Friday, April 26, 2013

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is, to many of us, the sci-fi action film. Its scope and the stakes involved are epic, its characters icons of their genre. It is an opera with a score made up entirely of explosions, as Wagnerian as a film can be in which the titular protagonist falls for the “down low—too slow” gag.

Terminator 2 requires no introduction and no synopsis. If you have cable TV, internet access, or friends, you know this movie, whether you realize it or not.

We will try to do it justice in today’s scorecard.
  • Title presented in the “Star Wars Gothic medium” font. = +7pts for nostalgia 
  • Introducing Edward Furlong! = +5pts 
  • Half the world’s fossil fuel resources consumed in creating the background for the opening title sequence (= +10pts in 1991 / -25pts in 2013)
  • Naked Schwarzenegger: = +50pts (The man worked hard—show some respect.) 
  • “Bad to the Bone” as incidental music for on-screen badassery. (= +10pts in 1991; -30pts in 2013) 
  • Huh. There’s only one “John Connor” in all of L.A. County? That’s a lucky break. = +25pts (For understanding the importance of pacing.) 
  • Hey, Xander Berkeley is John Connor’s stepdad! Well, if you want a “weasely government functionary” or “sad-sack loser,” Xander’s your go-to guy—and this character may be both. = +15pts 
  • While thinking he was just idolizing Bono, John Connor’s little friend was defining hairstyles for America’s lesbians from 1991 up to the present day. = +10pts in 1991; +50pts in 2013 
  • Sarah Connor smoking unapologetically in a hospital. = +50pts for nostalgia (if you smoke) / -100pts on general principles if you don’t 
  • John Connor playing the “Missile Command” arcade video game as the T-1000 closes in. = -15pts (For obvious foreshadowing.) 
  • John Connor racks up a score of 400 on “Missile Command.” No middle-school boy with more than zero usable hands ever scored lower than 10,000. We’re pretty sure you get 500 points for inserting a quarter. = -40pts (For destroying our suspension of disbelief in a movie about time-traveling robots.) 
  • The T-1000 is visibly wangless, while its ostensibly lower-tech predecessor, the T-800, is clearly wanged (based on the reactions of the cocktail waitresses in Arnold’s opening nude scene) = -75pts 
  • Death by arm-sword mouth-rape? Did Robert Mapplethorpe and H.R. Giger collaborate on this screenplay? = -60pts (+30pts for originality, -90pts for the look on Xander Berkeley’s face, which haunts our dreams.) 
  • Arnold promises John Connor he won’t kill anyone, then shoots an elderly security guard in both legs, saying “He’ll live.” He probably won’t. = +75pts 
  • Neither will the black orderly he just threw through that window. = -100pts 
  • Or the white one. = +125pts 
  • “Come with me, if you want to live” has never worked as a pickup line—but so many have tried. = -50pts 
  • Welcome to Palmdale, CA: Hollywood’s substitute for Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma, Somalia, Afghanistan, and earthlike planets everywhere since motion pictures were invented. = +75pts 
  • Linda Hamilton: Tank top, sunglasses, cigarette, assault rifle. Fuck, yeah. =+250pts 
  • … but you lost us with the Beetle Bailey cap. = -250pts 
  • Hey, remember when being instantly incinerated by a nuclear blast was the worst thing we could imagine? = A wash. ( -150pts in 1991, +150pts in 2013) 
  • The brilliant Cyberdyne scientist guy is black! = +100 in 1991; +10pts in 2013 
  • … so he dies. = -25pts in 2013 
  • Arnold shoots cops with tear gas canisters, then rips their gas masks off. Occupy Cyberdyne! = +/-100pts 
  • The T-1000 jumps a motorcycle out of a window into a helicopter, which he commandeers. Sure, why not? = +20pts 
  • Damn, I need another pair of hands. Oh, wait … I’m made of liquid metal! = +100pts 
  • Yet I remain dong-less. = -90pts 
  • Liquid nitrogen can freeze liquid metal? Well, that’s a double-edged forearm-sword. = +50pts 
  • Shattering frozen T-1000 into tiny pieces that melt and re-form quicker. =+90 for applied shotgun, -75 for applied physics = +15pts 
  • We never grow tired of watching Robert Patrick’s chest get converted into a muffin tin. Good thing, because that makes up half this movie’s running time. = +20pts 
  • Stan Winston’s sculpture of the T-1000 converted into a T-750 / T-250 is breathtaking. This ain’t no CGI bullshit; this is special effects. = +75pts 
  • Yes, even an Austrian murderbot from the dystopian future can be a Christ figure. = +50pts 
  • Wait … nobody noticed that Arnold’s severed arm (from the future) is still stuck in that piece of machinery (here in the present)? Just like last time? Seriously? = -100pts
Total Score = +582pts
Available on: Netflix streaming, DVD (singly and boxed sets), the memory of every American male between the ages of 30 and 60.

Any way you slice the T-1000 with an iron bar, T2 still holds up as one of the premier examples of the action-movie genre. Hasta la vista, Michael Bay. James Cameron is still schooling you—from the past.

Score Technician: John Ormond

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