He'll be back... but will we?
When I was younger, I remember being obsessed with Terminator 2. My parents gave me this little TV that had a built in video recorder, and one of the few things I remember recording was Terminator 2 off of one of the local tv stations (that and a clip off of Entertainment Tonight or some such entertainment new program about Jonathan Taylor Thomas when he was filming Tom and Huck… what?!? I would have been 12 years old at the time! Clearly that’s a forgivable offense!). Flash forward to 2009 at the ripe old age of 26, and while I still remember thinking T2 was awesome, I pretty much only know that it starred Edward Furlong as John Connor, had a shapeshifting T1000, and ends with Arnie giving us a big old thumbs up as he is lowered into a pit of molten metal... And maybe there is something with a playground? Clearly I had some gaps to fill in.
Which is why it was awesome that Netflix had the first two Terminator movies available to watch online through their “Watch it Now” feature. Having never seen the first movie, we decided to start there… Although I will state for the record that I think Tony thought I was joking when I suggested it. But I totally wasn’t, because I am unabashed in my love of T2!!! Or I was, until we started watching T1 and saw how, well, cheesy it was. The storyline is great (the Terminator (aka Arnie) gets sent from the future to annihilate Sarah Connor because she will give birth to a son, John, who will cause robots a lot of problems one day… So, future John sends back a human soldier who is meant to protect his mom from the Terminator… lots of shooting and reckless driving result.), but the movie is CRAZY dated on all fronts: wardrobe & hair, music, and “special” “effects” (let’s be honest, maybe at the time they were impressive, but on a current viewing, they are far from special… The scene where “Arnold” is fixing himself is jaw-dropping terrible! They didn’t even make him the right color!). But in spite of all that, the story was really engaging (even if parts were predictable). Also, I discovered that Arnie was the VILLAIN in the first movie, something I had gone more than a quarter century without knowing… Crazy! All in all, T1 shows its age, but it was fun and held our attention and made us excited to watch the sequel (although I was nervous that maybe it was secretly visually crummy, but I just didn’t remember because the last time I’d seen the movie I had a crush on JTT and now I’m a married lady.).
So the next night we watched T2, and I needn’t have worried because production quality was MUCH better just 7 years later (true, the budget had increased 20 fold, which probably was a contributing factor). We’re light years ahead of all that stuff now, but all the effect bits with the T1000 looked really good, actually (less good: when Arnold loses an arm, but it is obvious that it is still under the jacket he is wearing). And for a movie that’s almost 20 years old now (wild!), it doesn’t feel such a product of its decade as the first movie; you can tell it was probably shot sometime in the ‘90s, but it was not so glaringly obvious (and ugly) as the first flick. As for the story itself, it was just as good as I remembered! It was definitely time for a rewatch, because I really didn’t remember most of it, and it was fun to revisit. In this movie the robots try again and send an updated killer robot (T1000) to terminate a young John Connor. Future John has befriended the Terminator model that had tried to kill his mom in the first movie, so Arnie’s back, but this time as the protector. Yay! I find the time travel questions involved in the movie pretty interesting - I think the best way to think of it is of parallel timelines, such that we have an infinite possible futures ahead of us and the events that take place in the current timeline whittle away which futures we’ll actually have. These are not the most cerebral films to watch, but generally speaking, for a “dumb” action sci/fi franchise, these two installments are pretty fun, and even kind of thought-provoking. Also, I kind of dig the fact that so much of the action focuses around Sarah in these movies; yes it's her son who's raising hell somewhere in the future, but she's this huge contributing factor and this force to be reckoned with. If my love of Buff teaches us anything, it's that I like a lady who can kick some ass.
But will we watch the third movie? (Based on Tony’s review, clearly the fourth movie is out…) I’m not sure. My interest was piqued following T2 because it was really satisfying and well done, but I know there are more stories out there… yet the quality begins to decline. It might be best to quit while we’re ahead and just enjoy these films for what they are rather than plunging on, only to be disappointed. After all, I’ve gone 15 or so years without knowing anything more than the events of T2… and now I have the backstory of T1 to flesh things out… Maybe we’ll table things for now and re-evaluate in another 15?
However we choose to go from here, I highly recommend you check out these two movies if you never caught them the first time around (or even if you did but just haven't seen them in a while!). They really do hold up well (the second better than the first, probably)... you could find worse things to do for 2 hours of your life.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5