Yes, we know: ‘Terminator 2’ is considered one of the heights of modern science fiction and action cinema. A veritable festival of killer robots, top-notch special effects, perfect villains and an absolutely mythical soundtrack. One of the best films of the nineties, a top of the Schwarzenegger and James Cameron films and a paradigmatic example of top-notch commercial cinema.
All these flags were waved again on the occasion of the film’s re-release in theaters three years ago, in 4K version, in 3D and with retouched scenes and supervised by James Cameron, who eliminated scrotum, concealed specialists and fixed raccord errors. The fans roared in unison that You could be mine and we, as always when there is a more or less unanimous clamor around a manifestation of pop culture, we honestly wonder if so much fervor is so much.
The immediate answer is yes. We like to touch the noses of fans of any sign, but the virtues of ‘Terminator 2’ are non-negotiable : its structure of kilometer chase with volume 11 is an interesting reformulation of the plot structure of the first installment. In that case, as we will see, the result was superior, but ‘Terminator 2’, with its changes of vehicles and its feverish speed until the last third of the adventure, is a memorable forward escape.
The other aspect in which ‘Terminator 2’ triumphs indisputably is in digital effects. A pioneer in the use of CGI, it manages to surprise but not overwhelm, and all aspects of Robert Patrick’s T-1000 remain astonishing even today for the non-exhibitionist effectiveness they demonstrate. It seems incredible that we are talking about James Cameron, but in terms of digital special effects, in ‘Terminator 2’ everything is in its place and with the correct measure. That is why it has hardly aged in that regard.
But there are plenty of other ‘Terminator 2’ issues that haven’t aged so well. And that would not be a problem (who can boast of not having aged in 26 years) if it weren’t for the fact that the huge shadow of the film has obscured the indisputable achievements of a superior film – the first ‘Terminator’ – and of another highly esteemed – ‘Terminator 3’ -. Let’s draw a thick veil over the last ones ( ‘Salvation’ , ‘Genesis’ and ‘Dark Fate’ ) but let’s recover another pair that today would be better considered if it were not for the monstrous devotion that ‘Terminator 2’ raises. These are your problems.
A series B coming to more in Terminator 2
All the problems of ‘Terminator 2’ lie in a concept that is not normally paid attention to: structurally, ‘Terminator 2’ is a reboot of the first installment. Although arguably it is obviously a continuation, with a surviving Sarah Connor traumatized by the outrages of the preceding Terminator and a John Connor already turned into a rebellious teenager, its structure is a carbon copy with variations: a robot from the future travels to the present to finish with the possibility that in the future John Connor will lead the resistance against the machines.
The difference is that the first ‘Terminator’ cost 6 million dollars and ‘Terminator 2’, 100 million. It’s the same movie, but in a completely runaway version: and while in ‘Terminator’ everything is tied up and well tied (few settings, few characters, urban and night-time setting), in ‘Terminator 2’ things don’t take long to get out of hand mother. It would not be a problem on its own, but what in ‘Terminator’ tastes like series B he enjoys (starting because the movie is titled TERMINATOR), in ‘Terminator 2’ those elements come inflated of epic something empty to hold.
In ‘Terminator’, the end of the world is a dark future in which tiny men face terrible machines; in ‘Terminator 2’ the end of the world is children in a park scorched by a nuclear bomb. The sentimental and spectacular code is enhanced, and although it also works on an iconographic level, the sullen, violent and heartless aesthetic of the first installment is lost.
‘Terminator’ just wanted to be a movie about two lovers running away from a murderous robot, and be damned if it’s not the best of that genre. ‘Terminator 2’ is also the secret origins of a messiah, a drama of broken families, a lazy pacifist prattle, a display of highly sophisticated special effects bordering on obscenity … and yes, a sequel that seems ashamed of his brother older, as if he wanted to make an important and grandiloquent version of that one.
And that’s where he runs into his biggest problems: Cameron’s anti-weapons message collides head-on with the movie’s insane gun fetishism , with those robots toting ultra-destructive super miniguns. The film itself dynamites its message thanks to its star: ‘Terminator 2’ had it easy for a great violent action and adventure film, but no, it had to get into a garden of conscientious messages and family dramas.
This has always happened to Cameron: even more so in films lower than ‘Terminator 2’, like the one shown in ‘Avatar‘, where a completely screwed up hippy message shakes hands with an incomprehensible devotion to the military epic that was not seen. on Cameron from ‘Aliens’ . Some of that irritating contradiction is in ‘Terminator 2’, where John Connor’s insufferable adolescence is seen with a “he is our savior “, but also with a “we must get this boy out of the creek “. Cameron does not know whether to be a father or be a rebel, and the viewer only has to long for that robot from the future that, simply, was limited to bursting the windshield with his fists.
Because ‘Terminator 2’ is a movie with a “message”, but unlike the urgent and delicious vector idea of the original film, that almost unintelligible ” Fall in love quickly, the future eats us by the feet! ” ‘wants to be transcendent. The problem is that her science fiction is not sharp and satirical enough to come up with powerful ideas, and she is distracted by her technical exhibitionism and her first-rate special effects. Or put another way: ‘Robocop’ there is only one.
Terminator is the hero
Ultimately all your problems boil down to what we noted at the beginning: You don’t just fatten your budget from $ 6 million to $ 100 million without making a few commitments along the way. The first, and certainly more pernicious, is the conversion of the nemesis from the first film, an amoral assassin robot, into a good-natured brute who learns and mimics human feelings. Not only is there a “maturation” on the part of Cameron: it is that Schwarzenegger, already a star, could not continue playing the bloody villain . Along the way we won another top-notch villain, the T-1000, who doubts it, but …
… the plot concessions were terrible and are reflected in a film that enters through the eyes but squeaks with a script that makes arbitrary decisions at bay, only to conform to the fashions of the time and the needs of its stars. Starting with the argument itself: what logic does Skynet follow when waiting ten years to send another robot to kill John Connor? Wouldn’t it have been easier to finish off Sarah and Kyle in the first movie?
That’s for not getting into disquisitions about how ‘Terminator 2’ wrecks the whole concept of time travel that ‘Terminator’ so firmly proposed: the paradox of the savior of the mother who becomes a father, with all its problems logical, has an iconic force based on its simplicity , and that draws from the classic stories of ci-fi. Attend to ‘Terminator 2’: the heroes achieve their purpose, so Skynet has no place, John Connor is not born, and the two films plunge into entropy. All this is solved by the franchise with the idea of parallel realities because something has to be said, but Cameron cares very little: before the consistency of his fantasy, he puts the happy and cool ending, thumbs up (oh, Lord … .).
‘Terminator 2’, thus, pales when compared to the conciseness, immediacy and genuine harsh science fiction spirit of the first part. Hell, up to the third part, with its problems, it sings the forty in certain respects to the Cameron movie. Demonized by fans and by Cameron himself, it is clear that it does not work when it is a simple replica of its precedent (with the failed attempt to present a nemesis at the height of the T-1000), but not only its action sequences are superb rather it reconnects in a remarkable way with the spirit of series B of the opening film. Especially in its final stretch, with a conclusion that is pure sci-fi literary pessimistic and much more elegant than all the charred children of ‘Terminator 2’.
James Cameron’s film is far from being deficient: it is a sperm whale that symbolizes its time like few films. But its massive success and nostalgia for the 90s (and for Guns’n Roses! Even more incomprehensible!) Have overstated its true values . The first ‘Terminator’ does the same much better and more modestly, so don’t hold back: revisit ‘Terminator 2’, in 3D if you want … and then plug in the first one. The correct.