A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Terminator 2: Judgment Day -- the first sequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger's sci-fi action hit The Terminator -- is extremely violent and features disturbing postapocalyptic imagery, all of which are likely to be more intense in the movie's 3D version. Characters are shot and killed, and blood is shown. There's lots of swearing, including "f--k" and its variations. Viewers will see naked bottoms when the Terminators make their first appearances. But the movie does a surprisingly good job of addressing the issue of collateral damage, which is often glazed over in big action films. The point is made by multiple characters, most importantly young John Connor, that killing bystanders must be avoided at all costs, even though the fate of the world may hang in the balance. In this way this movie has more of a conscience than many other films in its genre.
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What's the story?
Continuing the story of the first film, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY finds the Terminator, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, sent back in time from the future again but this time switching sides to become the protector of the human race's future hope, John Connor (Edward Furlong). Meanwhile, Connor's mother Sarah (Linda Hamilton), who tries to spread the knowledge of an apocalyptic future that she acquired in the first film, is deemed insane and confined to an institution. The action is almost nonstop, with shopping-mall shoot-outs, truck/motorcycle chases, and various other action set pieces saturating the film.
Is it any good?
This is the film that made CGI effects seem palatable and, as such, can be considered a promulgator of all subsequent big-budget action effects movies. Its greatest technical achievement is the shape-shifting T1000 character who pursues John Connor and makes it necessary for the Terminator to act as protector. The film continually ratchets up the tension as the T1000 comes closer and closer to destroying young John, making Terminator 2 a thoroughly exciting thrill ride.
Though he plays the character with the same steely stoicism as in the original, Schwarzenegger obviously relishes the chance to be the "good guy" in this one, and the script provides him with plenty of silly one-liners to provide the otherwise dark film with some levity. Linda Hamilton turns in a frantic performance as a desperate mother locked away because everyone thinks she's insane.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the development of such amoral killing machines as the Terminators. What would the ramifications of the existence of such machines be?
What comments does this movie make about fate, destiny, and the future? Do you agree or disagree?
Why do you think violence is such a prominent feature in blockbuster action movies? Would anything have been lost from the story with half as much violence? Why, or why not?
- In theaters: July 3, 1991
- On DVD or streaming: October 31, 2017
- Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Edward Furlong, Linda Hamilton
- Director: James Cameron
- Studio: Columbia Tristar
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Adventures, Robots
- Run time: 147 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sci-fi action and violence, and for language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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