Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Summary

Terminator 2: Judgment Day[a] is a 1991 American science fiction action film produced and directed by James Cameron, who co-wrote the script with William Wisher. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, and Edward Furlong, Terminator 2 is the sequel to the 1984 film The Terminator and the second installment in the Terminator franchise. In its plot, the malevolent artificial intelligence Skynet sends a Terminator—a highly advanced killing machine—back in time to 1995 to kill the future leader of the human resistance, John Connor, when he is a child. The resistance sends back a less-advanced reprogrammed Terminator to protect Connor and ensure the future of humanity.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
A human-like figure wearing sunglasses holds a shotgun while on a motorcycle. The tagline reads "It's nothing personal." followed by the film's title and credits and raiting at the bottom.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Cameron
Written by
Produced byJames Cameron
Starring
CinematographyAdam Greenberg
Edited by
Music byBrad Fiedel
Production
companies
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release dates
  • July 1, 1991 (1991-07-01) (Los Angeles)
  • July 3, 1991 (1991-07-03) (United States)
Running time
137 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$102 million
Box office$519–520.9 million

The Terminator was considered a significant success, enhancing Schwarzenegger's and Cameron's careers, but a sequel failed to progress because of animosity between the pair and the Hemdale Film Corporation, who partially owned the film's rights. In 1990, Schwarzenegger and Cameron convinced Carolco Pictures to purchase the rights from the financially struggling Hemdale and The Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd for $15 million. A release date was set for the following year, leaving Cameron and Wisher seven weeks to write the script. The pair frequently conferred with special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic to determine if their ideas for the extensive special effects were possible. Principal photography began in October 1990 and lasted until March 1991, in and around Los Angeles, on an estimated $102 million budget, making it the most expensive film ever made at the time. The cutting-edge visual effects, including the first use of a computer-generated main character in a blockbuster film, resulted in schedule overrun and the theatrical prints were only delivered to theaters the night before its July 3, 1991 release.

On its release, Terminator 2 earned $519–520.9 million, making it the highest-grossing film of 1991 in the United States and Canada, as well as worldwide, and the third highest-grossing film of all time. It received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the visual effects, action scenes, and the cast, singling out Patrick's performance as the T-1000 in particular as a great cinematic villain, but was criticized for its violent content. It won several accolades including Saturn, BAFTA, and Academy Awards. Alongside tie-in promotions with brands such as Pepsi, Terminator 2 spawned a series of merchandise including video games, comic books, novels, and T2-3D: Battle Across Time, a live-action attraction including filmed footage featuring Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, and Furlong.

Since its release, Terminator 2 has been critically reassessed and is now considered among the best films ever made, and one of the best science fiction, action, and sequel films, as well as arguably equal to or better than The Terminator. It is also seen as one of the most influential visual effects films of all time, ushering in the transition from practical effects to reliance on CGI. Although Cameron considered Terminator 2 to be the end of the franchise, it was followed by a series of films to diminishing financial and critical returns, including Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), as well as a 2008 television series.

PlotEdit

In 2029, the Earth is a wasteland dominated by the war between the malevolent artificial intelligence Skynet and the human resistance. Skynet sends the T-1000, an advanced prototype shapeshifting Terminator made of virtually impervious liquid metal, back in time to kill the resistance leader, John Connor, when he is a child. The resistance sends back a reprogrammed T-800 Terminator, a less-advanced metal endoskeleton covered in synthetic flesh, to protect him.

In 1995 Los Angeles, John's mother, Sarah, has been incarcerated at the Pescadero State Hospital for her violently fanatical efforts to prevent "Judgment Day", the prophesied events of August 29, 1997, when Skynet will gain sentience and, in response to its creators' attempts to deactivate it, incite a nuclear holocaust. Taken in by foster parents, John considers Sarah's beliefs delusional and resents her efforts to prepare him for his future role.

The T-800 and the T-1000 converge on John in a shopping mall, and a chase ensues after which John and the T-800 escape together. John calls to warn his foster parents but the T-800 deduces the T-1000 has already killed them. Realizing the T-800 is programmed to obey him, John forbids it from killing people and orders it to save Sarah before the T-1000 kills her. They intercept Sarah during an escape attempt but she flees because the T-800 resembles the Terminator sent back to kill her in 1984.[b] John and the T-800 convince her to join them and they escape the pursuing T-1000. Distrustful of the T-800, Sarah uses it to learn that a revolutionary microprocessor, being developed by Cyberdyne Systems engineer Miles Bennett Dyson, will be essential to Skynet's creation.

Over several days of their journey, Sarah witnesses the T-800 serve as a friend and father figure to John, who teaches it catchphrases, hand signs, and encourages it to become more human. Sarah plans to flee to Mexico with John until a nightmare about Judgment Day convinces her to kill Dyson. She ruthlessly assaults him in his home but becomes distraught when faced with executing him and relents. John arrives and reconciles with Sarah, while the T-800 convinces Dyson of the future consequences of his work. Dyson reveals his research has been reverse engineered from the damaged CPU and severed arm of the Terminator from 1984. Believing his work must be destroyed, Dyson, Sarah, John, and the T-800 break into Cyberdyne, retrieve the CPU and the arm, and set explosives to destroy the lab. The police assault the building and fatally shoot Dyson, but he detonates the explosives as he dies. The T-1000 pursues the surviving trio, eventually cornering them in a steel mill.

Sarah and John split up to escape while the T-1000 battles, mangles, and deactivates the T-800 by destroying its power source. The T-1000 assumes Sarah's appearance to lure out John, but she intervenes and repeatedly shoots it, pushing it toward a platform edge above a vat of molten steel. She runs out of ammunition before it falls, but the T-800, having re-activated using an alternate power source, arrives and shoots the T-1000 with a grenade launcher, causing it to fall into the molten steel and disintegrate. John throws the CPU and severed arm into the vat, but the T-800 explains it must also be destroyed to prevent its CPU from serving as a foundation for Skynet. The pair hug as John tearfully orders the T-800 to stay, but it convinces him that it is the only way to protect their future. Sarah shakes its hand, having come to respect it, and helps lower it into the vat, the T-800 giving a thumbs-up before its destruction. Driving down a highway with John, Sarah reflects on her renewed hope for an unknown future because if the T-800 could learn the value of life, then so can humanity.

CastEdit

 
 
 
(Left to right) Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton (both pictured in 2019), and Robert Patrick (2016)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator: A reprogrammed Model 101 Series 800 "T-800" Terminator composed of living tissue over a metal endoskeleton[3]
  • Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor: A self-trained soldier dedicated to preventing the rise of Skynet[4]
  • Edward Furlong as John Connor: Sarah's son, who is destined to lead the human resistance in opposition to Skynet[5]
  • Robert Patrick as T-1000: An advanced shapeshifting prototype Terminator composed of liquid metal[6]
  • Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman: Sarah's psychologist at the Pescadero State Hospital[7][8]
  • Joe Morton as Miles Bennett Dyson: The director of special projects at Cyberdyne Systems Corporation[9][10]

The film also features Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley as John's foster parents, Janelle and Todd Voight,[11] Cástulo Guerra as Sarah's friend Enrique Salceda, S. Epatha Merkerson and DeVaughn Nixon as Dyson's wife Tarissa and son Danny,[12][13] and Danny Cooksey as John's friend Tim.[14] Hamilton's twin sister, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, appears as the T-1000 impersonating Sarah when Hamilton is also on-screen. Similarly, twins Don and Dan Stanton portray a guard at the Pescadero hospital and the T-1000 imitating him.[15][4][12]

Other cast includes Ken Gibbel as an abusive orderly,[16] Robert Winley, Ron Young, Charles Robert Brown, and Pete Schrum as men who confront the T-800 in a biker bar, Abdul Salaam El Razzac as Gibbons, a Cyberdyne guard, and Dean Norris as the SWAT team leader.[12][13] Michael Edwards portrays the John Connor of 2029, and Hamilton's twenty-month-old son Dalton Abbott portrays an infant John in a dream sequence.[12][17][5] Co-writer William Wisher cameos as a man photographing the T-800 in the mall,[18] and Michael Biehn reprises his role as resistance soldier Kyle Reese in scenes removed from the theatrical release.[19]

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

 
Director James Cameron in 2016

The Terminator had been a surprise hit, earning $78.4 million against its $6.4 million budget, solidifying Schwarzenegger's status as a lead actor and making director James Cameron a credible director.[4] Schwarzenegger was interested in making a sequel, saying "I always felt we should continue the story ... I told [Cameron] that right after we finished the first film." Cameron said Schwarzenegger had always been more enthused about a sequel than he was because he had said everything he wanted to with the original.[20][21][22]

Even so, discussion of a sequel failed to progress until 1989, in part because Cameron was working on other films such as Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989), but also because of his and Schwarzenegger's refusal to work with the rightsholder, Hemdale Film Corporation.[18][4][23] Its co-founder John Daly had attempted to alter the ending of The Terminator against Cameron's wishes and the pair had almost physically fought. However, a sequel could not be made without Hemdale's approval because Cameron had surrendered 50% of his rights to the company to get The Terminator made, and sold half of the remainder to its producer, co-writer, and his ex-wife Gale Anne Hurd for $1 following their 1989 divorce.[4][24][25][23] By 1990, Cameron, Schwarzenegger, Hurd, and special effects artist Stan Winston were also suing the studio for unpaid profits from the first film.[23]

Cameron and Schwarzenegger were aware that Hemdale was financially struggling and would eventually be forced to sell the rights.[24] Having worked with independent film studio Carolco Pictures on the big-budget science fiction film Total Recall (1990), Schwarzenegger convinced its owners, including Mario Kassar to purchase the rights.[24][25][4] Kassar described securing the rights as the most difficult deal Carolco conducted. He took Daly's $10 million offer for Hemdale's share, which Kassar believed was a fabricated figure designed to ward him off, and gave Hurd $5 million for hers (she would serve as an executive producer). With incidental costs, securing the rights cost $17 million before any development had begun.[25][4][26]

Kassar had lunch with Cameron to explain that the film is going ahead with or without him to recoup his investment but offered him $6 million to be involved and write the script.[4] The film would be a collaboration between several production studios, Carolco, Le Studio Canal+, Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, and Hurd's Pacific Western Productions[27][28][29][30] Compared to originals $6.5 million budget, Terminator 2 was estimated to cost at least $60 million, but Kassar called it a "ghost" number conscious the figure would increase based on Cameron's previous work.[31][25] News sources labeled it the most expensive independent film ever, that would "bankrupt Carolco."[25][4] Even so, Kassar said that he had secured funding 110% over the budget before filming had begun, through pre-sales to markets outside the United States, television network and home video rights, Canadian tax breaks, outside investments, and theatrical distribution rights. He said he could secure up to $10 million from Japan alone for a single film. The studio also had a pre-existing United States distribution deal with TriStar Pictures for a set percentage of the budget (an estimated $4 million).[25][32] However, Tristar wanted the film ready for May 27, 1991, Memorial Day.[33]

WritingEdit

With a scheduled release date in place, Cameron had six to seven weeks to write the sequel, approaching his frequent collaborator and The Terminator co-writer William Wisher in late March 1990.[33][4][18] They spent a couple of weeks developing a film treatment based on Cameron's concept of forming a relationship between John Connor and the T-800, something Wisher initially believed was a joke.[20][33] Veering away from the "science-fiction slasher" of the original, their treatment focused on the unconventional family formed between Sarah, John, and the T-800, who would serve as a surrogate father. Cameron said this relationship was "the heart of the movie", comparing it to the Tin Man getting his heart in The Wizard of Oz (1939).[4]

Cameron's initial concept had Skynet and the resistance each send back a T-800, both played by Schwarzenegger, one to kill John and the other to protect him. Wisher believed two identical Terminators fighting would be boring.[4][34] The pair considered using a larger "Super-Terminator" but it did not interest them. They decided to adopt an idea Cameron had for The Terminator, a liquid metal Terminator, that would look like an average human to contrast Schwarzenegger's large frame.[34] The first half of the story would end with Skynet's T-800 destroyed, forcing it to use its ultimate weapon, the T-1000.[4] Cameron had considered removing the T-1000 before deciding to make it the only antagonist. The writers made it a police officer because it allowed it to operate with less suspicion and made it completely ruthless and "evil" to contrast the protagonist T-800.[35][4] Cameron said the policeman persona was also thematically relevant because the T-1000 represented humans having less compassion and becoming like Terminators.[4] Wisher found it challenging making the T-800 "good" without becoming non-threatening until he and Cameron decided to grant it the ability to learn, allowing it to develop emotions and character traits.[35]

Working out of Cameron's home over the next four weeks, Wisher was given the first half of the treatment to develop, and Cameron the latter.[36][35][37][33] Dozens of pages were removed, including a "convoluted" subplot about Dyson, and the T-1000 massacring a camp of survivalists who previously helped Sarah. While Cameron did not consider the budget while writing, he had to drop some elaborate scenes, including a nine-minute opening set in 2029 that showed the time travel machine being used.[38][37][39][40] The pair frequently conferred with special effects studio Industrial Light & Magic to determine if their ideas were realistically achievable.[33]

They rewatched The Terminator to determine where the characters would be years later. Cameron believed Hamilton's knowledge of the future would isolate her and cause her to transform herself through training with military forces and survivalists into a self-sufficient commando. She was written to have become emotionally cold and distant, effectively making her like a Terminator.[4] She and John began the film together, but he was placed with a foster family to increase the tension.[35][41] Cameron wanted to make the Terminator a protagonist because he found it uninteresting to repeat the character from The Terminator.[20] The character's dialogue was kept brief, and his intent was portrayed mainly through Schwarzenegger's physicality. The catchphrase Hasta la vista, baby was something Wisher and Cameron said after their phone calls.[4][42] The pair spent about three days refining the script, the printed copy still warm when Cameron had to board Carolco's charter jet flying the studio's stars and filmmakers to Cannes in early May 1990, where Terminator 2 was announced.[33][43][4] Schwarzenegger read the script on the plane but struggled to understand some of Cameron's intent, asking "What is 'polyalloy'?". He also took issue with his character not killing people, which was antithetical to his action hero image, and did not understand how to portray the difference between his formerly ruthless character turned protector. The pair discussed the script over breakfast until Schwarzenegger understood Cameron wanted to defy audience expectations.[4] Schwarzenegger requested "just make me cool."[4]

CastingEdit

 
 
(Left to right) Edward Furlong (pictured in 2009) and Joe Morton (2019).

Schwarzenegger was interested in reprising his role because he found the character more complex and sympathetic than his previous performance.[44][45] He was paid $12–$15 million for his involvement.[4][46][47] Carolco had been blamed for the increase in exorbitant salaries paid to actors, having paid Schwarzenegger around $11 million for Total Recall (1990) and justifying the expense because of their leads' wide appeal in markets outside of the United States.[48][49][25] To lessen its immediate financial burden, Carolco paid most of Schwarzenegger's salary with a financed $12.75 million Gulfstream III jet, allowing them to settle the fee over years.[25][50][32] Schwarzenegger found it difficult portraying a fearless, emotionless machine and extensively rehearsed action scenes with stunt coordinator Joel Kramer to be less affected by fire and explosions occurring around him.[44][51]

Cameron refused to re-cast Hamilton's role, but developed ideas to work around her absence if she chose not to return. Negotiations were initially protracted but settled quickly once Cameron informed Carolco he could not finish the script unless he knew she would be involved.[4][36] Hamilton requested Sarah be "crazy", saying, "I thought, 'This woman has been living with the certainty of man's demise for all these years and she'd have become this wild thing,' so the warrior and the crazy woman ideas were all me."[18][4] She continued, "[the T-800] is a better human than I am, and I'm a better Terminator than he is."[45] Cameron considered giving the character a facial scar but determined it would be difficult to apply it daily.[52] Hamilton received about $1 million which she described as "quite a bit more" than she earned for The Terminator but was unhappy at the pay disparity with Schwarzenegger.[4][53][32] She undertook extensive preparation, working with a personal trainer for three hours a day, six days a week, and learning judo, military training, combat, and weapons techniques under former Israeli commando Uziel "Uzi" Gal, as well as maintaining a strict low-fat diet, losing about 12 pounds (5.4 kg).[17][13][4] Hamilton described her experience as "sheer Hell", but enjoyed showing off her new physique.[4][17] She often slept only four hours a day so she could spend time with her twenty-month-old son Dalton outside of filming and training. Hamilton's twin sister Leslie stands in for Hamilton when there are two Sarah's on-screen.[17]

Patrick, who was living in his car, was one of several actors in their late 20s considered for the T-1000. Cameron wanted someone who looked like a rookie police officer that was lithe to contrast Schwarzenegger, describing it as "If the [T-800] series is a kind of human Panzer tank, then the [T-1000] series had to be a Porsche."[54][4][55] Casting director Mali Finn believed Patrick, described by his agent as a cross of David Bowie and James Dean, had the "intense presence" they wanted. Patrick auditioned by acting like an emotionless hunter, and later participated in a screen test with Cameron to judge how lighting worked with his skin and eyes.[4][56][57] He took inspiration for his character by watching Schwarzenegger's performance in The Terminator, as well as observing the movement styles of hunting creatures, reptiles, insects, cats, and sharks. His facial expressions were based on an eagle, keeping his head tilted down to imply constant forward movement.[58][59][60][61] He used a military posture and martial arts movements to imply a more fluid movement compared to the T-800's rigid skeleton.[62] The role required Patrick to be in peak physical shape, lean, and fast.[56] He also trained under Gal, spending four hours a day practicing martial arts, judo, weightlifting, meditation, and running so that he could sprint without appearing to be breathing or exhausted.[56][60][57] Weapons master Harry Lu taught him to operate and reload weapons, such as the T-1000's Beretta 92FS, without looking, and Patrick eventually learned to fire weapons without blinking.[56] Singer Billy Idol was the first choice for the role before a motorbike accident seriously injured his leg. In a 2021 retrospective, Cameron said that Idol had an interesting aesthetic but in hindsight, he probably would not have cast him.[4][63][56] Singer Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. was also considered but deemed too tall.[58]

For John Connor, Cameron believed the candidates were either overexposed in other media or from advertisement backgrounds which trained them to be happier and perkier. Furlong had no acting experience and was discovered by Finn at the Boys & Girls Club in Pasadena. Cameron described him as having a "surliness, an intelligence, just a question of pulling it out." He secured the role at his last audition, beating about 100 other prospects, and was required to take acting lessons as well as learn some Spanish, ride a motorcycle, and repair guns.[4][64][65] Cameron cut Furlong's hair during filming because he had a habit of chewing it.[4]

Joe Morton said he was cast as Miles Bennett Dyson because he believed Cameron wanted a minority character to be integral to changing the world.[10] Morton avoided interacting with the cast so their on-screen relationship would seem believably distant.[4] The role was reduced after preferred choice, Denzel Washington, declined it because it mainly required him to act scared.[39]

FilmingEdit

 
The intersection in Bull Creek spillway, North Hills (pictured in 2018), from which the T-1000 crashes into the flood-control channel below

Three-months of pre-production began, which was truncated to meet the release schedule, leaving Cameron without the time he wanted to prepare all aspects before filming began.[66][13] He spent several hours a day over one week choreographing vehicle scenes with toy cars and trucks, filming the results, and printing the footage for storyboard artists.[18] There was also no time to properly test out practical effects before they would appear in filming, and if they did not work they had to be worked around.[66]

Principal photography began on October 8–9, 1990, on a $60 million budget.[13][67][68][25][4] The production was long and arduous, in part because of Cameron, who was known for his short temper and uncompromising and "dictatorial" manner that resulted in the crew making T-shirts bearing the slogan "You can't scare me—I work for Jim Cameron."[69] Schwarzenegger described him as a supportive but "demanding taskmaster" with a "fanaticism for physical and visual detail."[38][4] Cameron was hands-on when making scenes fit his vision, in one instant angrily fixing a broken camera when the operator could not, and Morton said that, during his death scene, Cameron decided on a whim to detonate surrounding glass to see how it would look.[4][18] Cameron worked throughout Christmas owing to the tight schedule, editing on Christmas Eve and convinced Schwarzenegger to cancel multiple Christmas events and a visit to American troops in Saudi Arabia with President George H. W. Bush to be available for filming. By the 101st day of filming, Schwarzenegger and Hamilton were frustrated by the number of takes Cameron performed, with five days spent on Hamilton's closeups in the Dyson home alone.[18] Scenes were filmed out of sequence to prioritize those requiring extensive visual effects to be added. Schwarzenegger found this difficult because he was meant to convey subtle signs of the T-800's progressive humanity and was unsure what was fitting for each scene.[45][24] Returning from The Terminator, cinematographer Adam Greenberg described the greater scope of the sequel as the most daunting prospect; where he had been able to shout instructions to his crew on the original film, he used one of 187 walkie-talkies to conduct efforts over an expansive area.[70]

 
The interior of the Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, California (circa 1949), served as the location of the film's ending.

The production used many locations in and around California.[4] The now-destroyed Corral bar in Sylmar, Los Angeles is where the T-800 confronts a group of bikers. Location manager Jim Morris chose it because it was raised above ground, allowing the scene to take place over different levels.[71] A woman wandered into the bar oblivious to ongoing filming and when she asked Schwarzenegger, who was wearing only a pair of shorts, what was going on, he replied, "It's male-stripper night."[18][72] Executives suggested cutting the scene to save money but Cameron and Schwarzenegger refused.[73] The T-1000 arrives at the Sixth Street Viaduct, John hacks an ATM at a bank in Van Nuys, and his foster parents' home is in the Canoga Park neighborhood. It was chosen because it looked generic. The Terminators confront John inside the Santa Monica Place mall, although exterior shots were filmed at the Northridge Fashion Center where there was less traffic.[71] When the on-foot T-1000 chases John on a bike, Patrick's training made him faster than the bike and so its speed was increased.[56][58] The T-1000 pursues John and the T-800 in a truck at the Bull Creek spillway in North Hills.[4][71] Other locations included the Lake View Terrace hospital and Petersen Automotive Museum (the Pescadero State Hospital and its garage), Cactus Jack's Market in Lancaster, California, Elysian Park (the site of Sarah's apocalyptic dream), and Dyson's home was near California State Route 1, in Malibu.[71] The Cyberdyne building destroyed in the film was an abandoned office in San Jose scheduled for demolition.[38] Cameron used real Los Angeles Police Department SWAT members in the scene, although he embellished their real tactics for a more visually interesting assault.[38]

The final highway chase was filmed along the Terminal Island Freeway near Long Beach, of which a 2.5-mile stretch was shut nightly for two weeks.[38][71] The future war of 2029 was filmed in the rubble of an abandoned steel mill in Oxnard, California in a space 0.5 miles square, enhanced with burned bikes and cars from 1989 fire at the Universal Studios Lot, and with effects such as flying vehicles added in post-production. Terminator 2's ending was filmed in the shuttered Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, which Greenberg made appear operational mainly through various lighting techniques. Despite appearing to be actively smelting steel, the mill was frigid and dangerous because of the moving machinery and high catwalks.[71][72][21][70] The T-800's thumbs-up during his death was added during filming; Hamilton believed it was too sentimental.[4][74] Six months of filming concluded on March 28, 1991, about three weeks over schedule.[13][31][22] Hamilton described the production as the most "difficult, exhausting, physically, and emotionally stressful experience of my life."[45] She suffered permanent partial hearing loss after forgetting to wear earplugs when the T-800 fires a gun in the hospital elevator, and experienced shell shock from months of exposure to violence, loud noise, gunfire, and action setpieces.[75]

Post-productionEdit

Terminator 2 was edited by Conrad Buff IV, Richard A. Harris, and Mark Goldblatt, who said that although there was more time to edit than on The Terminator, it was still relatively small given the greater scope of the sequel, describing the complexity of scenes such as the finale battle between the Terminators that required a seamless combination of live-action, practical effect shots, and CGI.[76] After having to rush editing at the end of The Abyss, Cameron limited filming on Terminator 2 to five days a week so he could edit the film on weekends from the start of filming.[43] Several scenes were deleted, in part to reduce its running time, including: Kyle Reese appearing to Sarah in a dream, encouraging her to keep fighting;[19] Sarah being beaten in the hospital;[77] the T-1000 killing John's dog (a scene the animal-loving Patrick was not a fan of);[56][78] John teaching the T-800 to smile and discussing if it fears death; the T-1000 malfunctioning by inadvertently shifting after being frozen in the steel mill; and additional scenes with Dyson's family.[77][79] Schwarzenegger unsuccessfully rallied to keep his favorite scene in which John and Sarah modify the T-800's CPU, allowing it to learn and evolve. Sarah attempts to destroy the chip, but John defends the T-800. The scene was replaced with dialogue indicating the T-800 already possesses the ability to learn.[4][77][78] The scripted ending depicted an alternate 2029 (filmed at the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia) in which an aged Sarah narrates how Skynet was never created while John, now a senator, plays with his daughter. Cameron changed this to looking out at the road ahead to be more evocative and memorable.[71][80][72][81] The production ran up until about two days before its theatrical release, caused mainly by rendering various shots at Consolidated Film Industries, the most difficult of which was the T-1000's death. Co-producer Stephanie Austin described them working 24-hour shifts and sleeping on site. The release print was delivered to theaters the night before its release.[33] The release runs for 137 minutes.[82]

Cameron and Schwarzenegger said the final budget was about $70 million, not including marketing, with the cost of making the film about $51 million.[83][31] Carolco executives Peter Hoffman and Roger Smith offered a similar $75 million figure before marketing, stating that Terminator 2 was only "modestly" over budget. Including marketing and other costs, the given total budget is reported as $102 million.[25][47][32][4][84][c] This figure was reduced by advances and guarantees of $91 million, including North American television ($7 million) and home video ($10 million) rights, and $61 million from theatrical and television rights outside of the U.S.[32][83]

MusicEdit

The Terminator composer Brad Fiedel returned for the sequel, working out of his refurbished garage in Studio City, Los Angeles. His return was met with concern and skepticism by industry professionals who believed his style would not suit the film.[85][4][86] Fiedel quickly realized he would not receive the finished footage until late in the production after most effects were completed. This made it difficult to commit to decisions such as using an orchestra, because, unlike ambient music, the score had to accompany the on-screen action. He and Cameron wanted the tone to be "warmer" due to its focus on a nobler Terminator and young John. Fiedel spent his time experimenting with sounds and sharing them with Cameron for feedback.[86]

While The Terminator score had mainly used oscillators and synthesizers, Fiedel recorded real instruments and modified the resulting sound. He developed a library of sounds for characters such as the T-1000, whose theme was created by sampling brass instrument players warming up and improvised playing. Fiedel described it as having instructed them that "you're an insane asylum. You're a bedlam of instruments." He slowed the resulting sample down and lowered the pitch, describing it as "artificial intelligent monks chanting." Cameron considered the "atonal" sound "too avant-garde" for him, but Fiedel justified it as an accompaniment to Cameron making a film that "people have never seen before."[86]

Tri-Star requested Schwarzenegger arrange a tie-in music video and theme song for the film. He chose rock band Guns N' Roses because they were popular and there was "a rose in the movie and bloody guns." The band offered the use of "You Could Be Mine", the debut single from their new album Use Your Illusion II (1991). The music video, featuring Schwarzenegger as the T-800 pursuing the band for termination, was directed by Stan Winston, Andrew Morahan, and Jeffrey Abelson.[87][4][88] "Bad to the Bone" by George Thorogood & the Destroyers playing once the T-800 puts on the biker clothes was a suggestion by Wisher, and although Cameron did not like it, Wisher said he later found Cameron had used the song but forgotten it was his idea.[89] "Guitars, Cadillacs" by Dwight Yoakam also features in Terminator 2.[90]

Special effects and designEdit

The visual effects used for the T-1000 were highly advanced for the time, combining state-of-the-art CGI, prosthetics, and editing to allow the T-1000 to demonstrate its shapeshifting ability. (0:20)

Terminator 2 makes extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to vivify the T-1000. The use of such technology was the most ambitious since the 1982 and 1984 science fiction films Tron and The Last Starfighter respectively,[91] and would be integral to the critical success of the film. CGI was required particularly for the T-1000, a "mimetic poly-alloy" structure, since the shapeshifting character can transform into almost anything it touches.[92][93] Most of the key Terminator effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) for computer graphics, Pacific Data Images (PDI) for optical effects and Stan Winston for practical effects.[94] Creation of the visual effects cost $5 million and took 35 people, including animators, computer scientists, technicians, and artists, ten months to produce, for a total of 25 man-years.[92][91] This lengthy process yielded a total of only five minutes of CGI runtime.[91] Stan Winston's studio produced articulated puppets, prosthetic effects, and the metal skeleton effects of the T-800.[95] ILM's Visual Effects Supervisor, Dennis Muren, remarked, "We still have not lost the spirit of amazement when we see ... [the visual effects on the T-1000] coming up."[96] The technical achievements in CGI won the visual effects team the 1992 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.[97]

For Sarah's nuclear nightmare scene, Robert and Dennis Skotak of 4-Ward Production constructed a cityscape of Los Angeles using large-scale miniature buildings and realistic roads and vehicles. The pair, having studied actual footage of nuclear tests, simulated the nuclear blast with air mortars to knock over the intricate cityscape.[92][98]

ReleaseEdit

ContextEdit

Competition between studios was expected to be strong during the summer theatrical season (mid-May to early September), with fifty-five films scheduled for release compared to thirty-seven in 1990. Release dates repeatedly shifted as studios attempted to avoid strong competition and maximize their films' successes, at a time when the cost of film production had increased 20% in a year, in part due to costly star salaries who also commanded a percentage of the film's profits, and declining revenues from box office receipts, video sales, and television network deals.[99][100] Films scheduled for release included City Slickers, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, Only the Lonely, Hudson Hawk, The Rocketeer, What About Bob? and Point Break. The films most expected to do well included Backdraft and Terminator 2, which were seen as having international appeal, Dying Young, and the year's predicted top film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.[100][101][102] An unnamed studio executive said that audiences were seeking out escapist entertainment, such as comedy or action, and avoiding films about less-positive subject matter.[103]

Marketing and promotionEdit

External video
  Terminator 2 teaser trailer by Stan Winston at YouTube

Schwarzenegger was involved in the film's marketing and merchandising, which was estimated to be worth at least $20 million.[18][32] By 1991, advertising for Terminator 2 was ubiquitous with high audience recognition, and despite its R rating, restricting the film to over 17s unless accompanied by an adult, the marketing was focused mainly toward younger audiences. Tristar contributed about $20 million for marketing, which included a $150,000 teaser trailer directed by Winston depicting the construction of a T-800. Trailers ran for six months before the film's release, and Tristar incentivized cinema staff to play it more often by offering chances to win Terminator 2 branded goods or tickets to the premiere. Collaborations with fast-food restaurants and soft drinks, such as Subway and Pepsi, were used to promote the film.[4][104][52][105][2][84]

There were two private screenings, one for family, friends, and crew at Skywalker Ranch, and a second in Los Angeles for studio executives. Austin said "people were stamping their feet and clapping for ten or 15 minutes," at which point the crew knew they had succeeded.[33] During test screenings, the ending was well-received, described as a "touching" favorite scene.[4] The premiere took place on July 1, 1991, at the Cineplex Odeon in Century City, Los Angeles.[106][107] According to Fiedel, it was treated as a major event, unlike the premiere of The Terminator where the audience was skeptical or laughed at the wrong times. Celebrities in attendance included Maria Shriver, Nicolas Cage, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, and Soleil Moon Frye as Furlong's date.[107][4]

Box officeEdit

The film received a wide release in the United States (U.S.) and Canada on July 3, leading into the Independence Day holiday weekend.[103][4][100] Between Friday and Sunday, the film earned about $31.8 million from 2,274 theaters, an average of $13,969 per theater, making it the number 1 film of the weekend ahead of The Naked Gun 2½ ($11.6 million) in its second weekend and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($10.3 million), in its fourth.[108][103] Over the five-day holiday weekend (Wednesday to Sunday), Terminator 2 earned a total of $52.3 million, the second-highest-grossing opening five-day total ever behind 1989's Batman $57 million.[103][109][110] The opening week audience was evenly split between adults and teenagers/children, without about 25%–30% made up of females although Tri-Star said the figure was higher. The film benefitted from repeat viewings by younger audience members.[111] One theater chain executive said "...nothing since Batman has created the frenzy for tickets we saw this weekend with Terminator. At virtually all our locations, we are selling out ... the word-of-mouth buzz out there is just phenomenal."[103]

It retained the number 1 position in its second weekend, earning $20.7 million, ahead of the debuts of the re-release One Hundred and One Dalmatians ($10.3 million) and Boyz n the Hood ($10 million),[112] and in its third weekend with $14.9 million, ahead of Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey ($10.2 million) and One Hundred and One Dalmatians ($7.8 million).[113] It fell to number 2 in its fifth weekend, earning $8.6 million against the debut of the comedy Hot Shots! ($10.8 million).[114][109] It remained in the top five highest-grossing films for twelve weeks straight and the top ten highest-grossing for fifteen weeks. In total, the film spent about twenty-six weeks or 184 days in theaters, across a maximum of 2,495 theaters, and earned $204.8 million, making it the highest-grossing film of the year, ahead of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($165 million), Beauty and the Beast ($145 million), Silence of the Lambs ($130 million), and City Slickers ($124 million).[109][115][116][117][118] This also made it the thirteenth-highest-grossing film of its time, behind Back to the Future (1985), and the highest-grossing R rated film, a record it held for just over a decade.[119][4] The Los Angeles Times estimated that after the theater and distributor cuts, the box office returns to Carolco would be well over 20% of the film's cost.[120]

Outside of the U.S. and Canada, the film set numerous box office records including a 3-day opening of $4.4 million and a one-week record of $7.8 million, and earning at least $30 million in the United Kingdom,[121][122][119] $9.5 one-week in France (biggest opening since Rocky IV) and $16 million in two weeks,[123][119] Germany ($8 million in five days),[119] $1.2 million in Thailand (becoming its highest-grossing western-hemisphere film ever),[122] and a record Australian opening weekend,[124] as well as performing well in Brazil, and earning at least $51 million in Japan.[119] It earned about $312.1 million, making it the first film to gross over $300 million outside of the U.S. and Canada.[125][126] Terminator 2 is estimated to have earned a total worldwide gross of $519–$520.9 million,[99][126][4][127][d] making it the year's highest-grossing film and the third highest-grossing film ever, behind 1977's Star Wars ($530 million) and 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ($619 million).[128][126]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

 
Robert Patrick (in 2014). Critics praised the T-1000 character as "one of the great monsters of cinema," both for Patrick's performance and the deft blend of special effects used to realize his shapeshifting abilities.[e]

Terminator 2 was released to general acclaim.[4][126][134][13][135] Many reviews focused on the state-of-the-art physical, special, and make-up effects, which were roundly praised as "revolutionary" and "spectacular", particularly those relating to the T-1000 as a "technological wonder."[f] Several publications wrote that Cameron's ability for realizing cinematic action blockbusters was unmatched with Maslin believing that at his best, Cameron's work was akin to director Stanley Kubrick, despite occasional lapses into melodrama.[g] Maslin and The Austin Chronicle both commented on the kindness and compassion in the film, with the Chronicle contrasting it to the lack of a moral message in The Terminator, and Travers describing it as a "visionary parable", but they, alongside others, ultimately criticized Terminator 2's "muddled" message about protecting the value of human life and peace by using extreme violence to prevent the use of nuclear weapons, war, and technological reliance.[h]

Reviewers generally agreed that the narrative was stronger early in the film than towards the end. Glieberman believed the first hour had a genuine "emotional pull" and for Ebert the initial concept of a boy finding a father figure in a Terminator learning to be human was "intriguing", but Glieberman felt the narrative weakened once Hamilton's character joined the group, and Travers and Corliss wrote that it stumbled after hours of relentless action and a "conventional climax." Even so, Glieberman praised the final battle between the T-1000 and the protagonists.[i] Empire's review and Terrence Rafferty found it less narratively satisfying and idea-driven than The Terminator, and Glieberman said that, despite it being an effective and witty thriller, it came across as an expensive B movie when compared to "visionary spectacles" such as the Mad Max series and RoboCop (1987). Even so, Kenneth Turan said that Terminator 2's action scenes succeed without the extreme gore and violence of RoboCop.[131][141][132][139]

Ebert and Maslin, among others, appreciated the twist on Schwarzenegger's public action hero persona by making him a hero who does not kill his enemies, with David Ansen and Glieberman finding humor in the T-800's non-lethal methods and efforts to become more human.[j] Maslin and Hinson agreed that, as in The Terminator, Schwarzenegger's role was perfect for his acting abilities, with Hinson believing that Schwarzenegger portrayed more humanity as a machine than when portraying normal people.[133][140] In contrast, Empire suggested that the change was a concession to Schwarzenegger's younger fans, and Peter Travers singled out the T-800's death as a "cornball" scene that was out of place for the actor and film.[131][137]

The T-1000 character was praised by several reviewers for the combination of Patrick's "chilling" expressionless performance and the cutting-edge special effects, creating an implacable "showstopping" villain, with Empire calling him "one of the great monsters of the cinema."[k] Glieberman believed it was to the film's detriment that the character was absent for much of the film's second act, although Hinson wrote that the T-1000 lacked any "soul" and thus a way for the audience to identify with it.[132][140] Critics generally agreed that Hamilton portrayed a "fierce" heroine with an impressive physique that let her outshine another action heroine: Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley in Cameron's Aliens (1986).[l] Even so, other publications found the character's narrations about peace to be "heavy-handed", overused, and "unintentionally amusing."[m] Furlong was praised for giving a natural performance at a young age,[n] and Hinson wrote that even with limited screentime, Morton made an impression.[140] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale.[144]

AccoladesEdit

At the 1992 Saturn Awards, Terminator 2 received five awards: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director (Cameron), Best Actress (Hamilton), Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Furlong), Best Special Effects, and a nomination for Best Actor (Schwarzenegger).[145][146] It also won Favorite Motion Picture at the 18th People's Choice Awards.[147] For the 45th British Academy Film Awards, Terminator 2 received two awards: Best Sound (Lee Orloff, Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers) and Best Special Visual Effects (Stan Winston, Dennis Muren, Gene Warren Jr., Robert Skotak), as well as a nomation for Best Production Design (Joseph Nemec III).[148]

The 64th Academy Awards earned Terminator 2 four awards: Best Makeup (Winston and Jeff Dawn), Best Sound (Orloff, Johnson, Rydstrom, and Summers), Best Sound Effects Editing (Rydstrom and Gloria S. Borders), and Best Visual Effects (Muren, Winston, Warren Jr., and Skotak), as well as nominations for Best Cinematography (Adam Greenberg) and Best Film Editing (Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt and Richard A. Harris).[97] It was the first film to win an Academy Award where its predecessor had not even been nominated.[58] It received six awards at the 1992 MTV Movie Awards, including: Best Movie, Best Action Sequence ("L.A. Freeway Scene"), Best Breakthrough Performance (Furlong), Best Female Performance (Hamilton), Best Male Performance (Schwarzenegger), and nominations for Best Song From a Movie ("You Could Be Mine"), Best Villain (Patrick), and Most Desirable Female (Hamilton),[149] as well as a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Cameron and Wisher Jr.)[150]

Post-releaseEdit

AftermathEdit

Terminator 2 launched or raised the profiles of its principal actors. According to industry professionals, Schwarzenegger became the top international star ahead of actors such as Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise.[106] It also fostered a lasting friendship between him and Cameron, who formed a "midlife crisis motorcycle club" and reunited for the action film True Lies (1994).[4] Cameron and Hamilton began a romantic relationship in 1991, later marrying in 1997 before eventually divorcing.[151][17] In 1992, he was given a five-year $500 million contract by 20th Century Fox to produce twelve films.[152][153]

Furlong became highly in demand, and Patrick struggled with his new-found recognition as people asked him to impersonate the T-1000.[4] Despite the film's success, Carolco reported 1991 losses of $265.1 million caused by the financial struggles of its other films and subsidiaries, and despite investor support the studio filed for bankruptcy in 1995, its assets, including Terminator 2, being sold to Canal Plus for $58 million.[154][155][156][157][158]

Home mediaEdit

Terminator 2 was released on VHS and LaserDisc in December 1991.[159][160][161] It was a popular rental in the U.S. and Canada, with a record 714,000 copies shipped to retailers, and became the number 1 rental by mid-January 1992.[162][163][164][165][166][167] A "Special Edition" was released on LaserDisc in 1993, featuring a 15-minute extended version of the film, restoring deleted scenes including Biehn's cameo appearance as Kyle Reese, and John and Sarah modifying the T-800's CPU, as well as cast and crew interviews, storyboards, designs, and other unrestored deleted scenes. Cameron stated he did not use the label "Director's Cut" because he considered the theatrical releases as definitive and the extended versions as opportunities to restore "depth and character made omissible by theatrical running time."[77][168] The theatrical version was released on DVD in 1997,[169] and a 2000 "Ultimate Edition" DVD included an "Extended Cut" adding a further scene of the T-1000 inspecting John's bedroom, the option to end the film with the alternate ending showing a peaceful 2029, alongside the theatrical and "Special Edition" cuts, making-of documentaries, storyboards, and a production notes book. Terminator 2 special effects coordinator Van Ling supervised the release.[77][170][171] An "Extreme Edition" was released in 2003, featuring the theatrical and "Special Edition" cuts, a remastered 1080p image, the first commentary by Cameron, and a documentary about the film's legacy on special effects.[170]

Terminator 2 was released on Blu-ray in 2006, followed by the "Skynet Edition" in 2009, which contained the theatrical and "Special Edition" cuts, and commentaries with the cast and crew. This release included a limited collector's set, containing the Blu-ray as well as the "Ultimate" and "Extreme" DVDs and a digital download version, all special features ever released by that point, and a 14-inch T-800 skull bust.[172][173] A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray version was released in 2017, including a standard Blu-ray and digital version. This also offered a collector's option, featuring one of 6,000 life-size replicas of a T-800 skeleton forearm, each signed by Cameron and individually numbered, the soundtrack, the theatrical, "Special", "Extended", and 2017 3D remaster cuts, as well as "Reprogramming the Terminator", a documentary including interviews with Schwarzenegger, Cameron, and Furlong, among others.[174][175][176]

Fiedel's score was released by Varèse Sarabande in 1991, and spent six weeks on the Billboard 200 record chart, peaking at number 70.[85][177] The theme song, "You Could Be Mine", peaked at number 29 on the U.S. Billboard 100, as well as performing well in countries including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Spain, and Canada.[178][179][180]

3D remasterEdit

Cameron oversaw the year-long 3D remaster and subsequent 2017 theatrical release of Terminator 2 in August 2017. Cameron said "if you've never seen it, this'll be the version you want to see and remember.[181][182][183] Cameron made visual modifications to the film to fix errors that had bothered him, including: adding windshield glass to the T-1000's truck which fell out during its stunt fall because it then reappears in subsequent scenes; concealing the obvious use of stuntmen for Furlong and Schwarzenegger during the same scene, concealed more of Patrick's nudity during his introduction, and brightened the overall visuals.[184] The 3D remaster's theatrical release was seen as a disappointment, earning about $562,000 in its debut across 386 theaters compared to the 3D re-release of Cameron's Titanic ($17 million) in 2012.[185][186]

Other mediaEdit

 
The entrance to the T2-3D: Battle Across Time attraction at Universal Studios Florida

On its release, Terminator 2 received numerous tie-ins including toys, puppets, trading cards, jigsaw puzzles, clothing, a perfume named "Hero", and a novelization by Randall Frakes, which expands on the film's ending by depicting the T-800 as afraid of death because it has learned of a life outside of Skynet's restrictions.[187][188][104][189][2] The film received a comic book adaptation in 1991 from Marvel Comics, which was followed by various expansions of the Terminator 2 narrative, including Malibu Comics's "Cybernetic Dawn" and "Nuclear Twilight" (1995–1996), and Dynamite Entertainment's "Infinity" and "Revolution" (2007), as well as the T2 novel series by S. M. Stirling in the early 2000s.[190][191]

Terminator 2 received several video game adaptations, including a pinball machine and on-rails shooter arcade game in 1991, the latter of which was popular enough to be ported for home consoles as T2: The Arcade Game.[192][193][187][194] Multiple studios developed adaptations for home consoles, resulting in completely different games, including Terminator 2 for Game Boy and Terminator 2 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the NES version being ported to Game Gear and Sega Master System in 1992.[187] Another version, Terminator 2, was developed for the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and another, Terminator 2, for home computers.[187][192][195] In 1996, T2-3D: Battle Across Time, a live-action attraction was opened at Universal Studios Florida (later expanding to locations in Hollywood and Japan). Co-written and directed by Cameron, the 20-minute attraction cost $60 million, including live-action stunts combined with a $24 million 12-minute 3D film starring Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, and Furlong as their respective characters, making it the most expensive film per minute. In it, Sarah and John attempt to stop Cyberdyne which has successfully developed Skynet. They are confronted by the T-1000 but saved by the T-800, who returns to 2029 with John to finally defeat Skynet and its latest creation, the T-1000000.[196][197][198]

Themes and analysisEdit

Family and humanityEdit

A central theme of Terminator 2 is the relationship between John Connor and the T-800, who serves as a surrogate for the father (Kyle Reese) he never knew. Cameron said, "Sure, there's going to be big, thunderous action sequences, but the heart of the movie is that relationship," comparing it to the Tin Man getting his heart in The Wizard of Oz.[4] Both Terminator 2 and Cameron's earlier film Aliens focus on compassion and parental figures, with the latter film's central character Ripley serving as a surrogate mother to an orphaned girl in contrast to an alien queen and her brood, while the former film depicts the T-800's relentless protection of his ward against the equally relentless T-1000.[199] The T-800 is designed to emulate humans for infiltration purposes, but as it grows and evolves, the emotions become real and it learns to feel grief from its surrogate son. In the end, it chooses to sacrifice its life to ensure the survival of everyone else.[4][58][200] In 1991, essayist Robert Bly wrote that older men were not offering suitable role models for young men, and in Terminator 2, Sarah denounces the many men in her past who failed to be a father for John, except for the T-800. Even so, once its role is complete, it leaves John for his own good after stating it lacks the emotions John needs to rely on.[201]

While John teaches the T-800 about humanity, his biological mother Sarah has become less human because of her knowledge about the future. Cameron said, "She's a sad character—a tragic character ... she believes that everyone she meets, talks to, or interacts with will be dead very soon."[4][31] This theme of more machine-like humans tied in with Cameron's and Wisher's choice to make the T-1000 appear as a police officer because thematically they believed it represented humans who should have empathy for others, becoming more machine-like and detached from their emotions.[4][31] The SWAT team at Cyberdyne shoot Dyson, an African American, without warning. Cinephilia described Dyson as the most human character in the film, an intelligent, optimistic, family man, who represents real-world encounters between police forces and people of color, compared to their encounter with the caucasian T-800, during which they warn him before opening fire.[18] The 1991 police beating of Rodney King itself was captured on the same videotape used by a civilian to film the production filming the biker bar scenes.[200]

Following her escape from the state hospital, Sarah appears to embrace John but is actually checking him for injuries, forgoing any emotional attachment for the practicality of ensuring his survival and bringing about his destiny as a future leader.[33] The T-800 is portrayed as a better parent than Sarah, offering him undivided attention while Sarah remains distant, focused on the future instead of the present.[202] Philosophy professor Richard T. McClelland notes that Sarah accepts the T-800 as John's surrogate father such that she leaves John to it when she leaves to assassinate Dyson.[203] Her dream about the nuclear holocaust that will kill six billion people, including her son, incites Sarah to kill Dyson before he can complete the work that will birth Skynet, but when the moment comes she is unable to forsake her humanity fully and murder him in cold blood. Cameron described this as a question of what humanity is worth if we abandon it to win the battle for its existence.[4][200] Compared to the bleak, nihilistic theme of The Terminator, Terminator 2 emphasizes the concept of free will and the value of human life. Schwarzenegger quoted the film's "No fate but what we make," saying that people have control over their own destiny.[54][4]

ViolenceEdit

On its release, reviewers were critical of the film's message about preserving peace via violence, with Owen Gleiberman stating that "reckless indifference" to human life was intrinsic to the film, but the T-800 maiming people instead of killing them potentially condemned them to a life of pain.[o] Cameron described it as the "world's most violent anti-war movie," and about people struggling with their own violent nature.[31][200] In particular, Cameron had been concerned by the original antagonist T-800's status as a cultural icon and power fantasy as a lethal, unstoppable force of strength and power, and chose to redefine it with Terminator 2's T-800, retaining the power fantasy without taking lives.[200] Cinephilia said that it was not morally possible to recover from killing people, and so Terminator 2 is about redeeming the T-800 and Sarah.[18]

Masculinity and femininityEdit

The growth of female-led action films after the success of Aliens reflected the increase in women assuming non-traditional roles and the divide between professional critics (who perceive a masculinization of the heroine) and audiences who embraced characters regardless of gender.[204] The hyper-masculine heroes played by Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Jean-Claude Van Damme were replaced by independent women capable of defending themselves and defeating villains in films such Terminator 2 and The Silence of the Lambs.[205] These female characters often perform stereotypical male actions, however, and have muscular physiques rather than feminine "soft" bodies.[206] Professor Jeffrey Brown considered Hamilton's undershirt to be symbolic of typically male action heroes such as John McClane and John Rambo, as well as females displaying masculine traits such as Rachel McLish in Aces: Iron Eagle III.[207]

Despite the emphasis on strong femininity, Hamilton's character remains secondary to Schwarzenegger's, with Sarah's efforts to defeat the T-1000 falling short until the last-minute intervention of the T-800. Victoria Warren argues this allows the female character to be strong enough to be admired but not so strong they undermine the male protagonist's masculinity.[208] Amanda Fernbach and Thomas B. Byers suggest that the rigid form of the T-800 represents reactionary masculinity that is in direct opposition to the gender-bending T-1000, which represents a post-modern, fluid nature outside of traditional norms and against the patriarchy and the preservation of the traditional family.[209]

American industry and individualismEdit

Author Mark Duckenfield argued the film can be seen as an unintended allegory for the decline of United States (U.S.) industries against highly-successful Japanese technology firms, with the cutting-edge T-1000 representing Japan, against the older, less-advanced T-800. The U.S. industries, sometimes seen as villains during the economic boom of the 1980s are seen as more sympathetic in the face of obsolescence, just as the T-800 is presented as friendlier and still powerful, but no longer overwhelmingly so. Duckenfield considered it symbolic that the final scene takes place in a steel mill, a place of American industry.[210]

Warren wrote that Terminator 2 reflects Cold War American values that emphasized principles of American culture, in particular individualism and rejection of government intervention. The institutions that the film's protagonists should be able to rely on, such as the government, the police, and technology, are the very ones attempting to stop them because they do not believe in their doomsday prophecy.[211]

LegacyEdit

Cultural impactEdit

With a $102 million budget, Terminator 2 became the most expensive movie made in its time,[4][43][212][55] and it remains Schwarzenegger's highest-grossing film.[213] It had a significant impact on filmmaking, with Den of Geek describing it as one of the most influential blockbusters since the thriller Jaws (1975).[54] Cameron and special effects artist and supervisor Dennis Muren believed that the groundbreaking special effects in Terminator 2 demonstrated the possibilities of computer generated effects, and without it, effects-focused films such as Jurassic Park (1993) would not have been possible.[p] Various publications have referenced its influence on special effects, describing it as the most important special effects film since Tron (1982), and ushering in the era of reliance on CGI effects for films such as Jurassic Park and The Matrix (1999).[58][54][1][52][216] In 2007, the Visual Effects Society, an entertainment industry organization of visual effects practitioners, named Terminator 2 as the fourteenth most influential visual effects film of all time, and the T-1000 is listed by Guinness World Records as the "first major blockbuster movie character generated using computers".[217][218][219] Even so, The Guardian argued the "groundbreaking" effects led to "CGI laziness", a reliance on computer graphics over practical effects, stunts, and craft.[212] A 2014 Entertainment Weekly article argued Terminator 2 contributed to the contemporary Hollywood high-budget science-fiction epic film and a reliance on turning films into franchises targeted towards younger audiences and broader demographics.[220]

Alongside her appearance in The Terminator, Hamilton's Sarah Connor became regarded as one of the greatest and most influential cinematic action heroines[q] and an iconic character.[r] Similarly, Patrick's T-1000 is considered one of the most iconic and best cinematic villains.[s] He made cameo appearances as the T-1000 in Wayne's World (1992) and Schwarzenegger's Last Action Hero (1993).[61][237][231] In the same film, Stallone replaces Schwarzenegger as the T-800 on the Terminator 2 poster.[238] The T-800's line, "Hasta la vista, baby," is considered an iconic piece of movie dialogue that is often quoted. Schwarzenegger also used it in speeches during his political career.[t]

The film has been referred to in a variety of media, from television (including American Dad, Rick and Morty, Stranger Things, and The Simpsons), films (including Ready Player One and Scream 2), and video games (including Cyberpunk 2077, Doom, Grand Theft Auto Online, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and Mortal Kombat 11).[u] The biker bar scene was recreated for a 2015 advert featuring Schwarzenegger to promote the video game WWE 2K16, replacing the bar patrons with WWE wrestlers.[251]

Lasting receptionEdit

Since its release, Terminator 2 has been assessed as one of the greatest films,[252][253] and one of, if not the best sequels ever made.[v] It is considered equal to, or better than, The Terminator,[w] and is similarly seen as either the best film in the Terminator franchise, or second to The Terminator.[x] Terminator 2 is also considered one of the best action films of all time,[y] and one of the best science-fiction films.[z] In 2001, the American Film Institute (AFI) ranked Terminator 2 number 77 on its 100 Years...100 Thrills list recognizing the "most heart-pounding movies,"[276] and the 2003 list of the 100 Best Heroes & Villains ranked the T-800 character as the number forty-eight hero.[277] The 2005 list of the 100 Best Movie Quotes listed the T-800 line, "Hasta la vista, baby", as the number 76 best quote,[278] and the 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10 named Terminator 2 as the number 8 best science-fiction film.[279]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes offers a 93% approval rating from the aggregated reviews of 84 critics, with an average score of 8.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "T2 features thrilling action sequences and eye-popping visual effects, but what takes this sci-fi/action landmark to the next level is the depth of the human (and cyborg) characters."[280] The film has a score of 75 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 22 critics' reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[281] During its 30th anniversary in 2021, Cameron, among others, said that despite using older models of cars, the film still held up visually against contemporary films.[4][282] Cameron also believed it remained relevant because artificial intelligence had become a ubiquitous reality compared to fantasy.[4] In 2006, it was listed at number 32 on Film4's 50 Films to See Before You Die,[283] and it is included in the 2003 film reference book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.[284] Rotten Tomatoes listed it as one of 300 essential movies to watch and number 123 on its list of 200 essential movies to watch.[285][286] Popular Mechanics and Rolling Stone jointly listed it as the number three best time travel film ever made (alongside The Terminator).[287][288] Rolling Stone's reader-voted list of the best sequels lists Terminator 2 at second, behind The Godfather Part II (1974),[289] and Empire readers ranked the film number seventeen on its 2017 "100 Greatest Movies" list.[290]

SequelsEdit

Following its release, Cameron said he had no intentions for further sequels, believing Terminator 2 "brings the story full circle and ends. And I think ending it at this point is a good idea," and Wisher said they wrote the script intending to leave no option for a sequel.[291][292] Even so, four sequels followed: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), Terminator Genisys (2015), and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019).[293] None of the films managed to recreate the critical success of Terminator 2, and following the failure of Terminator Salvation, Terminator Genisys was an attempted reboot of the franchise set before the events of The Terminator. This also failed and was followed by Dark Fate which served as a direct sequel to Terminator 2 and ignored the events of Terminator 3 and all subsequent instalments.[135][293]

Schwarzenegger returned for Terminator 3, Terminator Genisys, and Dark Fate, but the latter is the only film since Terminator 2 to involve Cameron and Hamilton.[294] Although better critically received than other post-Terminator 2 entries, Dark Fate was also considered a failure, with analysts blaming audience disinterest on the diminishing quality of the series since Terminator 2 and repeated attempts to reboot the series.[295][293][294][296] It was also criticized by fans for its opening scene, in which a T-800 kills Furlong's teenage John Connor; entertainment website Collider wrote that this retroactively damaged the ending of Terminator 2.[294][296] A television series, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008–2009), also takes place after the events of Terminator 2 and ignores the events beyond and including Terminator 3.[297][298]

ReferencesEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Also promoted and abbreviated as T2[1][2]
  2. ^ As depicted in The Terminator (1984)
  3. ^ The 1991 budget of $102 million is equivalent to $203 million in 2021.
  4. ^ The 1991 box office gross of $519–$520.9 million is equivalent to $1.03 billion–$1.04 billion in 2021.
  5. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][130][131][132][133]
  6. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][130][132][133][136][137][138][139]
  7. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][131][133][140]
  8. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][133][136][138][141][142]
  9. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[130][132][142][137][140]
  10. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[130][136][131][132][133][139]
  11. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][130][131][132][133]
  12. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[130][136][133][138]
  13. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[137][143][142][138]
  14. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[130][136][133][140]
  15. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[129][133][136][138][141][142][132]
  16. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[4][212][214][215][55]
  17. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[58][221][222][223][224][225]
  18. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[4][226][225][227][228][229][230]
  19. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[231][232][233][234][235][236]
  20. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[4][42][239][240]
  21. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[241][242][243][244][245][246][247][248][249][250]
  22. ^ Attributes to multiple references:[254][255][256][215]
  23. ^ Attributed to multiple references:[257][258][259][230]
  24. ^ Attributes to multiple references:[1][215][256][260][261][262][263][264]
  25. ^ Attributes to multiple references:[1][214][215][265][266][267][268]
  26. ^ Attributes to multiple references:[215][259][269][270][271][272][273][274][275]

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Further readingEdit

  • Cameron, James; Wisher, William (1991). Terminator 2: Judgment Day : the book of the film, an illustrated screenplay. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Applause Books. ISBN 978-1-55783-097-5.
  • Duncan, Jody; Cameron, James (2006). The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-1-84576-365-7.
  • Shay, Don; Duncan, Jody (July 1991). The Making of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-1-85286-394-4.

External linksEdit

  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day at IMDb