Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

7 08 2010

From B-Movie to Blockbuster!

by NicDino

Hi there, this is NiceDino again. Last time I wrote about the first Terminator movie and for the moment I´ll try to be a little consistent, so here is a text about the second one:

Terminator 2 was the first movie with a budget of more than 100 million Dollars (102 to be exact). Furthermore it heralded the age of computer generated special effects and can be considered the forefather of the modern action-movie. Terminator 2 was much more successful than his predecessor (The Terminator) and scored 520 million Dollars worldwide. Thus it was the most successful movie of the year 1991. Furthermore it reached an enormous degree of popularity. It is one of those films which managed to appeal to a much larger audience than the usual fans of sf-action.

We have no one less than James Cameron to thank for this excellent movie and since he made the first part too, Terminator 2 became a worthy successor. James Rolfe, better known as the ANGRY VIDEO GAME NERD, even stated that he believes Terminator 2 to be one of the best film sequels of all time.

-Plot

The plot is more than a simple reenactment of the first film. Even though it is quite similar. Again two agents are sent back in time. One is a terminator who´s mission is to assassinate John Connor as a kid, while the second time traveler is sent to prevent that from happening. But here occurs the first major difference. This time the protector is a terminator too, which has been captured and reprogrammed by the resistance.

Therefore the conflict reaches a whole new level. At least as far as the pure strength of the opponents is concerned. The „evil“ terminator is a more advanced model. It is a specimen of the T-1000-series, a prototype, while the „good“ terminator is one of the T-800-series. This is why the balance of power between the two of them is almost the same as in the first movie, where a human had to face a T-800.

In addition Sarah Connor, her son John and the T-800 decide to stage a counterattack this time. While hunted down by the T-1000 they try to destroy a computer laboratory to prevent the creation of a new form of microchip. Thereby they hope to prevent the creation of Skynet and thus the impending nuclear war and the war of the machines against man.

This raises the stakes a lot. If the T-1000 is victorious, humanity will be eradicated – just like in the first movie if the terminator had won. But if John and his companions prevail they save the human race, not only the post-apocalyptic-human-race, but prevent the nuclear inferno itself.

-Zeitgeist

The Cold War was already over in 1991 and even though the ABC-arsenals of the superpowers still existed, the menace of this weapons was far less present in the minds of the people compared to when the first terminator movie was released.

The same can be said about the computers, which were far more common in these days. The initial mistrust against these kind of machines had already weakened compared to seven years earlier. So the terminator-scenario has lost some of it´s psychological effectiveness in this case too. Despite the fact that the increased spreading of information processing machines makes this scenario all the more likely.

-Cast

The cast of the second movie is very convincing too. The two terminators are the highlights. Arnold impersonates the T-800 again (an identical, not the same model), like in the first movie and is still just as convincing in his imitation of a machine.

The T-1000 is played by Robert Patrick and this one knows how to deliver the performance of a cold and effective killing-machine as well. When necessary he is at least no less menacing than Arnold was in the first movie, even though he portrays a far more sophisticated model which is more adaptive and intelligent and, because of that, can be more inconspicuous and harmless in his appearance than the T-800. This makes it necessary for it to display a far wider spectrum of emotions – a challenge which Robert Patrick masters with ease.

Linda Hamilton plays Sarah Connor for the second time. And this time she is even better at it. The character is definitely deeper than in the first movie, which is caused by the story and the actress manages this task superb.

Edward Furlong is the young John Connor and even though he appears a little bit weak, among the other actors, he still delivers a good performance. He manages the balancing act between teen rebel and the future leader of humanity quite well. He is rebellious, but not too rebellious. He displays a sense of responsibility, but isn´t too responsible. All in all it´s a proper blend.

-AI – Interpretation

If you ignore that little gag in the beginning of the movie, where the T-800 takes the sunglasses from a biker without any apparent reason, which obviously is a homage to the first movie, there is nothing wrong with it´s representation. The bottom line is it works just like in the first movie. The only difference is, that this T-800 is programmed to protect and obey John now. Although this makes it less efficient, since John orders it for example not to kill anyone, that´s really not the terminators fault.

The T-1000 however is an entirely different story. It is a newer model and this is why it is more intelligent and adaptive than it´s predecessor. Not only does it possess an entirely flexible body, but also a supreme intellect. It is capable of interacting with humans in a much more sophisticated way than the models of the T-800-series, which is shown on many occasions. In it´s human form the T-1000  is able to display emotions like surprise, astonishment or even horror. However, it does that in situations in which it is unobserved too, even though there is no need for it. It even shouts and screams when it is destroyed at the end of the movie when it is thrown into a basin filled with molten metal. Of course you can justify this in many different ways, but to me it is an indication that the AI – Interpretation has been softened in this case, even though in a passable way.

-Director

The second movie of the franchise was also directed by James Cameron and thus a good movie. Who would have thought that? The twist, to turn the former „evil“ terminator into the hero of the film, is an ingenious idea for sure. Even though it is a fundamental imperative since Arnold has already been an established action-HERO at this point in time, which of course made it impossible for him to play the role of the villain again.

The fact which shows best what an outstanding director James Cameron is, is that he managed to provide a perfectly reasonable story-based explanation for this change. This alone is something special and of course the movie itself is fashioned with accustomed professionalism.

-Soundtrack

Since James Cameron couldn’t afford an orchestral soundtrack for the first movie, he wanted one badly this time. And Money wasn’t an issue any more. Fortunately Brad Fiedel, the man behind the soundtrack of the first movie, managed to convince him otherwise. Thus the music was made on a synthesizer again.

The result is a soundtrack which sounds somewhat like the one of the original movie – except better. More money allows to buy a newer and better synthesizer after all. All in all an outstanding solution. Of course the famous terminator theme-music made it into Terminator 2 as well.

But enough of the praise for now.

Let´s take a look at the flaws.

This is why I like the original movie better.

  • less intense and even less darker atmosphere + happy end
  • considerably softened display and diminution of the extremes by Arnold´s conversion into the „good guy“, which transforms the former killer-machine into some kind of standard-action-hero-toy-robot
  • softened AI-interpretation as far as the T-1000 is concerned
  • less believable technology (refers to the T-1000 as well) and thus decreased shock effect caused by decline of correspondence to reality

However this doesn’t mean I don´t like Terminator 2. I do like it. But since I stated already that I like the original even more I wanted to list my reasons why this is the case.

If you want to know what I would have done different, the only thing I can say is that I would have made this movie less successful. I don´t think there is any way to change this movie and still preserve it´s success.

But of course I can tell you what I would have preferred personally. For instances I wouldn’t have changed the title. But I would have made sure that this flick really is about Judgment Day. First the preliminary events, then the apocalypse, then the war of the machines against man, till the creation of the T-800 and it´s travel through the time-portal. This way the two movies would have been tied together perfectly. A perfect closed loop. I would have liked that.

-Conclusion

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an outstanding action-movie which is well worth seeing. The special effects still look good – till this day. This movie is a perfect example of a film which has become a classic for a good reason. Anyone who doesn’t know this movie has really missed something and should watch it most definitely.

Thanks for reading.

NiceDino ^^

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5 responses

7 08 2010
The Terminator (1984) « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] Thanks for reading. And don’t miss out on the Part II. […]

11 08 2010
21 04 2011
Judgement Day! « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] Terminator 2 by NiceDino […]

21 05 2011
Just terminate those plans for now! « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] Terminator 2: Judgement Day is cancelled. Strange for a movie that has it in its name but ok. […]

13 06 2011
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008) « This would be more awesome with lasers

[…] Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) […]

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