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Terminator Trilogy

THE TERMINATOR

Summer, 2007. 1:52 AM. Mindless, soul-less, visually indecipherable and crassly commercial garbage such as TRANSFORMERS has invaded America’s movie screens disguised as “good ol’ summer popcorn entertainment.” Labelled a madman for his harsh condemnation of TRANSFORMERS, Vern began to search for proof that a better, more powerful type of summer blockbuster once existed…

I’m obviously a zealot when it comes to this TRANSFORMERS shit. Most people either like the movie or aren’t as offended by it as I am. But my contention that they used to make actual smart/good versions of this type of moronic horse shit has met with some sympathy. I was happy that even the morning radio guy Adam Corolla brought up TERMINATOR 2 when discussing TRANSFORMERS on his show. He agreed with his staff that the movie was “fun” but said, “Still… it’s no Terminator.”

T2 was one of many classic “popcorn movies” I brought up in my TRANSFORMERS review, and it occurred to me that I haven’t actually watched that movie in years. It’s been even longer since I saw THE TERMINATOR and I’ve never seen part 3 at all. At the time our country’s values were being terminated by Republicans and I was not in the mood for a movie starring Governor Schwarzenegger.

The TerminatorSo I started by watching THE TERMINATOR, aka T1 or THE T. This of course is not a big summer blockbuster like TRANSFORMERS, this is the low budget b-movie breakthrough, the calling card that got James Cameron the job on ALIENS. So I guess the equivalent in Michael Bay’s career would be that classic early work, 1990’s Playboy Video Centerfold: Kerri Kendall.

If you haven’t seen THE T or don’t remember, this is basically the story of two naked guys from the future fighting in Los Angeles. They arrive with a blast of lightning and a flash of male nudity. It’s pretty much like being born, except instead of a mother there is electricity and instead of a hospital or a manger there is an alley or truck depot and there is no umbilical cord and they are adults. Upon further review I guess it’s not like being born, it’s more like being a pervert in reverse – instead of opening up an overcoat to reveal their sausage, they steal overcoats to cover it.

Representing evil and technology we have Schwarzenegger as the Terminator (R-CA) and on the other side we have human Michael Biehn (PLANET TERROR). The Terminator is a super-robot with human skin sent from the future to assassinate Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she gives birth to the leader of the post-apocalyptic human resistance against machines.

The role of the Terminator almost went to the great Lance Henriksen (HARD TARGET), which could’ve been great, but giving it to Schwarzenegger was of course a stroke of genius. His ridiculous muscles are some machine’s idea of the ultimate man, and his stiff talking is in line with being a robot. He actually does a very good physical performance, limiting his movements and expressions to seem more machine-like and cold. Like it or not you gotta give him credit as an actor in this one. There are plenty of musclemen who couldn’t have done it as well. That said, he is basically Jason Voorhees in this movie. Except he has to make his face into a mask instead of wearing one.

It’s nice to watch these two pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They show up with nothing but their swingin dicks so they gotta find clothes, then weapons, then the target. I wonder if maybe this was a mistake, maybe the Terminator should’ve skipped the clothing part to get that extra jumpstart on Michael Biehn. I mean, he doesn’t give a shit what people think of him, he’s a Terminator. Of course, a public nudity rap could’ve slowed him down more than having to steal clothes. I’m sure he was programmed with all the relevant information and chose the most prudent approach. I shouldn’t second guess the computer.

The Terminator of course doesn’t believe in gun control, so he goes into a pawn shop and protests the 15 day waiting period on the handguns by blowing the clerk away. (Pretty rude, man. I’m sure he could’ve managed with the shotgun and uzi.) He doesn’t know for sure what Sarah Connor looks like so he goes through the phone book and starts murdering everybody with that name. So it’s a good “oh shit” moment when our Sarah Connor sees on the news that two people with her name have been killed. I mean even if that was a coincidence you’d still have to feel jinxed if your name was Sarah Connor.

Of course now days when you think of James Cameron you think of giant budgets, “I’m the king of the world!” hubris, digital 3-D technology and obsessive deep sea diving. But in those days he was just some dude who did effects for Roger Corman. This was his second movie as a director (first was PIRANHA II, or P2) and it still had a b-movie feel. He even had Dick Miller as the pawn shop clerk. But you also see the beginning of alot of James Cameron trademarks, like the way the movie keeps seeming like it’s over and then some more shit happens. (In this case the Terminator gets blown up but then returns as a clunky stop motion metal skeleton.) And there’s all kinds of James Cameron Players in here. Bill Paxton (Hudson in ALIENS, guy who pisses himself in TRUE LIES, submarine explorer in TITANIC and GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS) is a punk rocker killed in the beginning. Lance Henriksen (Bishop in ALIENS) is one of the officers investigating the murders. Michael Biehn (Hicks in ALIENS) is the hero. Linda Hamilton (Cameron’s future ex-wife) is the heroine.

This is a good movie that still works, but to me it doesn’t work like it used to. It’s a good story and has some tension and does well with its low budget, especially in those post-apocalyptic battle scenes, which seem like something out of a nightmare even if they are obviously crammed into one little sound stage. But part of that enjoyment comes from nostalgia and from knowing what these characters and concepts grew into. If I could travel back to 1984 first I would find some clothes and then I would enjoy the movie but I’m not sure I could convince my 1984 self that Cameron would go on to become a legendary action director. The movie showed potential but it didn’t prove anything. If this was all he’d made it would be a good movie but I don’t think anybody would think he was a great director.

(THE) T(ERMINATOR) 2(: JUDGMENT DAY)

But holy jesus T2 ups the ante. I think ALIENS is even better but still, this is one of the all time great sequels. By the time of this movie John Connor, the future resistance leader, is a juvenile delinquent in a foster home. Sarah Connor is in a mental hospital (same thing Cameron tried to do to Rambo in his script for FIRST BLOOD PART 2). The machines of the future have sent another Terminator back to kill John, but this time it’s a more advanced model that can change form and the twist is that the original Schwarzenegger model of Terminator has been reprogrammed to protect John. They say it’s the same T-101 model, but I figure it’s a T-101.1 because this time it has eyebrows.

Terminator 2: Judgment DayI feel kind of stupid explaining what this movie is about, as if somebody doesn’t know, but I’ve got to assume alot of people these days haven’t seen it. Otherwise how do we explain this consensus that big sci-fi movies are supposed to be muddled and stupid? If you would like more details about the plot email me. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator, a type of robot, or “cybernetic organism.” Don’t worry, I’ll explain in the email.

Visually the sequel is less gloomy than the original, there’s more sunlight and of course it’s less confined because they have a big ass budget. Instead of a chase through a small dance club they have chases all over Los Angeles with just about every wheeled vehicle other than a unicycle or a 3-wheeled ice cream truck.

And since the Terminator is a good guy this time they get some humor and sweetness out of him. But I think the T-1000 is an even scarier villain than the OG Terminator was. Robert Patrick’s dead eyes convince you completely that he has no sympathy or even understanding of the evil he’s doing. To him killing a human is a casual activity like shutting a door or buttoning a shirt. In the scene where he’s disguised as John Connor’s stepmother and talking to him on the phone he could’ve thought of a more peaceful way to deal with the stepfather than to impale him through the mouth while he’s drinking milk, but why would he bother? He’s the T-1000.

And this time the future nuclear war feels like more of a threat. By 1991 we weren’t really as scared of that shit as we used to be, but T2 illustrated it better than THE DAY AFTER or any movie like that. The opening credits roll out over the surreal image of a burning playground. Later Sarah Connor has a dream where we see kids on a playground burned alive by the bombs.

A weird thing that never occurred to me before about this movie is that it’s basically a more violent and paranoid version of E.T. Instead of a kid who plays with Star Wars dolls and gets in trouble at school for rescuing frogs from dissection you got a kid who hacks into ATM machines and has a criminal record. Instead of befriending a lovable alien from space this kid befriends a deadly killing machine from the future. The kid in E.T. is troubled because his parents are divorced, but the kid in T2 is troubled because his dad hasn’t been born yet and his mom tried to blow up a computer factory, got shot and arrested and put in a mental hospital. In both they teach the alien/killing machine how to act more human and the friendship helps fill the hole left by their shattered family life.

In E.T. they ride bikes over the moon, in T2 they ride motorcycles in the L.A. storm drains and get chased by a semi. E.T.’s finger lights up and he heals Elliot’s cuts, Terminator cuts the skin off his hand and pulls the bullets out of mom. In E.T. Spielberg later made the movie non-violent by replacing the guns with walkie talkies, in T2 the Terminator obeys his command not to kill by shooting hundreds of cops in the legs. E.T. dies, but the power of a little boy’s dream or some shit helps him to come back. The Terminator dies, but the LED light in his eye starts blinking again, his CPU kicks in long enough to find an alternate power source and start going again. Instead of saying “I’ll be right here” and pointing at the boy’s head, the Terminator says “there’s another chip” and points at his own head. Instead of flying off to space, he is lowered into molten metal.

Hell, even the titles are almost the same if they only would’ve left “The” in the title like in the original “THE TERMINATOR.” It would be 9 syllables: THE TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY = E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, and then both are abbreviated to two syllables, two characters: T2 = E.T.

They are the same. T2 is E.T. And E.T. is the New Testament. So T2 is the New Testament.

Okay, the New Testament is arguably more influential in western culture than T2 is. But let’s stick with the E.T. comparison. What struck me most watching this movie again after all these years was that, like E.T., it had heart. Maybe not glowing quite as bright as that little alien bastard’s did, but it’s there. It’s got tension and suspense, it’s got spectacle and groundbreaking special effects, it’s got tons of great action scenes, it’s got a whole ensemble of iconic badass characters. Alot of “summer event movies” these days can’t pull off a single one of those things, let alone having the genuine sweetness you get by the end of this movie. Schwarzenegger is great at moving like a robot, fighting like a robot, and struggling to understand like a robot. And by the end I believed that he really did learn why people cry. Sarah Connnor’s narration about the Terminator being better than any of the father figures John had had is too corny, I could do without that. But the friendship between the kid and the robot seems genuine. Maybe it’s because I grew attached to him myself, rooting for his dead machinery to kick back into gear, feeling elated when he comes up on the conveyor belt ready to fire an explosive into the ol’ mercury man. And then sad again when he points out that all traces of him have to be destroyed in order to prevent Skynet from ever existing. It’s like when your dog dies or something. Fun’s over, time to face mortality.

But an even more effective emotional part of the movie is the sad reality of John’s relationship with his mother. After he and the Terminator successfully rescue her from the mental hospital she scolds him for taking the risk, angrily saying that she doesn’t need his help. She doesn’t even throw in a “but thank you” or anything like that, and he’s crushed. Near the end his mom seems to be calling out to him for help, but then another version of his mom sneaks up behind with a shotgun. It could very well be that the one with the gun is the T-1000 trying to trick him, but he assumes it’s not. Because he knows his mom would never ask for help, would never reach out to him or show her emotions. It’s easier for him to picture her as the one with the shotgun. It never really struck me before how god damn tragic that moment is.

In the end Sarah Connor gains faith because if a machine can learn the value of human life then maybe we can too. And what are today’s heartless, soul-less blockbusters like THE TRANSFORMERS if not machines? Maybe they too will some day learn the value of human life.

One complaint: at the end, when the Terminator is all smashed up and bloodied, he says “I need a vacation.” I thought maybe I missed something where somebody else said that phrase and the Terminator learned it from them. But then I looked it up and it turns out it was an ad-libbed reference to fucking KINDERGARTEN COP. Come on fellas, it makes no sense for the robot to make up his own jokes. Show some discipline.

But the fact that that joke seems so out of place shows one of the things that’s great about the movie: it has conviction. It really means it. It has some humor in it but it takes its story and characters seriously. When Sarah Connor tries to explain the coming nuclear war and the robots from the future to her doctors it’s chilling because we know it’s true and we also understand why it convinces them that she’s insane.

But think about it. If they never made a sequel to THE TERMINATOR until 2007 would they have had that same seriousness? I don’t think so, I think they’d have some jokes about her explaining that a robot came from the future and everybody laughs. “Oh yeah and what about Bigfoot, where does he fit in?” And I would complain about all the lame jokes and everybody would say “what did you expect prickface, it’s about robots from the future, it’s a sequel to an ’80s Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, it’s not supposed to be HENRY V!”

Also I’m glad they didn’t have a flashback to the roommate who always listens to headphones rocking out to a band called “Tryanglz”. That was one part in the first one that was corny so I’m glad they just left that in the past.

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES

By the time they got around to doing a part 3 a couple years ago James Cameron had quit directing to become a deep sea explorer, so they had to get some guy who directed the Kurt Russell movie BREAKDOWN. I never thought somebody besides James Cameron should make a TERMINATOR movie, and I was probaly right. This just isn’t the same thing. But it’s still pretty damn enjoyable. So I forgive them.

Terminator 3: Rise of the MachinesThere is a little different feel to it. It doesn’t look as real as T2, it looks more art directed. It was made in the digital age, the one ushered in by T2 in the first place, so it’s got all kinds of digital effects and as great as they are none of them have a fraction of the kick that that original T-1000 did back then, because we’ve seen all this shit by now. But what are you gonna do?

The main problem I have with the movie is the jokes. Right at the beginning we get naked T-101 going for his traditional steal-clothes-from-somebody-at-a-bar and they turn it into parody by having him steal his leather from a gay stripper. In fact, a stereotypically gay stripper who teaches him to say “talk to the hand.” Who knows what kind of wackiness will ensue? Instead of making him menacing or tough as he walks out of that bar they play “Macho Man” and have him put on Elton John sunglasses. Wocka wocka. Later there’s a terrible scene where the doctor who Sarah Connor beat up when escaping the insane asylum coincidentally is there to help the police and sees the Terminator again and gets scared. There’s maybe 5-7 of these types of jokes in the movie, not an onslaught. But still, that’s 5-7 too many lame jokes that ruin the mood.

[Thank God they cut out the “Sgt. Candy” scene that’s on disc 2 of the DVD. This asinine deleted scene/rejected Mad TV skit shows a Skynet promotional film where Schwarzenegger plays a “funny” hick character who was the model for the Terminator robots, which is a terrible idea in the first place. But then they have a joke where Schwarzenegger has somebody else’s voice and somebody else has Schwarzenegger’s voice. Get it? Funny voices! God damn that is pretty much the stupidest shit anybody ever came up with. How in the fuck did the same people who made this pretty good movie think it was worth actually spending the money to shoot that bullshit?]

And there’s a couple points where the movie calls the audience stupid. Let me ask you guys something – we’re intelligent people, right? We know that if we haven’t seen the other movies or forgot what happened, they are readily available on the DVD format for review. Or you could look them up on this “internet” they have now. But the movie thinks we’re lazy so they have this new character played by Claire Danes who the premise has to be explained to. The director, Jonathan Not James Cameron Mostow, says on the DVD extras that you need this character in order for the audience to understand what’s going on. Which means he thinks the audience hasn’t seen TERMINATOR 1 or 2.

In fact, even John Connor (now played by Nick Stahl from BULLY) doesn’t remember what happened in T2. For some reason he thinks this Terminator is the same one from before, even though he destroyed that one! It’s like if Elliot was reunited with E.T. ten years later and said “where the fuck have you been?” John might not notice this Terminator is different, but I did. This one talks more, explains too much, and even raises his voice in panic. And there’s one scene where he looks like Andrew “Dice” Clay from the back.

So those are some of the things the movie got wrong, but thankfully there’s plenty that it got right. For example there are some damn good action scenes. Even more than before the fights between Terminators are super powered fights where they throw and hit each other great distances, crash through walls and destroy all kinds of property. There’s a great chase scene with a crane truck knocking over buildings and Terminators jumping from vehicle to vehicle like in MATRIX RELOADED. My favorite part of the movie is a knock down, drag out Terminator fight in the tradition of that great fight in BLADE 2 where he gets his head knocked through a pole. Here the Terminators destroy every part of a bathroom, swinging each other through walls, throwing toilets at each other, etc. Terminator stomps on Girl Terminator’s face and it doesn’t budge, but the back of her head breaks through the pavement.

The action is pretty comic booky and I complained about those jokes, but there’s still a real dark undertone to the movie. There’s even a scene that shows nuclear war not from the nightmarish on the ground perspective of T2, but from a distance, and from above, where it looks strangely beautiful. The Judgment Day that they prevented in T2 still looms, in fact, it’s supposed to happen later today. So even when they prevent inevitable doom, doom is inevitable. The way the story wraps up is surprising and sets up for what could be some interesting and different sequels.

So TERMINATOR 3 is one entry in a long line of part 3s that are not as good, but are enjoyable if you can accept a reasonable lowering of excellence. There’s basically two approaches to a good part 3: either it’s in 3-D, or it’s fun but you have to forgive alot more than in the first two. This one’s not in 3-D. At least you don’t have to wear special glasses, I guess.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 19th, 2007 at 11:03 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

82 Responses to “Terminator Trilogy”

  1. It is ultimately a good thing Number 3 got made, because the ending is so cool, but the biggest problem with it, is it’s just T2 all over again, but no way near as good. Evil future terminator wants connor dead, nice future terminator schwartzenegger is helping out, action involving huge trucks follows. What the hell? A little more originality is not too much to ask here. And besides, if the future is full of Kristanna Lokens, how the hell is the resistance even still alive?

  2. You don’t get it, man – the new Terminator is a WOMAN! That’s totally different! In T2 it was a man. It’s like THE NEXT KARATE KID. Changes everything.

  3. In the EXTREME DVD Edition, John realizes its the Terminator because its chemical makeup is unsteady thanks to being blown up, so it sort of melds with anything it touches (like Nolte in Hulk) so he looks at its feet and sees that its conforming with the grating on the floor. For the record, don’t watch the EXTREME Edition, the only worthwhile addition is Michael Biehn.

  4. I disagree.

    The Biehn scene was good, as was that moment when ole John effectively exerts some leadership by stopping ole mom from smashing the microchip at the garage. The rest are nice if not essentially necessary.

    The only worthless scene has to be that whole Miles family scene. I get the point, showing how the man behind the apocalypse was a nice guy with the wife and kids, never planned to kill us all and let the survivors get butt fucked by robots with guns. The Oppenheimer/Einstein paradigm I suppose.

    But shit, that scene really kills the narrative rhythmn.

  5. Of course you get the relative values of the movies right so the reviews are perfectly good, but there is one thing I’ve got to complain about, and that’s the “king of the world” quip: While we can all agree that Cameron can be arrogant (some of the people who’ve worked for him would add “prick”), but when he was shouting his Titanic line at the Oscars, he wasn’t saying he WAS the king of the world because he remembered the context he’d written that fucking line in. Leo’s character in Titanic didn’t think he was the king of the world because he’d just been named Best Tramp Who Sneaks On A Big-Ass Cruise Ship; he said it because he had snuck on a big-ass cruise ship, was on the way to the New World [tm], was standing at the bow of said ship, feeling a fuckton of horsepower beneath him when it ploughed through the Atlantic and — this is the important part — he FELT LIKE HE WAS the king of the world at that moment. THAT’s what Cameron was trying to say when he held up the golden guy.

  6. I love this site, I can’t picture myself not visiting any.

  7. Upon my umpteenth (∞th) viewing of THE TERMINATOR, I’ve made a very important, historic discovery that will revolutionize the way you rewatch an action-horror masterpiece (which Vern shamefully underrates in the article above).

    By 100% total weird drunken serendipity, I’ve found that you can sync THE TERMINATOR’s first 51 minutes with the album Kid A by Radiohead. Start the album at the film’s 52-to-57 second mark (when “Los Angeles 2029” text appears).
    (I like to set the music louder than the film’s audio, but you should be able to hear most of the movie’s sounds and most of its dialogue (Subtitles might be a good thing with this set-up.).)

    The dramatic diminuendo of track 1, “Everything In Its Right Place,” should coincide with the first full view of naked Arnold’s backside as he dramatically walks to a perch to overlook the cityscape. Then the plinky-keyboard start of titular track 2 should coincide with the first 2 seconds of the appearance of punky Bill Paxton & hunky-punk Brian Thompson.

    Waitress scene in a quaint diner is cut with a robot’s trip to the gun shop during “National Anthem.”

    Track 4 “How to Disappear Completely” kicks in as Arnold blasts (er, disappears) the telephone book’s first Sarah Connor
    and Linda Hamilton hears the news of her namesake’s slaughter. The song concludes as our protagonist has her identity mistaken by her roommate’s boyfriend on the phone. Then Sarah is stood up by her date.

    End of track 6 “Optimistic” syncs perfectly with Sarah’s roommate dancing with her headphones,
    then track 7 “In Limbo” kicks in as her aloofness gives way to her boyfriend being thrashed by Arnold.
    (Feel free to overanalyze this sequence as a Catholic-y descent from Heaven/”Optimistic” (happiness) to Limbo/”In Limbo” (in a fight with a killer, unaware of the extent of your troubles) to Hell/bloodshed/execution/oblivion.)

    Track 8 “Idioteque” kicks in just as Arnold enters the discotheque Tech Noir.
    (The song’s plucky opening beats sync perfectly with him Seagalogizing the fingers & wrist of the club’s poor bouncer who wants him to pay a cover charge.)

    etc.

    There’s plenty of moments where your mind can force the lyrics to match the action of the movie, but the main thing is how striking the visual beats seem to be coordinated with the melodies & melodic interruptions of the album.

  8. Mouth – I remember synching BLADE RUNNER with Pink Floyd’s WISH YOU WERE HERE. Wowzers!

  9. Damnit I rewatched Terminator and totally forgot to set it to Kid A like Mouth mentioned a year ago. Shit! I guess I may have to watch it again because GODDAMN this movie is even better than I remember. There’s SO MUCH good stuff that I think Vern should give it another rewatch because maybe his review got him at a bad time, but this is easily Top 10 of All Time material.

    There’s been such a big movement online recently where hipsters now declare Aliens a piece of shit and love Alien, and there’s been a couple of people who declare Terminator better than T2. And now I may be one of them. The script is bonkers-good – the world-building, the character development, the escalation. The quotable dialogue. The way it actually unfolds slowly like a mystery but damn if it isn’t fun to unravel what’s going on even though I’ve already sat through 3 sequels, a TV show, multiple comic books and a few video games. That’s how good this movie is. The usage of Winfield and Henriksen’s characters, and the police psychologist is a stroke of genius – I love the way they’re poking holes in Reese’s story the way nerds would online today. No other screenwriter would give a shit about how the cops would rationalize the terminator is just a guy on PCP and has body armor. No other writer would throw in the line about how the Terminators can have bad breath or BRING UP the plot hole about “you just said you couldn’t bring back a ray gun so how did a robot come back?” and then actually explain the plot hole to us. That’s because Cameron actually gives a shit about his story and characters and he’s smarter than us.

    As a side note – my lady friend was one of the many people who had only seen T2, and I’m shocked this movie COMPLETELY works as a Nolan-esque stripped down prequel (in a way I was hoping Mad Max would work as a prequel to The Road Warrior but it never really gels). By that I mean it shows us how Sarah Connor went from clumsy waitress to badass, it shows us the father John only heard about but never knew, and the story is exactly the same but just different enough. I mean, T1 and T2 are linked by SO MANY CALLBACKS, that I wonder if T2 came out today if we’d all bitch and moan the way we did about Star Trek Into Darkness. (“UGH He said Come with me if you want to live! So unoriginal! They hijacked a truck again! BORING! They’re in a factory again?? Jesus, there’s no ideas left in Hollywood!!”)

    Anyways, when Sarah Connor puts on her iconic sunglasses from T2 at the end of this one as she drives down the road, I seriously got chills at a moment I never even noticed until my 20th watch. It was exactly like the “Bond, James Bond” moment from Casino Royale except not really done on purpose and I love that.

  10. Crushinator Jones

    June 17th, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    People who diss Aliens are fucking criminals. I don’t care if you like Alien more than Aliens – that argument can be made – but both are great movies. Show some respect.

    As for myself I’ve always liked Terminator more than Terminator 2. But, just like the first two Alien(s), they are both great movies. And Linda Hamilton’s totally believable transformation from doe-eyed waitress into steely badass is the coolest.

  11. Crushinator – yeah I was listening to some podcast where some wannabe comedian was saying how horrible Aliens was, how the worst part of Alien is better than the best part of Aliens, and it’s like, “Dude, sorry James Cameron made that movie a few years ago that offended your nerd sensibilities so deeply, please feel free to retroactively tear down the movies you yourself loved as a child if it makes you feel better”

    Btw, I’m trying to get through T1 through T3 before the new one comes out. I can’t believe it’s coming out in TWO WEEKS and last I saw it was still “This film has not yet been rated”. WHAT??

  12. Neal – was the podcast you refer to The Canon? I love that show but the ALIEN VS. ALIENS episode was excruciating. Preferring ALIEN is 100% acceptable, but having two people try to argue that ALIENS is a boring, bad movie is just too much. I know free speech protects the most vile opinions, but that doesn’t mean we have to do a whole podcast about them.

    I think I’ll just rewatch THE TERMINATOR to get ready for GENYSYSSSSS. I have zero hopes for the new one though. There is a really awesome poster of Arnold and that is the only thing associated with that movie that hasn’t struck me as subpar.

  13. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 3:34 am

    The only thing wrong with T2 is some of John’s “nineties kid” dialogue and the “humanizing” of the T-1000. We already had one Terminator with “human” qualities. We shouldn’t have had two.

    I’ve watched both editions of T2, but the one I know best is the extended edition. It’s interesting how each of the people who’ve commented on this one have different ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I personally love the scene with Dyson’s family – it really hits home the point that the people who can do the most damage can also be the nicest or most relatable – and the malfunctioning T-1000. The return of Reece, however, I do not like at all. I think it’s unnecessary and I think it kinda takes away from Sarah Connor’s character if 1) she needs to be motivated by a dream of her dead lover (why not her son, who she was with for years?) and 2) she has semi-psychic powers (not just because of the implication that she can communicate with the dead through dreams – this might just be a hallucination – but that her “dream” can give her access to information that she can’t possibly have. How could she know that John’s in danger when nobody else does at that point?)

    I think both of the first two TERMINATOR films are near-classics, and for very different reasons. The first one is the ultimate stalker-horror movie. The second takes the basic premise of the first but frames it completely differently. I find it fascinating how each of these two movies reflect societal fears at the time they were made. THE TERMINATOR has the bad guy stalk seedy nightclubs, back-alleys and motels. He dresses like a street-gang member (which is where he got his clothes in the first place). TERMINATOR 2 takes place in a hi-tech arcade, computer factory and in upscale suburbs. Even the asylum for the criminally disturbed looks polished, white and clinical. The bad guy in this one primarily takes the guise of a police officer, and occasionally disguises itself as trustworthy members of the establishment – a housewife, a security guard, etc. You might say that THE TERMINATOR is about how the estalished order is under threat from the seedy underbelly of society, whereas T2 is about how the establishment itself cannot be trusted to take care of the vulnerable or disenfranchised.

  14. I think the dream is not about giving information nobody else has,that would be weird.But rather a more psychological manifestation of her own fears. It´s not like “manifested” Reese is specific about the threat. he does not name T-1000 or anything like that. But she is worrying about her son. She is a mother after all and at this point she knows nothing what he is up to or doing at the moment. And she has a need to protect him.

  15. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 4:15 am

    And the microchip smashing is absolutely crucial, not just for John’s character but to explain the Terminator suddenly being able to adapt (it never could before). I kinda get why it was left out – it’s a really cumbersome way to explain why the Terminator is suddenly capable of learning – I’d much rather there was some other explanation. But this is better than none at all.

  16. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 4:19 am

    Shoot – I can absolutely accept her having general fears for her son, and even for those fears to be manifested in dreams of her dead lover. But why this one, why so specific (yes, Reese doesn’t specifically name the T-1000, but the way he orders her to get up – it’s so immediate) and why now? It’s really convenient timing. Too much so, I think. It’s just such a hokey thing.

    But even disregarding the timing (it might be a recurring dream or something), the bigger problem I have is it takes away from how much of a badass Sarah Connor is. She doesn’t need visions of her dead lover to motivate her. She has her son for that.

  17. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Anyway, I’m not going to see T5 unless the entire Internet tells me that it’s great. (And even then I’m not prepared to completely take the Internet on trust. Thanks for the hour-and-a-half of my life spent on BOYHOOD last year that I’ll never get back, douchebags!)

  18. […] “it takes away from how much of a badass Sarah Connor is. She doesn’t need visions of her dead lover to motivate her. She has her son for that.

    Paul- she is not a badass. She is paranoid, violent and quite a disturbed individual who probably have no business raising a kid. She is locked up for good reason. Jesus, she tried to blow up a computer factory (Cyberdyne?). That is an act of terrorism. and violent actions like that are usually justified by some vague sense of the greater good.Even, though we as an audience knows she is right about the future, I can´t honestly say she is a healthy individual and get behind her actions.

  19. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Shoot – save that kind of talk for Morpheus, if you don’t mind!

  20. Shoot, she’s trying to raise John to lead a guerrilla army, not become a soccer dad. What experiences do you think it would be appropriate to expose him to? I’d say learning how to blow up computer factories is exactly the kind of lessons she should be imparting to him. Her only misstep was not getting away with it, which should have been her top priority. Robots don’t lock subversives in a loony bin. They just terminate them without mercy, which is what’s awaiting John if he ever let himself get caught the way Sarah did. That’s the moral of that story: blow up whatever you need to, but don’t skimp on the getaway plan.

  21. Well, I think she is a nutjob. It´s still an act of terrorism,and she should have kept her goddamn mouth shut about killer robots from the future if she had a little bit of common sense. No wonder they locked her up! Who the fuck would believe her anyway? In the eyes of a “normal”person or the uninformed she is not a subversive, but a violent fundamentalist who is seriously deranged. I don´t blame them for thinking otherwise. Her actions are hard to justify.

    Is humanity worth saving anyway if the answer is to blow shit up?

  22. I don’t think the robots have the same moral quandaries.

  23. There are robots who has grown a conscience. The T-800 from T2. I think the war between humans and robots is portrayed in black and white. Technology is not evil in nature. The advantage with robots is that they have a switch and we don´t.

  24. I don’t want to see the Terminator movie you’re proposing.

    It does sound better than the new one, though.

  25. Everything sounds better than TERMINATOR: GENYSYS (MEGADRYVE in Europe), so that is a weird compliment.

  26. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 10:01 am

    “MEGADRYVE in Europe”.

    Ok that one just made me spit a dollop of fruit juice over my keyboard. Well played!

  27. “Is humanity worth saving anyway if the answer is to blow shit up?”

    Well if that’s the line, I’d say we already crossed it a few times.

  28. Watching T2 a few weeks back, I noticed how paranoid and disturbed Sarah Connor has become. Somewhere after the first one, she fell off the map. Everyone seems to congratulate how well an action movie treated a female character in this one and how “badass” she is. And they were right. But they missed the point. She lost her goddamn mind. And who wouldn´t knowing how the world would end. Sarah Connor is one of the greatest, if not the best, female action movie character because of this. She is treated as a real human being, with the psychological flaws that entails

  29. Crushinator Jones

    June 18th, 2015 at 10:40 am

    I think that Shoot McKay’s classification of Sara Connor’s attack on Cyberdyne’s holdings as terrorism is really interesting because her logic – a pre-emptive strike far away from any battlefield is needed in order to prevent casualties in the future – is the exact same logic that the USA is using with their drone strike program, which has killed 6k innocent people and is largely perceived as a campaign of terror by civilians in the middle east.

  30. Man, I really fucking love T2. Sarah Connor is such a rich character. It is not an easy task to manage when you realize you are the single most important individual to saving humanity. No wonder she lost it.

  31. That’s what’s great about Sarah. She doesn’t have to be a role model to be a badass. Filmmakers figured that out about male characters long ago but they’re still trying to catch up on female ones. Does anybody watch Lethal Weapon and think “Man, I want to be just like Riggs”? No, because he’s crazy and miserable. But they can relate to his imperfections and recognize that he’s still a bad motherfucker, in part because he’s so fucked in the head. You don’t look up to him but you respect him. Sarah gets to have that same scary badassness, completely untempered by the modern need to show her as representative of womanhood in general. She’s not representative of anything except herself and her own singular experience. Womanhood could only be so lucky.

  32. So, we agree about Sarah, but in a weird way?

  33. Remember :”Machines need love too”- is the exact phrase that is from the answering machine from T1. Embracing technology is what we are doing right now, with the Internet, the Google, the Apple and the Spotify. At this very moment 31 years after the first TERMINATOR we are embracing technology like never before. The robot wars is an imagination that will never happen. It was all about the fear of technology. Now, we embrace it more than ever.

  34. Well, the difference is, you seem to be judging her and finding her wanting, while I can’t imagine her behaving any other way given the circumstances. Let’s see you go from being a 20-year-old waitress with no combat skills to a single mom tasked with training your son to be the miliary genius who saves humanity from an inhuman enemy you can’t tell anybody about while also fearing the return of the merciless killing machine who murdered the only man you ever loved right in front of you and we’ll see how well you hold it together.

  35. I just questioned her being a so called “bad ass”. What she is doing is just what an ordinary human being would do.

  36. Vern – yep, it was the Canon podcast where the comedian guy talked about how bad the dialogue in Aliens was, then said there were so many soldiers he couldn’t keep track of them all(huh?!?) and “there were more soldiers here than in 300!” and the hipster audience howled with delight at a joke that even Jay Leno would deem too corny.

    This is also the podcast where they said Ripley was a better character in Alien than in Aliens, which is just trolling at this point. If they never made Aliens, Sigourney Weaver would still be a star, but Ripley would be nothing but an interesting addition to the pantheon of final girls, ranked probably below Laurie Strode but above Nancy from Nightmare on Elm Street. Aliens cements Ripley as an icon, as one of the all-time best action heroes, female or male, but again, James Cameron made it so nerd-rage dictates it sucks.

    I’m glad there’s much love for Sarah Connor here, she’s a classic character and I think she’s actually kind of underrated. There was a lot of whining at the time from holier-than-thous who kinda said what Sarkeesian was saying about Imperator Furiosa – why are we celebrating this female character for kicking ass when that means she basically acts like a man? I think that’s so short-sighted and wrong-headed, 1) by arguing that badassness is a by-default male trait 2) by acting like she has to throw in what? Some cooking or knitting or some other stereotypical female trait otherwise “she’s basically just a man”? Is strength and self-empowerment a specifically male trait? I guess she should have worn black spandex like Jovovich/Beckinsale etc.. or something, jeez.

  37. What are we arguing about again?

  38. Yes, Sarah is left with few choices, but are you seriously saying that terrorism is the one thing to do?

  39. Worked, didn’t it? As far as T2 is concerned, blowing up a computer lab is what stopped Judgment Day. I can’t see giving a single solitary fuck about some building when you’re cursed with the knowledge that it’s just gonna get nuked in a few years anyway. The terrorist/preemptive strike metaphor doesn’t really hold water when you are given entirely accurate firsthand knowledge of the future.

    Plus, of course Sarah is a badass. How is she just a normal person doing what needs to be done? It’s real easy to say “I’d do the same thing if I were in that situation” but badasses don’t have the luxury of the conditional tense. You put the average human in that predicament, they’re not gonna turn themselves into a physically fit, well trained, well equipped, and tactically proactive warrior the way Sarah did. They’re probably just gonna kill themselves. Sarah’s a badass for not only enduring all that, but excelling through it all.

    The series died the second they cut her out of it. John’s just a symbol; Sarah’s the real hero of the story.

  40. Crushinator Jones

    June 18th, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    Shoot McKay, it’s not terrorism. She’s not trying to terrify anyone. She’s not trying to make a statement or a political message. She’s blowing up what is, essentially, a military target to pre-emptively end a war before it starts, one that she has absolute knowledge WILL happen and kill millions of innocent people unless it is prevented.

    This is not terrorism. Stop calling it that.

  41. The Original Paul

    June 18th, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Crushinator says it like it is.

    Going back to Morpheus – who constantly uses the language of terrorists (watch that scene again where he justifies the wholesale murder of civilians and tell me how we’re supposed to unreservedly accept him as the good guy) – there is absolutely no doubt, if you really watch THE MATRIX and pay attention to what’s happening, that you’re watching a movie about terrorism from the point of view of the terrorists. They’re deliberately trying to destroy a society that the vast majority of people not only enjoy but have come to depend on. By their own admission, most people don’t survive being “unplugged” if they’re beyond the age where their minds can process the change.

    Now compare that to Sarah Connor. The society that everyone accepts is in critical danger, and if it goes away, humanity is pretty much destroyed. Her trying to stop this isn’t “terrorism”. She’s not trying to destroy society, she’s trying to preserve it. And if doing so means blowing up a few computer factories, well, the workers in them would probably be dead on Judgement Day anyway. Let’s just say that Sarah Connor has a heck of a better reason for doing what she does than Morpheus has for doing what he does.

    Also, it’s not paranoia if you’re right. Just because everyone else in the film calls her paranoid – despite the fact that they don’t have the certain knowledge that she does – doesn’t make it so.

  42. I was pretty drunk last night and reading the comments I can tell. I think I was just trying to start a debate of how easy it is to justify violence for the greater good. Sarah is not a terrorist, I might have blown that of proportions,but I don´t think she is all there. Some of her actions are highly questionable. Attacking the Dyson family was not ok.

  43. Yeah, let’s not forget that Sarah Connor’s Plan A was to put a bullet in Miles Dyson’s head in front of his wife and kids.

  44. I’ve always loved THE TERMINATOR more than T2 but it’s good to see people come around and realize that such a belief isn’t exactly looney.

    Matter of fact only reason i’m even gonna watch GAME OF THRONES Guy’s new one is because my love for that first Cameron movie is so strong I sit through anything Terminator no matter how crappy it may end. Sometimes becausr of that i end up suprised like with the show or T3’s 3rd act.

  45. Watched T2 again last night and am happily relieved to find it still awesome. I was totally prepared to hate on Furlong, the identical plot, the callbacks, the cutesiness and sentimentality, the increased runtime. But nope, this movie’s still incredible – it’s exciting, fast-paced, and of course surprisingly moving. In fact I put this on yesterday to be background noise with a room full of friends and I’ll be damned if we all weren’t transformed into 13 year old boys again.

    Re: the cutesiness – yeah it’s there but the violence is BRUTAL in this one. The head-splitting, the surprisingly graphic spike through the eye. Arnold unloading an entire clip into the T1000’s face. Arnold getting his head crushed. Yes this movie features a kid, but i’ll be damned if this isn’t some of the hardest-hitting action I’ve seen in a while. (And it’s hard hitting in a rousing, fun way, not in that Transformers, let’s execute disarmed prisoners for funsies way)

    So on this watch I noticed a few things – 1) How did I not notice for 24 years that Sarah Connor had become dehumanized to the point of practically being a Terminator? She’s emotionally cold to everyone including John and her friend in Mexico; the only time she really shows vulnerability or emotion other than anger is when she fakes it for the doctor, the same way Terminators put on a fake voice to get what they want. She thinks just like a Terminator to get out of the hospital – she has one goal and doesn’t stop until she achieves it, using brute strength and improvisation. She literally does what the Terminator in the first one tried to do, trying to kill a human to affect the future. Cameron actually has her do the robotic Terminator walk and they play the droning Terminator music when she calmly stalks Dyson after shooting him. It’s such a callback to the horror-movieness of the first one I can’t believe I didn’t notice it. But the important thing is even though she’s the closest the film has to a human villain, we still root for her because she’s badass and of course, right about her convictions, and it’s smart and satisfying that Cameron has her make the choice herself not to kill Dyson by realizing what she’s become, NOT by John and the T800 stopping her (they show up a few minutes too late).

    Speaking of which, 2) I always knew this T800 was kind of a mischievous scamp (his one-liners, that shit-eating grin when he says “trust me”) but on this watch I noticed he totally WANTED Sarah to assassinate Dyson. Look at the way he slyly tells Sarah he has “detailed files” on Dyson, like a “we’ll talk about this later without the boy, wink wink, I know what you’re going to do, nudge, nudge.” He even plays dumb later on, like “oh, she left to kill him? Really?” before trying to convince John that killing him might be a good thing. Of course, that’s just my take on it but I like that Cameron leaves stuff like that up to interpretation.

    Anyway, it’s another perfect movie and it’s just as good as I remember it. Cameron gets alot of shit these days but we’re lucky that with T1 and T2, he’s blessed us with TWO all time classics. I was one of those “Termiantor 1 is better!” people last week, but now the T1 vs T2 debate in my head rages on and I love it.

  46. Great point about Sarahnator, Neal.

    Watching t2 again was weird for me. I still have it pretty much memorized after 24 years, but now instead of being a seminal obsession, it’s more of a historical document.

    It did seem a tad ridiculous to see terminator shoot everyone in the knees for an entire movie, but I remember the kinder, gentler terminator angle of 1991. The rear projection driving shots looked downright quaint, and I totally noticed all of furlong’s lines are ADR.

    Also struck me how intimate the action was. Biggest movie of 1991 but a major set piece takes place in a elevator. Even the truck chase is just three vehicles in a secluded location. Today they destroy whole cities with full populations and we just feel detached from it. Or overanalyze the collateral damage.

    Meanwhile t3 holds up all right. It’s 50-50 but that’s still half a good terminator movie. The practical action is outstanding. But “talk to the hand” was already outdated in 2003, right?

  47. As a Brit my knowledge of the term “Talk to the hand” is as a fake sitcom title on a SIMPSONS episode which aired in early 1999, so a fair while before T3. But according to wiki the term’s origin is often attributed to Martin Lawrence and his imaginatively titled sitcom MARTIN, which started in 1992.

  48. The Original Paul

    July 4th, 2015 at 7:14 am

    neal2zod – Sarah Connor’s Terminator-esque turn is one of my favorite things about T2. I love how Cameron blurs the line between man and its creation by humanizing the T-800 and de-humanizing Sarah Connor.

    I still say they should never, ever, ever have humanized the T-1000 though. That scene just before it dies where it stands on the edge of the platform waggling its finger at Sarah Connor like a self-satisfied school mistress or something (instead of, y’know, killing John Connor who is right there in front of it) has always been my least favorite scene in the movie. There should’ve been at least one Terminator in this movie who was all inhuman killing machine, like in the first one. Constantly making the T-1000 do “human” things took some of the scariness away from it. Apart from John Connor’s dialogue, that’s the biggest problem I have with the movie.

  49. Yeah I’m still shocked I didn’t pick up on Sarah Connor becoming Terminator-like, even when she uses the laser sight on Dyson like the T800 did in the first movie. (I think that’s the only time she uses a gun with one of those). Anyone else (especially now) would have had her use the EXACT same silver pistol Arnold uses and have her hold the laser sight on Dyson’s forehead, but Cameron’s too smart for that – for a guy who gets accused of lacking subtlety, he can be pretty subtle.

    Speaking of which, I read he confirmed that the T1000 is also set to “learn” the way the T800 is – which is why he gets crueller and more typically “bad guyish” the longer the movie goes. I never minded the finger wagging (I still dig the weird sound he makes), but I always thought it was weird that he wants Sarah to call for John when he could have impersonated her as early as the elevator scene when he slashed her. I guess Cameron confirms he’s just doing it to be a dick and wants to see if Sarah will break and sell out her own son, but again, it’s a little too subtle a moment and Patrick still plays it robotically so it comes across as a plot hole.

  50. It’s a fantastic interpretation neal. Shows what a master Cameron truly is as he always consistently subverts his own tropes in all his movies.

    I actually had a conversation with somebody who kept knocking TITANIC and AVATAR while telling me that Nolan outclasses Cameron in every way. I had to take them to school and remind them of why Cameron is light years ahead through citing content from THE ABYSS, ALIENS and THE TERMINATOR.

    Cameron is my type of filmmaker and Tim Burton is the same way in the sense that they just choose to show and not tell. The only difference is Cameron’s mind is much more well put together and presents his vision clearer; Burton is literally dyslexic. However I love that old school simplicity because at the end of the day the point of a fucking movie is creating atmosphere and an immersive window into a different plane for a couple of hours. Not to bore you with endless soliloquies that keep hammering the same point via every single character (Ie: “FEAR is the FEAR that FEAR FEARS” from BATMAN BEGINS). It’s much more effective to me in a visual medium than having characters always blurt expository nonsense that even a 5 year old in the audience would’ve already deduced based on the visuals alone.

  51. When I call him the King I it’s as in “King of Subtlety” nobody pulls off big budget filmmaking with the finesse and care of old Jim except prime Spielberg.

    Those 2 plus Wes Craven (via NIGHTMARE and SERPENT OF THE RAINBOW), Romero (Via the DEAD trilogy and MONKEY SHINES), McTiernan (via DIE HARD and PREDATOR), Burton (via BEETLEJUICE and PEE WEE’s BIG ADVENTURE), Walter Hill (via THE WARRIORS, 48 HOURS and EXTREME PREJUDICE), Mel Brooks (via SPACEBALLS, BLAZING SADDLES and SILENT MOVIE) Carpenter (via his entire output), Verhoeven (via TOTAL RECALL and ROBOCOP), John Landis (via COMING TO AMERICA, TRADING PLACES and BLUES BROTHERS, Ivan Reitman (via STRIPES and GHOSTBUSTERS), Harold Ramis (via CADDYSHACK, VACATION and GROUNDHOG DAY) and Andrew Davis (via CODE OF SILENCE and ABOVE THE LAW) were very instrumental in shaping my tastes in movies as a little kid growing up in the late 80’s.

    So I will always go to bat for them even if in Spielberg’s case I haven’t watched any of his movies since MUNICH but whenever people try to question something like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS I’m gonna let them hear it.

  52. Shout out to Richard Donner as well not just for the LETHAL movies or GOONIES and SUPERMAN but also including his producing of Schumachers THE LOST BOYS which is one of my most watched movies of all time when I think about it.

  53. Pacman2.0 – MARTIN is one of my favorite sitcoms of all time. At least the first four seasons anyway (especially the first 2). Too bad it’s genius never translated to the majority of Lawrence’s movies.

  54. The Original Paul

    July 4th, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Broddie – I was right there with you until you put THE ABYSS alongside THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS. This pains me a little. And considering I’ve just rewatched SUDDEN IMPACT, I would say I’ve had all the pain I need for one day. Wouldn’t you agree?

  55. Sorry Paul sometime I just like movies about regular people dealing with being flawed like the rest of us regular humans and not these flawless model archetypes movie characters are written to be ever so often. THE ABYSS just so happens to be pretty damn good at that; outside of Michael Biehn the psycho villain which is the worst part but still entertains me in it’s own way.

  56. The Original Paul

    July 4th, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Broddie – THE ABYSS was the first, and probably the most memorable, example of a movie I really liked when I saw it as a child (I first watched it not long after it came out, which would’ve been 1990 or ’91 at the latest). Then I watched it again when I was barely into adulthood and it was a huge, huge disappointment. I could barely get through it. I thought the characters were the worst kinds of broad stereotypes (especially Michael Biehn), the endless high drama of everything was unbelievable and insufferable, and the sea-aliens… man, I don’t even know. As a child I thought this was great, moving even; it really “got” me. I honestly felt like I was witnessing some kind of historic moment. Like the climax of THE HUNTER or ZERO DARK THIRTY or something.

    Then I watched it as an adult, with all those fond memories of the film, thinking it would be a great experience revisited. And I could barely get through it. I found the characters unengaging, the story unengaging, the setting repetitive. The bits that were supposed to be “emotional” felt mawkish and sentimental, and the “dramatic” bits are almost painful to sit through. (That CPR scene… good God!) None of it rang true to me. I thought it was garbage, basically. Nice visuals, a nice score, but nothing else about it worked. To this day I hold a grudge against THE ABYSS because it’s the first film that ever really disappointed me. I’d seen plenty of bad films before THE ABYSS of course, but this was something worse. This was an experience from my childhood, revisited and completely ruined by viewing it as an adult.

    The long and short of it is that I don’t know how anybody over the age of twelve can watch that film the whole way through.

  57. The Original Paul

    July 4th, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    I would have to add that a lot of people obviously do like THE ABYSS, however. And if I seemed a bit vitriolic just then, bear in mind that I am not, mentally speaking, in a very good place right now. I’ve just seen a film that makes me want to punch Clint Motherfuckin’ Eastwood in the face. That shit changes a man.

  58. Broddie – that’s funny, I was just pointing out to someone how just as JJ Abrams wants to be Spielberg, both Nolan and (especially) Michael Bay want to be James Cameron so bad, but they just don’t compare. Bay obviously has no idea how to tell a coherent story or create anything resembling an engaging character. Think about the Transformers series – there SHOULD be a T800/John Connor relationship happening between Shia with BOTH Optimus and Bumblebee – there’s so much potential there. And yet all I remember is Optimus is a violent asshole and I think Bumblebee peed on John Turturro, and maybe peed on a girl too in the second one. I think. I honestly cannot remember if Bumblebee is even in the Shia-less fourth one, that’s how shitty Bay’s characters are. Think about how badly Pearl Harbor wanted to be Titanic, except people actually cared when Leo died *SPOILER* but did anyone even REMEMBER that Josh Hartnett died? Or maybe Affleck died, that’s how much I recall this movie. Hell, even Armageddon tried to recreate the blue-collar regular joe-sci fi of The Abyss but mucks it up in the very first scene with an entirely out of place shotgun chase(!) and has about 7 or 8 Bay-style comic relief characters. I mean shit, The Abyss had that one guy with the rat but he was just a guy who had a rat, not a never-ending one-liner machine like he would be today. (I bet my life if Michael Bay made The Abyss, the Kimberly Scott character would have been another loud, black stereotype who yelled every line, made “white people” jokes and slapped all the guys on the back of the head the whole movie)

    Nolan is great, don’t get me wrong, a world with him is infinitely preferable to a world without him. More directors should try to make pulpy/sci-fi blockbusters that also try to win Oscars, there’s nothing wrong with that. But Interstellar is not only a terrible, terrible script (that takes it’s entire last act from The Abyss!) but it also lacks that visual awe it’s supposedly going for. Nolan also has major problems staging action sequences (though he’s getting better), whereas Cameron’s action sequences are so good they helped form our brains’ idea of what an action sequence should be. Watching T2 the other day, I was amazed like Fred said – most of the action is fairly “small” scale, but so clearly shot and well-edited, with no bullet-timey gimmicks or slo-mo or any of that jazz – just straight-forward, hard-hitting action.

    But that’s not to say Cameron is just a great action director – I think he’s pretty underrated as an actor’s director. Even though he has a reputation as a George Lucas-style auteur who cares more about his technology than his actors, let’s not forget Kate Winslet and Sigourney Weaver (and Gloria Stuart) got Oscar nominations under his direction. DiCaprio obviously should have had one too, and so should Ed Harris (Paul – that CPR scene in The Abyss is amazing!) Can you imagine prequel-era Lucas directing someone to an Oscar nod? And let’s not forget the other iconic Cameron performances from Hamilton, Schwarzenegger, Biehn, Henriksen, and Paxton (all at least twice!). Shit, he made America like Tom Arnold for a summer, that’s how good he is.

    Anyways, sorry for the rant, just seeing alot of anti-Cameron nonsense on the internet lately with the new Terminator coming out, and felt the need to remind people how good we used to have it when he made films regularly.

  59. Did you all know Monday was the 25th anniversary of T2 hitting U.S. cinemas?

    What better way to celebrate than by buying it on VHS?:

    promo: TERMINATOR 2 on VHS

    "Alright, Arnold!" Robert Patrick keeps his chin down and refuses to blink in this priceless T2 promo tape, boosted from a Portland, OR Blockbuster Video in ...

  60. And every 12 copies of T2 came with THREE copies of DROP DEAD FRED! Phoebe Cates. Mmmmm.

  61. I don’t get the purpose of this promo. They are constantly talking about “previously viewed tapes”. Is this just a fancy industry term for “used tapes” and this is basically just telling the owners of rental stores: “Hey, feel free to sell your rental videos! You have our blessing and will make a nice profit from it, yo.”

  62. That’s exactly it in a nutshell, CJ – let’s all make some more money.

    BUT , to be fair, the promo also had real educational value, too. For instance, did you know you can REWIND and play back the same scene? Over and over?

    That shit should be taught in schools.

  63. The rewind function fucking sucks on dvd and blu ray. Say what you will about vhs, but the rewind function was actually good.

  64. CJ – in the heyday of big video store chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video they would sell off the extra copies of the big new releases after the demand wore off, and yes, they would often call them “previously viewed” instead of “used.”

  65. But was that really such a big thing? Okay, I didn’t turn full videojunkie until at least 1996, but as far as I remember they always sold used video tapes after a while.

  66. Not that it matters anymore, but way back in the day, my friends and I would rent movies and if they were really lame, stick tape over the punch-out tab, and copy trailers for better movies over the end credits – kind of a “you might’ve thought that sucked, but here’s something better.” We were REBELS, Dottie.

  67. Damn, you were like a more upbeat and uncynical Tyler Durden! He denied others their video goodness by letting his minions erase tapes, but you guided them to better corners of the video store.

  68. Ah, VHS rental stores. I have to admit I spent pretty much all my time in them getting wrestling tapes, and rarely movies. They were all in the “Action” sections of the store, which often meant I would run across titles of stuff pretty much everyone here would be familiar with. You’d see lots of copies for sequels, but never the original.

    It’s hilarious now looking back how much some of these would cost to buy. I’ve seen stuff in retail stores that were like 60 bucks. I’d be lucky to sell that much for my old DVD’s that I since upgraded to Blu-ray. Not just one title, all of them.

  69. CJ – Yeah, I thought you were questioning the term “previously viewed,” so I was confirming that that was a commonly used term in U.S. video stores. Maybe I misunderstood.

  70. Ah yes, the old home video prices. When I got into VHS, tapes were already down to 15-39 DM, but I heard stories of stuff like WRATH OF KAHN costing over 100 bucks on their first release.

    What I remember is paying 50€ for my GHOSTBUSTERS DVD back in 2000 or 2001 and even over 70 for the limited edition DVD of MEN IN BLACK around the same time. Those were the days…

  71. And yeah, the “Previously viewed” term was the main question for me, thanks for clearing this up.

    Basically it was a mix of “What the hell do they mean with previously viewed” and “Wait, was there a time when selling used tapes was something new and unsual?”

  72. We TRIED, CJ! Not sure if it did any good at all – most people hit STOP/REWIND the second the credits start. It gave us a warm and fuzzy, though.

  73. Looks like there will be a 3D release of T2 next year.

  74. Didn’t you get the memo? T2 is now considered shit apparently. So if true, hopefully they’ll stay away from the screening I attend so I can enjoy it in peace without a bunch of asshole Rifftrack/How-it-should-have-honestly-sinned fans laughing the whole time.

  75. Wait, is the internet now claiming that T2 sucked? Is nothing sacred?

  76. Those opinions must belong to a different side of the Internet that I usually inhabit. The Dark Web.

  77. I mean, what kind of a fucking deranged idiot would claim such a preposterous notion?

  78. Re-watched the 150 min extended edition of T2 last night. Damn, this movie just has infinite staying power. I was reading Vern’s review above, about the decline in the quality of the summer popcorn movie thanks to Transformers, and fully aware that there is another soulless behemoth (Transformers 5) currently in cinemas laying in wait for the uninitiated film-goer, ready to take another chunk of their soul, and I actually got a little bit sad.

  79. Speaking of T2. Anybody else watching the T2 3D RE-Release next month? I’am so fucking hype for it as if it wasn’t already something I’ve seen hundreds of times before but now in 3D!

    Of course since it’s been 26 years since I last watched it in a theater (damn!) that could also have something to do with it. T2 is still singlehandedly one of the greatest big screen experiences of my life.

  80. I’m psyched for it. I’ve never seen T2 in theaters so this will be an special treat to see.

  81. I would be absolutely down to watch this masterpiece on the big screen, but since it’s in 3D, I have to stay home.

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