Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

reviewed by
Subrata Sircar

                           TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
                       A film review by Subrata K. Sircar
                        Copyright 1991 Subrata K. Sircar
        Quick Take:  SEE THIS MOVIE!  NOW!  WOW!  GREAT!

Capsule Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to modern-day LA from 2029 as a Terminator assigned to protect John Connor against another Terminator with advanced mimetic powers. Linda Hamilton turns in an excellent performance, but the actors play second fiddle to awesome special effects. Rating: 8+ [1 to 10 scale].

     Wow.  See this movie.

Arnie is back as a Terminator, only this time he's a generation behind in technology. The new T-1000 series Terminators are made of mimetic metal, and can take on any form with the same mass, able to form any solid metal object. The new Terminator takes out a police officer and assumes his form to hunt John Connor, while Arnie appears nude near a biker bar. Some nasty mayhem later, he's got clothes, boots, a shotgun, a Harley and the all-important shades. The two machines find John at nearly the same time, and battle it out through the mall, several roads, and a few trucks, with Arnie finally saving John.

In the last few years, things have not gone so well for Sarah Connor. She has been shacking up with anyone who could teach her and her son about combat and survival, and eventually went over the edge and attacked a computer factory. She's been locked up in a mental institution for a few years, while John Connor has been turning into a juvenile delinquent with foster parents.

So of course, Terminator and John go to bust Sarah out, minutes ahead of the evil Terminator ....

The movie also seems to be the last Terminator flick, as there was a good effort to wrap up all the loose ends from both movies. The first movie pointed out the alternate reason for sending a Terminator to the past the first time; his remains were needed for the cybernetic breakthrough which triggered Armageddon. This time, all remains of all three Terminators are incinerated, and the movie ends on a somewhat positive note, implying that the future the Terminators came from is no longer inevitable.

Overall, this movie was just as good as the original, which is an amazing accomplishment. There are two science-fiction gimmicks; time travel and mimetic metal. Get past those and the rest is one hell of an action movie. Usually, when watching a science-fiction movie, I tend to think of six different ways the villains could use their powers to end the movie somewhere after the first half hour; not so this time. The mimetic Terminator uses his abilities very intelligently, especially in combat; reforming around bullets, sliding through grills, reforming around Arnie's hand when he punches him, etc. About the only trick he missed was abandoning the human form altogether and going to the octopus mode for combat, but overall the evil Terminator was right on the money.

Linda Hamilton plays Sarah Connor as a woman driven by the specter of global annihilation; she has a recurring dream of the world ending, destroying all the children in a playground. She is not quite sane, and has become determined to prevent the holocaust by any means necessary, including the sacrifice of other lives as well as her own. I kept seeing Sarah Connor as someone who was alternately trying to be a mother and a soldier, never sure which one was right, knowing which one was practical.

I won't attempt to describe the special effects, except to say that Industrial Light and Magic did themselves proud. The evil Terminator looked convincing and very very menacing. Lots and lots of explosions, gunfire and mayhem, and all of it was spectacular. The opening scene was wonderful, as were the two knock-down drag-out fights between Terminators.

In short, I loved this movie. Great special effects, a good performance by Linda Hamilton, and some excellent science-fiction to mix into a truly excellent Arnie action film. You'll like this, and it will make back its $100 million (rumored) budget.

Subrata Sircar | sksircar@phoenix.princeton.edu |Prophet& SPAMIT Charter Member

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