Today! Because I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle –
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Directed by James Cameron (x3)
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (x2), Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick (x2), Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, S. Epatha Merkerson, Earl Boen, Jenette Goldstein (x3), Xander Berkeley (x2), Leslie Hamilton Gearren, Don Lake (x2), Dean Norris (x2), Castulo Guerra
Look, if this was a list of the Awesomest Movies, Terminator 2 would be way higher. Hell, it might be #1. This movie is awesome across the board. Schwarzenegger was just hitting the awesome peak of his career, following his string of rote ’80s musclebound shoot-’em-ups, Robert Patrick makes for an even awesomer terminator than we got in the prequel, 1984’s The Terminator, Linda Hamilton is crazy awesome in her unhinged return as Sarah Conner, there are bigger explosions, bigger chases, cooler effects, and no matter what the casting of Edward Furlong did in attempts to dampen the awesomeness, it didn’t work. This is all mind-blowingly awesome.
You know, I’m just gonna say it – it’s too awesome. There’s too much greatness packed into this movie – from the near constant stakes and wild action sequences, to the phenomenal ending in the goddamn smelting factory or wherever. This was the ultimate R-rated summer blockbuster, and without question the last good movie in this seemingly endless series. We don’t need any more of these movies! Hang on a minute – there’s another Terminator in 2019?! I just ran across this. Was it any good? Couldn’t be, right? None of them are good. And it all comes back to Terminator 2 being too damn awesome. How were they going to top this? By all appearances, they haven’t even tried! And now this nonsense strategy where you pick a film from the series to halt the timeline at and throw a new sequel in, à la Halloween and Superman Returns and whatnot. Stop this lazy nonsense.
I remember getting this movie on VHS, and being informed by numerous classmates that this received their highest recommendation, which – as we seemed to say a lot back then – “It’s the best movie ever the first time you see it.” The first time you see it was a key qualifier to a lot of movies for some reason. Like, me still being a huge Batman fan in ’91, the biggest knock from everyone around me was that it was great the first time, but then what? It gets predictable and dull? And the older you get, did this phenomenon go away? I haven’t heard anyone say this about any movie since like ’93, so it must’ve dried up. Anyway, remember the first time you saw Terminator 2? It’s still that awesome. It’s totally holding up.
So why isn’t the Awesomest Thing Ever On-Screen higher on this list, you might ask? I mean, #110 is nothing to sneeze at, but I’m lofting a ton of praise at this thing. Well…I guess it’s a little long, and it is pretty grim for pretty long stretches, so while it’s awesome it’s rarely feel-good awesome, over those two-and-a-half hours. But, on the other hand, I haven’t seen the regular length version of this movie in a long time – those director’s cuts/ultimate edition whatevers are super long – so maybe that’s on me. But also, you know, Edward Furlong – that kid is plenty annoying. And, I mean, the character is kinda annoying, so it’s not entirely Furlong’s fault, I’m sure, but still – he grows up to be the savior of mankind? Edward Furlong? Pretty hard to swallow. James Cameron is not exactly an actor’s director, by all indications, and I think Furlong just needed some guidance.
In addition to being the top film at the box office in 1991, Terminator 2 also won the second most Oscars that year – four (Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Effects Editing, and Makeup) in six nominations (also Cinematography and Film Editing), only trailing Silence of the Lambs’ five wins. It was followed by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003 (woof), Terminator: Salvation in 2009 (booooring), and Terminator: Genisys in 2015 (a mishmash of ludicrous nonsense, but not nearly as bad as everyone makes out). Allegedly the ’08-’09 FOX series The Sarah Conner Chronicles starring future Cersei Lannister Lena Headey was pretty good, even if it only ran two seasons, but I’ll admit I didn’t watch a minute. And now there’s another Terminator apparently – it’s directed by the guy who did Deadpool, so maybe? I’m not getting my hopes up.
Cameron joins the directing Three-Timers, following #222 Aliens and #296 Titanic, and there are a bunch of new Two-Timers acting-wise, but only one Three-Timer – Aliens alum and MVP, and #163 Fear and Loathing’s terrorized maid Jenette Goldstein!