Honestly, before we go any further, I have to say that this is just one of the movies where, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what I say about it. Practically everyone on the planet has seen it, it's one of the most beloved films of the 90's and of all time, for that matter, it's often considered both the best sequel and sci-fi/action film ever made, and has its place in history for the groundbreaking visual effects work employed to make James Cameron's vision come to life. So, what else can I bring to it except to give my own personal opinion, as I always do? And in case you're wondering what that is, I'll say that it comes in two halves. The first one is that this is indeed a movie that does a lot of things right and deserves much of the acclaim it gets. It's very entertaining, fast-paced, expertly put together, has great acting all around, awesome action scenes, special effects that are still jaw-dropping to this day, and, most importantly, has a real human core to its story, as most of Cameron's action movies do. So, that's all great and I have nothing but praise for the movie there. But, on the other hand, it's not my favorite Terminator movie or my favorite sci-fi/action movie. While it is well done in many, many respects, there are other movies of this genre that I prefer a lot more, particularly the first Terminator, which is still my favorite of the series, for its dark, gritty, horror movie-like feel; although every penny is certainly up there on the screen here, this film is a little too massive and polished for my personal tastes. And also I do think this movie is a smidge overrated and, despite being well-made, is not as perfect as so many feel that it is. I guess the best way I can put it is that it's a film that I really admire but it's not one of my favorite movies of all time. It's a great flick, no doubt about it, but it's not one I pop in all that often when I'm in the mood for a movie of this genre.
I think it goes without saying that the action sequences in Terminator 2 are just as amazing as the special effects. They're very well put together, choreographed, and edited, with some very good stuntwork and absolutely unreal physical effects involving genuine big vehicles like trucks and helicopters. Like the first film, the movie wastes no time in thrusting you into the ongoing war between the human resistance and SkyNet in 2029. After Sarah's monologue about Judgment Day and the aftermath, we get a close-up of a Terminator endoskeleton's foot crushing a human skull that pans up to reveal a devastating battle going on. A big Hunter-Killer tank comes rolling in, blasting everything in sight, as soldiers fire at it from behind cover, with one soldier getting killed by the tanks laser cannon. As the soldiers continue the fight, a flying HK comes roaring in and shoot down another soldier as it escalates into an all-out war, leading into that amazing shot where you see both sides firing at each other. A truck with a soldier manning a laser cannon in the back tries to shoot down a pursuing HK flyer but they get blown up with their truck, while laser gun-toating Terminators come marching in and fire at the soldiers. Another truck with a soldier, this time with a rocket launcher, manages to destroy one of the flying HK's. After that is when we get our only look at the adult commander John Connor, who walks out of his bunker and looks over the battlefield while Sarah describes the two attempts by SkyNet to kill John in the past with the use of Terminators (by the way, does John not look badass with his stern expression and those scars on his face?) After the opening credits over shots of a children's playground in flames, which are very haunting images, the movie promptly gets underway, with the Terminator arriving from the future near a small biker bar. Following a funny bit where the Terminator walks into the place completely naked, searching for clothes that match, with everybody staring at him in either shock or amusement (as well as questionable interest, in the case of that one waitress), he comes across the biker with the right set and, as politely as he possibly could, asks him for them and his motorcycle. The guy reacts the way anybody would by laughing in his face and, after saying that he forgot to say please, blowing smoke at him and putting his cigar out on his chest. That was a mistake, because the Terminator proceeds to grab his hand and crush it, bringing the guy to his knees and forcing him to ask for help. Another biker whacks the Terminator across the back of the head with a pool stick and gets thrown clear across the room and out the window for his trouble, while the Terminator flings his victim into the kitchen, where he lands on the fryer. Another biker stabs the Terminator in the chest but he just grabs his arm, turns it completely around, and puts the knife through his shoulder, nailing him to the pool table. The guy yells for help but everyone else decides to hell with this and leaves. The Terminator marches into the kitchen and takes the biker's handgun away when he draws it on him, prompting the guy to throw him the keys to his bike. After the scene where the Terminator walks out of the bar with his new set of clothes, as well as "relieves" the bartender of his rifle and sunglasses, he drives off, while the T-1000 arrives in another part of town, kills a police officer, and takes his uniform and car.
While I like his score for the first film more because of the cool, synthesizer sound and how scary it is at points, Brad Fiedel did provide T2 with a great one as well. The main Terminator theme is now much bigger and more epic and heroic rather than somber and apocalyptic but it's still a nice sound and the combination of it with the shots of the burning playground during the opening credits does have a power to it. He creates some alternative, even more heroic versions of it for some of the action scenes, like when the Terminator first saves John on the motorcycle, but my favorite alternate version of it is the sad, slow one that plays at the end when the Terminator sacrifices himself. It's very effective and highlights the emotion perfectly. The theme for the Terminator character, which is this distant sound that's like metal banging and is accompanied by a menacing, electronic melody, doesn't have the power of the heartbeat sound from the first movie but since he's the good guy here, they probably couldn't use that. You only hear it while he's still something of an imposing figure and I like that you also hear it when Sarah is trying to kill Dyson, reinforcing the idea that she's become like a Terminator herself at that moment. I like the theme for the T-1000, which is this threatening, constantly droning sound that gets across that he's lethal and unstoppable. I used to not like the theme that plays during some of the chase scenes, like the first one at the mall and at the hospital, because I felt it sounded a little cheap, but now I don't mind it. What I like more, though, is the kind of atmospheric music for when the authorities arrive at Cyberdyne, the music that plays during the helicopter chase, and the utterly awesome bit that plays when they all crash into the steel mill. And how can you not love the epic themes that play during the battles in the mill, especially the one that builds and builds as Sarah blasts the T-1000 towards the edge of the platform and the nightmarish piece with singing male voices that you hear when the T-1000 is slowly dissolved in the molten steel? Good stuff. I'm more mixed on the actual songs on the soundtrack, though. Can't say too much about Guitars, Cadillacs other than it's definitely country, which I hear all the time around here so it doesn't faze me at all. Bad to the Bone is overrated and overused in my opinion; it got enough coverage in Christine. And You Could Be Mine by Guns N' Roses? Eh, it's okay, but utlimately not something I would listen to all the time.