In a possible yet distant future, mankind is locked in deadly battle and are close to the brink of extinction. This is due to the war taking place with a machine named Skynet, who would eventually become self-aware. In order to guarantee its victory for the future, Skynet sends a cyborg assassin called a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the past, with his mission being to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who happens to be the mother of the soon-to-be leader of the resistance John Connor. John sends his own warrior to the past, a soldier named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect Sarah at all cost. -summary
Even after all these years, The Terminator which was released in 1984 still holds up as an epic sci-fi action thriller. The film is virtually flawless and delivers a simple, yet intricate story on man vs. monster that flows with such grace; from the stunning opening to the thrilling end. James Cameron pretty much out did himself with this film, and it's been regarded as one of the best action movies of all time. Cameron would also inherit the curse along with the gift, as this movie would also be the measuring stick for his future works. But on a side note, I just can't shake the very possible influence of Chris Claremont's: X- Men: Days of Future Past storyline. The storyline for this film feels too familar.
I still enjoy the eerie opening taking place on future Earth over the post-apocalyptic setting. This is a very scary world indeed, that really didn't need much dialogue to describe it as hell on earth. The machines consist of futuristic tanks and aircrafts, which are heavily armed with laser turrets, and they're moving forward displaying their sheer dominance over mankind, by plowing over scores of wreckage and human skulls. The night time sky is an excellent backdrop here as well. James Cameron exercises the "show and don't tell rule" perfectly, by letting the viewers know that there is very little hope for mankind's survival here. I commend Cameron for his use of symbolism, as well as taking the theme of man losing control of his tools to the extreme. The Terminator is a perfect example of the puppets overthrowing the puppet masters.
Although dated in some areas, the special effects do hold up for the most part. I loved the use of lighting and camera work especially, which brought out the best in numerous action scenes, with the very first encounter in the club being one of the standouts. I know it was obvious that Sarah Connor would not die so early in the film, but the camera work meshed so well with the tension build up. It just so happens to stand out as one of my favorite scenes in the movie. There are some moments where the make up was a bit too fake, and the Terminator's face heavily resembled Michael Myer's mask to a certain degree, at least to me it did. But I think the gore was well done, and I enjoyed the sound effects when the Terminator was repairing himself. Now as far as the action goes, there isn't a single action scene that I could dare say was bland. Everything was done right, with the encounters becoming more and more fierce, with lots of gun play and innocent bystanders being mowed down along with cops. That's some really good stuff right there. Brad Fiedel also received plenty of well deserved praise for that music score. The BGM worked great together with everything, from the piano laced track depicting Sarah's innocence while she was riding on her scooter, to the menacing synthesized score during the all out attack on the police station. Fiedel is a master of his craft, and he would go on to put together an amazing piece in Jeff Lieberman's Just Before Dawn.
Terminator: "Sarah Connor?"
Sarah #1: "Yes?"
I just love the story here, and there's a bit of subtle humor thrown in there from my point of view. The plot is well written with some good scenes, and plenty of great interactions along with story background in the form of dialogue and flashbacks, which also plays in the character development. I also have to point out that the film features a sex scene that is actually important to the plot. That's not something you see often. The characters are very likable, and Arnie steals the show as the cold and merciless cyborg. I don't believe anyone could have played that role at the time. He just had the perfect look, big, strong, and an emotionless demeanor. Hamilton was great also and her transition from an innocent damsel into a hard fighter was believable, Biehn deserves some credit for his good performance as well.
The only issue that I have is just that bit of male nudity. Thankfully, it actually serves a purpose and wasn't thrown in there just because. In closing, The Terminator is definitely among the best action films ever. I can't imagine my collection without it. I highly recommend this to anyone who has never seen it. I only advise to be on the look out for the special effects that could appear very dated to some folks by today's standards.
-Story, very solid plot, action, character development
-Two too many males butts
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