Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Review: Terminator 2 (3D)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D
(spoilers, but I'm going to assume you've seen this 1991 movie)
Cert: 15 / 135 mins / Dir. James Cameron / Trailer

"It's certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life.
At one point you've got it, then you lose it. And it's gone forever…"

~ Simon Williamson, 1996.

The premise of Sick Boy's all-pervasive theory rang in my ears as I watched the original T2 movie. As a combination of nostalgia and enduring awe swirled around my mind on the 20th anniversary of the film's Judgment Day, it did not escape my attention that there is something to be learned here. No matter how interesting or well-intentioned the subsequent Terminator sequels (and TV spinoff) may have been, they have never recaptured the greatness displayed in the first two installments*1.
And they never will.
Don't @ me.

Much like the first Terminator movie, I always seem to forget how utterly fantastic the sequel is until I'm watching it. James Cameron's 'reveal' of Arnie's character-role is nothing short of masterful and gets better with each viewing, with the absolute buy-in of the entire cast (plus we effectively get it twice - once with John's discovery and again with Sarah's). Many hold up Linda Hamilton's performance as Sarah Connor as the pinnacle of Strong Female Character™ portrayal*2, but there's really so much more here. Afraid, unsure, neurotic, cruel and blisteringly angry. Hamilton is the prime example of why we need interesting characters, not strong ones. Edward Furlong's overacting hasn't aged particularly well, but you can't have everything.

The stereoscopic conversion of the film (the real reason for the screening, rather than the fictional anniversary of something which we've never seen actually occur) is beautifully executed, and the occasional glance-over-the-glasses reveals its constant use in this remastered version. Unfortunately, cinematographer Adam Greenberg didn't orchestrate his work to be watched in three dimensions, so other than background-depth it really adds very little. In fact, Terminator 2 is so visually engaging anyway that it's barely noticeable. The 3D certainly doesn't get in the way, at any rate, and if the end result is the crystal-clear print we now have, that's absolutely fine.

Every single bit as enjoyable as it was 26 years ago, T2 is an outstanding piece of work and a timeless lesson in action/sci-fi cinema. Although I knew that before I sat down to remind myself of it…

Random thought during the film: I like that they hired Don and Dan Stanton to play the hospital security guard for the scene by the coffee machine. As if the folks at ILM were like "Yeah, I know you want the guy to be looking at his robot double. But trust me, blue-screening it will look like Captain Mainwaring's brother in Dad's Army and we're too busy in here making the Silver Surfer Terminator. Why can't you just hire twins, or something..?"

One question, though: Why does the T101's internal readout have a decimal point for the number of human casualties? What constitutes a fraction of a death in the Terminator's eyes?

So I've made a list…
0.1 Tiredness and irritability
0.2 Hay-fever symptoms
0.3 Tickly cough
0.4 Dirt / grit in eyes
0.5 Lower-back pain
0.6 Nasty rash
0.7 Chinese burn
0.8 Stung by wasp
0.9 Scalded by hot milk

Then it's death…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Terminator.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you get the opportunity, hell yeah. Several cinemas have it playing through the week and into this weekend.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's definitely A-game.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.
Which is frankly ridiculous

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Although by all rights I should really credit ILM's Dennis Muren and veteran stunt-performer Vic Armstrong as a level-1s, this film stars Linda Hamilton who was in 1984's The Stone Boy alongside Wilford 'Noa' Brimley.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although it also didn't escape my attention that the same charge could be levelled at James Cameron's directorial career, but that's a discussion for another time... [ BACK ]

*2 Second only to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley, of course. But Weaver excels for the same reasons as Hamilton, her strength only comes at the end of a rollercoaster of dramatic emotions, and even then is frequently punctuated by fear and doubt. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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