The Director: James Cameron
The Writers: James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd
The Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
The Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen
Release Date: 1984
The Running Time: 107 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1
You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fuckin’ heart out!
In the future, a great war wages between mankind and the machines. A cyborg, or Terminator, is sent back in time to present day to eliminate Sarah Connor, the mother of John Connor, who leads the human resistance against the machines. The humans send back a guardian for Sarah… a man named Kyle Reese who must help Sarah escape and outrun the deadly killing machine who will stop at nothing to change the future.
WHY IS IT SO GOOD?
3 GENRES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE
It is rare when a film cross-pollinates genres to create something extra-ordinary. This is what The Terminator does. The Terminator is an action movie with a science fiction concept filmed and presented as a horror movie. Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the Terminator cyborg is absolutely terrifying. Truly, one of the great screen villains. The Terminator is essentially a hitman with a target. But the difference being, this hitman is completely unstoppable. Bullets, knives and explosions do not hurt it. It does not feel pain, nor mercy. These are all classic traits of any of the great horror villains from Michael Myers to Jason Vorhees… except increased exponentially.
On top of this, who is the hero of the story? Sarah Connor. A normal, all-American girl who doesn’t understand why this (literal) killing machine is out to destroy her. Sound familiar? Add all this to the fact that, visually, the film is incredibly dark there are a small number of day time scenes which add to the horror ambience.
I’LL BE BACK
Chances are, you have seen this film before. It runs on cable all the time and its sequel is one of the highest grossing films of all time. It has become an iconic masterpiece that is completely worthy of its fame. The police station shoot-out scene remains to this day an all out classic. Why is it so great? Because throughout the film, The Terminator is established as a force of nature that will stop at nothing to achieve his objective. So when he says to the cop at the front desk “I’ll be back,” you KNOW shit is about to go down… even if you’ve never heard of the movie or the famous line… you just know what’s about to happen.
ORIGINAL VS SEQUEL
There is endless debate amongst the Terminator fanbase as to which film is better: The Terminator or Terminator 2: Judgment Day. What’s entertaining about this argument is that they are incredibly different films. The original is more of a horror/thriller while the second is just straight-up ass-kicking action. However, the debate rages and that can only be the sign of a good series. Don’t believe me? Which film is better Godfather or Godfather II? Exactly.
James Cameron is an incredibly talented director. The man knows exactly what he’s doing and his movies always look spectacular and he’s always breaking new ground. The Abyss and Terminator 2 used special-effects technology that was still in its infancy and those movies STILL look amazing. Avatar, while being a recycled story, was a groundbreaking film visually and hell, yes, even Titanic looks incredible. James Cameron knows how to make a movie. But, the most impressive film to this day still has to be the original Terminator. Why? Because while Avatar, Titanic and T2 all look better, they also had HUGE budgets. Terminator was made for practically nothing (by Hollywood standards) and Cameron was put in a position where he had to create a visually impressive movie on pretty much no money. Do the some of the effects look hokey in 2011? Sure. But in 1984 that was cutting edge technology.
Unlike Avatar and Titanic, where Cameron relies heavily on his incredible visuals and sees the story as an after thought, The Terminator story is classic. He took an old science fiction concept (man vs machine) and put a spin on it that still keeps your imagination alive. Both T1 and T2 take the concept of fate and the concept of time travel and had a lot of fun with it. Can you change the future for the better or for the worse? Or will the inevitable always happen? It’s phenomenal story-telling.
HOW CAN YOU WATCH IT?
The Terminator is available on both Blu-ray and DVD from most major retailers. It is also currently available to stream through Netflix.
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