T2: Judgment Day Review:
When I first saw T2 I must’ve been 7. It opens with a futuristic war between Terminators and mankind. However, even as a kid, I think I knew it was trying to say something about the future. Or at least one possible future 1997. I remember being relieved when August 1997 came and went, because that was the date the war started in the movie: “Judgment Day”.
After the war scene of course, I probably remember the T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) appearing in the time vortex, getting the biker’s clothes, etc. And the role reversal between the terminators was great. The T-101 is the rebel biker and the cop is the hunter/killer of John Connor, who will one day lead the human resistance against the machines.
Now, in the first movie, the T-101 hunted John’s mom, and the role reversal means that Sarah Connor, John’s mother, needs to overcome her trauma. Which she does when the T-101 says “Come with me if you want to live.” John is a bad kid even, hacking into ATMs and using early 90s slang. Truly the mark of a rebel. So, it makes sense that the cop would be after him. But, it turns out that the cop is the T-1000, a liquid metal robot from the future sent to kill him.
I know a lot of people know this plot because it’s classic, but those are the basic details: one is the killer, and one is the protector, and mother and son need to prevent Judgment Day. Let’s get to my interpretation. For some reason, as a kid, I felt like I was a good terminator. I felt like the relationship about good vs. evil robot was somehow tied to me and my wheelchair. For me, it was the realization that technology can be good (like my wheelchair.) or evil (T-1000, who chases John and Sarah.) Now that I’m older though, I know it’s about the future in the abstract.
Specifically, it to me is about the future of technology. Will mankind use advanced technology for good or evil? Will we be bound by old prejudices? Will technology destroy us, or can humans and machines “learn” to live in peace? Initially, the “good terminator” is just a killing robot that’s been reprogrammed. But, he learns early 90s slang ( “Hasta la vista, baby!” was made famous.) with John and swears not to kill people. Not even when battling a whole police squadron does he kill people. The last life he takes is his own to prevent the future war.
The special effects and battle scenes remain legendary. The T-1000 is like a slasher-movie villain, and is almost unstoppable. He stabs whoever gets in his way. But, he is also very smart and tries to outwit the humans before stabbing them and taking their forms. He knows that humans usually obey police authority for example. And he even imitates John’s foster family. The T-101 however, knows that the T-1000 can do that, and so prevents John from going into the trap.
My favorite scene is when the T-1000 reforms his head with his liquid metal ability. His head comes apart in two; but then it reforms and you think, “Uh oh.” Heck, I like just about all of the morphing scenes. I'm even sad that the liquid metal concept was abandoned in later Terminator movies. The female Terminator in T3 just wasn’t as threatening, in my opinion. She is obviously less advanced than the T-1000.
To me, The later movies seem to undo all the events of T2, which is a great tragedy, and just means they’ll keep re-booting it. T2 had an actual message: There’s no fate but the one we make. The later films undo the message of hope, and all those great battle scenes! But, the time travel aspect of the film ensures that there’s always hope. Perhaps the T-1000 will re-appear, and will do the franchise good. Until then! Hasta la vista, baby!