up bad. I watched the director's cut, and other than a nice shot of Sarah Conner in the mental institution and a hilarious scene of Arnold imitating a smile, it adds little to the film. And of course, the effects are still surprisingly fresh today. Sure, some look dated; they're bound to, but the focus on blending practical effects and CGI means this definitely looks better than a lot of more CGI heavy movies that came out in the last 5-10 years.

But I still really like this movie, and I think it's because it achieves something few movies do for me. I remember a lot of stuff from it that feels idiosyncratic: not particularly epic or obviously a joke/important piece of dialogue. There are certain images from the film that are burned into my brain that don't seem like the moments that everyone is supposed to remember or that the film hinges on.

Like how Sarah Conner jog/skips down the hallway of the mental institution when she's got the police baton. For most of the film, she's so intent or fanatical, it's still surprising and interesting to me in that moment she seems to have any bounce in her step.

Or the particular look of the two guys who show up to help John Conner when Arnold picks him up momentarily before John learns he controls Arnie's actions. For whatever reason, I can see them perfectly clearly in my mind, and I expect them before they show up on screen.

Or when Sarah Conner talks about ow many bones there are in the human body. Or the weird way the T-1000 tells John to come to him when he's imitating Sarah Conner. Or the intense dramatic breathing of one character in their final moments. Perhaps this film just hit me at the right age, but that stuff has stuck with me more than a lot of movies I saw just as much or more around the same age and cared about just as much. The film feels personal in a way that a lot of blockbusters almost never do.

I also like that this is a movie where, the biggest (human) badass on the planet is a woman, and the smartest dude on the planet is a black guy. May not be revolutionary, but it's a subtle difference between this and a lot of other action movies, especially back in 1991.

I can't exactly recommend this film. I feel like if you were a 30 year old deciding to watch this for the first time in 2014, you'd have to ask yourself what was the fuss. But when I saw it for the second time in like 1998, it blew my mind basically, and it still sort of blows my mind today.

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