Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

It’s been ten years since Sarah Connor was first introduced to the future of her son and mankind. Sarah has been preparing her son John since his birth to be the warrior he would need to be to survive in this future and lead us to victory, however, Sarah is now separated from her son and confined to a criminal mental instution because she tried to blow up Cyberdine Systems – the company that will one day manufacture SkyNet.

Without the influence of Sarah, John has begun to doubt all of the training and warnings his mother has given him through the years and begun to believe she is just as crazy as the doctors and law enforcement believe her to be. He is set on being a rebellious teen until SkyNet changes its direction and sends back a terminator to target John instead of Sarah.

I adore Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I saw this film in the theatre when I was a kid and I still remember that experience to this day, the same way I remember Jurassic Park wowing me. Because of T2 I later discovered Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, and happily chose the red pill and went down the rabbit hole with James Cameron.

The version of T2 I have on DVD is the director’s cut and like any of his films, once you see a James Cameron director’s cut you don’t go back. I understand that Cameron makes long movies, but everything he is forced to cut out for time constraints or other reasons, seems to be just as good as the material he keeps in his theatrical releases and Terminator 2 is no exception to this rule. The most notable scenes eliminated here and re-added to the director’s cut are the dream sequence where Sarah imagines Reese visiting her and when John & Sarah repair the T-800 model. Of all the sequences cut out of the movie this is the one I would have fought to keep.

If you remember from the theatrical cut of the film as John, Sarah & the T-800 escape from the T-1000 old Arnold gets pretty banged up, and he has a conversation with John about how he can be made to learn things due to his processor. When they are alone the T-800 gets repaired by Sarah. Anyone who paid attention to the first Terminator should realize that Sarah should be the last person to trust this model of terminator, it killed Reese and came dang close to killing her; so when it powers down for repairs Sarah removes it’s processor chip and prepares to smash it – but John stops her. He convinces her to instead switch the chip to learning mode so that the T-800 can begin to adapt and be more useful. It’s John’s first real moment as a leader and he demands that Sarah respect that. It’s a great scene and the only reasons I can see for it being cut would be pacing or because the studio wanted a shorter movie. Either way I think it’s a scene that proves Cameron is superior to other “action” filmmakers as he manages to concentrate on character and story as well as the action set pieces that get audiences into chairs.

If you haven’t seen the original Terminator films I really encourage you to if you are a fan of science fiction, the franchise, or James Cameron. I greatly disliked Terminator 3: the Rise of the Machines and enjoyed Terminator Salvation, but neither of these two films holds a candle to the original two. It’s still my secret hope that when the rights to the franchise go on the auction block soon Cameron will secretly buy them up so that he can either stop the inferior sequels or oversee them so his vision can be seen on screen again.

Director: James Cameron
Writers: James Cameron & William Wisher Jr.
The Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger
Sarah Connor: Linda Hamilton
John Connor: Edward Furlong
T-1000: Robert Patrick
Dr. Silberman: Earl Boen
Miles Dyson: Joe Morton

Sarah Connor: 3 billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

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