As with Aliens, director James Cameron has again taken a first-rate science fiction film and crafted a sequel that’s in some ways more impressive — expanding on the original rather than merely remaking it. This time he’s managed the trick by bringing two cyborgs back from the future into the sort-of present (the math doesn’t quite work out) to respectively menace and defend the juvenile John Connor (Edward Furlong) – leader of the human resistance against machines that rule the war devastated world of 2029.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is more comfortable and assured here than the first time around, reprising a role so perfectly suited to the voice and physique that have established him as a larger-than-life film persona.
The story finds Connor living with foster parents, his mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton) having been captured and committed to an asylum for insisting on the veracity of events depicted in the first film. The machines who rule the future dispatch a new cyborg to slay him while the human resistance sends its own reprogrammed Terminator back – this one bearing a remarkable resemblance to the evil one that appeared in 1984.
The film’s great innovation involves the second cyborg: an advanced model composed of a liquid metal alloy that can metamorphose into the shape of any person it contacts and sprout metal appendages to skewer its victims.
Script by Cameron and William Wisher at times gets lost amid all the carnage. Hamilton’s heavy-handed narration also is at times unintentionally amusing, though through her Cameron again offers the sci-fi crowd a fiercely heroic female lead, albeit one who looks like she’s been going to Madonna’s physical trainer.
If the reported $100 million budget is a study in excess, at least a lot of it ended up on the screen.