A Summary and Review of Terminator 2: Judgment Day

A Summary and Review of Terminator 2: Judgment Day

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  1. When James Cameron directed the first "Terminator" film in 1984, it was obvious that the budget was low. Production values, special effects and even the sound made it look like a cult film, which it was. When it came time for 1991’s sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." it was equally apparent that money was provided to do it right.

    Similarities and Differences

    Linda Hamilton returns as Sarah Connor. In the first film she was the target of a killing machine called a "Terminator" from the future (portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger).  Schwarzenegger is back as a new Terminator, but his mission is different this time around. This particular cyborg has been reprogrammed by Connor’s son John in the future and sent back to protect the John Connor (Edward Furlong) in the present.

    The threat in "Terminator 2" is provided by Robert Patrick’s T-1000, a more advanced Terminator. The higher budget becomes apparent in the form of better special effects and a bigger world. "Termintor 2" features almost non-stop action on a large scale, but doesn’t sacrifice plot to get there.

    Bigger and Better

    While bigger doesn’t always equal better, in this case, it does. It’s easy to look at the first Terminator movie as an iconic classic that’s better than it really was. The truth is, not just the production values were lacking. The acting was often flat. While Schwarzenegger’s performance in "Terminator 2" is still a bit limited, the actor seems to have a few new chops in place.

    Edward Furlong is another of the key players, and his acting seems to fall flat here, too. So, it seems that the acting is still a bit of an issue. That’s why the improved production values and larger scale of the story line are critical to the success of this film. Those are the things that make this movie better than its predecessor.


    In so many ways, the story carries this movie. It has a lot of twists and turns. While action dominates, it’s not the only selling point. There is quite a bit of character development, with several main characters changing over the course of the film. Even Schwarzenegger’s machine intelligence strives to become more human (with prodding from John Connor).

    Sure, the main plot point is keeping John Connor safe and destroying the T-1000, but there are side journeys including an attempt to prevent the future Skynet takeover from happening at all. It could be said that the plot is more complicated than it needs to be, but really, all the extras keep it interesting and add a layer of depth to the film. It would have been easy to create a carbon copy of the first movie and the additional plot elements show that Cameron wasn’t tempted to go in that direction.

    Whether the goal is a movie to provide an excuse for munching popcorn, or a thrill ride to trigger some deep discussion, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" should flill the bill. It looks a bit dated in the 21st Century, but holds up reasonably well. 

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