Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Terminator (1984, James Cameron)

This review is hard and easy at the same time. How do you successfully review a movie you have loved for half of your life? Many of my reviews are for movies I have just seen for the first time. Movies I am unbiased towards, for the most part. I'll just do the best I can I guess. Back in 1991 when I was about 10 years old, I wanted to see T2 (Terminator 2 for those who are stupid) so badly. Of course my mother wouldn't let me but I did end up catching it on video about a year later. I loved it and begged my mother to let me rent the first one. She was working as a Meat Wrapper in the local supermarket with three foul mouthed guys who told her that The Terminator was not appropriate for her 11 year old son (swearing, nudity, violence and everything else that is great about the movie). Finally I couldn't take it anymore and I tricked my dad into letting me buy a copy for sale at a nearby video store. When my mother found out she was pissed but let me keep it (she was never very good at discipline). Anyway, I watched it. Then watched it again. Then watched it again and again and again and it soon became my favorite movie.

The year is 2029. The world is run by machines who are trying to eliminate the few remaining humans who survived after a nuclear war caused by the machines. One man named John Connor rose up to lead the survivors in a fight against the machines. The machines sent a half man/half machine called a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to the year 1984 to kill John Connor's mother, Sarah (Linda Hamilton) in effect erasing his existence. The humans then sent through a young resistance fighter named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to try to protect Sarah against the Terminator.

The Terminator rules in every possible way. The story is thought provoking (fuck those who gripe about the impossibility of the film's events - it's Science Fiction for Crissakes!), the characters are brilliant and the action is non-stop. The special effects are cutting edge (for the time) and still pack quite a punch, courtesy of the late, great Stan Winston. Seeing it on the big screen, I was really impressed by the car chases and just how loud the movie was, something I'd never felt before watching it on home video. The shotgun blasts, the screeching car tires, the futuristic machines...everything. The relationship between Reese and Sarah is probably the thing I love most about this movie. They are just so perfect together I wish Hamilton and Biehn were in a hundred movies together (or even just two - not counting the criminally deleted scene from T2). Oh yeah...then there's Ah-nold as The Terminator. Easily his best role and you can just tell he doesn't give a shit about anyone or anything other than killing Sarah. Let's also not forget the music - Brad Feidel's electronic score and the cheesy 80's pop songs that I so love, as well as the perfectly-casted supporting actors (Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Bess Motta, Rick Rossovich, Bill Paxton and (of course) Dick Miller). I could go on and on discussing every single thing about this film, but I'll leave it at that. The Terminator rules.



  1. StarMummy: Couldn't agree more. I saw Terminator with a buddy in NYC when it first opened in theaters. We both walked out of the theater, shaking our heads in awe over what we had just witnessed. We blabbed about it for days afterward. Twenty five years later, I still think of it as one of the finest movies I've ever seen first run in theaters. Blade Runner is second on that list.

    That buddy I mentioned, we still keep in touch via email. Every now and then we still talk about Terminator, and the impact it had on us twenty five years ago.

    Great post! - Mykal

  2. Mykal - That's great! Wish I could have seen it in the theater before seeing it on video. I can only imagine what that must have been like.

  3. StarMummy: I forgot to mention, recently my 18 year old son visited me from college. He was looking through my movie collection and remarked that he hadn't seen any of the Terminator movies. Do you even need to ask how we spent that evening? We watched Terminators 1-3 right in a row. He, I am proud to say, was amazed, just as I had been 25 years ago, long before he was even born.

    Good boy that he is, No. 1 was his favorite (Although I like No. 3 much more than he did). I am proud to say I have passed this movie and the franchise on to the next generation.

    BTY: Did you know that the first one, Terminator, we recently selected vor preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

    That's pretty damn cool. -- Mykal

  4. Don't forget the other small cameo (next to Paxton) of Brian Thompson (aka "Night Slasher" from Cobra with Stallone). He's one mean mutha-fucka (not as much in this film) until the Terminator punches his heart out ...

  5. Six String - When you asked me who that guy was I knew he looked familiar. I actually thought the guy looked exactly like Bryan Adams! It's definitely something I should have known and surprised I never came across it. Which reminds me, I need to see Cobra again. Love that movie.

  6. Love the review, it really reads well as you love the movie so much, it shows.

    I prefer T2, but The Terminator is up there as one of my favourite Sci-Fis