The sequel to James Cameron’s dystopian science fiction classic The Terminator is a real magnum opus. Often regarded as one of the greatest action movies of the 90s (or indeed all time, depending on how much hyperbole you fancy spouting), Judgment Day presents the second of Skynet’s attacks from the ravaged future of mankind. A Terminator is sent back through time to eliminate John Connor as a child (largely owing to the fact that he’ll grow up to become a pretty tough-looking dude with nut-numbingly awful hair, judging by that fleeting glimpse into the year 2029. Our would-be robotic overlords certainly wouldn’t want that kind of scruffy bastard in their new world order. It’s the hairless polished-chrome-esque shine of a robot’s ass or nothing. And they mean hairless, Skynet developed a series of ball-shaving robots solely for the purpose). The resistance, meanwhile, captured a second belligerent ‘bot, and reprogrammed it as a defender for John against this new threat. Quite why the strict limitation of single Terminators, when there’s surely vast factories of the murderous bastards, remains undisclosed. (“We’ve already got two nude guys striding about in the past, penises flopping in the wind with gleeful abandon. People are sure to suspect there’s something up if any more of them abruptly appear.”) When the two meet, the shit hits the fan to the nth degree. It’s one of those funky high-powered ceiling fans, so the shit is then liberally and wantonly sprayed across everybody in the vicinity. Did you think of all these people’s laundry bills while making this movie, Mr. Cameron? Did you? I rather think you didn’t.
Terminator 2 endures, in part, thanks to the returning Arnold Schwarzenegger. As far as casting goes, this decision borders on the divinely inspired. The monotone maestro brings the machine to life in a manner nobody else could. (Not to belittle Robert Patrick’s stellar performance as the T-1000, but the Arnie-nator is peerless when it comes to robo-dudes.) Whether this is due to acting prowess or that’s simply how he sounds in his daily life, I’m undecided. (“Arnold, shall I fix you up some breakfast?”
“Negative. I am a cybernetic organism. We do not require such sustenance. I shall instead go and admire my pectorals in the mirror. I said pectorals, not testicles. Although those are quite magnificent too, incidentally. As you discovered that night I flopped them out on your forehead while you watched TV on the couch. Good times.”) It’s immaterial really, suffice it to say that when fist needs to meet groin or bullet needs to meet face, Schwarzenegger is your man. He lends a certain realism to these ludicrous time-travelling shenanigans, merely by being a brain-chip away from genuine Terminator-hood already. (This image, from scriptflags, is probably the result of the man-beast cutting himself mid-shave.)
Judgment Day also features a quite astounding array of stunts and set pieces. These encompass some of film’s most memorable moments. In the Cyberdyne building, the T-1000 casually cruises up a couple of flights of stairs on a motorbike, before taking a jump from the top floor window, still riding. He then catches a passing helicopter, makes the pilot shit himself, and proceeds to fly about an inch from the ground whilst blasting his quarry’s truck with an assault rifle. This sort of caper, I need hardly tell you, requires a special sort of chutzpah. Not to mention ‘nads like cannonballs. (Evel Knievel pondered the performance of a similar display, I understand, before concluding, “Nuts to that.”) The Arniesaurus himself, not to be outdone, effortlessly tips over several tonnes of truck.
It’s a fantastic experience for several other reasons too. An action movie with an intelligent plot is always refreshing, and this is a story I find particularly engrossing. It’s complemented by famous scenes like the great hasta la vista, baby liquid-nitrogen-shattering. Not to mention that business where the ludicrously-advanced robot from the future reveals his meticulously-planned machination: trying to squash a small child on a bike under the humongous wheels of his truck. As I recall, it went something along the lines of,
“MWAHAHAHA! EAT WHEEL, LITTLE BOY! THIS IS A SOMEWHAT UNCOOL ACT, I’LL CONCEDE, BUT I’M FINDING THE WHOLE THING QUITE AMUSING NONETHELESS! INDEED, I JUST LEARNT THE CONCEPT OF HUMOUR, PURELY TO BE ABLE TO MOCK YOU MORE EFFICIENTLY. WHERE I’M FROM, WE EAT CHILDREN FOR LUNCH. WE HAVE NO NEED OF FOOD, YOU UNDERSTAND, IT’S JUST TO EXPRESS OUR DISDAIN FOR YOU STINKING HUMAN CATTLE-BEASTS.”
(That speech is certainly a step up from the original film, where the Terminator spoke about four different words. As I recall, his vocabulary consisted of I, kill, and you. When he was feeling especially intellectual, he’d add the will.) The film has a remarkable timeless quality, including with regards to the special effects. It isn’t the hellish affront to the eyes that some from the era are, the liquid metal shenanigans actually remain quite impressive, as this shot from unrealitymags shows. A wonder on all fronts.
Be thankful for the glory days of the franchise, when presented with festering Terminator-branded ball-ache like this:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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