He said he'd be back
"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is one of those rare examples where a sequel is as good if not better than the original. Credit where it's due "The Terminator" was a pretty spectacular movie considering the small budget and so with a much bigger budget James Cameron gave us "Terminator 2" a far more spectacular movie with stunning action and brilliant effects. But the best thing is that whilst Cameron had more money to play with he still gave us a storyline which was the main focus rather than the effects. As such "Terminator 2" really is a very good movie and depending on your own personal tastes is at least an equal to the original but could be better.
Almost 10 years after Skynet failed in killing Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton - Dante's Peak) things have moved on. The future leader of the renegades John Connor (Edward Furlong) has been born and grown up into a tear away teen whilst his mother Sarah has been committed to a mental institution. But Skynet tries once more to stop John from fulfilling his destiny and send a new super Terminator the T-1000 (Robert Patrick - Die Hard 2) to hunt him down and kill him. But the renegades do likewise and send their own protector back to try and save their leader, a reprogrammed Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger - Total Recall). But whilst trying to stop the T-1000 destroying John, Sarah decides that she can stop the future from happening by trying to kill the inventor of the super computer which would become Skynet.
Ignoring the fact that director and writer James Cameron had a much improved budget to play with when making "Terminator 2" what is so good about the movie is that we are given an interesting storyline. Firstly it builds on what we saw 7 years earlier with John Connor having been born and now a tearaway teen and his mother Sarah locked up in a mental institution which doesn't stop fretting about the future and the safety of her son. And then on top of this we get a storyline which sees two more terminators coming back from the future, one to protect John, one to kill him but in doing so Cameron serves up a twist as the bad Terminator is now a protector. And if this wasn't enough we get the introduction to the future as scientists are on the verge of creating a super computer thanks to fragments they discovered from the original Terminator. What this all means is that we have a storyline which builds and grows, twists and turns and keeps you interested in what is happening on a narrative level.
That doesn't mean the storyline doesn't have issues and with the time travelling it throws up a paradox over events in the future being able to effect the past if those in the past hadn't happened in the first place to create the future. I'm not going to explain as to do so would spoil things but let's just say that to me on a technical level there are some major holes in the storyline when looked at on a theoretical time travelling level.
What is also evident is that there is a lot more humour injected into "Terminator 2" and instead of making the movie a joke it actually works to deliver just the right amount of light hearted moments. Most of these humorous scenes revolve around the friendship which forms between John and The Terminator sent back to protect him as he tries to teach him how to act cool rather than just as a stiff machine. As such we get the humorous scenes featuring John teaching The Terminator phrases such as "no problemo", "hasta la vista, baby" and "chill out, dickwad". That may sound all quite stupid but it is such a light hearted, amusing scene that it prevents "Terminator 2" from being just full on action and drama.
Of course "Terminator 2" saw James Cameron get a much bigger budget to play with and he didn't waste it. We get scene after scene of big action such as the impressive motorbike and lorry chase scene through the concrete water valleys through to the big explosive finale. But we also get Cameron's ground breaking effects and although he used something similar a couple of years earlier in "The Abyss" the liquid metal effects of the T-1000 is brilliant. It is credit to Cameron that whilst giving us a movie which is a visual treat he managed to find the right balance with the storyline so that it never becomes all about one thing or the other.
As for the acting well Arnold Schwarzenegger gets to reprise his role of The Terminator and with a few more lines than the first time around is usually the centre of many of the jokes. But he still makes an imposing character. Robert Patrick is just as good as the T-1000 and gets across the cat like style of this new terminator yet still delivers that sense of an unstoppable machine which Schwarzenegger achieved first time around.
Aside from the Terminators, I have to say Linda Hamilton delivers her best performance, really getting into character as she had slimmed down, toned up and basically looks like someone who is preparing for war. But at the same time she gives her character of Sarah that nervous edge as the pressure drives her closer and closer to being a nut job. And then to finish it off there is Edward Furlong as the young John Connor and credit where it's due he doesn't let the movie down giving us a stereotypical smart ass teenager but one who you can see has been taught to be ready for the future.
What this all boils down to is that "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is a very good movie and for me personally is better than the original. From the storyline, the action, the big effects and the acting it all works to give you a movie which keeps you interested in the ever evolving storyline about the future yet gives you plenty of action and some light hearted moments without it ever being just one thing or another.