This is part of my #21ScifiMovie Project where I watch 21 scifi movies in 21 days – and write about it (and what do you do on your vacation?). You can find the whole list here.

For this Not-Review, I have watched the 2008 Skynet Edition, which contains additional scenes compared to the original 1991 theatrical release – which is the one I’ve watched before. And it might be the first time I saw it in English. But I’m not quite sure about that.

The movie at Wikipedia and IMDB.

Not-A-Review in One Sentence

A classic scifi-action movie that holds up even after 26 years.

Not-A-Review in a Haiku

Time, trust, human nature
Real threats, the dawn of CGI
A machine becomes human

A Thought on Thrills, a Feeling of Danger & Special Effects

T2 was groundbreaking with its computer-generated special effects – which only make up a total of about five minutes of the run-time. A lot of it was still done with practical effects.
And I don’t know if it is the nature of CGI or the style of film-making that has changed, but most fight sequences in movies (I’m looking at you, superhero genre) just don’t carry a feeling of threat with them. In this movie, Sarah Connor gets sliced by the T-1000 – and it hurts and impairs her. Later, she gets shot – and it makes things visibly more difficult to them.
Also, the threat of the T-1000 is quickly established – it kills without hesitation. The only thing that even slows him down in direct physical confrontation is the T-800. Everyone else: dead.

What happens often in CGI-heavy movies today? The opponents get thrown around a lot. They take some cosmetic damage. But you very seldom – if ever – get the feeling that they’re hurting. Instead, the threat gets established by leveling buildings (which everyone seems to survive) and throwing around cars and lorries (without anyone inside).
Hyperdrive did a video about something similar, focusing on the neck-lift.

One more thing that contributes to the feeling of threat: The Utter Lack of Banter(TM). There is no quipping between the characters or in the face of death. The few humorous moments arise naturally from the interaction of the characters. And they serve a purpose: They make you care for the unfeeling machine. They provide moments of relieve, before things get intense again. They are not there to spice up otherwise often very anemic fight scenes.

Not 100% sure where I’m going with this, but the level of thrills I felt when watching Terminator 2 was much higher than watching Valerian.

And yes, I know that T2 was had an R-Rating, while for example Captain America: Civil War was PG-13. But, hey, these are my thoughts and not an objective review (as clearly stated in the title).

A Thought on Character & Plot

This movie focuses on a small cast – and the main antagonist is not seen for quite a while. Very effectively, we get introduced to the main characters and their, well, characteristics.
And there are quite a few slower, quieter, more thoughtful sequences in here. They help the characters and the audience to catch up with the action and provide the, hm, philosophical(?), moral(?) underpinnings of the story. These quiet moments allow for example Sarah Connor to reflect on what she’s learned so far and to change her attitude towards the T-800 completely.

A Thought on Mental Health Institutions

The way Sarah’s treatment was shown irked me strongly. Yes, it was (hopefully) for the story. But treating people with mental illnesses like prisoners or caged, wild animals sickened me to the bone.

A Thought on a Familiar Face

Joe Morton. I did not remember that he was in this film where he played Miles Bennet Dyson, the guy about to invent the tech that makes Skynet possible. I fondly remember Joe Morton from Eureka where he played Henry Deacon. And it now occurred to me that Henry Deacon is very similar to Miles Dyson: a genius scientist with a conscience.

Oh, and I wonder if Dyson was named after Freeman Dyson, the guy who – among a lot of other very cool things – gave us the idea of the Dyson Sphere.

A Thought on the Nineties

Or perhaps the late eighties since the film took a bit of time to write and produce. On screen, you see:

  • Smoking
  • Heartfelt swearing
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Riding motorbikes without helmets
  • Not putting on seatbelts
  • BulkyCRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitors with 4:3 aspect ratio
  • No cell phones

Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? Let us know in the comments.

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