4YE’s Big Movie Binge: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Credit: Carolco Pictures

Rating: R
Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, and Robert Patrick

Last week, I talked about how The Terminator masqueraded as an action movie when many of the tropes veered dangerously into body horror. That isn’t the case for the sequel Judgement Day. T2, as it’s often called, is firmly established in the action movie genre and is one of the films that ushered in a brand-new era in special effects in Hollywood. Patrick’s T1000 is the new villain in the film and  Cameron’s interest in pushing the envelope on film and what special effects can do make T2 a triumph. Unfortunately, his writing could use a little work, especially when it comes to Hamilton’s Sarah Connor.

In T2, an older John Connor sends a reprogrammed T100 Terminator unit back in time to protect his 11-year-old self (Furlong) from Patrick’s T1000 who is indestructible and is a machine far more advanced than even the T100. The T1000 is liquid metal. Or, more specifically, it is a poly-mimetic alloy that can mimic almost anything it touches allowing it to become people and allowing it to pass through solid substances. The T101, played again by Schwarzenegger, protects little John Connor and along the way, John teaches the machine how to be human.

While John and the Terminator run from the T1000, Sarah has been thrown into a mental hospital after attempting to blow up Cyberdyne systems, the company that is, or rather will be, responsible for the creation of Skynet and the machines that will bring about Judgement Day. Her psychiatrists don’t believe her, and she’s abused in the hospital. She makes a daring escape but proves just how damaged she is by failing to fulfill her role as a mother in John’s life. Her one aim is to destroy Cyberdyne and Skynet before Judgement Day and she’ll do anything and risk everything to do it.

Once again, if you’re looking for a feminist character in Sarah Connor, you’ll be left wanting. While this film makes a conscious effort to subvert tropes even more than the first film, Connor’s character is… underdeveloped. While the audience gets to see how Connor has primed and prepped for this war with Cyberdyne by hardening her body and learning all she can about military tactics and weaponry, the film is quick to point out that she slept around to achieve this, and she took advantage of the males she sought out to learn from.

It’s ultimately a catch-22 in terms of development with her. On the one hand, Hamilton is a woman in a male-dominated action genre in the early 90s and Sarah holds her own in the film. On the other hand, she’s a horrible mother to John and is a horrible imbalance between power and softness. In my opinion, in order to appeal to a feminist audience, the character must be well rounded, and Sarah Connor is not.

Despite those things, T2 is a wonderful film. I’m not kidding when I say that it’s is a triumph. The story, again, makes light of time travel, but at the core of it, this is a story about family and how traditional family values can triumph over evil. In this case, how the family unit, no matter how dysfunctional, can save humanity from the ravages of technology. Again, it’s a story that was ahead of its time and is still timely today.

Do yourself a favor and watch T2. You won’t be sorry if you do. It’s a tremendous follow up to The Terminator.

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Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
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