Display terminator smile
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Edward Furlong
Linda Hamilton
By Pete Hall
June 26, 2014

I don’t like to write a review for a sequel until the original has been done, but I don’t even care this time. TERMINATOR 2 is a much better movie than the original (but still dudefest) THE TERMINATOR. Sure, it’s not a great sequel, per se, but who gives a shit? It totally works as a standalone movie, and the recurring characters and callbacks to the original serve more as Easter eggs to reward the viewers that watched the original than to move the story forward. Like the dude that plays the psychiatrist in the police station in the first one. He comes back and you're like, "Oh, yeah!" and then you continue watching the movie as if that character never mattered (because he didn't).


I actually saw TERMINATOR 2 long before I saw THE TERMINATOR and I still knew what was going on. I must have thought it was like STAR WARS (I will not talk about STAR WARS, I will not talk about STAR WARS…) and the franchise just started numbering its installments in the middle somewhere. That says a lot, because I’ve had trouble understanding standalone movies in the past, let alone sequels without prior knowledge of the original. TERMINATOR 2 actually relies more on viewers not knowing the original that well.


For example: THE TERMINATOR establishes a series of hard and fast (heh) ground rules for time travel. Time travel already doesn’t make any freakin’ sense, but they stick to their guns that only living things can go through the Time Displacement Equipment because of plot reasons, and that cybernetic organisms (with living tissue under metal endoskeletons) totally count. They do the same in TERMINATOR 2, when the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tells John Connor (Edward Furlong) that’s why they couldn’t just send a bomb back to kill him.


I guess in the post-nuclear dystopia that is the future (1997!), the robots have completely run out of all nuclear weapons and are totally incapable of making any more with their massive robot factories and advanced weapons technology. A terminator is an artificial endoskeleton surrounded by real human flesh (not wimpy human muscle, because that would completely defeat the purpose of building a super strong robot). Why couldn’t the T-1000 just bring back like...a bomb shaped dog? Or a bomb-shaped mass of disgusting, wriggling human flesh? Because that’s disgusting and nobody wants to see that. They know where the freaking kid lives, so just drop it off at his doorstep and be done with it. The T-1000 managed to get within bomb-explodey distance of Connor about fifteen times during the movie, and if he were able to detonate something, bam. War over. Humans lose. I for one welcome our new robot overlords.


But they completely ignore the rule they established for the film; the T-1000 is liquid metal or some other handwavey faux-scientific bullshit (mimetic poly-alloy) just because it looks cool, which you may notice is definitely not a metal endoskeleton surrounded by living human flesh. So how the fuck did he manage to pass through the Time Displacement Equipment? Just because he looks like a dude, apparently. Although I guess he could have been sent through in a sphere, surrounded by whatever leftover living human skin Skynet had lying around the terminator factory, and he just stripped it off and the film didn’t show us that part. I think it would be pretty hard to maintain an R rating if they did, though.


I get why Skynet couldn’t just completely destroy 1995 Los Angeles with some half-cocked idea like sending back nuclear bombs (covered in human bits, of course!) to wipe the city off the map. That’s where Cyberdyne systems is located, and if the city is destroyed, the company is destroyed, all their work is lost forever (no cloud backup in 1995!) and Skynet ceases to exist in the future. Even if they do manage to retain all or some of their data, a massive unprovoked nuclear attack with no country or group taking responsibility (or even suspected) would greatly alter the course of history and most likely lead to Skynet never existing.


But the T-1000 is a super-fast, super-strong, and probably super-accurate-with-a-handgun robot. Why wasn’t he just programmed to find the cop, acquire his body and uniform, and then just shoot the kid on sight? Connor was definitely handgun-range away when the T-1000 spots him in the arcade, and then he could just vanish into liquid metal again and become the floor or whatever. That’s not going to change the course of history enough to jeopardize the creation of Skynet, and it’s the easiest way to kill the kid and minimize casualties (which the human-hating, murderous robots are apparently trying to do). Or better yet, send a future laser gun stuffed inside a human torso through the Field at the same time and have the T-1000 use that to obliterate the arcade. Maybe they can make it look like an electrical fire or something.


But they do end up nuking LA! And John Connor would have no knowledge about Skynet or Terminators or anything if the robots hadn’t been sent back to try and kill him as a child. Therefore, he’d have still been in LA when Skynet launches all the nukes, and likely would have died. Problem. Fucking. Solved. Robots win, no time travel necessary. Idiot robots screwing their own plans up.


Yeah, I get that the time travel is what makes it an awesome movie. Nobody would have paid eight bucks to watch a two-minute movie in which Los Angeles burns in a nuclear fire and then the credits roll and no plot or characters are present (because of the nukes, you see). But Skynet clearly sucks at making its own plans, and probably just couldn’t help but play with the Time Displacement Equipment.


I suppose Skynet had to send the T-800 back in time (the first time, in THE TERMINATOR) in order to get the brain chip and super cool disembodied forearm that we see in the Cyberdyne laboratory in TERMINATOR 2, which leads to the invention of AI, and terminators. So Skynet created itself, and it needed to ensure that would still happen. Time travel is confusing. The characters thought they had prevented Judgment Day (and there is a deleted alternate ending that proves it, but it's good that it was removed because it's dumb as shit), but because Hollywood loves money more than not ruining franchises, the film was left somewhat open-ended so sequels could be churned out and explained with amazing lines such as, “You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable, for reasons that I won’t give because the entire screenwriting budget was spent on cocaine” (from TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES).


Oh, and Linda Hamilton is way more dudefest than any of us (especially Koella) will ever be.

Pat Holland doesn't believe in you, either. Don't try to email him.

I guess the T-X chick from TERMINATOR 3 made more sense than the T-1000. Still not a lot of sense, but more of it. And that is the ONLY THING about any of the sequels that was better than this one.
Amazing movie, plus it kicked off Edward Furlong's long and successful career. Good work James Cameron!
06-28-2014 | 10:12 PM
Yeah Koella! You're less dudefest than Linda Hamilton!
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6 months ago
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