Picks and Pans Review: Terminator 2
Here's the perfect film for those who can't find enough flies to torture this summer.
Shamefully sadistic, achingly dull and totally predictable, it rehashes the far superior 1984 original. Two robots travel from 2029 to the present to battle over the life of a boy who would grow up to lead human rebels against a computer-controlled society. Only this time Schwarzenegger, no longer consigned to villain duty, plays the good robot. He's trying to protect the boy, Edward Furlong, a 13-year-old in a thankless role that calls on him only to mutter obscenities and look scared.
The only original touches are in special effects. Effectsmeisters Industrial Light & Magic, using a shape-changing gizmo like the one in The Abyss, gives the bad robot the ability to reconfigure himself into his human form, as Robert Patrick, all but instantaneously.
This is a one-trick turkey though. After a couple of Patrick's instant self-repair jobs, the novelty is worn off, and you're left to try and stay awake through one slug-up and shoot-out after another, with loving close-ups of particularly gory injuries. The brainless script was written by director James Cameron and William Wisher. Its peak of wit comes when Furlong teaches Schwarzenegger such slang as "chill out" and "no problemo."
Mostly, Cameron (who directed the original Terminator as well as Aliens) panders to his audience and painfully misuses his cast. This kind of cast-iron performance is a giant stomp backward for Schwarzenegger, and Hamilton, reduced mostly to grunting and swearing, cuts an unhappy figure.
The film isn't even internally consistent. At one point Patrick shows the ability to mimic voices perfectly; at another he wastes time torturing Hamilton to persuade her to call for her son when he could presumably do it himself. Then, too, Schwarzenegger is supposed to be a killing machine, yet it never occurs to him to slow down his relentless enemy by shooting off his legs. (When you watch this movie, you can't help but start thinking like that.)
On and on it drones for two hours and 15 minutes. Call it Interminablator. (R)