Science Fiction Reviews

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991. Directed by James Cameron. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boem.

Synopsis: Several years after a killer robot from the future attempted to kill Sarah Connor before her son, John, was born, the machines in the future send back a second assassin to kill John as a teen. The new assassin is the T1000, a more advanced, shapeshifting liquid metal killer. Once again, the human resistance is able to send back a single warrior to protect John--this time, a captured terminator reprogrammed to protect John Connor at all costs. John is now in a foster home. He's a troubled youth with a strange upbringing. His mother, Sarah, has been incarcerated in a hospital for the criminally insane after attempting to bomb an electronics company she thinks will build the supercomputer that will destroy the world. The weight of her knowledge has changed her. She has transformed herself into a ruthless warrior, but she is also paranoid and violent. It is into this situation that the terminator returns. He rescues John from the T1000 at a shopping mall. John then orders him to help bust his mother from the mental hospital. Meanwhile, the T1000 kills John's foster parents in an effort to locate him. During the escape, John and the terminator again cross paths with the T1000, but again escape. Once hidden in a safe hiding place, Sarah, John, and the terminator contemplate their next move. Sarah learns from the terminator that a single man is most responsible for the creation of the supercomputer that will bring about Judgement Day and takes it upon herself to assassinate him. John and the terminator stop Sarah just as she decides that she can't kill the man for something he hasn't done yet. They convince him that his work will result in armageddon, and our heroes instead resolve to destroy his work. In the process, they clash with the LA police and, eventually, they fight a final, fatal battle with the T1000. ..

Razzle Dazzle: This epic sequel/remake of director James Cameron's economical original is an absolute dazzler, but it is entirely too much to take in the end. This movie pushes the audience into overload with spectacular stunts, revolutionary special effects, and a gruelling non-stop pace which puts the audience through the wringer. It is an exhausting movie to watch.

The Sum of the Parts: As individual sequences—the escape from the shopping mall, the escape from the mental hospital, Linda Hamilton's nuclear nightmare, the final chase sequence—this has to be classed as one of the all time great action films. These individual sequences are stunners which leave the viewer's jaw hanging open. More than that, this movie represents what amounts to a quantum leap forward in the way movies are actually made—this movie is the start of an era in digital filmmaking, It occupies a position similar to that occupied by The Great Train Robbery or The Jazz Singer or 2001: A Space Odyssey. But like I said before, this is really too much for one film to contain. When it comes to stringing all these elements together into a satisfying payoff, the film falters. Once the film veers away from its time travel plot into terra incognito, it loses its focus and creates a situation where any ending it could provide would ultimately be unsatisfying, an effect exacerbated by the existence of additional footage on the "Special Edition" version of the film. In this respect, Terminator 2 resembles Cameron's other revolutionary epic, The Abyss, which is similarly flawed. Cameron has a vision of film and filmmaking which makes him the point man for the next era of filmmaking, but being a visionary has blinded him somewhat to the elements that made his earlier films so goddamn rivetting.