The Terminator Movie Review
He is relentless, ruthless and has no emotions. He doesn’t sleep, nor stop until he completed the mission. He is not human. Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator.
Genre: Action / Sci-Fi
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield, Earl Boen, Lance Henriksen, Bess Motta, Brad Rearden, Brian Thompson & Bill Paxton.
Run Time: 107 min.
US Release: 26 October 1984
UK Release: 11 January 1985
German Release: 15 March 1985
Welcome to my first of further fife reviews for the Terminator series. Just as with the Jurassic Park franchise, starting today I will be posting a breakdown for one of the cyborg's movies each week, until the release of the new Terminator Genisys. Today I will begin with the first film of the cyborg saga, the one that launched Cameron’s career into halls of fame. So sit back relax and enjoy my review of The Terminator. A 1984 action-sci-fi movie, The Terminator was written and directed by James Cameron. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular role, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield and Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman. This is one of the most iconic films of the 80’s and is equally responsible for Schwarzenegger’s breakthrough in Hollywood. It not only changed the way sci-fi thrillers are perceived today but also had a huge impact on the special effect department.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
The plot revolves around the waitress Sarah Connor (Hamilton), who is targeted by a cybernetic, human looking, creature (Schwarzenegger) from the future. To her aid comes soldier Kyle Reese (Biehn), who is from the Terminator’s timeline and has the mission to protect Sarah at all costs. The resulting battle between man and machine draws the attention of the police, who arrest Reese and file him as a psychotic lunatic. Sarah is torn about what to believe but when the cyborg attacks the station, she frees her hero and escapes. Reese, knowing that the Terminator will not stop until he has killed Sarah, prepares for war. Essentially categorized as a B movie, The Terminator is much more than just a second class action sci-fi thrill ride. The narrative in this film has such a distinctive tone and flair for the time it was made, that it sets it apart from any other movie to date. Cameron even managed to include some effective scares along the story, beating a lot of the jump scares in horror flicks today. What impresses most, is how this film manages to tell a dystopic futuristic event in the (then) present year of 1984, by using the element of time travel in a credible way. The audience obtains glimpses of the dead and dark future that is dominated by chrome machines, through nightmares that are haunting Kyle Reese, yet 90% of the story plays in L.A. of the 80’s. The strongest aspect this picture features, however, is the simplicity of the plot construct. I am a big fan of cerebral science-fiction but sometimes a straightforward plot can be just as effective. The Terminator does not portray an overly complex situation that gets the viewer doubting what they just saw, or guessing what the director wanted to interpret. The story and dialogues are basic and straight to the point, which is also the secret to its success.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is awesome as the villainous Cyberdyne model 101. This is the role that defines him until this day and he is really good at it. Schwarzenegger had such a determination to give a good performance, that he trained for weeks on how to dismantle and reassemble a gun blindfolded. He trained how to reload and shoot guns without looking at them or blinking, simply to make it all look mechanical and automatic, like the machine that he plays in the movie. He looks and feels completely emotionless and he makes it easy to believe that he isn’t human. In my opinion, this is by far his best role, perfecting it in Judgement Day. Linda Hamilton plays the innocent and naive Sarah Connor. Hamilton does a tremendous acting job, especially at portraying the changes that her characters goes through in the story. Her chemistry with Michael Biehn is fantastic, which makes their growing relationship amazing believable. Biehn is great as Kyle Reese, the soldier from the future and procreator of John Connors, the future leader of the resistance. One of his best acting credits to date is the conversation he has with Dr. Silberman at the police station, where he is held as a suspect.
Watching the movie again recently, one can not ignore that specific parts of this action sci-fi did not age well. It is not meant as a negative comment, it is a simple but surprising realisation I made when the first image with the garbage truck popped up on screen. Cameron did film a solid movie, using stable action sequences and good fighting choreography. James Cameron is one of the best directors when it comes to capturing science-fiction based action films. Proof of this is the epic futuristic take of the Los Angeles battle. Special effects wise, this movie was a revelation in its time, though, some of the scenes are already very dated, such the laser-gun effects, the dummy Arnold & the stock motion scene at the end. However, most effects still look great today, like the burned skin and chrome makeup on Schwarzenegger's face and the prosthetic arm he is operating on. The music in Terminator is another great cinematic composition, it adds grit and menace to the atmosphere of this neo-noir science fiction tale. Once the Terminator soundtrack appears on screen, The audience instantly knows that they are going to be treated with something special! The raw metallic and electronic soundtrack give the motion picture a futuristic touch and sell the robotic topic of the film.
Verdict: The Terminator had an immense cultural impact in the 80s. My mother told me how it provoked her thoughts and opinion about technology, making her believe about a possibility of technology able to take over the world. The script and story are perfectly developed, Hamilton and Biehn have amazing chemistry on screen and Schwarzenegger is truly frightening as the killing machine from the future. Apart from a couple of cinematographic and effects issues due to aging, The Terminator is still the movie that defined its generation. I still prefer T2, though, as it was the first one I saw (at the tender age of four, which left me having nightmares for days) and it did have a greater impact on me. Still, The Terminator is a fantastic movie and absolutely deserves an 8.5 out of 10.
So, what did you think of this sci-fi classic? Do you agree with my review? Thank you for reading and if you liked it, please subscribe to my blog.