Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Terminator

The Terminator

Your Future Is In His Hands.

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henrikson, Bill Paxton

Director: James Cameron

1984  |  107 Minutes  |  Rated R

“Come with me if you want to live” – Kyle Reese

The thing that really stood out to me during this viewing of The Terminator is the overarching theme of a slow build.  This is not a story about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator it is the story of Sarah Connor and how she goes from a normal woman to the woman that trains John Connor to lead a rebellion against the machines.

In the year 2029, Skynet sends The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) before she can fulfill her destiny of giving birth to John Connor, the leader of the rebellion against the machines.  Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is also sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah from The Terminator.

Watching this makes me hate James Cameron a little less.  I can’t stand Avatar or Cameron’s insistence on 3D technology but he does a phenomenal job here.  The entire movie is exciting and intelligent.  It is evident that everything was precisely planned and executed.

Although the special effects are slightly dated looking, Cameron does a great job hiding the inadequacies of the technology but still giving us some awesome visuals.  There are very few computer effects.  Cameron instead relies on the absolute best practical effects of the time.  It really makes me wish modern movie makers would rely more on these type of practical effects over always going to CGI.

Cameron really takes his time as he builds to the final reveal of Arnold being a cyborg.  Sarah Connor is told by Kyle Reece that The Terminator is a cyborg but until the gruesome scene where he pulls his own eye out, revealing the cybernetic eye underneath, we only see him as a human.  Arnold Schwarzenneger does really well as The Terminator.  His role is extremely important but he is not meant to be the star here.  He doesn’t have many lines but the ones he does have are delivered very well for this character.  He also has perfected the robotic movements of The Terminator.

2029 is gonna suck if this version of the future comes true.  The shots of the future are impressive for 1984 and stand up pretty well considering they are now nearing 30 years old.  The shots of the huge tank-like machine rolling over piles of human skulls sets the tone that we absolutely need Sarah Connor to live.

The action in The Terminator is top notch.  It is another part of this movie that is a slow build, starting with a few quick kills by The Terminator (poor Bill Paxton) before moving into some bigger shootouts and car chases before the awesome final scene.

Lastly, the ultimate build of The Terminator is taking Sarah Connor from a somewhat meak 1980s woman to the point where she is ready to start learning the skills that she will need to raise John Connor to be the leader he is destined to be.  Linda Hamilton does a great job as Sarah Connor at the beginning but she is best once she starts to find her strength towards the end.

I haven’t forgotten about Michael Biehn either.  Kyle Reese is a pretty vital part of the entire Terminator franchise.  He is the real bad ass of the movie.  The Terminator is just a machine so he isn’t fighting back fear of death in pursuit of Sarah Connor whereas Kyle Reese is risking everything to save her.

I am assuming most everyone has seen The Terminator at some point but it should really be in every Action Fanatix regular rotation.  It’s a lot of fun and has aged extremely well.  And we get 3 bad asses for the price of one.  That makes for one hell of an action flick.