Welcome to SciFiNow’s long-running feature that gives you the chance to vote for the greatest sci-fi film of all time. Every issue for the next ten months the industry’s best writers will campaign for their favourite film from a shortlist of ten, with our readers ultimately deciding which film deserves the accolade of Greatest Sci-Fi Film Of All Time.
Today, Shaun Davis argues the case for James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Sci-fi blockbusters are a tricky sell. Give an audience full blown action, tepid characters and a loose grasp of the genre and you have something up on the screen that is the equivalent of The Island; go too far the ‘other’ way and you could well end up alienating the popcorn-munching masses. It’s just as well, then, that James Cameron took the aforementioned onboard when getting to work on a sequel to a certain cyberpunk blockbuster of his. Cameron’s efforts resulted in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a film that is not only the best action sci-fi romp of all time, but also the greatest motion picture ever deployed upon the genre.
Arguing why Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the best science-fiction film of all time isn’t too tricky a feat – the film is a blast no matter how many times you watch it. It has action, cold hard drama, a bunch of fully fleshed out characters and groundbreaking scenes of action. What the forthcoming words will do, however, is reinforce this claim with a militaristic precision that even Cameron himself would be admirable of.
Cameron always maintained that the idea for Terminator came to him in a feverish dream, one where a metallic skull glared through flames at him. In this sequel – and perhaps more so than its predecessor – Cameron’s vision is better realised and evident right from the opening credits, where we are thrust straight into the post-Judgment Day nightmare of man’s war against the machine. From here on in the film constantly entertains with its blend of still cutting-edge special effects (need proof? Check out the film’s flawless Blu-ray transfer), and most importantly, a story well worth investing in. For such a morbid plot you get a great sense of excitement watching how the film’s characters reach their uncharted destinations. This is, in many ways, one big long chase movie, and in a clinical manner Cameron mapped out a film where we, the audience, never quite knew were we were headed. With a formidable and seemingly unstoppable creation in the T-1000, Terminator 2: Judgment Day veers and swerves to its plot points in a near breathless manner. John Connor and his futuristic protector (Arnie in a neat role reversal) develop a touching dynamic over the course of this chase, and it’s with these two that the film’s human drama shines through. Once Linda Hamilton’s fiercely realised Sarah Connor jumps on board, the film manages to kick up yet another gear and, bar a quiet meander cum weapon stock up in the desert, the engine never stops roaring on this formidable motion picture.
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