Terminator 2: Judgment Day: 3D (Fantasia Review)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day: 3D (Fantasia Review)
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PLOT: After failing to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), Skynet sends an advanced, indestructible T-1000 (Robert Patrick) back to kill a young John Connor (Edward Furlong), but not before the resistance is able to send a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to protect him.

REVIEW: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY is one of, if not the, greatest action films ever made. A game-changer for 1991 with its cutting-edge liquid metal CGI fx, it’s still one of the most financially successful action movies ever made, in addition to being rabidly acclaimed not only by critics, but also by generations of film fans. It frequently shows up on “best film” lists, and Hollywood is still trying to sequel-ize it twenty-five years later, both with and without Arnold Schwarzenegger – although none have come close to matching it thanks to James Cameron’s insistence that he’s gone as far as he wanted to go with the franchise.

Having been a few years since my last viewing, it’s not hard to see why Cameron never felt the need to return, as he said what he needed to say, and gave it a pretty definitive end here. He put everything right up there on the screen, and maybe that’s why it’s such a classic. Franchise films, these days, are preoccupied with teasing future installments. T2 is only concerned with delivering a single, great film – and boy does it deliver – even a quarter century later.

It’s interesting, as I watched this one with my girlfriend, who’s actually never seen the film before, and she reacted more during it than any of the other big action films we’ve seen together. She says a lot of it had to do with the fact that it felt so real – with real vehicles chasing each other, real explosions, and no CGI trickery – with all that limited to the influential T-1000 fx, which still impress after all this time.

It helps that T2 is so efficiently assembled, with screenwriting guru Syd Field famously listing it as one of the best action screenplays ever written, as each sequence so perfectly sets up the next one, with no lag to end the propulsive forward momentum it’s famous for. Yet, despite being a virtual rollercoaster ride, it’s also richly dramatic and even borders on being a tear-jerker towards the end, thanks to the tight family unit composed of Schwarzenegger, Hamilton and Furlong.

One can see why Arnie kept chasing sequels, as he’s never been used quite as well as he is here. The good-guy T-800 is his definitive role, allowing him to be heroic, funny and even a bit warm in a way that feels earned, as he becomes an almost Pinocchio-like figure as the movie goes on. None of the sequels ever managed that. Linda Hamilton is just as effective as the warrior Sarah Connor – and it’s horrible that Hollywood never gave her a role as good, as she was probably Oscar worthy in the part. If anyone was ever let down by the industry, it’s her. Edward Furlong also gives a great performance as the young John Connor, complete with trash-talk that I doubt any studio bigwig would ever let slide today.

Throughout, it remains defiantly R-rated, giving the action scenes heft and gusto, and the much-debated 3D conversion actually serves the film well. It should be noted that someone has tidied up a few shots, as when Ridley Scott reissued BLADE RUNNER in THE FINAL CUT, with CGI used to eliminate some of the obvious doubling during the famous motorcycle chase early in the film. Otherwise, it’s been left untouched, and I’m glad they’re putting this out in the original theatrical cut, which I’ve always thought was the superior version. While a 2D release would be just as welcome, this is a 3D face-lift done right, and a far cry from the conversions we saw even just a few years ago (it looks a lot better than TOP GUN: 3D did). More than anything, it’s just nice to see it on the big screen, as many of us were too young to see it that way originally. This is a true cinematic event, and it would be pretty nifty if, at the end of the summer, T2 was once again ruling the box office.

Extra Tidbit: TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY 3D hits theaters on August 25th



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