Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day ★★★★★

“Hasta la vista baby”

Unlike the first Terminator where I wasn't a huge fan of it on first watch (though liked it a lot more on rewatch), T2 I loved first watch and after this rewatch, I have come to a conclusion: Terminator 2: Judgement Day is a masterpiece in action. You can tell James Cameron took what he learnt from his experience on Aliens in order to make the sequel better. The most notable difference is the tone shift. The first Terminator was a dark, bleak slasher film with a sci-fi guise. T2 on the other hand, while retaining a lot of darkness, is a lot more action-focused and light-hearted. Think of it as an R-rated Iron Giant (even though this came first). Another significant difference is Cameron taking the T-800 from an antagonist in the first film to a protagonist. At first glance the film looks like it’s going to be the first film again, only now there are two Terminators. But the moment Arnold tells the kid “Get down” that’s when you realize the character you rooted against is now the hero you’re rooting for. In Last Jedi terms, James Cameron subverted expectations. The relationship between John Connor and Arnold is just excellent with their exchanges being hilarious every time. Arnold in general is just fantastic.

One of the best elements though is the relationship between Sarah and John Connor. Linda Hamilton elevates her character from the previous film now being a tough-as nails woman with crippling anxiety for the inevitable Judgement Day. You can see how the events of the first film really ate at her as she wants John to be toughened up to become the resistance leader he will be known for, though at the expense of having a loving relationship with her son and letting John just be a kid. So really the film is not only about stopping the apocalypse run by robots, but also about a broken family coming together again. As Deadpool said it best “This is family film”. Plus, I gotta say Edward Furlong is easily one of the best child actors in a film. He acts like a real kid: rebellious but caring deep down.

I can’t also talk about T2 without mentioning the incredible action. Like I said, Cameron took his experiences with action on Aliens and dials all the action scenes by 11. From the motorcycle/truck chase to the psychic ward escape/car chase to of course the climax in the factory, Cameron bring a sense of tension and just pure awesomeness. Plus love the use of practical effects from Stan Winston-made Terminator robots to actually crashing a giant truck. Speaking of effects, the CG on the T-1000 by PDI (yes the former DreamWorks one) looks a bit dated, but still holds up mostly. Despite the two and half hour runtime, the pacing is very quick and to the point. Also, that theme is just wonders to behold.

On the one hand, I’m glad James Cameron moved on to create some of the biggest movies of all time (Titanic and Avatar), but at the same time I wonder what could’ve been if he had directed more sequels to Terminator instead of just producing them and focusing solely on Avatar sequels (Avatar rewatch coming later this month). But as it is, if T2 was Cameron’s directorial swan song to his franchise, then by god did he go out on a bang.

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