Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a sci-fi/action film directed by James Cameron and a direct sequel to the original Terminator. This sequel brings back fan-favorite characters for another action-filled romp with killer cyborgs, crazy stunts, and a surprising amount of heart.
Considered by many as one of the most entertaining science fiction films ever made, Terminator 2: Judgment Day delivers the thrills while still telling an interesting story. Does Terminator 2 manage to reach heights greater than the original, or is this another attempt to simply add more action the second time around?
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The Film Review
The story in Terminator 2: Judgment Day picks up a decade after the end of the first film. Having defeated the original Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) 10 years prior, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is now confined to a mental institution. Since no one believes her story about time-traveling cyborgs or a futuristic war, Sarah’s preteen son John (Edward Furlong) has been placed in foster care.
Believing everything his mother warned him about to be a lie, John is caught off-guard when the Terminator returns, this time to protect him from an even greater threat.
Terminator 2 has a far more complicated narrative than the original movie, but it keeps things familiar and easy-to-follow by having a similar formula. After introducing the key characters and catching us up with what’s happened in the past decade, Terminator 2 quickly gets the action rolling.
Once again, two combat androids are from the future to the present day, one intending to murder John Connor and the other meant to protect him. The new threat to John’s life, a highly advanced T-1000 unit (Robert Patrick), has the ability to transform its liquid metal body, hardening into deadly weapons and human disguises. It proves to be a formidable match-up to the original Terminator, who still favors using guns, explosives, and brute force.
Across all of its scenes, Terminator 2 puts both CGI and practical special effects to great use. One chase scene, in particular, involving a motorcycle and a semi-truck is especially exhilarating, containing some spectacular stunt work. The many encounters with the T-1000 are filled with inventive use of CGI, and although some of the effects have depreciated with age, most sequences still remain suspenseful and fun to watch.
There’s also a surprising amount of heart and charm to this sequel, mostly fueled by the relationship established between John and his protector Terminator. Throughout the film, John struggles to find a suitable father figure, often lashing out and acting rebellious as a way to cope.
As John teaches the Terminator a few things about humanity, he learns a few things about himself along the way. Generally speaking, the script contains more lighthearted dialogue and honest comedy than the original, producing a well-balanced tone. This more complex storytelling does wonders for the pacing of the movie, as well as adding some stakes to the action.
The Bottom Line
Overall, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an excellent follow-up to one of the strongest sci-fi films ever made. It succeeds where most sequels fail by rejuvenating the original concept with stronger characters, better action, and more impressive special effects. Fans of the first movie will surely enjoy the cat-and-mouse game between the two Terminator machines, while newcomers to the series should appreciate the general tone, mystery, and originality of the concept.
By striking a great balance between drama, intrigue, and action, Terminator 2: Judgment Day ends up being a better film than the original.
- Great character development
- Memorable lines and scenes
- Excellent action and practical effects
- Some of the CGI looks silly
- The story takes a while to get going