Year of Release: 1991
Director: James Cameron
Screenplay: James Cameron and William Wisher
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Running Time: 137 minutes
Genre: Science-fiction, action,
In the year 2029, a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles is a battlefield in an ongoing war between a small group of human resistance fighters and the machines controlled by the vast computer system known as Skynet. In a last ditch attempt to destroy the resistance, Skynet sends a liquid metal, shapeshifting T-1000 Terminator (Patrick) back in time to the 1990s to kill the ten year old John Connor (Furlong), who would grow up lead the resistance. The resistance, however, is able to send a reprogrammed older model T-800 Terminator (Schwarzenegger) back in time to act as the young Connor's protector. John, the T-800 and John's mother Sarah (Hamilton) - the target of a failed assassination attempt ten years earlier - are forced into a desperate struggle to survive, and possibly save the future.
Whereas The Terminator (1984) was a modestly budgeted science-fiction chase movie, everything here is bigger including the action, the budget, the length and Schwarzenegger himself who, alongside director James Cameron, really broke through to the action "A" list with The Terminator. Terminator 2 was groundbreaking in it's day for it's visual effects, particularly it's use of CGI which was really still in it's infancy in 1991, it was also the most expensive movie ever made up to that time (although Cameron himself has broken that record several times since). It broke box-office records and remains one of the most iconic films of the 1990s. Although, of course, bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, but this really does improve upon the original, building on and expanding the world and the themes of the first. The tone of the film is surprisingly downbeat and bleak, with the characters not being particularly likable most of the time, although when your chased by an unkillable, shapeshifting robot that exists solely to kill you, and you know for a fact that the world is about to be annihilated in a couple of years, you could probably be forgiven for having a case of the grumpys. The performances are good, with Schwarzenegger delivering one of his most memorable appearances. Schwarzenegger is an actor of limited range, but he knows what those limitations are and he plays to his strengths, and what he does well, he does better than anyone. Linda Hamilton gives an intense performance as the traumatised Sarah Connor, a world away from the cute, fluffy waitress from the beginning of the first film, she's almost a human Terminator here. Edward Furlong made his acting debut as the ten year old John Connor and turns in a fine performance. The action is spectacular, and the special effects, surprisingly, have aged very well and still hold up today. Full of memorable moments, this is one of the best movies of the 1990s.