Back in the day, this was one of the best movies around. I remember watching it numerous times, and it’s the biggest reason that I thought Arnold was so awesome. Sure, he had been Conan before this, but an evil, killer robot? That was just too good to be true.
Watching this one so many years later, it doesn’t quite have the same exciting appeal as it used to, but it’s still very entertaining. What I never realized until now, was how pointless the story really was. Yes, we can always assume that good will triumph over evil, but with the time travel plot that Terminator is based on, it was always impossible for Arnold to win. He never stood a chance, although he did manage to wrack up quite the body count in his attempt.
See, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) couldn’t kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). If he had, and John Connor had never been born, there would be no reason to send the Terminator into the past. That means that he never would have killed Sarah Connor at all. The fact that the machines have to send a Terminator into the past should have showed them that they wouldn’t be successful. Does that make sense? It makes sense in my head! Either way, this was the start of a pair of great films, and maybe two mediocre films depending on who you ask. Michael Biehn is fantastic as Kyle Reese, a role that is typically overshadowed by Arnold. His character actually feels desperate, like he may not be able to save Sarah. He doesn’t stride around, so sure of himself that you want to slap him. Reese constantly seems like he’s in just as much trouble as Sarah. It adds a great trait to the character that is missing from so many other heroic action stars.
The film is certainly paced well. It’s never long between action sequences, although there are a few moments in the film that tend to drag. The inevitable love scene between Sarah and Kyle is a bit much, even if it is necessary. Thankfully, the action scenes are not only frequent, but seem to get more outrageous each time. At first, it may be a quick shootout. Next we’re watching the Terminator invade the police station. Finally, there’s a huge car chase, followed by a giant explosion. This leads to one of the best moments in the movie, the full reveal of the robotic Terminator. It’s not much of a surprise that the Terminator looks so incredible when you realize that Stan Winston designed it. It looks frightening, and the combination of puppets and stop motion helps to bring it to life.
I’ve always been more of a fan of the second Terminator film, even if Arnold’s role is taken from evil killer to a Mary Poppins like babysitter. The Terminator is an effective film, with some frightening moments, but it doesn’t carry the same weight that it used to. Of course, I haven’t watched the second one in many years either, so I could change my mind very shortly. The film created a world of characters that many have grown up with. The series is usually on the cutting edge of effects, and has some of the slickest designs around. It’s what really boosted Arnold’s career, and set James Cameron off into exciting directions. The film is important in the legacy of the Terminator series, as well as the careers of many involved. It may not have the same appeal that it used to, but The Terminator is one of the most important sci-fi action films around.
Under the marquee – Will