Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

The quintessential sequel, the quintessential sci-fi actioner & one of the greatest films ever made, James Cameron’s sequel to his breakthrough classic is such a massive upgrade over its predecessor that it ends up decimating the 1984 original in all filmmaking departments with effortless ease, and remains one of the most influential, entertaining & breathtaking action extravaganzas to ever grace the silver screen.

A highly irresistible, pulse-pounding, high-octane, full-throttled & top-gear action spectacle that’s filled with some of the most dangerous, daring & heart-stopping stunts ever captured on camera, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the perfect definition of a worthy sequel that presents its renowned director at the peak of his gifted talents. It is the finest work of his illustrious career, and its influence on its genre, visual effects & pop culture surpasses even the reach of its predecessor.

The story of Terminator 2: Judgment Day follows the aftermath of the events that transpired in The Terminator and continues the journey of Sarah Connor & her 10-year old son, John Connor; the future leader of human resistance in the war against the machines. After failing to eliminate Sarah during its first attempt, Skynet sends a much more advanced Terminator back in time to kill John when he’s still a child while another saviour from the future arrives whose only mission is to protect John & ensure his survival at all costs.

Written, produced & directed by James Cameron, the improvements present in this sequel are evident from the film’s opening moments with more enhanced visuals, larger-than-life action & one mind-blowing sequence after another. I’ve always admired Cameron because he’s one of the very few filmmakers who understands what great action is all about, knows how to expand upon the original instead of rehashing the same events, and has the talent to accomplish not just his own artistic ambitions but also the expectations of the mainstream audience without compromising with the quality.

Also, in my opinion, a sequel has no reason to exist unless it can improve upon the original and it’s usually why I’m skeptical about most of them. Cameron seems to know this better than anyone, for he has proven it not once but twice already; first with Aliens; the action-packed follow-up to Ridley Scott’s Alien & then with this second chapter to the film that launched his career. And despite the major upgrades in action & other technical aspects, the story retains the high-quality content of the original, exhibits extensive character depth, and is brilliantly paced from start to finish.

From a technical standpoint, Terminator 2 is a marvel of genre filmmaking in every sense of the word. Production Design team does a commendable job with its refined sets. Locations are wisely selected for filming especially when it comes to action scenes. Cinematography makes expert use of the camera in keeping the action clearly visible with cleverly chosen angles, makes the drama more immersive with its controlled movements, and with its precision use of colour hues & lighting provides a rich texture to the whole film that further enhances the whole experience.

Editing is easily one of its strongest aspects, for every sequence paves the groundwork for the next scene in line. The flow of events is incredibly smooth & relaxed. And the pace is so methodically handled that its 136 minutes of runtime simply flies by. Even Brad Fiedel comes up with a more evolved, pulsating & fitting score that beautifully integrates into the film’s narrative and has a firm grip on the viewers’ emotions from start to finish. But where Terminator 2 sets an entirely new benchmark is in its visual effects, sound design & action choreography, all of which are simply groundbreaking.

Although Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park is cited by many as the motion picture that revolutionised the film industry with its pioneering use of computer-generated-imagery, it was actually this film that made the necessary breakthroughs in CGI which made the former possible. The practical effects are even more impressive, for there are plenty of death-defying stunts present in its action and its choreography still remains in a league of its own. The only other film that comes close to duplicating the same feat is the recently released Mad Max: Fury Road but even that post-apocalyptic mayhem lacks the meticulous refinement Cameron brings to this film’s story & characters.

Coming to the performances, Terminator 2 features a solid cast in Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick & Edward Furlong, with the reprising actors building upon their performances of the last chapter while new ones instantly making a mark in their given roles. Schwarzenegger returns as the cyborg sent from the future but with a new mission & while T-800 isn’t the same relentless assassin in this sequel, there isn’t a moment when we aren’t aware of what he's capable of. Schwarzenegger gets to explore new dimensions of his character this time and does a spectacular job at it, for T-800 isn’t just badass in this picture but also cool, charismatic & heroic.

Linda Hamilton reprises her role of Sarah Connor and builds upon her earlier rendition with a stronger performance as her character exhibits a more evolved & tougher persona, which Hamilton captures splendidly. Edward Furlong is introduced as John Connor and while he can be annoying on few occasions, it’s a dream debut nonetheless. And finally we have Robert Patrick who plays T-1000; a highly advanced cyborg who’s far superior to T-800 model and is virtually the most lethal, unstoppable, indestructible & invincible Terminator in existence. Cameron has written the part of this antagonist really well and Patrick’s added inputs help greatly in making his character one of the greatest film villains of all time.

On an overall scale, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is blockbuster filmmaking at its finest, for it sets an incredibly high standard for its genre(s) that hasn’t been equalled ever since. The film remains one of the most enjoyable, entertaining & jaw-dropping works of sci-fi action with an extremely high repeat value, is a perfect example of a sequel that surpasses the original in all aspects, and is a landmark achievement of genre filmmaking that has had a lasting impact on multimedia & pop culture. The best film of its year, one of the most memorable films of the 1990s and one of cinema’s greatest triumphs, James Cameron’s conclusion to his Terminator saga is an unprecedented, unrivalled & undisputed masterpiece that comes one hundred percent recommended.

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