>And from that also develops some philosophical themes (even if not particularly deep ones) about what it means to be human or machine, as Sarah is becoming increasingly machine-like and ruthless and Arnie's Terminator becoming more human-like. The first movie's more simple in that regard.
I think a lot of themes of the 2nd movie were buried under layers of a PG13-style action movie. For example, what is to be a machine, can a machine be a human, etc. This theme not uncovered, because for all movies T-800 is more Swartznegger than T-800. More like an object of jokes against autistic people than a portrayal of the cold mechanical machine. In that regard, that movie lost the opportunity to make a conclusion for this idea: when T-800 goes down to lava he is beaten, but he still and Arnold. It would be a much more logical and powerful move to show him like T-800 was at the end of the original movie - a metallic endoskeleton without any skin. But characters will still care about him, thus, accepting him as a machine, not "autistic Schwarzenegger becomes my father! like in movie "Jingle All the Way"" which makes no point besides people like this actor.
Major detail of the first movie for me the portrayal of the machines in general. Both future war and T-800. In the original movie future war portrayed not as a war, but as a Survival. A couple of people, mostly ill and sick survivalists in the destroyed world trying to somehow keep their lives. Their enemies are not some other sane species, nation, aliens, or anything. Their enemies - just self-defending computer security system, Soulless, brainless. While SkyNet is AI, it is more like a modern Neurolink than some sort of creature with needs. All we see is how a couple of people fighting automaton robots. This is the scariest part - imagine if your camera security system decided to attack you. This system does not need anything. It has no goals, no feelings, no wants. When it kills you, I'll just shut itself off or something. There will be no future, it is not like one nation conquers another to continue existence. The only thing which will happen after - non-existence. The end for everything. It is a literal metaphor for suicide for all life.
The portrayal of T-800 in the original movie as only an imitation of some human form and very very basic and primitive adds to it. This is not an "evil" robot going to kill you. It is the same as have an injury during an accident while you working on the machinery bench. Bench cut your finger not because it is "evil". The ending of the movie on the automated factory is also a nice metaphor - all this SkyNet and T-800 is not different than machinery which squished T-800 in the end.
What do we see in the 2nd movie?
-Future war is WAR of some remnants of USA-like army against an army of walking endoskeletons. Walking human-like robots with guns who attack like WWI soldiers. It immediately changes the whole future war into conflict against "evil robots" in the style of original Battlestar Galactica or meme droids from Star Wars prequels. Making it less logical, less automated, and more humanized.
-Liquid T-1000, who behaves like a human being and only remembers that it is a blob of liquid only when the movie needs it. It is a typical writer mistake - you creating some concept or idea which is too hard for you to explain and properly use in your plot like it should operate, thus you dumbing it down constantly so it uses its "powers" only in set specific moments.
-Already mentioned a slight meme from Schwarzenegger who replaces automatic soulless T-800 from the original, being more like some "scooby-doo" with powers for our team of adventurers.
Also, while T2 has scenes like "nuclear blasts" and another everyone remembers, I don't think anything goes even near for example scene from T1 where Kyle had a hysteric cry just looking at the green grass. T1 is inescapable horror on many levels, and the whole concept of self-destruction into nothing is the scariest one for me. Also yea, music is brilliant in T1.
>Thanks for recommendation, avoided it so far since it has such lower ratings than first two, tho I remember watching the ending on TV as a kid. Really loved the world-building, the whole corporate prison planet setting is pretty much what I'd imagined the "off-world colonies" from Blade Runner to be.
Btw you have watched the cinema cut or the director's cut?
You may also watch 4. People hate it because it is... very different movie. But I love it a lot. This is another great example of french-style science fiction with a lot of ideas and details which were not appreciated because it is not like "first" or "second" one.