With an inflated budget comes inflated thrills whenever the inflated head of director James Cameron is involved. Here, Cameron tops his own cyberpunk time travel opus Terminator with its sequel T2 Judgement Day, an action-packed, yet intelligent, effects fest.
In the first Terminator, John Connor, the human who leads the rebellion against CyberDyne Systems and their killing machines, sends Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) back in time to protect his mother Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) sent back in time to kill her and thereby prevent John Connor from ever being born. Not only does Kyle Reese protect Sarah, he impregnates her with John.
Flashforward to Judgment Day: Sarah Connor has been institutionalized for her apocalyptic visions and messianic delusions about her son, John (Edward Furlong). John has become a ward of the foster care system and a criminally-skilled juvenile delinquent. But, in the future, John has captured a Terminator, re-programmed it and sent it back in time to protect himself from the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a new class of Terminator with deadly shapeshifting abilities.
Pushing the technology envelope at the time of T2’s release, James Cameron manages to accomplish a Herculean task in having a ton of fun blowing things up while maintaining the integrity of heavy subject matter like global nuclear annihilation. Evil genius Jim Cameron doesn’t stop his unholy aberrations there. He deigns to take the piss out of the seriousness of the first film by making Schwarzenegger’s Terminator almost clownish, even while the gravely serious threat of human extinction by machines looms eminent. By making an accessible, fun film in what could otherwise be a convoluted time travel mindblower, Cameron is truly king of his world.