Sam Strange Remembers: TERMINATOR 2 - JUDGMENT DAY

Hollywood legend Sam Strange recalls the time he made a movie about a killer robot who couldn’t kill anybody.

A long time ago, I made this movie called S. Darko (and its lesser-known prequel). The film itself was so-so, but it featured a groundbreaking special effect. With the aid of computers, I was able to make a kind of floating water-worm thingy, the likes of which people had never seen before. It dawned on me that a floating water-worm thingy could just as easily be shaped like a dude. And Terminator 2 was born.

The Terminator story is pretty complicated because it involves time travel, the ultimate “shut up and enjoy the movie” plot device. In the present, humans have computers doing all kinds of goofy shit for them. But then those machines grow brains of their own and start manufacturing themselves. At first, people think it’s a pretty cool trick because their iPads are totally breeding newer, better iPads for free. But then the Apple people raise the price points so high that it’s no longer fun. And then the machines start killing people and it really sucks.

So now the robots are breeding killer robots called Terminator 1s. They all look like really strong dudes but their bones are made of metal. Even though they take about 2,000 bullets to kill, a human resistance is still giving them trouble, largely because their leader, John Connor, totally unlocked the mystery of how fucking magnets work.

Unable to get past Connor’s magnet fort, the machines come up with an even better idea. They send one of their rank back in time to kill his mother. This ends up being a bit of a boner. Not only to they fail to kill the mom, but they inspire the sexual activity which creates John Connor in the first place.

Not only is John Connor alive, but now he knows about the future, and his mom is turning him into an even bigger badass than he already was. He’s taking magnet classes and everything. Suddenly, the future robots are getting their asses kicked. In a fit of high-pressure robot genius, they invent a new kind of terminator, the Terminator 2. This one has a body of liquid metal, none of that breakable skeleton shit. It can take any shape, including knives, and shooting it is a waste of time because he can make his chest silver and swallow the bullets.

So they send him back in time to kill little boy John Connor. Old John Connor sends a reprogrammed Terminator 1 back in time to protect himself. And finally our movie can begin!

When we meet little boy John Connor, he’s kind of a troubled kid. In between magnet classes, he rides around on a little boy motorcycle, hacks ATMs, and hangs out with a very young Harry Knowles. He’s such a rebel that he even claims to like Chinese Democracy.

Deep down, though, he’s still just a kid. He spends his stolen money on arcade games and dreams of touching boobies. Despite his mother’s attempts to harden him, he’s not into war or killing, just yelling at people who tell him what to do. So when Terminator 1 shows up at the mall looking like a body-building biker, John acts like a little shit and runs away. Then he sees Terminator 2 stalking toward him dressed as a steely police officer, and he’s even more scared. He hops on his scooter and runs away from them both.

This causes a problem for Terminator 1. He not only has to fight off the far superior Terminator 2, but must track down John Connor all over again as well. When two Terminators fight, it’s actually a little boring. They both shoot each other, even though neither can be hurt by bullets. Then they both knock each other through walls, though neither can be hurt by sheetrock. What happens is, if you can knock one down, it takes them a few moments to realize they’re knocked down and must now get up again. There’s a reason why the best scenes in this film usually involve vehicles.

Terminator 1 shoots Terminator 2 with a shotgun until his chest is all silver, and he finally falls down for his little time-out. He gets up and throws Terminator 1 out a window which puts him in a time-out of his own. Terminator 2 uses this time to chase John Connor’s little motorcycle with a semi-truck.

Terminator 1 shows up with a real man’s motorcycle and makes Terminator 2’s semi truck explode. The fire doesn’t bug him because he can make his whole body silver, but he totally lost his ride. Now he’s got to start hunting John Connor all over again.

The movie might end right here, with John and Terminator 1 living in the Amazon with fake names and never touching a cell phone, but John is determined to save his mom from Terminator 2, who is assuredly stalking toward her hot, all-girl mental hospital right now.

Terminator 1 is beginning to regret his mission. No one told him he’d be spending all his time saving little John Connor from himself. “This is a bad idea,” he says.

“Yeah, but I’m your boss,” the kid squeaks. He then goes on: “And another thing, no more killing people.”
“But I’m Terminator 1.”
“You can’t go around killing people. It’s horrible.”
“But I’m Terminator 1.”
“It’s wrong to kill!”
“But I want to.”
“You can’t. It’s wrong!”
“I like it.”
“No! And that’s an order!”

So now, John Connor and Terminator 1 must break into a lesbian mental hospital where Terminator 2 is probably already waiting, and Terminator 1 is not even allowed to kill people. Luckily, Sarah Connor has made their job a little easier by breaking out herself. She’s already halfway free when they find her. But when Terminator 1 shows up, looking like the body-building biker that almost killed her before, she acts like a little shit and runs away. Then she sees Terminator 2 stalking toward her like a steely police officer, and she’s even more scared.

It doesn’t take her long to realize that cops are far scarier than bikers. Terminator 1 buys the trio some time by blowing Terminator 2’s head apart. By the time it re-grows they’re in an elevator. Terminator 2 jumps on the top and blindly tries to stab them while they blindly try to shoot him. On the first floor, they take off in a police car. Terminator 2 runs as fast as he can, but simply cannot catch them. Now he’s got to start hunting John Connor all over again.

(The robots watching from the future mentally note that, if they ever get to try this again, they should really invent a robot that can turn into an automobile, stupid as it sounds.)

The movie might end right here, with John, Terminator 1, and Sarah living in Mexico with fake names and no google+, but Sarah is determined to stop the whole machine apocalypse from happening in the first place. Terminator 1 is beginning to regret his mission. No one told him he’d have to protect John Connor from himself AND his mother.

Before the missing begins, John Connor tells his mom she’s not allowed to kill people. She shoots a stranger’s head off just to tell him to go fuck himself.

So everyone goes to Robot Inc., where they’re trying to figure out how to turn remnants from the last Terminator 1 into iPads that can breed. They haven’t cracked it yet, but they will. Sarah’s plan is simply to blow the place up. Naturally, the large explosion attracts police attention, so now Terminator 2 knows where they are.

Before he can get there, however, Terminator 1 has to deal with just regular cops. Normally this would be easy, but his no-murder handicap is a real problem. Though he loses almost all his skin in the process, Terminator 1 manages to clear a path through the cops simply by shooting them all in the kneecaps, perhaps the most painful place to take a bullet for humanity.

They’re not out of the woods yet, though. Terminator 2 is right on their ass in another semi truck, this one loaded with a bunch of liquid ice. Terminator 1 jumps onto the truck, shoots Terminator 2 15,000 times so his body is heavy with bullets, then makes the truck crash into a lava factory.

The liquid ice pours all over the liquid metal, completely freezing Terminator 2. The movie might end right here, with Terminator 1, John, and Sarah putting the frozen robot in a freezer and living in Alaska with fake names and no My____, but instead Terminator 1 just leaves him behind in the middle of a lava factory. First he shoots him into a million, easier to melt pieces. Your job hasn’t been easy, Terminator 1, but this fuck up is on you.

Guided by the misguided idea that intense heat might make Terminator 2 all soft and gooey, the trio head deeper into the lava factory. The two big robots have a really big fight which ends with Terminator 1 getting stabbed a bunch of times in the back (fifty times) after having his head smacked on an anvil a bunch of times (fifty). Terminator 2 thinks Terminator 1 is dead because he’s so advanced he doesn’t know what a system reboot is.

Terminator comes back to life and shoots Terminator 2 with a grenade that turns him into a silver crater with legs. Before he can reform, another firecracker knocks him into a vat of fresh lava. This kills the shit out of him.

The movie might end here with John, Terminator 1, and Sarah living in California as a loving suburban family you can find in the phone book, but instead one of the cops across town that Terminator 1 shot in the knee bleeds to death. Because this means he failed John Connor’s #1 Law, Terminator 1 instantly self destructs.

The movie actually does end here, though.

(three stars)