Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★

For me, the most unsung powerhouse scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day is when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has penetrated the grass grounds of Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), who is the director of top secret projects at Cyberdyne Systems. Connor has him locked in her gun scope but by fluke, he dodges but takes a legitimate flesh wound. She runs in for the execution at close range kill but is interrupted by her son John (Edward Furlong) who has a quest for peace. Along with the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who is programmed to help their mission, they lay out to the shocked Dyson family what abominable history there is to come because of the Skynet research—which will be the rise of the machines.

That’s a strong writing scene to compliment some of the earlier ahead-of-its-time special effects of the action sequences, the “liquid metal” of the villain a sensational leap in CGI creation occurred here because of the innovation of director James Cameron and visual effects artist Stan Winston. The greatest adrenaline rush I get from many rewatches later is the hospital breakout where the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is morphing from the floor, brandishing blades from his arms, sticking those blades through the elevator roof, all in effort to impale them.

I used to have long time gripes against Furlong, because of his bratty demeanor and sometimes pipsqueak delivery (“Come on, guys. We gotta stick together!). Over time, I’ve gotten to like him a lot better, in the way he rouses teamwork among the good. It also took my time to notice the dynamic that he’s the sane one while his mother Sarah has gone a tad bonkers from the fear and depression of what the future holds.

What I remain a little tired of, from the very first viewing and even now, is the climactic steel mill fight. It goes on too long, sure. But what I’ve never understood is that you break the T-1000 into copious pools of liquid metal, and—uh, why doesn’t Arnie go over and kick the liquid around, round it up on a stick, and disperse it by hand so the T-1000 cannot regenerate again? Multiple vacuum cleaners I think would also do the trick.

Regardless, Judgment Day has random scenes of ferocious power, such as the nightmarish apocalyptic blowup itself that Sarah has in her point-of-view, or Sarah Connor beating up the doctors in the ward, or the motorcycle / semi chase down the reservoir, or Dyson’s final breaths. Some scenes may be too long but there’s so much here that declares James Cameron as a master showman. Lastly, that angry/pounding Brad Fiedel score that practically breaks into your skin.

The 1984 The Terminator is a 4.5 star classic for me and my review of it on Letterboxd remains posted.

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