Terminator 2: Judgment Day (also promoted as T2) is a 1991 American science fiction action film produced and directed by James Cameron, who co-wrote the script with William Wisher.
The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, and Edward Furlong as its principal cast.
It is the sequel to the 1984 film The Terminator, as well as the second instalment in the Terminator franchise. Terminator 02 follows Sarah Connor (Hamilton) and her ten-year-old son John (Furlong) as they are pursued by a new, more advanced Terminator: the liquid metal, shapeshifting T-1000 (Patrick), sent back in time to kill John Connor and prevent him from becoming the leader of the human resistance. A second, less advanced Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is also sent back in time to protect John.
In 1995, John Connor is living in Los Angeles with foster parents. His mother, Sarah Connor, had been preparing him throughout his childhood for his future role as the human resistance leader against Skynet, the artificial intelligence that will be given control of the United States’ nuclear missiles and initiate a nuclear holocaust on 29 August 1997, known thereafter as “Judgement Day”. However, Sarah was arrested and imprisoned at a mental hospital after attempting to bomb a computer factory. In 2029, Skynet sends a new Terminator, designated as T-1000, back in time to kill John. The T-1000 is an advanced prototype made out of liquid metal (referred to as “mimetic polyalloy”) that gives it the ability to take on the shape and appearance of almost anything it touches, and to transform its arms into blades and other shapes at will. The T-1000 arrives, kills a policeman, and assumes his identity; he also uses the police computer to track down John. Meanwhile, the future John Connor has sent back a reprogrammed Model 101 Terminator to protect his younger self.
The Terminator and the T-1000 converge on John in a shopping mall, and a chase ensues after which John and the Terminator escape together on a motorcycle. Fearing that the T-1000 will kill Sarah in order to get to him, John orders the Terminator to help free her, after discovering that the Terminator must follow his orders. They encounter Sarah as she is escaping from the hospital, although she is initially reluctant to trust the Model 101. After the trio escape from the T-1000 in a police car, the Terminator informs John and Sarah about Skynet’s history. Sarah learns that the man most directly responsible for Skynet’s creation is Miles Bennett Dyson, a Cyberdyne Systems engineer working on a revolutionary new microprocessor that will form the basis for Skynet.
Sarah gathers weapons from an old friend and plans to flee with John to Mexico, but after having a nightmare about Judgement Day, she instead sets out to kill Dyson in order to prevent Judgement Day from occurring. Finding him at his home, she wounds him but finds herself unable to kill him in front of his family. John and the Terminator arrive and inform Dyson of the future consequences of his work. They learn that much of his research has been reverse engineered from the damaged CPU and the right arm of the previous Terminator who attacked Sarah back in 1984. Convincing him that these items and his designs must be destroyed, they break into the Cyberdyne building, retrieve the CPU and the arm, and set explosives to destroy Dyson’s lab. The police arrive and Dyson is fatally shot, but he rigs an improvised dead man’s switch that detonates the explosives when he dies. The T-1000 relentlessly pursues the surviving trio, eventually cornering them in a steel mill.
The T-1000 and Model 101 fight and the more advanced model seriously damages and shuts down the Model 101. However, unbeknown to the T-1000, the Model 101 brings itself back online using an alternative power source. The T-1000 nearly kills John and Sarah but the Model 101 takes it by surprise and blasts it into a crucible of molten steel with a grenade launcher, destroying it. John tosses the arm and CPU of the original Terminator into the vat as well. As Sarah expresses relief that the ordeal is over, the Terminator explains that to ensure that it is not used for reverse engineering it must also be destroyed. It asks Sarah to assist in lowering it into the vat of molten steel, since it is unable to “self-terminate”. Although John begs and eventually orders the Terminator to reconsider, it makes the decision to disobey him, bids them farewell and hugs a tearful John before it is lowered into the vat, giving a final thumbs-up as it disappears into the vat. John and Sarah drive down a highway and Sarah says in a voice over, “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope. Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can, too.”
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Model 101:
- Also known as a T-800 and credited as “The Terminator”.
- An android, built as a synthetic organism composed of living tissue over a titanium “hyperalloy” endoskeleton, reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect John Connor, becoming his surrogate father in the process.
- Schwarzenegger was reportedly paid $15 million for the role.
- Stuntman Matt McColm served as his body double.
- Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor:
- The mother of John, the future leader of the Resistance in the war against Skynet.
- Hamilton reprised her role from the 1984 film for a salary of $1 million.
- In preparation for the role, Hamilton underwent an extensive thirteen-week training regimen with personal trainer Anthony Cortes, training for three hours each day, six days a week before filming began.
- She additionally lost 12 pounds (5.4 kg) on a low-fat diet, conducted throughout the film’s six-month shoot.
- Actor and former Israeli commando Uzi Gal provided her with training for her action scenes.
- On her work with Gal, Hamilton stated that she undertook “judo and heavy-duty military training” and “learned to load clips, change mags, check out a room upon entry, verify kills.”
- Hamilton’s twin sister Leslie Hamilton Gearren also portrayed Sarah when it was required that there be two of the character in the same shot.
- Robert Patrick as T-1000:
- An advanced shapeshifting prototypical Terminator composed of liquid metal sent back in time to assassinate John.
- Cameron stated that he “wanted to find someone who would be a good contrast to Arnold. If the 800 series is a kind of human Panzer tank, then the 1000 series had to be a Porsche.”
- Joe Morton as Miles Dyson:
- The director of special projects at Cyberdyne, whose research will lead to the formation of Skynet. Dyson has a wife and son.
- Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman:
- Sarah’s psychiatrist, Boen reprises his character from the 1984 film.
- Dr. Silberman is trying to convince Sarah that the Terminator is not real, but when he witnesses the T-1000 and T-800 he begins to doubt himself.
- Edward Furlong as John Connor:
- The ten-year-old son of Sarah, given survival training from a young age, but taken into foster care after his mother is institutionalised.
- Furlong was discovered by casting director Mali Finn while visiting the Pasadena Boys and Girls Club.
- Furlong, who had no acting ambitions at the time, stated, “I fell into [acting], it wasn’t something that I planned”.
- Michael Edwards as Old John Connor.
The cast was rounded out with Jenette Goldstein and Xander Berkeley, who portray John’s foster parents, Janelle and Todd Voight. S. Epatha Merkerson plays Tarissa Dyson, the wife of Miles Dyson. Cástulo Guerra plays Sarah’s friend, Enrique Salceda, who provides her with weapons. Danny Cooksey plays Tim, John’s friend. Michael Biehn returned to the series as Kyle Reese, a soldier from 2029, in a short appearance in Sarah’s dream. Biehn’s scene was not featured in the theatrical release of the film, but it was restored in extended versions of the film. Hamilton’s then-twenty-month-old son Dalton plays her on-screen son in a dream sequence set in a playground. DeVaughn Nixon plays Danny Dyson, the son of Miles and Tarissa Dyson.
Talk of a potential sequel to The Terminator arose soon after its release, but several outstanding issues precluded such a production. There were technical limitations regarding computer-generated imagery, an aspect of the film essential to the creation of the T-1000 Terminator. The production of James Cameron’s 1989 film The Abyss provided the proof of concept needed to satisfactorily resolve the technical concerns. Perhaps more serious were the intellectual property disputes between Hemdale Film Corporation, which owned 50% of the rights to the franchise and stymied efforts to produce a sequel, and Carolco Pictures. Given that Hemdale was then experiencing financial problems, Schwarzenegger urged Mario Kassar, head of Carolco, to bid for the rights: “I reminded Mario that this is something that we’ve been looking for four years, and that it should be him that should go all-out, no matter what it takes to make this deal.” Carolco eventually paid Hemdale $5 million for the franchise in 1990, resolving the legal gridlock.
The end of the legal disputes coincided with the willingness and availability of Cameron, Schwarzenegger, and Hamilton to participate in the sequel; Schwarzenegger, who portrayed the Terminator in the first film, commented: “I always felt we should continue the story of The Terminator, I told Jim that right after we finished the first film.” He and Hamilton reprised their roles from the first Terminator film. After an extensive casting search, 13-year-old Edward Furlong was selected from hundreds of candidates to portray John Connor; Robert Patrick was chosen to play the T-1000 Terminator because his slender physique would create a contrast between the advanced T-1000 and Schwarzenegger’s older T-800. Patrick had previously appeared in the action feature Die Hard 2, but Furlong had no formal acting experience. Joe Morton was picked to portray Miles Dyson, a Cyberdyne scientist whose work would eventually lead to the creation of Skynet.
Calling themselves T2 Productions, James and co-producers Stephanie Austin and B.J. Rack rented an office in North Hollywood before starting to assemble the crew. Adam Greenberg, who worked on The Terminator and Ghost (1990), became director of photography, while Joseph Nemec III, who had worked with Cameron on The Abyss, was tasked with production design. The team conducted a national search for a steel mill suitable for the film’s climax, and selected a dormant Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, California, after weeks of negotiations. Locating the Cyberdyne building was more difficult, as the site was to host numerous stunts, shootouts, and explosions. An industrial park in Fremont, California, was eventually rented for the duration of the film’s production. Cameron and William Wisher completed the 140-page screenplay draft on 10 May 1990, and by 15 July, the first shooting draft had been distributed to the cast and crew; particulars of the technically detailed scripts were shrouded in secrecy. Both the six-week turnaround for the script and the film’s accelerated production schedule were to enable a 1991 Fourth of July release.
Principal photography of Terminator 2 spanned 171 days between 09 October 1990, and 28 March 1991, during which the crew filmed at the Mojave Desert before visiting 20 different sites throughout California and New Mexico. These locations ran the gamut from the crowded Santa Monica Place shopping mall, where the two Terminators converged on John, with brief shots coming from the Westfield MainPlace and Los Cerritos Centre, to flood control channels in the San Fernando Valley, which played host to the chase between the Terminators and John; a river had to be redirected to allow filming on the otherwise wet channels. Cameron and his crew also filmed Terminator 02 at The Corral Bar and the Lake View Medical Centre (known as Pescadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in the film), both located in Lake View Terrace. The external shots of Cyberdyne Systems Corporation were filmed on location at an office building on the corner of Gateway Boulevard and Bayside Parkway in Fremont, California. Working with up to 1,000 crew members, the production team oversaw numerous stunts and chase sequences, the most notable of which took place on the Los Angeles–Long Beach Terminal Island Freeway, prior to Terminator 02’s climax. Ten miles (16 km) of electric cables were laid to illuminate the night-time chase, which saw a full-scale helicopter crash, a sliding tanker, and other elaborate paraphernalia.
Hamilton’s twin sister, Leslie Hamilton Gearren, was used in some shots that required two persons looking like Sarah, including a scene where Sarah and John perform repairs on the Terminator’s head (deleted from the theatrical release, but restored on the extended edition), and in some of the shots where the T-1000 impersonates Sarah. Gearren is playing whichever “Sarah” is farthest from the camera, alternating between the real Sarah and the T-1000 based on camera position. Linda Hamilton’s son, Dalton Abbott, appeared as the toddler John Connor in Sarah’s nuclear nightmare. Another set of twins, Don and Dan Stanton, were used to depict a scene where the T-1000 mimics a guard at the asylum.
An unprecedented budget of $102 million (1991 dollars) – 3.5 times the cost of the average film and approximately 15 times the $6.4 million budget of The Terminator – was reserved for Terminator 2 making it the most expensive film made up to that point. A significant proportion of this was for actor and film-crew salaries. Schwarzenegger was given an $11–12 million Gulfstream III business jet, while $5-6 million was allocated towards James Cameron’s salary. The production itself, which included special effects and stunts, totalled $51 million. Although the film was commonly described by the media as the most expensive film ever made at the time, if adjusted for inflation, Cleopatra (1963), would have cost $219 million in 1995 dollars. Despite the significant expenditure, the film had nearly recovered its budget prior to its release. Worldwide rights were sold for $65 million, video rights for $10 million, and television rights for $7 million.
Terminator 02 made extensive use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) to vivify the main two Terminators. The use of such technology was the most ambitious since the science fiction films Tron (1982) and The Last Starfighter (1984), and would be integral to the critical success of the film. CGI was required particularly for the T-1000, a “mimetic poly-alloy” (liquid metal) structure, since the shapeshifting character can transform into almost anything it touches. Most of the key Terminator effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and Pacific Data Images (PDI) for computer graphics and Stan Winston for practical effects. Creation of the visual effects cost $5 million and took 35 people, including animators, computer scientists, technicians and artists, ten months to produce, for a total of 25 man-years. Despite the large amount of time spent, the CGI sequences only total five minutes of running time. Enlisted to produce articulated puppets and prosthetic effects was Stan Winston’s studio, who was also responsible for the metal skeleton effects of the T-800. ILM’s Visual Effects Supervisor, Dennis Muren, remarked, “We still have not lost the spirit of amazement when we see … [the visual effects on the T-1000] coming up.” The technical achievements in creating the CGI for the film contributed to the visual effects team being awarded the 1992 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
For Sarah’s nuclear nightmare scene, Robert and Dennis Skotak of 4-Ward Production constructed a cityscape of Los Angeles using large-scale miniature buildings and realistic roads and vehicles. The pair, after having studied actual footage of nuclear tests, then simulated the nuclear blast by using air mortars to knock over the cityscape, including the intricately built buildings.
The score by Brad Fiedel was commercially released as the Terminator 02: Judgement Day (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) CD and cassette tape and contained twenty tracks with a runtime of 53 minutes. The score spent six weeks on the Billboard 200, reaching a peak of No. 70. The album was re-issued in 2010 by Silva Screen Records and featured a collectable booklet. In the DVD commentary, Fiedel mentions that the recurring metallic sound in the main title was produced by hitting a cast-iron frying pan with a hammer.
The 137-minute theatrical cut of the movie was first released on VHS in the United States in November 1991. It beat the record set by Dances With Wolves (1990) selling 714,000 videos for rental.
On 24 November 1993, the Terminator 02: Judgement Day – Special Edition cut of the film was released to Laserdisc and VHS, containing 15 minutes of previously unseen footage including scenes with Michael Biehn reprising his role as Kyle Reese in a dream sequence. Some scenes, however, were still not included in the two-cassette VHS cut. In October 1997, the film received its first DVD release which featured the original theatrical cut. In 1998 and 1999, the film was released on DVD only in Australia, France and Brazil by Columbia TriStar Home Video.
An “Ultimate Edition” DVD was released in 2000 by Artisan Entertainment, initially as a single, double-sided disc. It contains both the theatrical and special editions of the film, plus many extras carried over from the Laserdisc.
2003’s “Extreme Edition” DVD has several DVD-ROM features, including an “Infiltration Unit Simulator” and the “T2 FX Studio”, an application where images of a person can be imported and transformed into a T-800 or T-1000, and the “Skynet Combat Chassis Designer”, a program where viewers could build a fighting machine and be able to track progress online. The Extreme DVD also contains a WMV-HD theatrical edition of T2, where the film could be watched, for the first time, in Full HD 1080p format.
In 2006, Lionsgate released a Blu-ray of the film that is presented in a slightly washed-out 1080p transfer and included no special features and a DTS 5.1 audio track from the DVDs instead of a lossless audio track. On May 19, 2009, Lionsgate re-released the film on Blu-ray in the form of a “Skynet Edition”, with an enhanced and improved video transfer, as well as a THX certified DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 audio. This edition has a runtime of 152 minutes. The Skynet Edition also saw a limited collector’s edition encased in an Endoskull, including the 2009 Blu-ray, as well as the Extreme Edition and Ultimate Edition DVDs and a digital copy of the film.
On July 2017, two new Blu-ray releases of the film were announced. First, a 4K remaster, and later a Blu-ray 3D release of the 3D conversion due out in August 2017. These re-releases would include new extras, including trailers, making-of documentaries, and “Seamless Branching of the Theatrical cut, Director’s Cut and Special extended edition”. The Director’s Cut version has a runtime of 154 minutes. Additionally, an “Endo-arm Special Edition” bundle was announced, including both the 3D and 4K versions, and a CD audio soundtrack.
On 29 August 2016 (a reference to 29 August 1997 – the date on which Skynet becomes self-aware in the films), it was announced that the film would be digitally remastered in 3D to commemorate its 25th anniversary, with a worldwide re-release planned for summer 2017. The version to be remastered and re-released in 3D was the original 137 minute theatrical cut, as the extended edition is not James Cameron’s preferred version. Multiple camera shots from the opening chase sequence were digitally altered to fix a minor continuity error which had troubled Cameron since the 1991 release. DMG Entertainment and StudioCanal worked together with Cameron to convert the film using the StereoD technology. The 3D version premiered on 17 February 2017, at the Berlin International Film Festival, with the theatrical re-release being scheduled for 25 August 2017. Similar to Cameron’s Titanic 3D, Lightstorm Entertainment oversaw the work on the 3D version of Terminator 02, which took around 1800 artists about eight months to finish. The restoration was released by Distrib Films US, a company which typically distributes foreign films.
In 2015, the extended version of the film was released as part of the Terminator Quadrilogy box set containing the first four Terminator films. However, it contains no special features. The “Ultimate Edition” DVD and “Skynet Edition” Blu-ray releases also included this extended version of the film as an ‘easter egg’.
Alongside other numerous re-added deleted scenes, the Extended Edition features an alternative ending, which shows an elderly Sarah Connor watching an adult John, who is a US Senator, playing with his daughter in a Washington playground in the year 2029, narrating that Judgement Day never happened.
The film was adapted by Marvel Comics as a three issue miniseries, which was collected into a trade paperback. In the years following its release, several books based on the film were released, including Malibu Comics Terminator 02 – Judgement Day: Cybernetic Dawn, Terminator 02 – Judgement Day: Nuclear Twilight, IDW Comics T2: Infiltrator, T2: Rising Storm and T2: Future War’ by S.M. Stirling, and The John Connor Chronicles by Russell Blackford.
In 1996, Cameron directed an attraction at Universal Studios Theme Parks, titled T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, which saw the return of Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, Patrick, and Furlong to their respective roles. Costing $60 million to produce, with a running time of only 12 minutes, it became the most expensive venture per minute in the history of film. The attraction opened in the Universal Studios Florida in mid-1996, with additional venues opening in the Universal Studios Hollywood in May 1999, and the Universal Studios Japan in March 2001.
Seven games were created based on the film, made available for home consoles and arcade machines. A line of trading cards was also released. A novelisation, written by Randall Frakes, was published through Sphere.
Various video games based on the film were released. An arcade version was released in 1991 by Midway Manufacturing Company, and was ported to numerous game consoles. A computer game, published by Ocean Software, was released in 1991.
Terminator 02: Judgement Day was also released for Game Boy in 1991, and for SNES and Sega Genesis/Mega Drive in 1993. An 8-bit version was also released for Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Game Gear and Master System.
A themed pinball machine was released in July 1991 by Williams Electronics.
- Robert Patrick makes a cameo appearance in Wayne’s World (1992) as the T-1000 character in a scene where he pulls Wayne’s car over, holds up a photo of John Connor and asks, “Have you seen this boy?”, to which Wayne screams in panic and drives away from him.
- Patrick also makes a cameo appearance as the T-1000 in Last Action Hero (1993), when he is seen walking by Schwarzenegger as he enters Los Angeles Police Department headquarters.
- In the same film, actor Sylvester Stallone is featured as the Terminator on a Terminator 2 poster instead of Schwarzenegger.
- In Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993), a caricature of Saddam Hussein is frozen, shattered, and reformed in a direct parody of the T-1000 from the final scene of Terminator 2.
- The film is referenced multiple times in a variety of animated series, such as The Simpsons, including episodes “Homer Loves Flanders” (1994), “Treehouse of Horror VI” (1995), “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular” (1995), and “Day of the Jackanapes” (2001).
- The film is also parodied in Family Guy and American Dad!.
- In the 2014 film The Lego Movie, Wyldstyle says to Emmet, “Come with me if you wanna not die.”
- A trailer for WWE 2K16 reenacts the bar scene with Schwarzenegger interacting with various wrestlers.
- While talks of a follow-up to The Terminator arose following its release, its development was stalled due to technical limitations regarding computer-generated imagery, a vital aspect of the film, and legal issues with original producer Hemdale Film Corporation, who controlled half of the franchise rights.
- In 1990, Carolco Pictures acquired the rights from Hemdale and production immediately began, with Schwarzenegger, Hamilton, and Cameron returning.
- Principal photography began in October 1990 and lasted until March 1991.
- Its visual effects saw breakthroughs in computer-generated imagery, including the first use of natural human motion for a computer-generated character and the first partially computer-generated main character.
- At the time of its release, with a budget of $94–102 million, Terminator 02: Judgement Day was the most expensive film ever made.
- It was released in the United States on 03 July 1991 by TriStar Pictures.
- It was a critical success upon its release, with praise going towards the performances of its cast, the action scenes, and its visual effects.
- Regarded as superior to the original film and one of the best sequels ever made, the film influenced popular culture, especially the use of visual effects in films.
- It grossed $520 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1991 and of Schwarzenegger’s career, as well as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, until The Matrix Reloaded surpassed it in 2003.
- It received several accolades, including Academy Awards for Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects.
- In 2017, Terminator 02 was re-released in 3D 4K resolution for AMC and Cineplex theatres, and internationally, debuting at number one in the United Kingdom on its release weekend.
- Overview of the Terminator Franchise.
- Overview of Terminator Films.
- Overview of Terminator TV Series.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): James Cameron.
- Producer(s): James Cameron.
- Writer(s): James Cameron and William Wisher.
- Music: Brad Fiedel.
- Cinematography: Adam Greenberg.
- Editor(s): Conrad Buff, Mark Goldblatt, and Richard A. Harris.
- Production: Carolco Pictures, Pacific Western Productions, Lightstorm Entertainment, and Le Studio Canal+ S.A.
- Distributor(s): TriStar Pictures.
- Release Date: 01 July 1991 (Los Angeles) and 03 July 1991 (US general release).
- Running Time: 137 minutes.
- Rating: R.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.