Judgment Day

29-Aug-07 11:28 AM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

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…

6 Responses to “Judgment Day”

  1. Dayton Ward adds:

    I hadn't considered sitting down to watch T2 tonight, but I may well have to do just that if my schedule allows for it. :)

  2. Ken Gagne adds:

    I watched T2 ten years ago today, and only once since then — the Ultimate Edition, released on Judgment Day, 2000. I think I've since picked up the Extreme Edition, making T2 the only film I've been sucker enough to buy three times.

    Watching it tonight will have me up late, but it'll be worth it. The only question is: do I watch the theatrical cut, or the extended version? I like the bonus scene in the garage when Sarah tries to disable the allied Terminator, but her dream sequence at the beginning and the T-1000's malfunctions near the end were both wisely cut, IMHO.

  3. Ken Gagne adds:

    Sure enough, sitting on my shelf, still in the shrinkwrap since February 2006, was the Extreme edition of T2, waiting for the right Judgment Day for viewing.

    I was disappointed: the Ultimate edition has both the theatrical and director's cut versions of the film on one disc. The Extreme edition splits them across two discs, but the theatrical disc is viewable only in Windows Media Player — not a DVD player! Rather than revert to the Ultimate edition, I watched the Extreme director's cut, as it claimed to have superior video quality. Without a side-by-side comparison, I couldn't be sure, but I just skipped the undeleted scenes I didn't like.

    It's funny that, in anticipation of watching the film tonight, I mentally reviewed all the scenes. My memory seemed fairly complete, and sure enough, I ended up mouthing the lines along with the characters. Yet I still enjoyed the movie as much as ever, and every time I watch it, I notice some previously overlooked detail. It really is an intricate and complete story; too bad they muddied the narrative with the blasphemous Terminator 3.

  4. Dayton Ward adds:

    I have the version of T2 that came in the silver metal slipcover (Ultimate edition?) with three versions of the film. All versions are playable on my DVD players and the quality is outstanding. I didn't go for the Extreme Edition, so thanks for the heads-up :)

    Didn't get to watch the movie last night… maybe some time over the coming holiday weekend.

  5. Hiphopguy23 adds:

    "Arnold Schwarzenegger's approval rating is down to 30%. After he heard this, Arnold said 'I'm not going to act all upset and hurt because I don't have that kind of range.'" — Conan O'Brien

  6. Ken Gagne adds:

    I finished watching the RiffTrax version of Terminator 3 last night. It was probably my least favorite of the RiffTrax I've seen, though in keeping with the cybernetic theme, it did have some very geeky references, such as to Half-Life 2, and the Nintendo Wii.

    More important, I was reminded just how poor this film was compared to its predecessors, especially given my recent watching of same. The Terminatrix has no personality, and her unoriginal powers are not used creatively. The film lacks pacing and subtlety, and there's no real character growth and exploration among any of the protagonists. By contrast, Terminator 2 has some very powerful, moving scenes — even in the midst of its fantastic action. T3 just doesn't hold up.