Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.
Thus begins one of the most kickass films of all time.
I may be perceived as a stereotypical, testosterone-driven ape when I declare the explosion-laden Terminator 2 to be one of my favorite movies ever, but only the superficial viewer would make such a judgment. T2 is a film about perseverance, courage, family, and free will. It has moments of introspection that are both poignant and terrifying, not just for the audience but for the characters, leading our female protagonist to break down in tears when she realizes she has become that which she most abhors. She is not alone, as we all see our own fears played out in this film: not only our own internal struggles, but also that artifact of the Cold War: the futility of resistance against total annihilation, depicted in what several U.S. federal nuclear testing labs unofficially declared "the most accurate depiction of a nuclear blast ever created for a fictional motion picture."
Even now that the film's special effects are not as groundbreaking as they were in 1991, or now that the jaw-dropping twist — when the hero and villain reveal their identities, shattering our expectation of who to root for — is well-known, this film still stands the test of time, with a title character who is both a hero and villain for all ages.
So happy tenth anniversary to the realization of your worst nightmare. May you live only to face a new horror…