Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

"Hasta la vista, baby."

From a horrifying opening that immediately sets the stage for the high stakes and implications of the events of the film to the satisfying conclusion that wraps things up perfectly, 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' is a perfect counterpart to its fantastic predecessor, one that's more grandiose, action-packed, and expansive. The new characters introduced are delightfully vile in their own way, from John's foster parents to the T-1000, brilliantly portrayed by Robert Patrick, who is faster, stronger, and infinitely more advanced than Schwarzenegger's T-800 in every way and while the film is much longer than the original installment, the pacing never, ever suffers and there are plenty of intriguing moments of reflection and dialogue that allow the characters to breathe and grow. This is how you do a sequel to a great film years later.

The action sequences here, almost 30 years old now, are still some of the greatest I've ever seen, from the escape through the tight corridors of the Pescadero State Hospital to the lengthy finale, involving a massive sabotage of Cyberdyne and a rally against a large police force to a helicopter pursuit and a cat and mouse chase through an out of control steel mill. It brings the hits, the explosions, the gunfights and the variety in large, exciting fashion. It also manages to sprinkle in an impressive array (for its time) of visual effects without relying on them as a crutch - the sequences are enhanced by their usage, not hindered. And of course, the film wouldn't have that same exciting, moody feel if not for the score of Brad Fiedel, who returns to provide the memorable, iconic music for this. As I've mentioned, I may ever so slightly prefer the original installment, but that's not a knock on this film - it's near perfection and is a textbook example of how you manage a sequel without feeling like too much of a retread and simultaneously without losing sight of what made the initial installment so fantastic. One of the greatest duo of films ever created.

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