Produced and directed by James Cameron, 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) stands as one of many sci-fi flicks to completely disprove the notion that a sequel can never surpass an original (for further wonderful reference, see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back; Star Trek: Into Darkness; Aliens; and, of course, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).
Starring, of course, Arnold ‘Get To The Chopper’ Schwarzenegger himself, alongside Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong and Joe Morton, it is the direct sequel to 1984’s The Terminator, and ooh it doesn’t half blow the original out of the water.
While talks of a follow-up to The Terminator arose following its release, its development was initially stalled due to technical limitations regarding computer-generated imagery – a vital aspect of the film – and legal issues with original producer Hemdale Film Corporation, who controlled half of the franchise rights.
In 1990, Carolco Pictures acquired the rights from Hemdale and production immediately began, with Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, and Cameron returning.
The flick’s visual effects saw breakthroughs in CGI, including the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character and the first partially computer-generated main character.
At the time of its release, with a budget of $102 million, Terminator 2 was the most expensive film ever made. But would it pay off at the box office?..
One long decade after the Terminator’s failed mission to prevent resistance leader John Connor from being born, a now-10-year-old John (Furlong) finds himself in foster care following his mother Sarah's (Hamilton) confinement at a mental institution.
To prevent John from fulfilling his destiny and rising as humanity’s future leader in the war against the machines, the self-aware computer system, Skynet, sends another cybernetic assassin into the past; this time, a nearly indestructible, shape-shifting killer, the T-1000 (Patrick).
Fortunately for John however, help is on the way.
With his adult self having captured and reprogrammed an antiquated T-800 Terminator (Schwarzenegger), young John is sent a cybernetic protector from the future – but one with a face that has haunted his mother, and one that when rescued from hospital, she cannot trust.
Can Sarah put her feelings aside, and with the help of her son and an unlikely ally avert the apocalypse once again? Or is Judgment Day truly inevitable?
A critical and box office success, T2 grossed $520 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1991 and, incidentally, the highest-grossing of Schwarzenegger’s career.
Praise was given towards the performances of the film’s cast, the quality of its action scenes, and of course its stunning visual effects.
It received several accolades, including Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects, and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form.
Followed by an expansive continuation of the franchise, Terminator 2 was, sadly, never surpassed by any sequel that followed it, including 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate, the first to reunite Schwarzenegger and Hamilton since T2 .
However, it alone stands as a fine example of a great idea revisited and is one of the greatest sci-fi flicks of the last century.
With fantastic performances from Hamilton, Schwarzenegger and Furlong, this one will always hold a special place in the heart of any kid born in the 80s, and I for one will never look at a ‘thumbs up’ ever again without hearing that tell-tale theme tune and welling up.
Hasta la vista, baby.