Directed by James Cameron
Expectations: I’ll be back.
You shouldn’t need me to tell you that Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an incredible movie. One of the greatest blockbuster films of all time, T2 is a total thrill ride that, like the Terminators themselves, never stops. It is expertly paced and written in such a way that it is both a perfect sequel to the original film and completely self-contained and accessible to anyone in the audience. And does it hold up nearly 25 years after its original release? No problemo.
T2 brought revolutionary FX to the screen, and honestly they still look fantastic to me. Due to the limitations of the time, the CG is used exactly how it should be: to augment real footage to create incredible illusions of fantasy. The grounding in the real world makes the unreal feel all the more real because it’s seemingly happening in the same world we live in. The physical FX work is top-notch as well, with the scene when Arnold tears off his skin to show Miles Dyson his cyborg endoskeleton remaining my favorite. It blew my mind when I was a kid, and it still looks so real to me. I guess that’s what you get when your movie has a crazy budget and you’ve got Stan Winston on the case. Practical FX work may have gone out of style, but I stand by the claim that it does and will continue to age much better than CG.
T2 is also filled with a lot more humor than I remember, much of it coming from Arnold’s character. It adds something of a campy vibe sometimes, and probably more so if you didn’t see this in 1991. But I did, and I was around 10 years old at the time, so the jokes never seemed out of character to me. If anything, the humor endears the film more to me the older I get, as it feels indicative of a time when movies weren’t always so damn serious. So there’s a pair of killer robots from the future and we’re teaching one to say, “Chill out, Dickwad”? Yeah, OK, I can dig it, and in the ’80s and early ’90s most people were OK with it too. I miss those days.
Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger is Last Action Hero! I was 11 when it came out, I saw it in the theater, and I hated it. It crushed me. I haven’t seen it since. See ya then!