This is one of those very rare instances where a sequel turns out to be considerably better than the original. A number of events have taken place since the first Terminator crossed time to kill Sarah Conner, thereby eliminating the chance of her bearing the future head of the human resistance forces.
Sarah has become a driven warrior woman. She's taken up with men who can teach her things her baby needs to learn. So, John Conner grows up in paramilitary enclaves, learning ordinance and strategy along with his ABC's.
Sarah, convinced that the world will soon end, eventually runs afoul of the mental health authorities. She's committed for some time, her son farmed out to foster parents.
Then, once again, the future comes a-callin.' This time, two terminator units travel through time. The twist here is that the old terminator model, played once again with admirable robotic poise by Arnold, has been sent to protect young John. You see, he's a "good" killer robot. He's been reprogrammed by the resistance.
The bad terminator is VERY cool. He's made of "liquid metal", which makes him a shapeshifter and nearly invincible. Blast a hole in him and he just flows back together. The "liquid metal" scheme, made possible by advanced computer morphing techniques, provides arresting visuals to the film. The special effects alone make this action thriller worth the trip.
In all respects, this movie outstrips the first. Sarah is no longer a Barbie/victim, but a power unto herself. John is an up and coming cyberpunk, hacking his spare cash out of ATM's. It's even got some good laughs. And face it, Arnold's much better as a good guy. Maybe it's fatherhood, I don't know, but he strikes me as someone you'd rather have with you than against you.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Available at any Video Rental store.