That’s got the blood boiling of pretty much any Terminator 2 fan eh?
Well this is my 100th post on this blog (Have I really written 100 pointless articles?). So may as well piss off as many Terminator 2 fans as possible.
But I do stand by what I say. The film often regarded as “the best sequel ever” really is a bad sequel.
But before I do elaborate on why its a bad sequel, allow me to remember the film that started the franchise.
The Terminator: I actually wanted to cover this film for Halloween as its one of my all time favourite horror films ever made.
Yes I did write horror there because it is a horror film and more accurately it falls into the slasher flick sub-genre of horror film. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the staples that are considered when talking about slasher films…
Stalker type villain? The Terminator.
Villain often masked or disguised? The Terminator is a robot covered in living tissue.
Feeble female lead that overcomes the stalker? Sarah Connor.
POV shots from the villain? Plenty of those in this film.
The virgin that has sex and dies shortly after? Kyle Reese after being with Sarah.
The police are useless? The police in this film do nothing to help Sarah and end up being massacred.
After being defeated the villain still comes back? After being blown up by Kyle, the Terminator still goes after Sarah.
Okay, I think we have enough parallels there. But as you can see, The Terminator follows the slasher film formula pretty closely.
Also, it was a low budget film made by a lot of inexperienced crew mainly on their first film.
Just like Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th…and so on.
Anyway, The Terminator is an amazing film. Well crafted with believable lore and deep/interesting characters. Shame the same can not be said about Terminator 2.
So why is Terminator 2 a bad sequel?
Well a good sequel is one that takes everything the last film did and continues the fore-mentioned lore, it builds on the previous film and adds more depth to the characters. Terminator 2 does not do this.
My problems with Terminator 2 vary from gaping plot holes, terrible dialogue to poor scripting, inconsistent writing and just plain insulting the original film.
With so many problems, its hard to pick a starting point.
Let’s begin with the biggest plot hole of the entire film…
1) Nothing dead can use the Time Displacement Equipment (TDE). This is a rule explained and shown to be true in the first film, this is why both the Terminator and Kyle are sent back naked and why no future weapons are sent either. All this is explained and shown to be true. The T-1000 in Terminator 2 is nothing but dead material, it can not use the TDE, it can not be in the past. None of the events of Terminator 2 can happen given established in-universe rules.
Now some people claim that the T-1000 can mimic human flesh and that is why it can use the TDE, except it can’t. We know it can’t mimic human flesh as we are told it can’t mimic anything complex and human flesh is pretty damn complex. Plus when you see the T-1000 get shot in the film, there is no human tissue there its pure liquid metal. So within the opening minutes of this film already contradicts the rules established in the first film.
2) Why is there another Arnie Terminator in the film? Yes they are mass produced in a factory…but why would Skynet even build more T-800 (the robot) Model 101 (the skin) when the reason provided in the first film for the creation of the new T-800 is due to the fact the previous machine, the T-600 had rubber skin and was (quote) “easy to spot”?
Surely if Skynet is aware its T-600 units are “easy to spot” leading to Skynet creating the more advanced T-800 with living tissue. It would not make multiples of that same unit that look identical as it would be “easy to spot”, in fact easier to spot than the T-600 the T-800 was built to replace, making the existence of the T-800 redundant.
3) Why is the T-1000 naked when being sent through the TDE (which it can’t do anyway)? We know why the T-800 and Kyle had to be sent through naked as nothing dead will go, so they can’t wear clothing. But the T-1000 can mimic clothing as the film shows us. Skynet is aware clothing is important as the first thing the T-800 does in the first film when it gets sent back is acquire clothing, that is also what it does in Terminator 2. So clearly obtaining clothing is something programmed into the machines and obviously important.
So why is the T-1000 naked? Default appearance is often the excuse, but let’s look at my next point…
4) The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit. Designed and programmed to blend in. It can only mimic what it touches. So if being naked is its default appearance…would that not stand our when it was trying to infiltrate?
Picture the scene, war ravaged world where humans fight for survival against its AI oppressors. People are dying all around and through the smoke walks a completely naked male figure that is designed to blend in. Does not work does it? Why would a naked form even be part of the T-1000s programming?
5) Lets just go back to the first film and its exposition for a second. Kyle: “Its defence grid was smashed, Skynet had already lost” and “Its just him (T-800) and me, nothing else comes through. Nuff said.
So why is there a sequel and why are more terminators being sent if we have already been told this can not happen?
6) Why doesn’t the T-800 kill any of the bikers in the bar scene? We know it is programmed to kill as the scene with the two guys that come to help John shows later in the film.
John: “You we’re gonna kill that guy.”
T-800: “Of course, I’m a terminator.”
See, it is programmed to kill, but only roughs up the people in the bar. Now remember that bar scene? The T-800 is attacked, its mission is being hindered. That very same make and model terminator killed for much less in the first film, remember the clerk in the gun store? He was killed just for telling the terminator it couldn’t load the gun in the shop. But in Terminator 2, the same make and model kills no one despite being stabbed with a knife and attacked with a pool cue?
Even more so within Terminator 2 itself, that same machine was willing to kill the guy coming the HELP John later in the film, but not kill anyone in the bar that were getting into the way of its mission? The terminator would have left a trail and been traced if it killed people in the bar…maybe. But wouldn’t roughing people up in front of dozens of witnesses, stealing clothing, a motorbike and even guns also leave a trail?
7) If Skynet is supposed to be this amazing, militaristic thinking piece of AI. Why didn’t it send the more advanced T-1000 back to 1984 and the events of the first film when Sarah was more vulnerable and unaware? In fact seeing as Skynet can send multiple units through the TDE as this film proves (which contradicts the first film), why didn’t it send an army of terminators through to kill Sarah/John to ensure it would win?
8) Why doesn’t the T-1000 fully mimic the cop in the opening? We know it can fully mimic people as the film itself shows us. But instead of fully mimicking the cop, it just mimics the uniform (more on this issue later). Wouldn’t a person walking around in a police uniform that is numbered while also driving a police car that is also numbered not be a little bit suspicious? What if a fellow cop that knew the original cop recognised the uniform/cop car number and realised the person using them was not the cop they knew?
So instead of the T-1000 just mimicking the cop and passing itself off as him, we now have a missing cop and a strange man wearing his uniform and using his car. The T-1000 is supposed to be an infiltration unit remember.
9) The T-1000 can only mimic things of equal size. The cop uniform is not equal size, nor is John’s foster mother or the guard at the hospital as you see the size difference as the T-1000 morphs. Speaking of the hospital, it mimics the hospital floor and you can bet your arse that is most definitely not equal size. So it can mimic things not of equal size then?
10) John asks the T-800 to swear not to kill, but why? The machine has no concept of human rules and I can prove it.
John: “You can’t just go around killing anyone.”
John: “You just can’t.”
John: “You just can’t OK?”
See, the T-800 does not understand human rules to the point it doesn’t understand why it can’t kill…so why would asking it swear not to kill mean anything to the machine? John never explains what swearing means or its importance/meaning to humans. All the T-800 does is parrot John by holding up his hand and swearing not to kill, its programming remains the same and it is programmed to kill remember. So given what we have learned through the exposition of the film, there is no reason for the Terminator not to kill.
But just to add to the pointlessness of the “swearing” scene. Just minutes earlier we, the audience and John learn that the T-800 has to follow his orders, so why didn’t John just order the machine not to kill?
11) On the subject of John’s orders having to be followed by the T-800. Let’s skip to the end if the film and when the T-800 is lowered into the molten steel. What is it that John says again? Ahhhhh yes…
John: “I order you not to go, I order you not to go.”
Well there you have it, the T-800 can’t “die” as John just ordered it not to. But wait, what does the T-800 reply with?
T-800: “I’m sorry John, I can’t do that.”
So now it doesn’t have to follow John’s orders, since when can it do that? If it can choose to not follow his orders then why did it break mission parameters by taking John into direct danger earlier in the film risking the mission just because John orders it to? What danger am I taking about? Next point.
12) Why would the more mature future resistance leader John allow the T-800 to follow his younger, immature self’s orders?
What if that immature version of himself orders the T-800 to rescue his mother, who we are told is not a mission priority and therefore breaking it mission parameters and taking John into direct danger putting huge risk onto the mission?
Wouldn’t it make more sense for the T-800 to be programmed to follow the more knowledgeable and prepared Sarah’s orders?
13) Another thing about the ending that makes no sense. The T-1000 stabs Sarah and asks her (quite eloquently too) to “call to John.” Why would it do this when we know it can mimic people? Even more so we are told in the film that the T-1000 typically kills whoever it mimics. So why didn’t the T-1000 just kill and mimic Sarah, get close to John and then kill him. Mission complete.
“It glitches, that’s why it can’t mimic Sarah” is the usual response. Yes it does glitch…in the extended cut, but not so much the theatrical cut and the one most familiar to everyone. But even if we go the glitch route excuse. The T-1000 still manages to mimic Sarah as the film proves later anyway. So the whole “call to John” bit is inane.
14) About that extended cut. There is a scene included where the T-800 has its chip removed so it can learn. From a filming perspective, its a great scene that features a mirror image with 2 T-800s, 2 Sarahs and 2 Johns. The amazing thing about this scene is the fact no mirror was used nor were any special effects either. Its a great shot done so using a simple magic trick. Brilliantly filmed…but from a plot and character perspective is makes no sense.
So the T-800 allows its chip to be removed and therefore is taken offline, meaning its no longer capable of doing its mission. Why would the T-800 let the happen? What if the T-1000 turned up while it’s chip was removed?
Plus its chip is removed so a physical switch can be moved to allow it to learn. So Skynet built a machine with a switch that has to be manipulated physically for it to learn, meaning if Skynet ever sent one of these units out not to learn but then changed it mind later and wanted it to learn. It would have to recall that unit to manually remove the chip and change the switch?
But maybe there are two ways to change the switch, one manual and one remotely. Maybe there is, but if the switch can be changed remotely then why would Skynet even bother with a manual switch to begin with?
Then if this particular T-800 switch is not set to learn (hence the need to remove the chip)…then how had it been learning anything up to this point in the film. Like swearing not to kill for example?
15) The Terminator actually fails in its mission in the end. Remember it is programmed to protect John. By the end if the film, the T-1000 is destroyed but John is still in danger and in need of protection. He and Sarah are still being hunted by the police for example.
So effectively, the T-800 abandons its mission at the end as John was still in danger. Mission failed.
16) Sarah is often cited as being a strong female character in Terminator 2…but is she really?
Let’s look at her key scenes.
Escaping the hospital. Yeah she does well here and gets quite far. But then she falls on her arse and has to be rescued by the big, muscle bound male hero.
Taking out Dyson. All Sarah has to do is kill Miles Dyson and Skynet never exists, she has him dead bang, all she has to do is squeeze the trigger. Then the males show up to show her the error of her ways as a woman can’t make decisions and its the male that has to step in.
Blowing up Cyberdyne. They all get rushed by the SWAT team and Sarah gets cornered and who is it that comes to save her, that same big, muscle bound male hero.
The helicopter chase. She holds her own for a while here until she takes a round in the shoulder and yet again its the big, muscle bound male hero that steps in by suddenly breaking in the SWAT van they are using causing the helicopter to crash. But he couldn’t do that before Sarah is shot?
Sarah is the one that shoots the at the T-1000 inching it closer and closer to the molten steel to meet its doom and then…she runs out of ammo and the big, muscle bound male hero is the one that comes along to save the girl…again.
I honestly fail to see how Sarah is considered a strong female character in this film when she has to be saved by the male hero every single time. She is nothing more than a set up to make the male hero look good. She’s the cliché damsel in distress…but with a gun.
17) The dialogue in this film is cringe worthy. Let’s look at some of the dialogue from both films and compare.
The Terminator: “It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”
Terminator 2: “Chill out dick-wad.”
The Terminator: “You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fuckin’ heart out!”
Terminator 2: “I need a vacation.”
The Terminator: “John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know why at the time. It was very old, torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve… I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you; I always have.”
Terminator 2: “Hasta la vista, baby.”
Notice how the first film has beautifully written descriptive dialogue that furthers the plot, notice how T2 is full of inane catchphrases?
My fingers tire with the many, many problems Terminator 2 has so I’ll end it here…but there are plenty more problems with this film.
Do I “hate” Terminator 2?
Not at all, it is a good dumb popcorn flick and its directed brilliantly. But its a terrible sequel and even an insult to the original film. Its a superfluous and shallow picture and full of dull, terrible, lazy writing and horrendous plot holes.
I have to wonder if James Cameron even paid attention to the first film when he made this “sequel”?
I think one of my biggest problems with Terminator 2 is how much of a waste they made Sarah Conner. She should have been the central character in the film and not pushed to the back burner to help inflate Arnie’s (at the time) huge star power.
Let me give an example;
Sarah is the main conduit between the films. She listened to Kyle in the first film, she watched the police interview tape, she knows the rules. So why is she not the one asking the T-800 plot specific questions like; how can the T-1000 use the TDE, why is there another T-800 Model 101?
Even more so, there is a perfect time within the film to have had such a scene. Like when they are driving through the desert. But instead James Cameron chose to have John teach the T-800 pointless catchphrases, because that is more important than the plot right?
Terminator 2 is an iconic film, it is a classic…but it not a very good sequel.
You want style over substance?
Terminator 2 is a prime example. Its the best Michael Bay film he never made.
If The Terminator didn’t exist then Terminator 2 would be a fine film in its own right…but The Terminator does exist and Terminator 2 comes off as a lazy and pointless effort.
Many people say the franchise died with Terminator 3, I say it was all over when the credits of the first film rolled.