(Insomnia Theater) Terminator 2: Judgement Day Review

Insomniacs Unite for: Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Review by Bret Dorman

When people try to tell other people how awesome a movie is, they tend to go a little overboard. Heck, even “Awesome” used to describe the “Awesome power of the big bang” or “The Awesome power of God.” Now… its used more like “My dog ate a whole bag full of Taco Bell and threw up. It was Awesome!” No, that is not ‘awesome’… (well, maybe…)

Here are two words often used to over-hype a movie:

1) Ever – Ever is a tricky word. It means not only is something the best or worst up until this point, but also nothing will ever be as good or bad as it for the rest of eternity. How can you tell? The stuff that hasn’t come out yet you clearly can’t compare to the movie you are describing now.

Obviously this is a bold claim. You could have said back in 2003 “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days is the FUNNIEST movie with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey EVER!!!” but then what do you say when Fool’s Gold comes out in 2008? Uh oh.. talk about eating your own words!!!

2) Epic – Epic is often a word that is rarely used by a person or over used by a person. When you say everything is epic it takes away from the meaning of the word.

The Odyssey by Homer is Epic!” Okay, right on. Big sweeping story line with grand characters and themes. “Putting Metaknight in Super Smash Brothers Melee is Epic!” Okay, um, putting a semi-minor character from a Nintendo franchise into a game full of Nintendo franchise characters is not that cool in and of itself… but Metaknight is really cool, so I know what you mean. “That sandwich I had for lunch today was Epic!” Okay… no.

Just for you’re enjoyment, I searched on Twitter for “Harry” “Potter” “Epic” “Ever” and here are some of the results:

“Harry Potter was the best movie I’ve ever seen!! Truely #Epic”

“OH MY FAWKING GAWD. Harry Potter was the most epic movie ive ever seen! I will stay loving Harry Potter for life <33333"

"I wonder if we will ever get another epic series like Harry Potter again?"

and of course,

"Harry Potter was epic !! Who ever said it sucked is a retard !They Obviously didn't understand the story !!"

Obviously these people have never seen Terminator 2.

The Story: The indestructible T-101 (The Action God Himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger) comes back from the future again, but this time to protect John Connor (The mostly annoying Edward Furlong). They team up with Sarah Connor (a buff Linda Hamilton) while trying not to get killed by the even more indestructible T-1000 (a steely eyed Robert Patrick). Also, Ah-nuld tries to smile and looks funny!

Terminator 2 does not mark ‘firsts’ in Movieland, but rather, cements the trajectory of three very big stars. This was not James Cameron’s first big success, but rather proof that he would one day direct two of the highest grossing movies of all time. This was not Arnold’s first movie, but rather proof that his name and face alone could bring in mass audiences. This was not the first time CGI had been used so heavily in a film, as shown by Midnight Movie alumni Jurassic Park. If anyone had any doubts about CGI and whether it was a fluke or something only Spielberg could pull off, T2 showed that yes, it is indeed the way of the future.

James cameron does something interesting with T2 that most 90’s Summer Blockbusters don’t do, and that is treat the material seriously. We aren’t just talking about a fun thrill ride, we are talking about the end of the human race! And not only do characters have to try and stop the impending doom of Judgement Day, but they also have to try to keep their humanity while doing it. Going back to rescue someone even though it puts yourself in danger and assassinating another to save billions are serious topics in the world of T2.

It’s also interesting to note that all of the ‘ghosts’ chasing the characters in Terminator 2 are in the future. Normally, a movie has a character’s past haunt them, but here its the mistakes they haven’t made yet, the ones that can be undone, that dwell on them the most. All the backstory is really futurestory and the futurestory is dark, bleak, and grim.

I know what you are thinking, “But Bret, I very clearly remember action scenes.” Oh yes, there are action scenes. What’s amazing about T2 is that the reason for the action scenes aren’t gratuitous in the context of the story, nor does the story simply try to get characters from Action Scene A to Action Scene B. Instead, all the action scenes are important parts of the movie. What makes Cameron such an entertaining filmmaker is that since we are going to have an action scene… we might as well go ALL OUT, EVERY TIME.

The power and efficiency of The Terminators is devastating, i.e. the way they use themselves as shields or throw around people like they were mannequins. Anytime a Terminator enters a vehicle its safe to assume that vehicle will be ripped to shreds or blown up at some point. And then The Terminator just walks out of the wreckage as if it were nothing. These Terminators aren’t worried about stealth and fighting a ‘cold war’ and sneaking around, because the moment they find John Connor they know it’s life or death, but not just for themselves, for ALL humans and ALL robots.

Perfect fan poster.

Perfect fan poster.

While we are talking about action scenes, we have to bring up The Action God Himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. A lot of people like to pick on him, but its mostly out of jealousy. Arnold is, and I might get in trouble or picked on for saying this, a fantastic actor. Yes. Fantastic. Not mediocre. Not good. Not great. Fantastic. He can make you believe that there is an invisible alien in the jungle. He can make you laugh (on purpose) by trying to teach a bunch of small children. He can deliver the sometimes stilted and all-too-important dialogue of Cameron’s and make it believable. His screen presence in T2 is like that of John Wayne in [Insert John Wayne Western here]. You just look at him and think “Yeah… he’s awesome.”

The Cameron/Schwarzenegger combo created one of the most quoted movie lines of all time: “I’ll be back.” In T2, not only do they go back to that line, but they challenge themselves one step further. Cameron wrote Ah-nuld a new catch-phrase, to which he delivered and it instantly became a part of pop culture. I think I was muttering the line “Hasta La Vista, Baby!” before I even saw either Terminator movies. That’s the power of The Action God Himself.

Of course, Since Arnold was a big star, they couldn’t have him be the badguy. So naturally Cameron wrote a way around that. The Terminator from the first movie (well, an identical model) was now the bodyguard for John Connor. Wow! So then, how could this movie be interesting? Anytime anyone tried to stop the T-101 series model, they would just get crushed. There’s nothing, NOTHING, that can stop a Terminator like him unless its Sarah Connor who now is kind-of BFFs with the robot. Oh, wait, what’s that… a T-1000? Crap… not only is its model number higher, but it’s even MORE indestructible. And its always dressed as a good guy….

The T-1000 wasn’t just scary because of Robert Patrick’s cold, emotionless stare or the way it looked at humans indifferent towards their life. It was scary because it could survive anything and everything. It could go almost anywhere. It wasn’t just a human actor playing a robot, it was computers themselves creating a monster.

(Side Note: The movie is still really reliant on practical effects. The moment in which The T-101 walks from one truck to the other, then kneels down and empties his machine gun POINT BLANK into the T-1000 shows that practical effects can still be the most effective and badass.)

James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and state of the art CGI. Perhaps the Holy Trinity of Action Movies in the 90s. And if anyone disagrees, invoke the spirit of Robo-Schwarzenegger and make them realize the true meaning of the words Judgement Day.

Why This Movie Is Perfect For Insomniacs: As I stated up top, its easy to over-hype a movie with the simplest of terms. When describing just what makes Terminator 2 so awesome, you can do it in one of three ways:

1) The most preferred way, you can see it at Bowtie at Reston Town Center. The remodeled vibe feels like upgrading from the buff T-101 to The Silver T-1000, on the Silver Screen.

2) You can write a review for it on your own movie blog. This way is fun if you are a film geek and have no life.

3) You can simply say… “Terminator 2 is the most EPIC action movie EVER.” Yes. Ever. Past. Present. And even the robot-run Future.

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