No 35 - Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Director - James Cameron
Who can remember August 28th 1997? I certainly do. I had recently returned from a holiday in Spain and had turned 13. Then nuclear bombs fell, we all caught on fire, crumpled and burnt and got blown away as dust in the wind.
Of course we didn't really!!! But that is what we are warned by Terminator 2 (or T2 as the cool kids call it). This time it is more about the approach to Judgement Day and builds on the relentless killer of the 1st film.
For reasons that I don't understand, the baddy robots send a second terminator to eliminate John Connor aged 13. If I was in charge of the time travelling part of the Cyberdine plan - I would have sent the second terminator to attack just after Sarah Connor had crushed the first. Kyle would be dead, she would be exhausted and broken. There wouldn't be a fight.
Clearly I am far more of an evil genius than any of the robots, either that or there is some other weird rule I don't understand about time travel because for some reason the second Terminator is sent 14 years later to kill young John Connor. The humans cotton on to this and manage to send a reprogrammed model 101. The Arnie model.
Ladies and Gentlemen he is back, but this time he is a goody. Also... in his first scene with young John Connor (the ever-excellent Edward Furlong. Star of my youthful guilty pleasure, Detroit Rock City) he says more than he said in the entire first film. This is a massive weakness for the character, who is far better as a silent but deadly Juggernaut, but is a huge boon for Arnie, who is actually very funny, or at least seems to be in this film. Even if he has only shown this in ridiculous one liners or really shit comedies.
Much like the first, the real stars of this movie are the titular Terminators. Therefore I will talk about everything first and then concentrate on them.
Firstly Sarah Connor. Kyle says that Sarah would train John Connor up to be a great leader. However, you look at her in the first film and you can't see it. Terminator 2 brings a completely different character. She has had years of back story between the two films. Years which are only vaguely touched upon during the story. Those years are spent turning her into a fighter and turning her son into a fighter.
The Sarah Connor of Terminator 2 is no longer a scared and confused passenger. She is a warrior. As relentless and determined as the Terminators themselves. She also has (fairly understandable) issues with being on the same team as the Model 101, considering their shared past.
Sarah discovers that by crushing the original Terminator, she left the CPU and an arm in tact. These are discovered by a Dr Miles Dyson who uses them to aid his research in AI (a logical step from those freaky airblade hand dryers). Ironically, by defeating the Terminator, Sarah Connor has become the catalyst for their creation.
Therefore, Sarah goes off to destroy the early Cyberdine laboratories. She is joined by her son - Edward Furlong is brilliant in this role - and with a 'tame' Model 101 who is learning to be more human.
However the robots have sent an upgrade to defeat this team. To stop them from destroying Cyberdine and subsequently ruining the robot uprising. The T1000.
The T1000 looks awesome and is a formidable foe. Mainly because, he is everything Arnie's Model 101 isn't.
Robert Patrick is quite buff, but he is slim and wiry compared to the force of nature that is Arnie. Instead, his villain is agile, persistent, nimble and quick. He is as deadly and ruthless as the original killer but he is a lot more chatty. This gives him a big advantage, he is oh so charismatic. He is also a truly amazing use of CGI. Even in modern times it is difficult to make a liquid silver person look realistic. But to think this was one of the first CGI jobs done in films, the effects are remarkable. a lot of it would hold court on TV nowadays. Easily. They must have spent a shit load on him.
He is a remarkable baddy. He is however RIDDLED with flaws.
The T1000 is made of liquid metal which can shape shift into nearly anything (including colours and patterns - but I'm willing to overlook that).
HOWEVER - In order to go through the time travel machine you have to be made of organic matter. That is one of the main reasons the original Terminator is covered in flesh. It is an important plot point of the 1st film, it isn't something you can easily gloss over in part 2. But gloss over they do. For the T1000 is ENTIRELY liquid metal, he can change shape and form including the look of his skin. He isn't flesh with a molten core. He is a shape shifting fully metallic figure.
Not only does that make it very difficult to put a power supply and processor chips (both things we know the Terminator has... hell, the model 101 has 2 power supplies) but it also means that he shouldn't have been able to get here.
Also, how hot must he get if he is supposed to be made of LIQUID METAL? Or, inversely, how cold must he get if he is made of mercury or something.
Despite his flaws, the flowing agile nature of the T1000 makes him the perfect combatant. He is really very cool. He is also a very easy effective fancy dress outfit. Just wear blue and cover yourself in those foil pie dishes, like my friend Chris.
Whilst this film may have a few flaws (I have one more huge one to discuss) it is structurally very similar to the first. Sarah Connor is being chased by a relentless killer. She is joined by another figure from the future who has trouble with his emotions. Whereas in the first film it is resolved through sex, here it is resolved through a bit of central reprogramming and learning how to be hip and cool like an early 90's kid. The future companion even says "Come with me if you want to live"! (I like to think that this is deliberate. A code word used by John Connor to trigger memories of Kyle and memories of safety. Unlike T3, I don't think the films had started taking the piss out of themselves just yet).
There are a number of shoot outs. It results in a tanker destroying and ALMOST killing the Terminator, only for the figure to rise again as a glitching mechanical abomination. It then has to be destroyed again.
With the T1000 destroyed, the nice 101 has to kill himself too. Here is one of the few cinematic scenes which made Elliot Biddle cry (that and the death of Optimus Prime in the Transformers cartoon). The Terminator is more rounded. Less of a one dimensional force of evil. He is now a person.
So the T1000 is destroyed right. The evidence of the robots are destroyed. Cyberdine is destroyed. Surely there is only one logical ending to this film.
John Connor is born from the sexytimes of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reece.
Kyle is brought back from the future to defend Sarah.
This is because there is a war on.
By destroying Cyberdine there is no Skynet and thusly no war.
If there is no war, there is no need for Kyle Reece to go back
ERGO! T2 should have ended with John Connor fading away like in Back to the Future.