Written by Amanda Pampuro
I admit I was afraid to revisit Terminator 2 with my laser beam eyes and futurist values. As a child I spent some time in Nicaragua and places like that, and I loved this film. So I didn’t want to walk having to insist that, well it was good for the times when it first came out. I don’t want to excuse literature, it is good always or never. I didn’t know if T2 could live up to my expectations, to the internet’s expectations, because even the commentators on my favorite streaming site agreed on this movie—and we all know how hard it is to please the all of the internet all the time.
After insulting T3, I could put it off no longer. I had to know—did T2 survive?
Yes. The answer is a yes as large and luminous the movie’s explosions. The story remains awesome and the film full of heat. This is James Cameron’s Goonies and I refuse to summarize it, if you don’t know what Terminator 2: Judgment Day is about, stop reading comic reviews and go watch it. Right now.
You’re back? Good.
Set primarily in 1995, though flashing to 2029 and filmed in 1991, Cameron uses the flash forward mostly to keep the apocalypse in recent times. His depiction of war in 2029 remains reminiscent of WWII scenes, wild with shots in the dark, compared to the surgical procedures brought out by Wikileaks. Technology-wise, the film’s greatest flaw is that it assumes Skynet is a physical thing that can be destroyed—and at one point it was. In the nineties, computers and their data were confined to single boxes and buildings that could be found and destroyed, wham, bam, done. But in this age, it is not so simple to erase so much as a photo. Computers are just devices with which information can be accessed, and mainframes are housed globally. To take down Napster was simple, because it was run by two guys out of their basement. But the internet has evolved, and to take down Pirate Bay or Youtube would be a different task entirely. The way we interact with computers now evades destruction. The data is in the air, so to speak, our Skynet operates without droids. Still Skynet remains my favorite metaphor for the internet and in 1991 it could only be explained as something that would make “all other computers look like pocket calculators.”
Like Loopers, T2 uses seamless time travel logic, but keeps it in the background of the story. Unlike with T3, Arnold is one of many great actors. The Sara Connor character, which was just the damsel’s name in the Terminator I, comes alive through Linda Hamilton. I do not have many words with which to describe Linda Hamilton’s warrior. Suffice it to say that filling the shoes of this South American rebel and time-fighter would prove to be as gutsy a move as trying to carry on the life of Heath Ledger’s joker.
Young John Connor, best friends with Danny Cooksey’s immortal mullet, also lives up to the task of young messiah. Connor is as wise in the eyes as Episode 1 Anakin. Through his tough wisecracks something special stands out, though he doesn’t understand his role in the world yet. This is where the further installments of both series fell apart, Teen John and Teen Anakin are whiny and weak, they are too Bieber, to focused crush-appeal, to be believable as our Glorious Leader.
Here’s a fun fact that only Cameron’s fellow divers would recognize: when mustard gas fills the room and there is one mask between Sarah and John, they buddy breath. From that detail, one might have wondered what other worlds Cameron would pull from the sea.
The one question that remains, and that I’d rather be answered through fiction than news feeds, is if the T-800 were a self-aware individual, would it side with John Connor or with its own kind? What fate would Arnold make?