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Terminator 2: Judgment Day


James Cameron ("The Terminator," "Aliens") is the master of apocalyptic pulp, the blue-collar Wagner of the action movie. His thunderously visceral Terminator 2: Judgment Day has the clash-of-the-titans scale of grand opera, but with the lyricism replaced by clanking, shrieking metal. In the postnuclear world of 2029, machines have gained supremacy over man, and humanity's only hope rests on the shoulders of John Connor, the leader of the resistance. In the first movie the cyborg played by Arnold Schwarzenegger was sent back to the 1980s to kill John Connor's mother before the warrior could be born. That failed, and now, a decade later, they've sent back a new, improved model (Robert Patrick) to try to kill the boy John (Edward Furlong). But a second cyborg is dispatched as his protector - Arnold again, rebuilt as a hero. Can John, his fiercely protective mother, Sarah (Linda Hamilton), and their metallic guardian angel survive the threat of a liquid-metal cyborg with the ability to take the form of anything it touches? It's a basic action-movie setup: the thrill - and the considerable wit - are all in the presentation. Given that this is the most expensive movie ever (box), one expects extraordinary mayhem. And this Cameron delivers with a perfectionist's zeal and some of the most special special effects in eons. But Cameron's achievement isn't only technical. He's using all the not-so-cheap thrills of a violent genre to make a movie with an antiviolence message, and the wonder of T2 is that he pulls it off without looking silly. (The hypocrisy is built into the form: we're there, after all, for the rush of destruction.) Cameron and co-writer William Wisher play a nifty joke on Schwarzenegger's image as the Terminator: the kid makes him swear not to kill anybody, and it's funny watching him waste his enemies without terminating them. Nobody knows how to use Schwarzenegger better than Cameron: he was born to play a machine. As a human in "Total Recall" he wasn't convincing or vulnerable. Here, as an emotionless cyborg acting out the part of a foster father, he's impressive, hilarious, almost touching. Hamilton's sinewy Sarah, a fanatical matriarchal warrior, is a wonderfully gaga heroine, as ferocious as a lioness protecting her cub, and twice as butch as Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens." Furlong, making his movie debut, is a natural. For all its state-of-the-art pyrotechnics and breathtaking thrills, this bruisingly exciting movie never loses sight of its humanity. That's its point, and its pride. By David Ansen, Newsweek Magazine, July 1991

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Directed by: 
James Cameron
Running Time: 
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick
Screenplay by: 
James Cameron, William Wisher

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