A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

June 22, 2011

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

I have to admit that I’ve never liked this movie as much as the first Terminator. I know it has more than five times the budget of the first movie and much better special effects and bigger action, but I’ve always felt that it lacked the edge of the first movie. It’s more of a summer blockbuster popcorn flick and less of a tightly wound sci-fi thriller. I was, in fact, pretty astonished when looking at the info for the movie as we watched it tonight and found that it was rated R – in my mind I remembered it as being a more family-friendly PG-13 type movie: ideal for drawing the maximum possible audience. It also irritates me that my favorite part of the forst movie – its circular and self fulfilling time line – had to be sacrificed to provide the motivation for the second act of this movie.

What this movie does have, and what mostly makes it worth watching for me, is Linda Hamilton reprising her role as Sarah Connor from the first movie. This movie picks up nine years after the first one. Sarah is in an insane asylum because she can’t stop ranting about the impending end of the world and the terminator that killed the father of her child. Even worse, her nine year old son John is living in foster care, un-protected out in the world with foster parents who are kind of dinks. Being raised by an apparent crazy woman who taught him his entire life about strategy, weapons, demolition and militias has left John somewhat mal-adjusted himself. For all his knowledge though he’s just a boy and he doesn’t really believe the fairy tales his mother told him in his youth about Skynet and the terminators and judgement day. He’s not prepared, therefore when a second terminator is sent through time to kill him.

This time it’s a more advanced machine – a living metal beast that can morph into any form and is even more indestructible and unstoppable than the old 101 model Terminator from the first movie. I think that the mimetic poly-alloy T-1000 is my first problem with the movie. It makes for a whole lot of very cool special effects, but it’s a little cartoonish when compared with the brutal and gritty first Terminator movie. Robert Patrick’s performance is creepy, but he never feels menacing in the way Arnold was in the first movie. Maybe it’s that he has eyebrows. I don’t know.

The corresponding problem is that now the T-800 played by Arnold Schwarzenegger is now the good guy. I love the concept of two terminators going toe-to-toe because it’s a great way to amp up the action of the series, but to make the implacable and emotionless foe of the first movie into a surrogate father figure and at the same time make him the obsolete and the under-dog really weakens the whole franchise in my opinion.

So I just ignore all that. I ignore the FX for FX sake. I ignore the now mortal terminator. I concentrate instead on the explosions and the action and on Linda Hamilton. This is her movie, as far as I am concerned. She is unbelievably buff. She is so invested in the character. The best moments in the entire film for me are when she knows that a second terminator is out there hunting her son and she is suddenly all determination and terror. She even is able to sell the notion that Sarah is practically a terminator herself. Once she and the terminator have managed to get John out of danger she hies off to attempt to change the future herself, trying to turn the tables on Skynet and prevent its birth in the way that it tried to stop John’s.

I might be giving the impression that I don’t like this movie, and I don’t want to do that. It’s a fantastic action movie. It has explosions and shoot outs and car chases and time travel, just like the first movie. It may have some problems that result in my not liking it quite as much as I like the first movie, but then again the first Terminator is one of my favorite sci-fi films of all time. This movie, well it’s just good fun. It’s better than most action movies and it’s one of those oft-lampooned iconic action milestones with all its digital effects, it’s just not as good as the first.

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June 22, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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