Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three Films in and No. 1 Is Still Our No. 1

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Three Films in and No. 1 Is Still Our No. 1

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel, Times-Union staff writer

The first Terminator was packed with great moments, big and small.

But it all hinged on one scene, when Michael Biehn's warrior from the future leveled with Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor about the inhuman nature of the threat she faced.

"Listen, that terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity or remorse or fear -- and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead."

The story, with its time-travel elements, was pleasingly provocative, but at its heart it was as simple as it gets: There's a big bogeyman out there, and all it wants to do is eat you up.

In The Terminator, back in 1984, James Cameron came up with a just-about-perfect (4 stars) thriller -- deftly plotted and incredibly propulsive, with moments of humor and a very real sense of menace.

Unlike so many other shoot-'em-ups, what happened here seemed to matter. Something -- in fact, everything -- was at risk, and there was a very real reason why the villain couldn't be killed.

It was genius. Pure pop-culture genius.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (3 stars) was a solid follow-up from 1991 that made much more money than the first did ($205 million in U.S. theaters compared to $37 million for the original).

Its special effects -- particularly the liquid metal of Robert Patrick's terminator -- were indeed stunning, for the time. And Hamilton's ferociously desperate performance should not be underrated.

But the sequel wasn't as good as the first (it's even a step or two below Jonathan Mostow's new entry in the series, out this week).

T2 suffered because Schwarzenegger was not the villain this time around, but a far less convincing good guy. He was even something of a pet or little brother to Edward Furlong's John Connor, being taught cute phrases -- "Hasta la vista, baby" and "no problemo" -- and learning how to high-five.

At his worst, he even asked a question that would never, ever, have crossed the robotic mind of his evil predecessor: "Why do you cry?"

And it was a bit distressing for fans of the first to find out that the sequel, too, would end with a deserted factory and the evil terminator behind the wheel of a huge tanker truck. …

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