Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Directed by James Cameron. With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Earl Boen and Joe Morton.

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If someone said to me “Terminator 2 is the greatest film ever made…” – I wouldn’t argue. It is the kind of film that has you blindly spewing sentences like that, such is its vast, enduring appeal. I must have enjoyed it a dozen times, but with each repeat viewing, I marvel at its many achievements. With Aliens, James Cameron proved he could continue a story in a new and interesting way. Returning to his own baby, Cameron’s sequel to his 1984 sci-fi-horror is a tour-de-force of high spectacle, invention, and just downright thrills.

Arnold Schwarzenegger returns on top billing as the Terminator, travelling through time to intercept John Connor (Edward Furlong). Joining him is Robert Patrick’s T-1000, a new and improved liquid metal Terminator (mimetic poly-alloy for nerds). As you’d imagine, they have crossed purposes. Back also is Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, although she’s now housed in a psychiatric hospital after the authorities deemed her insane for acts of terrorism motivated by trying to prevent a future war.

Cameron is a master when it comes to this stuff. You get the feeling that some directors get lucky and everything just aligns and clicks into place at the right time. Not so with Cameron. Writer, director, producer…this man has complete control over his projects and moreover, he makes them they best they can be. The $100m production budget was a lot back in 1990, yet the money is there to see on the screen. The chase sequences alone would be enough to make a strong recommendation, but once again, Cameron gives us characters we embrace and understand. He allows us to immerse ourselves in both character and action, simultaneously. The CGI too, isn’t just a tool to show off. Cameron ensures that his CGI sequences are relevant and that they inventively contribute to the tension and excitement.

Where the original film was a dark, gritty horror, T2 is lighter on its feet; but without sacrificing the core underlying darkness. Much of the humour stems from the banter between Schwarzenegger and Furlong. Tonally, it is a more crowd-pleasing lean to one side, yet it arms the film with that crucial sense of humanity that so many films never attain. In short, we care about these characters.

History remembers the iconic imagery of Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, and while he might have boosted sales of Harley Davidson motorcycles and Ray-Bans, it is Linda Hamilton who is the dramatic centre of the piece. Her performance as Sarah Connor is a world away from the character we saw in 1984. Not only is Hamilton an entirely different physical specimen this time around, she carries the haunted look of a woman who knows far too much. It is a gutsy turn that carries over fascinatingly from the previous film.

Rich with exhilarating action, great character development and nail-biting suspense, Terminator 2 is the complete package. It aims high and scores higher. Its hard to imagine anyone leaving the cinema in 1991 being anything less than utterly blown away. 5/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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10 Responses to Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Love this one big time. I could not wait to see it in the theater at the time. When I got out of the theater Iw went dam! that was a great film. But the third one did not like it I saw it years ago like 3 years ago and I hated it. Nice review. It is funny too nice touch with the humor that Cameron put it.

  2. Jay says:

    I haven’t seen it, and doubt I’d feel the same way if I did, not least of all because I find with a lot of these movies, you have to see them at the time to really fall under their spell.

    • garethrhodes says:

      You’re wrong on this one, Jay, Commando, The Running Man, etc etc. They were of their time. The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2 (1991) are classics of any genre and any time. The level of film making is off the scale. It is to the action genre what The Godfather is to the mob genre. If you’re serious about film, I highly recommend you go back and watch these two film properly. You’ll thank me. Thank you for commenting.

  3. cevans1982 says:

    Love T2, a great example of how to make a n pretty much perfect sequel that’s a progression rather than a retread. Having said that, T1 has always had the edge in my opinion, I guess it’s the almost undergound, cult-y feel of it and the achievements of Cameron, Stan Winston et al working against a miniscule budget.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I hear you, but I think T2 is equally awesome for different reasons. It’s like Alien and Aliens. I love them both dearly, yet they do very different things for me. You can see every penny of the $100m budget on the screen in T2. I so wish the awful sequels hadn’t muddied the waters so much. At least we’ll always have these classics. Great to hear from you as always.

  4. simonprice18 says:

    Read both of your reviews for T1 & 2 and I agree that both are equally as awesome as each other! Absolute classics!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you very much Simon. Great to hear from you. I love the contrast in feel between the two sequels. I wish more sequels had that. James Cameron isn’t without his critics, but I find him such a fascinating film maker. Your contribution here is appreciated.

  5. Silver Fang says:

    Reblogged this on Wolf Howls and commented:
    This was my favorite movie from my teen years.

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