Logline: A cyborg, identical to the one who tried to kill Sarah Connor, is sent back in time to protect her son, John from a shape-shifting cyborg made out of liquid metal.
Review: When I think of the greatest sequels ever made, James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day immediately comes to mind. T2 represents a breakthrough in digital effects and to this day, the film remains spectacular.
Rather than being a rehash of the first film, T2 is original and unique. In a brilliant twist, the Terminator is the protector this time while a new cyborg is introduced that seems even more unstoppable than the first. Everything in T2 feels bigger and better. It is one of the rare instances in which the sequel is superior to the original. While there are those who prefer the gritty, low budget first film, most people agree that T2 is the best film of the franchise. It is a high-octane ride that never lets up and contains what are probably the best car chase scenes ever committed to celluloid. The stunt work is nothing short of astounding.
In the 1980s, costly digital effects were used sparingly and were still evolving. James Cameron has always been a pioneer of visual effects. The digital effects in T2 were groundbreaking at the time and still hold up to this day. The shape-shifting T-1000 is one of the first computer generated characters. The CGI in T2 is well integrated with all of the other amazing effects in the film. Digital effects can be a great tool to any filmmaker but should not be abused. In the years since the release of T2, many filmmakers have relied too much on the use of digital effects and they have become commonplace. Today, I appreciate when filmmakers use practical effects in their place. T2 does such a fantastic job of blending the two.
T2 is more than just a special effects extravaganza. There is an emotionally resonant story about the relationship between humanity and technology, what it means to be human, and family. I am not going to lie. There are moments that bring tears to my eyes, such as the scene in which Sarah finally admits her love for John and the mother and son embrace one another. The characters are all interesting and complex. The relationship between Sarah and John is fascinating as is the boy’s interactions with the machine who becomes like a father figure. Schwarzenegger was born to play the Terminator, which suits his range perfectly. Robert Patrick is also perfectly cast as the T-1000. Linda Hamilton gives a strong performance as Sarah Connor and Edward Furlong, in his film debut, is great as young John Connor. It is one of my favorite performances from a child and the fact that he had no prior acting experience is impressive.
The climax of the film is breathtaking with one incredible set piece after another. I love the moment in which the T-1000 is frozen with liquid nitrogen and breaks into pieces. The special edition is Cameron’s preferred version and is the one to watch. The sixteen additional minutes of footage are crucial. Along with Aliens (1986), T2 is James Cameron’s best film and a non-stop thrill ride that will leave you both breathless and moved.