1991/1993 – SPECIAL EDITION
1991/1993/2008 – EXTENDED SPECIAL EDITION
DIRECTOR: James Cameron
May Contain Spoilers!
The Future Coda: That is one of the two added scenes which make up the Extended Special Edition of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Only available on the Skynet Edition of the Blu-ray, this additional version is a novelty at best, offering a different ending to a film which was almost perfect in its Special Edition form. Here we see an alternate 2029 in which Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is a content old woman (sporting some pretty bad make-up, indicative of the early 90’s) and John Connor is senator… blah blah blah! Rubbish!
“The future is highway…” final monologue is perfectly ambiguous and works great in order to conclude one of cinemas best written and executed sequels. This, along with the Star Wars: Episode V: Empire Strikes Back (1980) set the bar for what a sequel could and should be. The natural extension of what has come before, in this case taking the normal, decent Sarah Connor which we met in The Terminator (1984) and picking her up a decade later to find her to be a very troubled 29 year old who has been committed to and asylum.
The waitress is gone. John Connor is in care, though be it clearly too old but anyway, and Sarah is now basically insane, driven so by the nightmarish knowledge that the world she and everyone else inhabits is effectively dead, it just hasn’t happened yet. This is the very real and plausible premise for her entire character arch in this movie, one which will turn her into the very thing she hates and has dedicated her life to destroy, a Terminator.
It is a mortal battle between the future Skynet, who has again dispatched Terminator, a liquid metal T-1000 played pitch perfect by Robert Patrick and Sarah Connor, who is just as intent of destroying her foe before it is created. And having discovered the location of Skynet’s creator, Myles Dyson (Joe Morton), she sets out to murder him before he can create his doomsday machine.
But enough of all that. This plot is only the second half of the film. That’s right, the first hour is Terminator 2, in which we find out that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is now the good guy and all three of them must evade the T-1000 in order to survive, before they embark on their counter-mission to destroy Skynet.
The effects are so good that even 24 years on, the T-1000’s liquidity effects are still astonishing, developed from Cameron’s seemingly forgotten The Abyss (1989), the plot is still viable and relevant with timeless themes but nothing beats the integrity of a film which takes The Terminator (1984) to its natural conclusion and well beyond. Sarah Connor is unlikable, a fanatic who will stop at nothing to fulfil what the rest of the world perceive to be deranged fantasy.
And it is played so well that if we did not know about the Terminators first hand then we probably would not believe her and that is the magic. Take away the rest of the action and focus of Sarah Connor’s potential psychosis and we are left with a decent enough psychological thriller in its own right and this is just small part of an epic plot. This is, like most of Cameron’s work at this point, a well conceived multi-layered narrative, with thrilling action, great ideas and near perfect execution.
The Terminator (1984) must not be ignored but Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the epitome of story development, understanding as few do, that having faith in your own vision and not pandering what you think your audience want is the route to creating a classic. Surely nobody would have wanted Sarah Connor to turn out like this, any more than we would want Arnie to be good guy, right? It would have been like Luke Skywalker going mad and Darth Vader joining the rebellion… wouldn’t work, or would it?
Well, it did hear and the rest, is well, sort of history.
To access the ESP version of the film on the Skynet Edition Blu-ray, you must enter the five digit code, 82997… which is of course Judgment Day.