The Montreal Film Journal calls it "one of the best crafted Hollywood action flicks." Screenwriting guru Syd Field lauds the plot of Terminator 2, saying, for example, "every scene sets up the next, like links in a chain of dramatic action." The film was placed #33 on Total Film's 2006 list of The Top 100 Films of All Time. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, currently scoring 97% on the popular review-aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes and 69/100 on the similarly themed Metacritic.
In 2003, The American Film Institute released its list of the 100 greatest screen heroes and villains of all time. The Terminator appeared as number 48 on the list of heroes for its appearance in T2, as well as number 22 on the list of villains for its appearance in the first Terminator. This is the only instance where the "same" character appears on both lists, though technically they are different characters based on the same model. During the 2008 AFI's 10 Top 10, it was voted the eighth best science fiction film ever made.
Movie-Gazette: Laced with dark humour
Those terminators certainly are persistent. Almost a decade after failing to wipe out frizzy-haired waitress Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) by sending a seemingly unstoppable cyborg back in time to do the deed, those meddlesome machines are at it again. With Sarah now locked in the loony bin, her transformation into a muscle-bound mentalist well underway, the target this time is John Connor himself (Edward Furlong). We learned from “The Terminator” that John is the street-smart freedom fighter destined to lead mankind to victory over the machines.
What the original movie didn't teach us is that he's also a bit of a git. So back from the future to kill him comes the shape-shifting T-1000, a super-advanced man-bot in the shape of Robert Patrick in a policeman's uniform. That leaves Arnold Schwarzenegger to turn protector, having been re-programmed to defend the young John from the T-1000 at all costs. And, yet again, he makes his entrance completely starkers. Well, it's not as if anyone's going to be brave enough to laugh at him, so he might as well have a bit of fun.
Though from the same director, and much of the same cast and writers, “Terminator 2? is a vastly different movie from the 1984 original. Apart from the obvious character changes (Hamilton is barely recognizable from the first time around and Arnie's turned into a good guy with a neat line in quips), this sequel is laced with dark humour. There's also a strong underlying message about the value of human life, to the extent that even the apparently emotionless Terminator appears to learn sensibility (”now I know why you cry”).
Shooting began on October 9, 1990 and was completed on April 4, 1991. Most of the key Terminator effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic for computer graphics and Stan Winston for practical effects. 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.
Of the fifteen minutes that the T-1000 displays its morphing and healing abilities, only six of those minutes were accomplished with pure computer graphics. The other nine were achieved in camera with the use of advanced puppets and prosthetic effects created by the Stan Winston studio, who were also responsible for the metal skeleton effects of the T-800. Linda Hamilton's twin sister Leslie was used in scenes that required two Sarahs.
She is the mirror image of Sarah in the scene where they open up the Terminator's head, and in the scene where the T-1000 impersonates Sarah, she is whichever one is farthest from the camera, alternating between the real Sarah and the T-1000 based on camera position. Another set of twins, Don and Dan Stanton, were used to play the mental hospital security guard and the T-1000 copying him.
James Cameron nearly removed Edward Furlong from the project after Furlong messed up his lines out of nervousness from being in the same scene as Linda Hamilton, in a scene that was ultimately deleted (in which the Connors attempt to reboot the Terminator), but Cameron was persuaded by casting director Mali Finn to give Furlong one more chance.
At that point, Furlong was able to deliver his lines without any problems. The scene is available in the Extreme and Ultimate editions of the DVD. The sawed-off shotgun used by Schwarzenegger throughout the film was a modified Winchester Model 1887, modified especially for the film to allow it to be "flip-cocked" by the actor in several of the film's scenes.
The movie was made for approximately $102 million, and at the time was the most expensive movie ever made. It was a box-office success, earning $204.8 million in the United States alone, and was the highest grossing film of 1991, beating Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The original Terminator grossed only $38 million in the U.S. in its theatrical run, making Terminator 2's 434% increase a record for a sequel.
Upon its release, the theatrical cut ran 137 minutes. On November 24, 1993, the Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Special Edition cut of the film was released to Laserdisc and VHS, containing 17 minutes of never-before-seen footage including scenes with Michael Biehn reprising his role as Kyle Reese in a dream sequence. The subsequent "Ultimate Edition" and "Extreme Edition" DVD releases also contain this version of the film.
Terminator 2 - Judgment Day: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack