Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron and William Wisher
Sometimes this journey through our DVD collection thoroughly surprises me. Sometimes I go into something with a certain impression and find that I was entirely wrong to begin with. I sat down to this movie whole heartedly expecting to like it more than its predecessor. While I do love this movie, and I do think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made, I find myself really having enjoyed the first film more. The action is better in this one but there is a tonal shift that I am not crazy about. It’s not as hardcore as the first film and has a lighter, almost comical, tone that doesn’t sit right when watching them back to back.
I really loved Schwarzenegger as the terminator in the first film. The first time around he was a cold blooded killer who didn’t say much but didn’t have to. This movie is a full blown Schwarzenegger love fest with a terminator that doesn’t kill and asks far too many questions. Granted things were much different for Schwarzenegger in 1991 when he had more power, and an image to protect. I always liked Schwarzenegger better in the 80s when he was a bit more rough around the edges. Once the 90’s rolled around he became the musclebound funny guy with a lot less violence to his performances. He grew more famous, but I think the product suffered a bit and after watching this I just don’t think this T-800 compares to the one we saw in the first one. He simply talks too much in this movie.
Robert Patrick on the other hand fills the void of villain nicely. I don’t understand why Robert Patrick wasn’t utilized anymore than he was as a villain over the years because he was great in this movie. James Cameron handpicked him after seeing him in Die Hard 2 but it seems no one else saw what Cameron did as his career lagged through the 90s before finding his niche on television in recent years. As the T-1000 he’s as ruthless and unstoppable as Schwarzenegger should have been.
I’ve now let this review sit for over a month and I still haven’t found the right words to finish it up. I think I was just flabbergasted by my lack of enthusiasm after watching it. This is such an important film and such a fixture in my household growing up that it just can’t be right. However watching the first film and this in succession left me thinking this one really wasn’t all that good.
That isn’t the case of course, this is a timeless classic and I love the movie. I just feel like the first one was much better and I can’t get past that realization.
I can’t close this out because my tone is all wrong and I can’t get it back. There aren’t enough words in the world to convey quite how influential this movie was in the household I grew up in. Lines like “he’ll live” and “I know now why you cry” were dropped on a regular basis and even to this day I hear those lines coming from my brother. Not only that but I’m pretty sure my brother has some sort of neurological disorder fixated on this movie. No matter where we are or what we are doing he is humming, whistling, tapping, or just making general noise to the beat of this movie’s score.
It’s also my brother holding me up on this one because I know he is going to read this and find my impression to be nothing short of blasphemous. The expectations are simply too high and my thoughts don’t live up to them.
This is a groundbreaking movie for special effects and action, but I think it lacks the edge that the first film had. The first film is darker and that is simply what I prefer in this franchise. I don’t care how likable Schwarzenegger needed to be to protect and enhance his own product. I thought he was better as the quiet and ruthless killer. In truth it makes little sense for him to be in this movie at all. Why would they send the same model Terminator that was sent to kill Sarah Connor anyway?
This was and is a vehicle for Schwarzenegger and wanting to be the good guy was natural whether it makes any sense or not. It’s one of the things I have always admired about Schwarzenegger, throughout his entire career he has not been a man to say no to, be it as a movie star, television star, or even Governor. It’s an incredible life the man has lived and one day it will make an exciting story. Doesn’t matter if his smiling Terminator was a poor substitute for his killer Terminator or not.
Despite my opinions posted here I do think this is one of the best sequels ever made and it was a great continuation of the franchise. It easily is the primary reason the franchise has never been able to be put to rest properly. Everybody wants to get this glory back but no matter what they do they simply aren’t James Cameron and they can’t get it done.
Leave this franchise alone people, and um I’m speaking to you Mr. Schwarzenegger. Every new entry only tarnishes the legacy of something great. So to bring my rambling to an end I’ll simply say that of course this movie is worth your time and if you haven’t seen it there is something wrong with you.
There is so much more to discuss but I’m spent, I’ve sat on this one long enough. Maybe I’ll come back to it in time and discuss the badass Linda Hamilton or the snarky and street smart Edward Furlong. In the meantime feel free to share your own thoughts, because this one did not go at all as I expected.
NEXT MOVIE: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
As expected my brother had some thought about the lackluster review I wrote for one of his most beloved movies. He made several good points so I thought I’d share them with everyone. Without any further adieu, here they are:
Just a few issues I had with your review. I have to get to work so not a lot of time here.
First of all every proper savior must have the initials JC. Humanity – Jesus Christ. Terminator – John Connor. Rome – Julius Ceaser. Pinocchio – Jiminy Cricket. Madden – John Campbell. And even cinema with James Cameron. Failing to mention this fails to educate your legion of readers.
Second the warning of AI. While Cameron isn’t the first to mention this he does drive the point home. We are within decades of not being the smartest kids on the block. I was just listening to a lecture by Sam Harris the other day where he says and I quote “I’m not saying we’re going to invent Skynet here, but we have to stop and steer this thing in a direction we want. We tell this thing that we don’t want any more spam and it decides to create an army of terminators to wipe out humanity because that’s one potential way to stop spam.”
The information dump. The scene where they’re driving through the desert and Arnold spills the entire back story within 2 minutes that has as much story as the whole movie combined and nicely ties it all together. I love these. See Donald Sutherland in JFK, Sam Neil in Event Horizon, Morpheus in the Matrix and the Architect in the Matrix Reloaded.
The scene in the park where the nuke goes off while she’s shaking the fence. Absolutely terrifying to 10 year Nick like nothing else he’d seen to that point.
While the scene from the first movie where Arnold goes into the fuzz station and handles his business is one of the greatest examples of badassdom ever, the 2nd movie offers up a more than healthy buffet of badassness to feast on.
Yes there is some comedy in this one that is hard to reconcile, however I offer up the Asian guy that gets caught in the crossfire at the mall as a proof its worth it. Hilarious.
And yes of course the soundtrack. Nothing musically has ever been so catchy. Nothing.
I’m sure I could go on but that’s what I got with 5 minutes.