Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★

"The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves."
- John Connor

Due to its bigger budget, more effective action sequences, more detailed characters and the complexity of the story, most people would state that Terminator 2 is superior to its predecessor and would consider it one of the finest sequels in the history of motion pictures. I myself would once have agreed to that. After many subsequent viewings, I've come to the conclusion that despite its brilliance, certain elements namely Furlong's irritating performance and the injection of forced humour, which upset and stray away from the dark and hopeless tone of the first film, that The Terminator is the superior of the two.

Following the failed assassination attempt of Sarah Connor (Hamilton) at the hands of the Terminator (Schwarzenegger), two terminators were sent back in time years after the events of The Terminator as a means to destroy John Connor, therefore successfully changing history into the favour of the machines. 

The Terminator features better performances by the main cast, stronger storytelling and a great attachment to the dark and wretched atmosphere which is an essential requirement in providing an indication into the fate of mankind and the significance of the survival of John Connor. Terminator 2, outside of Furlong's weak and highly frustrating performance  is well acted. Schwarzenegger is able to overcome his limitations as an actor, this time providing a more lighthearted and equally charismatic presence onscreen. His various conversations with John Connor regarding the frailty and functionality of humans and how emotion is conveyed is highly intriguing subject matter, beautifully expressed in means of subtlety by James Cameron.

The score to the film stands as better here and more effective than in the first film, truly playing out the fate of mankind in a beautifully tragic manner. Yet it also compels the viewer with the story and characters and makes the ongoing thought processes in the characters and their inner struggles more effective and evident to the viewer. 

Schwarzenegger is this time the star of the film. Where the first film was led by a powerhouse performance by Michael Biehn, Schwarzenegger carves the way for the rest of the cast. Playing the "good guy", Schwarzenegger's replacement into the antagonist slot is Robert Patrick as the advanced and highly deadly, T-1000. Patrick is serviceable in the role and his physical limitations in size are a crucial factor in the characteristics of the T-1000. Far more cunning, more agile and less brute in figure, the T-1000 has become one of the most adored villains of all time and is a true menace. 

Linda Hamilton is once again, terrific and her character of Sarah Connor is made more interesting and the events of The Terminator perfectly set into motion the character arc we come to see in this film. Joe Morton is simply overlooked for his performance as Miles Dyson, the special projects director of Cyberdyne who in the future, will cause the death of 3 billion human lives through Judgment Day. There is a specific scene where Sarah receives a vision to the occurrence of Judgment Day and sets out to murder Dyson, in a scene where Sarah functions similar to Schwarzenegger's Terminator from the first film. A mindless and brute force of indestructible and unreasonable power, Sarah loses her sanity for a moment and attempts to balance the events of the world and the fate of man. This scene and segment of the film asks a valuable question to the audience on whether it is worth to kill one to save many, many others or if it is entirely wrong to kill one, regardless of the generally positive outcome. It is beautiful filmmaking and superb storytelling when a director is able to manipulate elements of the story and in this case, the extent to which the story can vary, in order to express actions and subjects vital to humanity. 

Through the T-800's growing friendship with John Connor, he is able to form a fatherly connection. There is a brilliant moment of flawless screenwriting where Sarah comes to her senses that the T-800 model is now an entirely sympathetic and helpful figure in John's life that she realizes that this "thing" is the strongest father figure John had ever received. Any moments of narration throughout the film consists of flawless writing that makes it a pity that some of the other elements of the film, in terms of its script, couldn't be refined. </div>

The cheesier parts of the film are mainly the lines uttered by John and Furlong's failure in delivering the lines convincingly. An arrogant and despicable character at first, John speaks through sarcastic remarks, delivered painfully by Furlong. At times, Furlong settles into the character of John Connor and at times, cannot and is lost like a stray dog wandering the streets. This is one of Cameron's most blatant weaknesses in his films: casting. This is shown in Aliens with Carrie Henn, Terminator 2 with Furlong, Titanic with DiCaprio and Winslet and the entire cast in Avatar.

From Sarah's attempted assassination of Dyson, thwarted by his son's love for his mother, the film becomes an endless exhilarating ride of excitement. The action is made more creative than the first film and the effects superior, making use of its bigger budget and a director's experience in creating unique and impressive action set pieces. Yet for all the explosive action set pieces, Cameron never fails to add in emotion when needed. The climax is the best example of this.

Terminator 2, aside from Edward Furlong's weak on-screen debut and some rather cheesy lines which upset the more serious tone, is a terrific film which I find slightly less impressive than its predecessor. It never fails to entertain and it adds impressive depth into the motivations of the characters and the notions that each goes through. The beautifully constructed score, the impressive storytelling and the performances of Hamilton and Arnold are the true highlights of this beautiful film.



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