Hasta la vista, baby. A few weeks ago I ran into this longform article over at VFXBlog (a blog surprisingly light on effects itself) that discusses the groundbreaking effects used in the 1991 classic Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
This film may look dated in a lot of ways starting with Edward Furlong’s hair and going through to the computer facility that eventually gets destroyed, but the effects for the most part hold up very well. There were only about 50 computer-generated effects shots in this film and certainly they’re nowhere as good as what can be done today but it’s really surprising how good they look today.
The article goes into deep detail with interviews from the people who created the effects and leaves you with surprising details of those memorable shots such as the time when the terminator rises from the linoleum floor.
I know that I’m marked as an “OG” for saying this but I remember seeing the film in the theaters and I remember thinking how revolutionary it was at the time. It wasn’t just a good action film — uthe 80s and 90s were known for those — but it was so interesting visuayolly. Like Star Wars and Blade Runner (saw both in the theater too.) It led to me (and a lot of other people) watching it over and over on VHS just to say, “did I really see what I thought I saw?”
Remember this was a year before Jurassic Park and 8 years before The Matrix. Today, CGI is commonplace and nearly perfect in so many ways, but back then, it was something you just hadn’t seen before anywhere, certainly not in such a realistic context. Keep in mind that this film came out only about 7 years after we saw some of the very first long CGI shots in The Last Starfighter and if you look at that film today it looks like a cell phone game or worse. This was a totally believable android who was capable of taking any shape. The camera didn’t pan away… you saw it happen.
And now, it’s 26 years later and some of those shots still work. That my friends is impressive.