Scenes I Go Back To: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

To this day, the movie’s effects remain some of my favorites.

(This is the only clip and I could find, and for whatever reason, whoever posted it decided to translate the dialog into Polish while the movie was playing.)

I didn’t get to see Terminator 2 until 1992 — one year after it came out — when a friend lent me a VHS recording he had made from HBO. Watching that tape for the first time was a watershed moment for me, and I think I must’ve watched the movie about 15 times that summer. In other words, for awhile Terminator 2 was the only movie out there as far as I was concerned. And while I’d like to say that I was captivated by the movie’s apocalyptic themes, or by the concept of a ruthless killing machine learning about morality and humanity, or the exploration of mankind’s hubris being its destruction, the truth is that I was really just all about the special effects.

Although morphing effects were nothing new — director James Cameron has used them to great effect in his previous film, The Abyss — Terminator 2 took them to a whole new level, thanks to the movie’s villain: the T-1000 (Robert Patrick is his finest role), a shapeshifting robotic assassin made from liquid metal (or “mimetic poly-alloy,” to use the movie’s parlance).

I was absolutely blown away by morphing effects, such as when the T-1000 assumed the identity of friends and family to get close to John Connor or when it reformed itself after being blown apart by Ah-nuld’s shotgun. To this day, the movie’s effects remain some of my favorites, not just for their technical brilliance, but also for the cleverness in which they were used.

My favorite T-1000 scene, and probably my favorite scene in the entire movie, occurs when the T-1000 infiltrates the mental hospital where Sarah Connor is being kept, its plan being to kill her and impersonate her in order to get close to John Connor, future savior of mankind. A security guard locks the front door and walks to a vending machine for a cup of coffee. The camera shifts to the patch of floor he’s just walked over and suddenly, the floor begins to shift and move and the T-1000 begins to rise. The guard turns around, only to find himself staring at his identical twin — a twin that suddenly spears him through the eye with its index finger.

The T-1000 had done lots of clever things before — such as impersonating John’s foster parents — but this took its abilities to a whole new level of bad-ass. If the T-1000 could hide in the very floor you walked on, than really, nowhere was safe from its attacks. Which made it the perfect killing machine, and ramped up the tension and intensity considerably.

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