Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Whenever a sequel is announced, the most common statement I see is that they’re never as good as the original. Not only is this not true, but it’s insulting to the ones that are. Good sequels are especially prevalent in Science Fiction with Aliens, Back to the Future Part 2 and The Empire Strikes Back, but possibly the best example is Terminator 2: Judgement Day (or T2). Not only do I think its one of the greatest sequels ever, made but it’s also one of the greatest films ever made. It’s also one of those films with an extended cut, or in this case “Special Edition” so that is the version that I will be reviewing. This cut of the film is 15 minutes longer than the theatrical edition and was initially released in 1996.

T2 picks up in 1995 with John Connor, now 10 years old. Another Terminator has been sent back from 2029 to kill him, but with his mother in a mental institution only a saviour from the future can help him. In The Terminator Kyle Reese states that only one Terminator was sent and that the time machine was destroyed after he went through. This could easily have been a lie to protect Sarah, and so T2 doesn’t alter the timeline. Half an hour into the film, we are hit with a plot twist. The T-800 that we have been watching is actually here to save John and the other being from the future is an advanced model (the T-1000, made from liquid metal) and is here to kill him. It’s a brilliant twist, spoiled at the time by advertising, but if you were to go in not knowing this nugget of information I’m sure it would blow you away. It also holds more impact if you chose to watch The Terminator and T2 one after the other. It makes for one complete story but each film remains self-contained, meaning you don’t need to watch one to watch the other. When I first watched T2, it was the theatrical cut, which is rated 12, and was too young to see The Terminator which is rated 15. Yes, I could have bought myself a copy of the DVD, but my parents had the household stick to the increasingly ridiculous age ratings system.

One of T2‘s most astounding aspects are the effects, The T-800 is more crisply inserted than it was originally and the T-1000 is still one of the finest pieces of CGI I’ve ever witnessed. At a cost of $1 million, that’s no surprise. It’s on of the few uses of CGI this film has to offer, everything else is achieved practically including the vision Sarah has of LA’s nuclear annihilation. It is still one of the most realistic depictions of such an event ever put to screen, and renders me speechless every time I watch it. Meanwhile, the Special Edition features some moments that provide further context to what is already a great story. The mental institution’s abuse of Sarah and the T-800 having his memory chip tampered with as well as the T-1000 malfunctioning during the finale provide moments of clarity. It adds to Sarah’s determination to leave and explains precisely why the T-800 is learning as well as showing how John knew the T-1000 was impersonating his mother. It also gives us more time with Miles Dyson whose ending is possibly the best piece of acting in this film.

The only issue I have with T2 is with the ending, which is a piece of Sarah’s dialogue over footage of a road. It feels a little rushed, and this is for good reason, as it wasn’t the ending that had originally been planned. This “alternate ending” can be found with a quick internet search and provides a more concrete climax to the story. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s worth seeking out. Canonically Terminator 2: Judgement Day concludes with the destruction of the T-1000 and the T-800, though the T-800’s arm is still out there. The apocalypse is still a possibility, although it will most likely be delayed. We now exist in an alternate timeline to the one that was originally foretold. Whatever your opinion on the sequels may be, T2 delivers a solid and iconic ending.

I’ll Be Back…

Signed: Your friendly neighbourhood queer

6 thoughts on “Terminator 2: Judgement Day

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