Skynet, the 21st century computer waging a losing war on humans sends a second terminator back in time to destroy the leader of the human resistance while he is still a boy. His mother is the only one who knows of the existence of the Terminators, human-like robots that exist only to kill and are nearly indestructible, and Sarah, the boy's mother is currently in a state mental hospital because of her 'delusions'. A second protector is sent back to the past by the Human resistance to protect John Connor, their future leader, at all costs.
Directed by: James Cameron
. Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger
, Linda Hamilton
, Edward Furlong
, Robert Patrick
, Earl Boen
, Joe Morton
, S. Epatha Merkerson
, Castulo Guerra
, Danny Cooksey
, Jenette Goldstein
, Xander Berkeley
, Leslie Hamilton Gearren
, Ken Gibbel
. Music by: Brad Fiedel
I was a huge Terminator fan when I was about ten years old, in case you didn't read my earlier review of it. I used to imagine that I was Reese, coming back from the future, saving Sarah Connor and all that. Me and my friend Adrian watched the movie on VHS in it's entirety at least twice a day for the duration of one summer, then rewound to the police station scene to watch Arnold give all of those poor, doomed police officers hell. Needless to say, we liked the movie somewhat.
Then in 1991, we went to see the sequel, the day before it was being released nationally.
I remember sitting through the opening future sequence with my jaw on my lap thinking to myself, "If only the first one had these effects." From then on, it was another two hours plus of pure Terminator bliss. Me and Adrian walked out of the theater laughing hysterically, happy that we had new fodder to abuse on the VCR (well, we'd have to wait a bit but ultimately, we got it pretty quick).
This is one of those rare cases of a sequel done right. The film does have a couple of problems but nothing that ruins it overall. Everything was taken from its original minimalist approach and pumped up to the maximum. The action scenes were without a doubt, unbelievable. The acting was uniformly great, every character given life with none of them being under developed. The story was surprisingly emotional. Just the fact that I wanted to cry for a cyborg that was getting trashed really bad at one point, I'll give Cameron his credit. Especially when mentioning the performance of Linda Hamilton, who was a shivering coward in the first one. You see her here, it's like looking into the eyes of a caged animal. If memory serves me, she wasn't nominated for this performance and it's just a crying shame. The special effects... wow. At the time, morphing had just been unleashed and this movie, believe it or not, basically set the standards for the special effects that you're seeing today. You have to understand that watching this when it was first released was nothing short of breathtaking. It was almost as if somewhere in the recesses of your brain, you somehow knew that you were being a witness to history. I'll never forget watching this in the theaters that first night, how the audience reacted to the emergence of the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) from the blazing wreck of the tow truck in the canal. I swear you could've heard people hold their breath for a moment, then breaking out into thundering applause and hoots and hollers when he morphed into his human self. The film was filled with moments like this and I feel that's why it's such an enduring flick. If you haven't seen this, you really need to stop looking up reader reviews on IMDB and get yourself a video rental card or something. Get with it, man!
Which leads me to the inevitable question. How does it hold up to the big, bad original? Well, I've gotta say that I love both movies. After reading my above thoughts on the movie, you may be surprised to hear that I actually prefer the original. As great as the sequel is, the grittiness of the first one is what does it for me. Yeah, T2 had everything plus the kitchen sink thrown in but the first one had this feeling to it, this feeling of death, darkness and destruction. For some reason while writing this, I thought of this analogy to sum up what I think about the differing moods of the movie: T2 was a crystal clear, beautiful, streak-free window. The first Terminator was the same window with a dirty, dingy rock thrown through it. I think it makes sense. You could probably attribute the griminess of the first one to its low budget roots but that's what makes it work so much better. The sequel is a bit too crisp, too neat, too clean. Don't get me wrong, the film looks great but then again, I'm the kind of person that loves the murkiness of Se7en.
Another thing, and this is where my main beef lies. Some people like the new and improved minigun wielding Terminator. The shoot 'em in the knees in order to spare them their lives Terminator. The joke-cracking Terminator. I am not one of those people. I like the quiet Terminator. The one that speaks only when he absolutely needs to. The Terminator that drives a car through the front lobby of a police station and comes out holding an assault rifle and an automatic shotgun. The one that absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. The sequel's Terminator is a little more PC and given the general message of the sequel, requires him to be so. But taking away from this character what made him so popular the first time around kind of tips the scales in the original's favor, in my opinion anyway.
There are a few other things that make me like the original better than the sequel as well. For instance, the runtime for T2 is pretty hefty with a middle section that drags a bit, where the first one is nice and lean, with no slow parts whatsoever. I remember while watching the movie initially, I got annoyed a couple of times near the end. The violence, while still strong, isn't on the level of the first. There's a preachiness to the sequel that gets annoying at times. What it speaks of is of great importance, true, but there's moments in T2 that almost made me roll my eyes. Edward Furlong, here playing the young John Connor, gives a good performance but comes off as whiny more often than he should. His voice squeaks in a way that sounds like nails on a chalkboard on occasion. I'll cut him some slack though, being that he was probably just going through puberty at the time of filming.
I've probably spent more time than I should have on comparing the two films. I'll finish with this: T2 is an amazing motion picture. If you are an action fan, this is a movie for you to see. It holds up well to repeat viewings and has some amazing special effects, with a villain that goes down as one of the more memorable I can think of. It's rare nowadays to get a movie that has this amount of special effects that weren't thrown in just for the sake of it. The special effects serve the story and push it forward, like it's supposed to do. The story is emotionally heavy and will definitely make you think of technology advancement in our age in a different way.
Lastly, it's one of those few sequels that actually doesn't ruin the memory of the first film.
Review by Mr Parker from the Internet Movie Database.