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Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

May 21, 2009

VERDICT:
10/10 Lever-Action Shotguns

Hands down, the best action movie ever made.

I was hanging out at my friend’s house a couple of months ago. There may have been some drinking involved. As these things usually go, by the end of the night we were tired, our hideous stomachs couldn’t take it any more, and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves but sit on the couch and go through the last of the blue cheese & hot wings Doritos. My solution (rather than stare at a blank TV screen): pop in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and fast forward to the last 40 minutes. Everyone cheered and I got many high-fives.

And that’s the story of how I saved the party.

T2‘s story is a lot like T1′s. Two cyborgs are sent back from the future, one of them is programmed to save the future leader of the human resistance in the war against the machines and one is programmed to kill that same resistance leader. Awesome.

The catch with T2 is that Arnold, the same Terminator model that was once sent back to kill Sarah Connor (the mother of the future leader of the human resistance, John Connor), is now a good Terminator and is protecting Sarah and John. Naturally, this takes a little getting used to for Sarah. To make things interesting, the bad Terminator is practically invincible, just as cold-blooded as Arnold in T1, and his body is made of liquid metal that can shape shift into giant knives and such. Double awesome.

As you can probably tell, this inevitably leads up to some great cyborg vs. cyborg fight scenes. And are there really better kinds of fights to be had? I think not.

Even though I’m a bigger fan of the original Terminator, Judgment Day really is an improvement on the first movie in every way (except for Arnold). The special effects are still pretty jaw-dropping even by today’s standards, the action sequences literally last anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes each, the character development is better, and it’s really surprising how much heart this movie has.

Just like T1, T2 also scared the crap out of me as a kid. Probably not a good idea to see people getting stabbed in the head when you’re 11. Still creeps me out to this day.

But it’s unfortunate that, aside from Arnold, T2 is pretty much the pinnacle of the acting careers for the rest of the cast, because they’re all great. Linda Hamilton does a total 180 with Sarah Connor, turning her from Olive Oyl with an ’80s perm in T1 to G.I. Jane on a steroid binge in T2. Edward Furlong, who plays John Connor, got arrested a couple years ago for trying to free lobsters from a seafood restaurant. Yikes. And Robert Patrick, the bad Terminator, made a cameo in Wayne’s World shortly after and then had a stint on The X-Files, but that’s about it. Man, what happened, guys?

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is more than just a perfect action movie, it’s a great story that’s told unbelievably well by James Cameron. He takes advantage of everything he couldn’t do in the first movie and outdoes himself on every front. Like I said in the T1 review, Cameron is a hell of a filmmaker and he’s really at the top of his game here, both from a technical and storytelling standpoint .

So next time you’re at a party and things are winding down, break open those Doritos and pop in T2. It’s a freaking blast and it’s one of those movies that never gets old.

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