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See Terminator 2 for the action, not the story

Suggested headline: Hasta la vista, baby? Let's hope not

TERMINATOR 2:

JUDGMENT DAY

Directed by James Cameron.

Written by James Cameron

and William Wisher.

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,

Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick.

Now playing at the Loews Cheri.

By GREGORY T. HUANG

THE TERMINATOR IS A CLASSIC to me, one of my all-time favorite films. I had to accept the fact that a sequel had been made and treat it as a separate film to be judged independently of its predecessor. My hope was that Terminator 2: Judgment Day would stand on its own as a sci-fi action picture. My opinion now is that it works best if you don't think about it too much.

The Terminator told the story of an intense chase that ensued when a cyborg from the future (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was sent back in time to kill a woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The cyborg, known as a Terminator, was sent by machines in an attempt to wipe out the existence of Sarah's unborn son, the future leader of mankind in its war against the machines. In the end, the Terminator was destroyed, and Sarah escaped with her life and the unborn leader of the resistance.

T2 picks up the story 10 years later. Sarah's 10-year-old son, John Connor (Edward Furlong), is living with foster parents because Sarah has been placed in a maximum-security mental institution. The machines in the future have sent back a new prototype Terminator, a T-1000 model (Robert Patrick), this time to strike at John Connor directly. However, the resistance has stolen and sent back another Terminator (Arnold) which they programmed to protect John. The chase is on.

The T-1000 is much more sophisticated than Arnold's model. It is composed of "liquid metal" and can assume different appearances. Here, the computer graphics effects are quite good. Scenes involving the T-1000 are interesting to watch, but in reality, the model doesn't make much sense. Accepting that the liquid metal is intelligent on the molecular level, it seems that the machines in the future would put this leap in technology to better use in their effort to exterminate mankind. Forgiving that, it's a mystery as to why the

T-1000 never bothers to use any truly destructive weapons against John or (especially) Arnold's Terminator. Also, there

is absolutely no reason why the T-1000 doesn't just kill Sarah when it can, near the end of the film.

In general, the action in T2 is intense and well-done, in director James Cameron's distinctive style. The structure of the chase scenes (in particular, the climactic chase and battle, i.e., the last third of the film) imitates the first movie a bit too much -- perhaps intentionally, in fact -- but it's still enjoyable. However, the middle third of T2 is a bit of a fiasco in my opinion, because it drags and then seems to introduce a circular time-travel paradox that is far more serious than what is acceptable up to that point. There is some confusion as to whether the Judgment Day of the title will come or not, that being the day on which nuclear war is waged by the machines against mankind. I don't understand why the writers made the middle third the way it is; it clutters up an already fuzzy story for no good reason.

T2 may be a bit more violent than its predecessor, even though Arnold is a politically correct Terminator this time. It can be argued that he doesn't actually kill a single person in the film, but some of the injuries he inflicts are fairly sick. On the other hand, the T-1000 kills people in disgusting but silly ways. Overall, the tone of this film is very unlike the dark, subtle, unassuming-yet-deep nature of The Terminator. Instead, T2 is direct and actually strains to send a message about peace (!) and the value of human life.

Die-hard Terminator fans will enjoy T2 as it unfolds in the theater, but they will catch inconsistencies and ultimately, will want as little association made between the two films as possible. Other people can hopefully just enjoy T2 for what it's worth -- intense action entertainment, but unfortunately, not worth its budget of $94 million.