Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

I was 17 when Judgment Day hit the cinemas, and I loved it.  It was, if not my favourite film of all time, then at least in the top 5.  I preferred it to its progenitor, and if you'd ask me if it was better than Aliens or not, I'd have been very conflicted.

Unlike the other two James Cameron films though, my opinion of T2 has declined over the years.  I still enjoy it for the action-packed extravaganza it is, but that style vs substance thing I mentioned in yesterday's review is beginning to rear its head here.

Now make no mistake, this is a stylish film.  It's packed to the gills with imaginative, well-staged action sequences and is pretty much everyone-being-a-badass-all-the-time.  But substance-wise?  Well, there are a few shortcomings.

First let's talk about the basic premise.  It turns out that Skynet, the evil machine intelligence, sent a second terminator back in time to stop John Connor.  This is an experimental T-1000 prototype made of 'liquid metal', and targets Connor when he is 10 years old.  Fortunately Future-Connor is once again able to send a single protector back in time, only this time it's not a human soldier: it's an Arnold-model Terminator.

So obviously problem one is that this is pretty much the same plot as the first film, only with the addition of a kid.  "Let's add a moppet" is rarely a good idea, but to be fair Edward Furlong does a good job as the young John Connor.  There are other concerns though, such as "how did the no-flesh-included T-1000 travel through the only-things-encased-in-flesh-can-use-it time machine of the Terminator universe?"

There's a also a sense - at least watching it now - that the film is trying just a little too hard to top its predecessor.  Whereas the quotable moments of The Terminator happened organically out of the plot, this one seems to be actively trying to create such 'soundbites'.  "Hasta la vista, baby", I am looking at you.

This is a fun roller-coaster ride of a film ... and I think that's probably why it's not at the level of the first movie.  Roller coasters and fast and loud and exciting, but they're not exactly complex experiences.

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