Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

This is the first time I've watched the Theatrical Cut in many many years. I used to have the 2-VHS Special Edition (wish I'd kept it, or at least the cool front cover of the big box). T2 is a big movie for me, and I think it was the first R-rated feature I saw. I remember we rented the first one when I was 7 cuz my mom decided I could watch it, but I got scared during the ominous opening and ran to my room when Paxton and his Punkers scuffled with the Terminator! I think I was 8 when I watched T2 for the first time.

One thing I have to give to the Theatrical Cut: its pacing is impeccable, which is no small feat for a film running around 2 & 1/4 hours. Still, I'm used to the longer cut (DC is ~2.5hrs) — the expanded version is T2 to me. After this viewing, though, I'm reconsidering the necessity of some of the extra stuff. It's funny, only being able to evaluate something properly in its absence. Here, then, are some fresh thoughts about the familiar scenes I didn't see this time (leaving out most of the smaller bits like the T-1000 killing the dog):

●Michael Biehn is back as Kyle Reese in Sarah's dream — I don't think we need this one. It honors the intensity of their bond from The Terminator, but there are many more important themes to attend to... Plus, we don't need to see Sarah being needy and man-focused at this point, she's got her shit together.
●the extended garage scene — I will never ever let go of this! It features an amazing effects shot (seriously, the way they pulled off the mirror shot is so cool!), and, more importantly, a deepening of Sarah and John's relationship through conflict and negotiation. It also makes sense for Sarah, in light of her panicked reaction upon seeing the T-800 in the hallway at Pescadero; of course she would take the first opportunity to disable the fucking thing!
●John teaches the machine to smile — while it's funny and cute, the film doesn't need a lightening of tone at this point. It pains me to say it, but it's best left out.
●Miles being a workaholic, Miles being convinced not to be such a workaholic — Mr. Doomsday, Miles Dyson, is so much more sympathetic with this! We learn about his idealistic motivations for developing Skynet. We see his love for his family. Plus, his wife gets more to do than telling Danny to go to bed and screaming in fear. It's good! Plus that shot of the kids peeking around the corner is so fucking cute! "Raging Waters!" Might make you wonder where the Dyson daughter is during the home invasion though.
●Miles smashing the model — with the above scene, this little bit completes a nice arc for the character.
●T-1000 effects shots — I like these, but I'd need to do an in-depth comparison to see how they affect the pacing of the finale.

So, I don't know! If I recut the DC by removing the "Kyle Dream" and "Smile" scenes, or added the others above into the TC, I'd still have to evaluate the impact on the rhythms of the film as a whole. As it stands, I'm happy that T2 remains a dope-as-fuck viewing experience regardless of the cut. In the future, I'm going to be less dogmatic about the DC's superiority. It's all good.

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