My Favorite Movies #73 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2 - PosterTerminator 2: Judgment Day

1991

Directed by James Cameron

Netflix says… A reprogrammed Terminator arrives from the future to protect young John Connor from a relentless shape-shifting cyborg in this sequel to Terminator. On the run, John and his guardian seek John’s mother, Sarah, who is locked away in an insane asylum.

  • This is one of those cases where the sequel is actually better than the original.
  • Sure, The Terminator is a classic.
  • But this Terminator 2 is far superior. Better effects. Better plot. And the characters are much more interesting this time around.
  • If you disagree and believe the original is better, that’s okay. I won’t judge you.
  • Much.
  • And Terminator 2 was so good, they decided to make a nearly shot for shot remake with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
  • Okay, it’s not a shot for shot remake… but it’s basically the same movie with a female Terminator (Terminatrix?) instead of a liquid metal Robert Patrick.
  • Through Sarah Connor’s voiceover in the beginning, she explains that like last time, the machines sent back a Terminator to kill her son as a child. But the resistance also sent back a protector.
  • But what’s great is that this is left intentionally vague.
  • Schwarzenegger appears and starts tearing apart a bunch of guys in a bar.
  • Also, this character has precedent as the bad guy thanks to the original film.
  • Robert Patrick shows up and knocks out a cop. At this point, the viewer doesn’t know that he’s a shapeshifter and can turn his hand into a sword.
  • For all we know, this is the good guy and he’s taking over the role of a cop so he can easily locate John and protect him.
  • For the first half hour of this film, we have no idea who the bad guy really is.
  • Except we do… because this movie is 27 years old. If you don’t know that Schwarzenegger is the good guy this time around, you’ve really been avoiding spoilers for a long time.
  • It’s all made clear when Arnold’s T-800 saves John at the mall from the T-1000. And then the movie really begins.
  • Terminator 2 has been brought to you by Subway.
  • At least, that’s what it looks like. I’ve seen Subway cups and sandwich wrappers twice already and I’m not even an hour into it.
  • Sarah’s reaction to seeing the T-800 getting off the elevator at the asylum is perfect.
  • Another part of what makes this movie better than the first is John’s attempt at teaching the T-800 how to be more human and teaching it the value of human life.
  • It’s kind of heartbreaking when the T-800 realizes it has to be melted down to stop Judgment Day from happening.
  • And it seems pretty clear that this was intended to be the end. Since Cameron wasn’t on board with the last three movies, I think it’s safe to assume that he meant for this to be the end of the story.
  • Though, with it looking like the machines would now never attack humanity, doesn’t that mean that John would never lead the Resistance and, therefore, never send Kyle Reese to protect Sarah in 1984. Which would erase John from the timeline.
  • Time travel hurts my head.
  • I know there have been other sequels… some better than others. But I’d be interested to know what happened immediately following the events of this film.
  • I mean, sure, we’ve averted Judgment Day for the time being. But it’s not like Sarah and John are just gonna be let off the hook for everything that went down at Cyberdyne Systems.
  • Well, maybe John is off the hook. Because he’s, at best, only 11 years old, based on the established timeline. Mama’s little sociopath.
  • But Sarah? She should be getting a one way ticket back to that asylum.
  • I mean, she needs medical attention. She’s in rough shape by the time the melt down both Terminators.
  • And when she’s all patched up, what, they just let her go? “Well, you caused a lot of damage and Dr. Dyson is dead, but seeing as how you’ve stopped the forthcoming nuclear apocalypse, we’re gonna let you off with a warning.”
  • It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Terminator 3, because it’s not very good. So I don’t remember all the details of what follows.
  • I do know that Sarah is supposedly dead by that point and John is on his own, off the grid. And Claire Danes is somehow in the picture…
  • It pretty much stops making sense after that. We shouldn’t even mention Salvation or Genesys.
  • Apparently there’s another one coming out in the near future. It’s supposed to ignore everything since Terminator 2. New timeline.
  • Hey, if Halloween can reboot the timeline four times, why can’t Terminator do it? At least this franchise involves time travel.

Next week we’re gonna stay in the 1990s and take a look at the only John Grisham adaptation to make my Top 100 list: A Time to Kill. I’m not always a fan of legal dramas/thrillers, but this one is excellent.

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