T2 focuses on the much more likeable Sarah Connor who has been committed to a mental asylum staffed by abusive, condescending and downright creepy orderlies and doctors (seriously, what the hell was with that orderly licking Sarah’s face) after she tried to spread her story about the Terminators. Her son, John Connor, your average, stereotypical, annoying, rebellious, pre-teen brat who lives with foster parents, is the only one that believes her.
For the first part of the film, John is also accompanied by another annoying bratty pre-teen called Tim who seems to be rebelling against having a smart and attractive haircut, mullets never look good, but he’s quickly forgotten about.
Sarah and John Connor are pursued by the Terminator T1000 even more advanced and frightening, than Arnold Schwarzenegger, and played brilliantly by Robert Patrick. Arnie himself has turned from a villain into an anti-hero of sorts and is sent back in time to protect Sarah and John Connor. Other than running away from the T1000, Sarah and John aim to change history by destroying the technology that led to the creation of Skynet and the Terminators.
Firstly, we have to start with the theme tune and opening credits. The repetitive dun-dun-dun-dun is suitably dramatic, which then gives away to a melancholic and ominous melody. In some ways, the simplistic beat is reminiscent of the simplicity of the Jaws theme tune. The opening credits are appropriately chilling: showing a playground engulfed by flame, perhaps demonstrating how humanity in our over-reliance on technology have been lulled into a false class consciousness and are unprepared for what is to come.
I also felt that old Arnie and Sarah were a lot better in this film. Sarah has progressed far from the whiny, sobbing mess that she was and is now a smart, battle-worn bad ass, much like Kyle Reese.
Now that Schwarzenegger is an anti-hero, I think he does more in this film, most prominently fuelling the important observations that the film raises about artificial intelligence and what it means to be human, such as a desire to learn and improve or an ability to heal yourself. This leads me into my next point about Robert Patrick as the T1000. His near silent and cold persona was a very welcome contrast to Schwarzenegger’s cheesy one-liners. The visuals in this film were great too. I loved seeing the T1000’s shapeshifting abilities, which strongly reminded me of the changelings in Star Trek Deep Space Nine, such as when the T1000 emerged out of the tiled floor.
Like the first film, T2 also has its elements of humour, most notably when John Connor tries to teach Schwarzenegger some, what I assume is early 90’s slang. Another thing I really liked the film was the inclusion of Miles Dyson, the scientist behind Skynet, who rather than stubbornly sticking to his research, gives his life to destroy it. Lastly, the film had its moments of horror as well, most notably when Sarah Connor dreams of a nuclear explosion overcoming a playground of children and we see countless people catch fire and turn to dust, which was also extremely well done.
As I have previously said, this film vastly improved on the criticisms present within its predecessors. It only has one flash-forward that happens at the beginning of the film, which very much puts the viewer in media res and isn’t nearly as disorientating as having flash-forwards in the middle of the film. The film doesn’t overdo the guns and explosions either, which I enjoyed.
I only have a few minor criticisms. Firstly, I think that T2 is over-reliant on character stereotypes, such as the condescending and abusive orderlies or the rebellious John Connor. And secondly, there are a couple of clichés that the film could have omitted: John Connor’s bike failing when he tries to escape the T1000 and Arnie and John being able to ride away from the explosion without a single burn on their backs.
All in all, this is another wholly great film, with more good than bad. However, its few minor criticisms stop it from being superlative.