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Face-Off: Terminator vs. Terminator 2

Sep. 27, 2012by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face Off, we were all about the dirty cop theme in a match up between Heat and The Departed. While Departed got its fair share of love, the classic Heat pulled out a victory. With good cause, long live Heat.

The much anticipated Looper is looming, which brings us to our theme for the week...the plot device of time travel in film. As much as I enjoy the majority of time travel films the whole idea of time travel as a whole just gives me a massive migraine. So many logic issues, but I am able to turn that off in the name of cinema and two of the films that personify this theme are James Cameron's action classics The Terminator and its worthy sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Both films have many similar elements but are mostly different in nature and that's what makes them both so great. So which do you fancy more? Lets discuss.
Tone
I think a total of two or three daylight scenes were present in this film, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We're treated to way more glimpses of the hopeless future war in this installment than in the sequel and when Kyle and the cybernetic organism show up in present day it wasn't looking any brighter. I still struggle to this day to find a scene I hold in higher regard than the wonderfully atmospheric tech-noir club scene. Excuse me while I go listen to "Burning in the Third Degree."
Terminator 2 took the balls to the wall action film approach and still managed to cement itself as a classic. The bleak hopeless tone was still there but it was emphasized more in the story and character development than in Cameron's directorial style this time around. There were a few scenes that brought back fond memories of the first, but that different style of filmmaking is what sets Judgment Day apart from its original.
Arnie's Role
Schwarzenegger was tailor made for the role of The Terminator, very little dialogue or acting needed...he just had to look menacing. There's nothing like a coldblooded villain that feels nothing, has no moral compass, he can't be bullied, bargained, or reasoned with....well you know what I'm getting at. So many villains have a third dimension to them, something to explain why they are the way they are...not for this cybernetic organism. Just cold blooded murder.
That T-101 from the first film was begging to make a re-appearance through some of his acts here, but John Connor just had to come along in the future with his damn humanity and military prowess. As great as Arnie was in the first...I dare say he had many more memorable and iconic moments for his turn as the protagonist in the sequel. Nothing like that I know now why you cry line, and that damn thumbs up.
Sarah Connor
It's hard to say what was the better performance by Linda Hamilton in these films, her complete transformation as the battle scarred Sarah in the sequel was indeed awesome. That said, her slow transformation from the naive everyday woman who hated her job to the woman that was destined to be the "mother of the future" was fascinating to watch. Seeing her struggle with accepting what was going on and thereby accepting her destiny was awesome, not everyone can be a role this heavy off...Linda brought her A game here!
Her transformation by the time we got to the events of this film are complete, and she is a hardened soldier who is one of the most determined and resourceful characters I've ever seen. For those who own the special edition DVD, we're even treated to a deleted scene in which we see a glimpse of the frail woman Sarah used to be...which I believe should have been kept in to keep that third dimension in her character. She's a heroine Ellen Ripley would be impressed with, and she still had enough heart to instill the humanity John Connor needed. The determining vote for this category is the scene in which Sarah almost realized the line she crossed by nearly offing Dyson. Excellent acting.
Overall
This film was an experiment for Cameron, and to this day when Cameron experiments it turns to gold...that all started with The Terminator. A fascinating story with excellent action pieces for its time. An excellent cast that had great roles to work with, what blew me away is that they managed to portray Kyle Reese as a formidable foe for Arnie's T-101, for the robots brute force...Reese applied resourcefulness and intelligence, pretty much who Sarah Connor became. I loved the feel of the film, the soundtrack, the glimpses into the future. All the elements were there to turn this film into a masterpiece.
The stakes were higher, the action was plentiful, Sarah picked up the slack due to Michael Biehn's absence, we got some lighthearted comedic moments that served as levity and we were provided with many memorable moments and lines that are still quoted by yours truly at least weekly. I'd like to take a moment to show some love to Robert Patrick in his responsibility in taking Arnie's place as the baddie. Not as menacing, but had amazing presence nonetheless. It served as an action blockbuster and maintained the depth and mythology of the first, that's where a lot of sequels that came after this franchise failed. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the Godfather II of action films. Disagree?
Terminator 2
So there it is all! The Terminator is amazing no doubt, it had so much style...but for me the fond memories and rewatchability lies within Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It was heavy, it was fun, it was touching when it needed to be and said touching moments didn't come off as painfully corny. Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, I can say in full confidence that the scene that could act as the tie breaker for this Face Off is Arnie's body-countless massacre of the police unit in a manner only he could commit. But this is one mans opinion, where do you lot stand? Let us know and until next time...hasta la vista, baby!

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at paulhuffman@joblo.com with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

Which Terminator film is your favourite?
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10:30AM on 09/28/2012

Original wins.

It's the same deal for me with The Alien films. The second movie, while good, only ups the ante by becoming engrossed in it's own action. I prefer the eerieness of the originals in both cases.
It's the same deal for me with The Alien films. The second movie, while good, only ups the ante by becoming engrossed in it's own action. I prefer the eerieness of the originals in both cases.
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8:11AM on 09/28/2012
Terminator 2 all the way. Better script, better acting, and even better directing.
Terminator 2 all the way. Better script, better acting, and even better directing.
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10:10PM on 09/27/2012
I'm in the weirdo crowd that prefers Terminator. It's my favorite action movie ever, actually. The original has a better atmosphere and I prefer seeing the T-800 as the villain.
I'm in the weirdo crowd that prefers Terminator. It's my favorite action movie ever, actually. The original has a better atmosphere and I prefer seeing the T-800 as the villain.
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5:51PM on 09/27/2012

Dissagree

The original is the better film IMO, leaner, bolder and meaner, a brilliant mix of Sci Fi, Horror and Film Noir. The sequel had more money and is less dated, but that does not make for a better film IMO. Yup, I chose the auteur piece over the Blockbuster.
The original is the better film IMO, leaner, bolder and meaner, a brilliant mix of Sci Fi, Horror and Film Noir. The sequel had more money and is less dated, but that does not make for a better film IMO. Yup, I chose the auteur piece over the Blockbuster.
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5:35PM on 09/27/2012
I'll go with Terminator 2. The original is a great movie, but very dated with all the special effects used. T2 worked perfectly with the characters, effects, and sci-fi elements.
I'll go with Terminator 2. The original is a great movie, but very dated with all the special effects used. T2 worked perfectly with the characters, effects, and sci-fi elements.
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3:47PM on 09/27/2012
I believe Terminator 1 is a more sci fi thriller & maybe even horror, he was downright terrifying, Terminator 2 is for sure more action oriented & loss that thriller & while the t-1000 was a great villain, it still doesn;t top Arnie's from the first movie. Both are great movies & there should not have been any more sequels. People tend to want more & when they finally to get it, it's still not enough.

Sorry did not mean to make this post red.
I believe Terminator 1 is a more sci fi thriller & maybe even horror, he was downright terrifying, Terminator 2 is for sure more action oriented & loss that thriller & while the t-1000 was a great villain, it still doesn;t top Arnie's from the first movie. Both are great movies & there should not have been any more sequels. People tend to want more & when they finally to get it, it's still not enough.

Sorry did not mean to make this post red.
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+2
2:39PM on 09/27/2012

Agreed...

The argument could be made for either film, but for me, T2 was everything I would want from a sequel and more. I think a more interesting battle would be T3 vs Terminator: Salvation. The two of them are obviously the weak links in the series, but I think Salvation was underrated and at least brought a bit of a darker feel back to the series after the Schumacher-esque T3. I liked Loken, but I fail to see how her Terminator was any improvement from the T-1000, other than the fact that it'd
The argument could be made for either film, but for me, T2 was everything I would want from a sequel and more. I think a more interesting battle would be T3 vs Terminator: Salvation. The two of them are obviously the weak links in the series, but I think Salvation was underrated and at least brought a bit of a darker feel back to the series after the Schumacher-esque T3. I liked Loken, but I fail to see how her Terminator was any improvement from the T-1000, other than the fact that it'd probably be easier for a young hot girl to get close to Conner, as opposed to male cop.
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+3
11:47AM on 09/27/2012
Of all the female action hero's, Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner is by far the most believable. If I have one gripe about T2 it's that it goes a little overboard on the preaching. I mean I can understand why. It just could have been toned down just a hair. But the first one is still my favorite even though it's a bit dated. Arnie is just a bad ass.
Of all the female action hero's, Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner is by far the most believable. If I have one gripe about T2 it's that it goes a little overboard on the preaching. I mean I can understand why. It just could have been toned down just a hair. But the first one is still my favorite even though it's a bit dated. Arnie is just a bad ass.
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+6
11:37AM on 09/27/2012

hard to pick

Just like the "Alien/Aliens" debate. Both T1 and T2 will hold a special place in my heart, but i have to admit, the first Terminator will always be a classic to me. I remember when it first came out and i saw it as a 5 yr old, freaked me out. T-101 was a remorseless killer, the way he gunned done the whole police station shows that. So as much as i love the second, the first wins, plus i can't get the music from the club scene out of my head after reading this article.
Just like the "Alien/Aliens" debate. Both T1 and T2 will hold a special place in my heart, but i have to admit, the first Terminator will always be a classic to me. I remember when it first came out and i saw it as a 5 yr old, freaked me out. T-101 was a remorseless killer, the way he gunned done the whole police station shows that. So as much as i love the second, the first wins, plus i can't get the music from the club scene out of my head after reading this article.
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8:21AM on 09/27/2012
They're both great films, and T2 is more than a worthy sequel, but I just love the vibe of the original too much to side with the follow-up. The scenes with Michael Biehn when he's just arrived from the future are excellent, Arnie is cold-blooded and unstoppable, and the whole run-down eighties feel to The Terminator keeps it gritty and desperate throughout. Elements of The Terminator remind me of John Carpenter's best work, and that's always a good thing in my opinion.
They're both great films, and T2 is more than a worthy sequel, but I just love the vibe of the original too much to side with the follow-up. The scenes with Michael Biehn when he's just arrived from the future are excellent, Arnie is cold-blooded and unstoppable, and the whole run-down eighties feel to The Terminator keeps it gritty and desperate throughout. Elements of The Terminator remind me of John Carpenter's best work, and that's always a good thing in my opinion.
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8:12AM on 09/27/2012
Terminator 2 all the way for me. It's the very first film of Arnold that I watched and made me his longtime fan. Movie wise, T2 has everything - action, science fiction, thriller, drama and even some comedy. It's been almost 2 decades and if you don't count the costumes and hairstyles, the movie doesn't look dated and its special effects hold up very very well.
Terminator 2 all the way for me. It's the very first film of Arnold that I watched and made me his longtime fan. Movie wise, T2 has everything - action, science fiction, thriller, drama and even some comedy. It's been almost 2 decades and if you don't count the costumes and hairstyles, the movie doesn't look dated and its special effects hold up very very well.
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8:02AM on 09/27/2012

Apples and Oranges

Just like comparing Alien and Aliens, one is a bona fide sci fi nightmare and the other is a kick ass action film. I believe both have a strong standing in their own right and are equally amazing in their respective genres.
Just like comparing Alien and Aliens, one is a bona fide sci fi nightmare and the other is a kick ass action film. I believe both have a strong standing in their own right and are equally amazing in their respective genres.
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6:21AM on 09/27/2012

THE TERMINATOR

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY is a big, dumb action movie. THE TERMINATOR is an intense sci-fi thriller. THE TERMINATOR wins by a mile.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY is a big, dumb action movie. THE TERMINATOR is an intense sci-fi thriller. THE TERMINATOR wins by a mile.
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11:13AM on 09/27/2012
Please explain to me how T2 isn't sci-fi.
Please explain to me how T2 isn't sci-fi.
5:16AM on 09/27/2012
The Terminator wins for me. I find I've rewatched it more often over the years. It's like a nightmare that has been taken from someone's mind and realised perfectly on screen. I personally find the pacing a bit off in Terminator 2, particularly after they've escaped the asylum and head out to the desert.
The Terminator wins for me. I find I've rewatched it more often over the years. It's like a nightmare that has been taken from someone's mind and realised perfectly on screen. I personally find the pacing a bit off in Terminator 2, particularly after they've escaped the asylum and head out to the desert.
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2:52AM on 09/27/2012

Godfather 2 of action movies? Completely agree!

Both Terminator films are some of my favorite films of all time, but Terminator 2 is truly one of the (if not THE) greatest action film out there. Superb focus on character, great story, beautiful pacing, epic music, ground breaking effects, and intense action. Couldn't really ask for more.

Funny thing is that Cameron claims the original Terminator is his personal favorite of his own filmography.
Both Terminator films are some of my favorite films of all time, but Terminator 2 is truly one of the (if not THE) greatest action film out there. Superb focus on character, great story, beautiful pacing, epic music, ground breaking effects, and intense action. Couldn't really ask for more.

Funny thing is that Cameron claims the original Terminator is his personal favorite of his own filmography.
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+4
2:41AM on 09/27/2012
Sorry, but no way! T2 is a blast with its over the top action scenes and effects but T1 is a masterpiece. The brooding tone, the sense of threat, the lovestory between Reese and Sarah. And the assault of the police station is stil one of the most brutal and relentless action scenes in history!
Sorry, but no way! T2 is a blast with its over the top action scenes and effects but T1 is a masterpiece. The brooding tone, the sense of threat, the lovestory between Reese and Sarah. And the assault of the police station is stil one of the most brutal and relentless action scenes in history!
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2:36AM on 09/27/2012
T1 is more in the style of Alien, it comes off as almost sci-fi horror whereas T2 is balls to the wall action with a tremendous story. I think T2 is superior, but T1 is just simply bad-ass. What other movie has a scrawny, baby Bill Paxton getting his heart ripped out.

As for my own tidbit: How awesome is Bill Paxton for being the only guy killed by the trifecta of the most bad-ass monsters to ever hit the big screen: The Terminator, Aliens, and Predator.
T1 is more in the style of Alien, it comes off as almost sci-fi horror whereas T2 is balls to the wall action with a tremendous story. I think T2 is superior, but T1 is just simply bad-ass. What other movie has a scrawny, baby Bill Paxton getting his heart ripped out.

As for my own tidbit: How awesome is Bill Paxton for being the only guy killed by the trifecta of the most bad-ass monsters to ever hit the big screen: The Terminator, Aliens, and Predator.
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11:42AM on 09/27/2012
Ha ha ha, that is true, i remember him with the fake gap in his teeth, spiked hair. Man i miss 80s movies
Ha ha ha, that is true, i remember him with the fake gap in his teeth, spiked hair. Man i miss 80s movies
2:04AM on 09/27/2012
I'mmmmm going to go against the grain here a little bit. As much as I agree that T2 is a classic, and is generally a better film overall, there was really not much of anything similar to that feel of terror, prior to the original Terminator movie. I'd have to give a slight nod to the original just based on that circumstance alone.

T2 was still absolutely badass though!
I'mmmmm going to go against the grain here a little bit. As much as I agree that T2 is a classic, and is generally a better film overall, there was really not much of anything similar to that feel of terror, prior to the original Terminator movie. I'd have to give a slight nod to the original just based on that circumstance alone.

T2 was still absolutely badass though!
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1:44AM on 09/27/2012
I agree. T1 is great, but T2 is an iconic film. Whatever flaws it has have with time become irreplaceable charms. Deeper characterization, action sequences that still surpass today's standards. And if it catches 'em in the right mood will bring about a tear to any man's eye. Its the movie that cemented Schwarzenegger as an all-time movie icon and set in motion the CGI revolution we now all take for granted.

And savor it because the way things are going no R-rated Sci Fi flick is going
I agree. T1 is great, but T2 is an iconic film. Whatever flaws it has have with time become irreplaceable charms. Deeper characterization, action sequences that still surpass today's standards. And if it catches 'em in the right mood will bring about a tear to any man's eye. Its the movie that cemented Schwarzenegger as an all-time movie icon and set in motion the CGI revolution we now all take for granted.

And savor it because the way things are going no R-rated Sci Fi flick is going to be getting that kind of budget & marketing again any time soon.
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+7
12:46AM on 09/27/2012

Deserved!

As awesome as the first T1 is, the 2nd improves on everything and still holds up extremely well today.
As awesome as the first T1 is, the 2nd improves on everything and still holds up extremely well today.
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12:46AM on 09/27/2012
I'm more of a moody noir guy. And I liked Arnie as the bad guy more. Having said that, Sarah was definitely something to watch in the second. It's one of those one-two punches I don't like to get too into the details of which is better.
I'm more of a moody noir guy. And I liked Arnie as the bad guy more. Having said that, Sarah was definitely something to watch in the second. It's one of those one-two punches I don't like to get too into the details of which is better.
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+0
12:35AM on 09/27/2012

No disagreements here.

Sorry T1. You laid up the ball, but T2 slam dunked it.
Sorry T1. You laid up the ball, but T2 slam dunked it.
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2:08AM on 09/27/2012
I like that analogy, a lot.
I like that analogy, a lot.
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