Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

R   |    |  Action, Sci-Fi


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Poster

A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.

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8.5/10
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  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • James Cameron in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger and Axl Rose at an event for Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

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Reviews & Commentary

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5 November 2003 | MovieAddict2016
10
| He Said He'd Be Back...and He Certainly is!
Who said sequels aren't any good? "Terminator 2" is the ultimate sequel, a big bad wolf ready to chomp the head off of anyone who crosses its path. It's dark, it's mean, and it's one tough movie. It's not as bleak as the first film, at least in terms of visuals, but rather has a new kind of bluish-tint that supplies a great backdrop to the ongoing battle between man and machine.

If there was ever a contemporary mainstream visionary director, it is James Cameron. Here we've got Cameron's real thoughts on the series, those repressed by a low budget in the original film. He lets loose here, filling every frame with hard-boiled action and special effects. He introduces a liquid metal Terminator that he wanted to use in the first film, but graphic processors and CGI were not advanced enough in 1984, at least not advanced enough to work on the low means he had to film the original. So his original dream is finally unveiled, and good golly, is it wonderful.

Yeah, he's "back." Arnold (like he needs any introduction?) returns as The Terminator, Series T-101, Model T-800, an indestructible cyborg sent from the future to assassinate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) in the first film. Well, it's 1991. New film. New mission. He has to save the future resistance leader of mankind who will ultimately defeat the machines of the future, John Connor (Edward Furlong), Sarah's 11-year-old son. (Though his age has been switched from 11 to 13 and back to 9 over the years, with no help from the third film that takes place in 2003, yet claims he was 13 in 1991 though his age doesn't match with his age in the third. We'll just leave it at 11 in this film. Got that?)

Another model Terminator, the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), has been sent back to 1991 programmed to annihilate John Connor. Which explains Arnold's appearance. Arnold, an undoubtedly lesser opponent compared to the T-1000, has to help save the day and learn to appreciate humanity. It won't be easy. First, he has to find John Connor, who is a rebellious angst-driven pre-teen living with foster parents. Then, together they have to break into the local loony hospital and release Sarah from the clutches of Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen), who believes Sarah is delusional. (You may remember Silberman as the psychiatrist from the first film, too.) Then, they have to stop a computer chip designer (Joe Morton) from creating the first version of a SkyNet computer, modeled after a destroyed chip his employment company discovered at a large mechanical warehouse. (Which is, of course, the chip from the destroyed T-800 of the first film.)

Whew. On with the film analysis, right? Where to start? This isn't as fierce or brutal as the first film, but it's got plentiful action sequences, a large budget, great special effects (even compared to those gracing the screen nowadays), not to mention a great character study of the machine we loved to root against in the first film. Of course, this Terminator has no memory of the first film, since he wasn't in it--SkyNet creates hordes of the same version machines on a large conveyor belt and ships them off to fight in the war. Some are sent back through time. So, with that in mind, John Connor's resistance found an extra Arnold lying around in an abandoned warehouse, programmed him to keep John Connor out of harm, and sent him through the time portal.

Sarah doesn't trust him. In a deleted scene available on the Ultimate and "Xtreme" edition DVDs, Sarah says, "You don't know what it's like to try and kill one of these things!" It's an important scene that should have been left in the final cut. In it, Sarah is about to destroy the machine's central processing chip located inside his head, when John stops her. It's important because it focuses on the fact that Sarah still doesn't trust him, and came close to destroying him purely out of prejudice, without giving him a chance. As much as I don't like it when people go on about hidden meanings in films that obviously are not meant to have hidden meanings and are purely little flubs made by directors unrightfully analyzed for deeper meaning(s), "T2" clearly has an underlying message: One, don't judge a book by its cover. Read it first. Two, if an emotionless killing machine can learn to appreciate life, why can't everyone? And three, the most important fact of all: Never mess with a muscular man who walks into a bar completely naked and requests your clothes and means of transportation.

I suppose the question on most interested viewers' minds is this: Is "T2: Judgment Day" better than its predecessor? Well, in some respects, yes. In others, no. It lacks the fierce brutality and darkness of the first film, but makes up for it with spectacular visual effects and action sequences. It lacks the horrific central focus of the first film (futuristic, indestructible cyborgs with no feelings being able to unemotionally kill), but it makes up for this with a new focus of humanity, coming to accept your future, and how it would look if two colossal killing machines entered into an arena together.

In some ways, I like the first better. But then I think about the second film and I have a hard time choosing. I suppose if I had to choose I'd choose the first film. And let me just state for the record that I'm glad I don't have to choose.

5/5 stars.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Patrick received weapons training under technical expert Uzi Gal, and James Cameron was so amazed by Patrick's performance, particularly for the T-1000 shooting scene at the Galleria mall, that he used the actual footage shot, without speeding up the frame rate.


Quotes

Sarah Connor: Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two ...


Goofs

(at around 1h 11 mins) John tells the Terminator how his mom and his dad (Kyle Reese) were together for only one night, but they were together for two - the first night was when they were in the cave and the second when they conceived John Connor together). His mother might not have told him the whole truth, or remembered it accurately by the time he was old enough to hear the story of his conception.


Crazy Credits

Play the Nintendo Game from Acclaim/Lin Entertainment


Alternate Versions

The British Board of Film Classification initially requested some cuts before they could pass the film with a 15 certificate in the UK. For the cinema version, the following edits were made to what they deemed to be "heavy and realistic violence":

  • The blows delivered to the security guard by Sarah with the wooden broom handle were reduced from four to one; the subsequent blows and shots of his bloodied face were removed.
  • The beating of Silberman with a nightstick was reduced so that only the impact to his arm remained; the impact to the back of his legs was removed.
The initial VHS video versions (the 1992 theatrical cut and the 1997 'T-1000 edition') were cut by a further 18 seconds to reduce the following scenes:
  • The biker being thrown onto the stove. In the uncut version, this happens in two shots. In the cut version, the start of each shot was shortened.
  • The biker being stabbed in the shoulder. The shot of him lying on the table was shortened at the start to remove the impact (this is very subtle and difficult to notice).
  • Sarah picking the lock on her door. The shot was shortened at the start to remove the insertion of the paperclips; what remained showed her wiggling the already-inserted paperclips in the lock.
  • Lewis being stabbed in the face by the T-1000. The close-up showing him juddering in pain was shortened at the start, with the rest being slowed down to cover the missing footage (before this compromise, the BBFC initially requested that an alternate take be used, which didn't exist).
  • The guard at the hospital gate being shot in the legs by the T-101 was reduced so that he's only shot once, instead of twice as per the uncut version. Both gunshots are contained in a single camera shot, which was shortened at the start in the cut version.
  • During the rescue of Sarah, the warden having his face slammed against the wall by the T-101 was removed. The close-up showing him traveling towards and slamming into the wall was shortened at the end to remove the impact.
  • The sight of the policeman having his face slammed into a concrete pillar by the T-101 was removed.
  • The kneecapping of the S.W.A.T. team by the T-101 was reduced from seven shots to four, with the second, fourth and sixth impacts being removed.
The 1992 Laserdisc was (unusually for the time) passed uncut with an 18 certificate, and the cuts were fully waived or 15 in 2001. All UK releases from the Ultimate Edition DVD onward are uncut with a 15 certificate.


Soundtracks

You Could Be Mine
(1991)
Performed by
Guns N' Roses
Written by Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose
Published by Guns N' Roses Music (ASCAP)
Courtesy of Geffen Records

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Sci-Fi

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