“I know now why you cry. But it’s something I can never do.” – The Terminator
This quote we think reflects The Terminator in the most accurate light. This is a film with a great story yes, but much more than that The Terminator is all about the classic one liners from Arnold and the characters. We saw the new Terminator (Salvation with Christian Bale) when it came out without seeing the original Terminators. We enjoyed it and did not get why it got a bad response from critics and audiences, and that the main criticism of the movie was that it lacked the heart of the originals. After seeing the first two originals we can completely understand the disappointment because these were superb film with tremendous heart and character development.
The Terminator 2: Judgement Day starts off extremely similar to the first. The lightning starts flickering and there comes the former governor of California, he’s back (you know he was coming back because politicians never lie). Then, just as the first another, normal sized, man comes via the phenomena of cloudless lightning bolts. Just as the 1984 film both these ‘men’ are looking to eliminate the existence of John Connor, the leader of the resistance in the future. It is unclear if they are aware of the others presence in the current period, but the movie sets up an intense race to find nine-year old John Connor. Pretty standard stuff, for those who had seen The Terminator, until the similar plot takes a radical detour when John gets trapped between the two men and The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) protects Connor by telling him to get down and shoots the ‘man’. This apparent man is actually a T-1000, which is an advanced cyborg made from liquid metal that was sent from the future to kill John Connor. This is an extremely well done scene and plot twist delivered from James Cameron. The whole movie really excels from this scene on the idea of The Terminator being the good guy and protecting John Connor instead of trying to deny his existence. The relationship built between the machine and boy gives this movie an incredible amount of heart and the memorable lines that everyone knows today, even if you have not seen this movie (Hasta la vista baby, Come with me if you want to live, I’ll be back, etc). After a verbal fight between The Terminator and John, they go and rescue his mother Sarah Connor who was in a mental institution. She is in the middle of an escape when the elevator opens and out comes The Terminator and she is terrified and runs away, getting caught by the security guards. The Terminator comes and rescues her and the confusion for Sarah is at an all-time high. From here Cameron’s movie tells the story of John and Sarah Connor, with their very own Terminator, trying to prevent Sky-Net from ever lifting off and the T-1000’s attempt to stop them. While I did enjoy the first Terminator more, the second is a great installment to the series. It is a classic example of a sequel re-inventing itself in ways to further the franchise not only in monetary terms. The character development is fantastic, especially for The Terminator, and the story while similar does not feel too repetitive for it not to work. The main reason we enjoyed the first film of this franchise more would be the comparable plot form from the first movie. We have no problem with it but it made the movie from hitting the next level in our minds. BUT the relationship between a machine and a nine-year old boy being so believable and heartfelt was incredible, and elevated this movie along with the imaginative writing from James Cameron. The twist of The Terminator becoming a good guy is one for the ages.
Final Thoughts: The Terminator 2: Judgment day while not as good as the first was an inspired second installment to a great franchise. The movie has got HEART even where a literal heart is absent. The character twist of a Terminator becoming a protector of John is phenomenal writing and the movie is expertly made in almost every way. Hasta la vista, baby!