T2: Judgement Day, review

Terminator Genisys has made its debut around the World, and as an adamant fan of the classic franchise, it’s hard to commit to viewing the newest installment at the cinema. With unfavorable reviews rolling in left, right and centre, it appears that the thrill of the T-1000 and the Connor family, just doesn’t hold up like it did in 1991. While Terminator 2: Judgement Day was the follow up to the original 1984 sleeper hit, the sequel gave as good as the first did and held mass appeal to spectators around the globe. Phenomenally successful, presenting Edward Furlong for the first time, and starring Schwarzenegger in a role he was practically born to play, T2 was instantly a favourite. To this day, James Cameron’s mighty film still holds up as both innovative and original, witty and thrilling, and a classic in its own right. Forget Genisys, let’s remember Judgement Day.

T2 saw the return of the T-800 (or simply, The Terminator), but not as the malevolent killing machine that fans new of from film one. This time, Arny was back in protagonist mode, re-programmed by the future John Connor to travel back in time and save the future leader of the human rebellion from the newer, scarier – and stronger – T-1000 model. Along the way they pick up Linda Hamilton’s Sarah, who is locked up after attempting to destroy Miles Dyson‘s lab which will one day create an AI that leads to the destruction of civilization via a nuclear war. There’s a lot to swallow in terms of narrative, but Cameron’s follow up is able to stand on its own two feet and viewers unfamiliar with film one can go in completely unawares, with nothing left unanswered and everything of importance from its predecessor basically reiterated here.

Hamilton and Furlong lead the way in terms of acting ability, with the latter an incredible early talent. He’s feisty and confident, and the father-son bond that he shares with Schwarzenegger adds a level of emotion and charm that has been missing in following films. The fact that neither of the original actors cast to play members of the Connor family have returned definitely lends to a lack of enthusiasm for any new production after the first two. Furlong can be seen in bold political drama American History X, a heavy story of contemporary racism in the US. Since this epic turn, his performances have been few and far between. Christian Bale, Jason Clarke, Nick Stahl and Thomas Dekker have all portrayed the iconic character since Furlong, but none have quite stuck in the minds of audiences as much as Edward has. With an enthusiasm and lustiness that can only come from such a young actor, Furlong unintentionally steals so many scenes in T2, and will always be remembered for his participation in this classic narrative.

So, its 1995, and John (who Sarah was preggers with in The Terminator) is now ten years old – although he looks and acts more like a fourteen year old – under the supervision of his foster parents. Lashing out since the incarceration of his Mum, and having had to deal with that whole ‘One day John, you WILL lead the human race against an army of computerized robots’ malarkey, he spends his time robbing ATM’s and riding around in his souped-up miniature motor bike. Along comes Robert Patrick as the liquid-metal T-1000 and the battle  to save humanity begins. Patrick barely says more than two sentences in the entire 136 minute run-time, but since his impressive turn as a truly alarming antagonist, he has been in a host of diverse roles, some of which include The FacultyWalk the Line, Gangster Squad and HBO television series True Blood. So many years later, in a time now where the film industry is rapidly expanding in terms of the technology at the disposal of many production houses, Patrick’s T-1000 is still as hair-raising now today as it was upon release. And that’s what keeps T2 an unabashed thrill ride – its ability to keep up with the times, and stay relentlessly entertaining.

The team behind the astonishing mimetic poly-alloy effects were awarded the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and scenes of Patrick seeping into his environment have gone down as some of the most classic cinematic moments in the history of film. Shot on a somewhat modest budget, for the length and man-power which went into Cameron’s feature, of somewhere between $94-102 million, the film went on to take $519.8 million – a grand amount when we remember T2 is an 18/R rated film. Despite what many might call a weak script, and a slightly pretentious run-time, James Cameron’s classic story of a futuristic Robot and his rebellious companion will never be taken off of the number one mark.

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