I wanted this massive must-see movie mission to kick off with a bang, and I couldn’t think of a better film on the list than the Terminator. This 1984 action classic is famous for its fiery explosions, fast-paced fighting and, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot style ass kicking.
The Terminator isn’t just an action movie; in fact, it’s really a sci-fi tale. At the beginning of the movie we’re greeted by the image of two naked men materializing out of nowhere in downtown Los Angeles. Most people in LA probably wouldn’t find that sort of thing too out of place in the mid-80s, but when Arnold thrusts his hand through the chest of some street punks in order to steal their clothes, we are all introduced to the magnitude of the situation. This moment truly sets the tone for the film, which is really an hour and 45 minutes of carnage. Arnold is a cyborg sent from the future to kill Sarah Connor, the mother of a rebel leader of the future, but currently a young 20-something waitress. The other naked man from the beginning of the movie, Reese, is a regular human sent by Sarah’s unborn son to protect her. The plot centres around this conflict between Arnold, the terminator, and Reese, presumably leaving the intricate future war / time travel business for the sequels.
It’s not the deepest narrative by any stretch, but it serves the purpose, leaving a lot of unanswered questions for the sequels. The fact that I even want to watch the subsequent films says something about Terminator.
Of course, this movie is arguably Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most defining role. Playing a large brutish cyborg with very few lines of dialogue is undoubtedly the role he was born to play. This makes it extremely difficult to grade his acting performance, since I’m not sure if he’s great at playing a robot, or just robotic playing anything at all. Either way, it worked for me in this particular film. Terminator also stars Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton as Reese and Sarah. The two didn’t really blow me away, but they weren’t bad to the point of distracting me from the film.
The real star of Terminator is the action. It’s so fast paced and electric at points it’s impossible to look away. Fighting, shooting and chasing probably comprise 75% of the film, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Director
Richy Von Moneybags James Cameron shot all the action scenes with incredible finesse and power at the same time; the shooting is stunning, the crashes are wild and the fighting is heart-pounding. Of course, all of this is accented by timeless 80s action movie one-liners like the famous “I’ll be back.”
There are elements of the movie that show its age, however. James Cameron has always been on the cutting edge of film technology, but over 25 years after its release the special effects of Terminator are certainly dated. That being said, a lot of the practical effects used in the car chases had me longing for the days before heavy duty CGI. Then, there’s the music. Terminator is scored by the bleeps and bloops of the era’s electronica, which, while potentially nostalgic at first, begins to get tired and repetitive by the end of the film.
Overall, Terminator is a spectacle of violence and tension held together by an intriguing science fiction narrative. The viewer is taken on a roller coaster of violence, blood and guns; peaking at the most heart pounding and fast paced action of the past several decades, slowing down only briefly to give us a chance to catch our breath. Terminator has kicked off my list of shame in stunning fashion, and I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good thrill ride of a movie.Without a doubt, I’ll be back.