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Terminator 2 (1991)

by on 2012/11/17

“One thing about my mom, she always plans ahead.”

* * * *

Some B-movies are like paint-by-numbers pictures of a sad puppy face or a race car. Schlocky, formulaic but not without a certain charm.

If some B-movies are paint-by-numbers, then Terminator 2 takes this B-movie franchise, stirred $102-million into the mix, and created the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Say what you will about James “King of the World” Cameron, this Canadian director, producer, visual artist, deep-sea explorer, our native son gets results.

(Just like McGarnagle (Simpsons)).

There are some movies that have taken up permanent residence in my brain. The opening sequence of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, with shiny stainless steel machine soldiers crunching human skulls under their glinting feet, is part of my psychic landscape.

So too is the chase scene through the Los Angeles drainage tunnels with a big, black semi truck and a red dirt bike. Edward Furlong (The Crow: Wicked Prayer) is terrific as John Connor the younger – he’s hooligan, petty thief, wise-ass punk. Lousy kid. He’s really kind of perfect.

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan the Barbarian) is pitch perfect, worth every shiny penny of the $11-12 million he was paid. From the moment he arrives buck naked in the alley way to the moment he’s lowered into the smelter.

Let’s not forget the stalking reptilian grace of the T-1000 played by Robert Patrick. Lithe and relentless, the guy was crazy effective in this role.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor was a revelation. Her strong, sinewy, all-in crazy performance makes me want to pray to the patron saint of Sarah Connor every time I prepare for natural or man-made disasters, purchase emergency provisions or lift a bar bell. She’s the patron saint of wild-eyed prepper women.

Where was Oscar for Sarah Connor’s shoulders and biceps? Where was Oscar? That woman’s arms deserved an award. They really, really did.

Ok, she wasn’t exactly the most sympathetic mother character portrayed on film. Sure, her chain-smoking, middle-distance stare blocked by too long bangs stabbing into her frozen eyes was off-putting. But like all good mothers, she put the welfare of her child ahead of her own needs. Stockpiling weapons for him for a rainy day, introducing him to military types who could teach him a thing or two.

She took the fiduciary duty that is parenthood rather seriously, you know, the idea that putting your child’s needs ahead of your own ego, comfort and happiness. That’s parenting, folks. The arms were just a bonus.

In this Sistine Chapel ceiling, there’s not only outstanding performances, crazy special effects and there’s also truth: “The future’s not set. There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves.”

* * * *

154 minutes (extended special edition)

Rated R for strong sci-fi action and violence, and for language

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