Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Earl Boen
Directed by: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 47 min
Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a good actor by any stretch of the imagination, but he is a star, and he did have a uncanny knack for picking projects that were a good fit for his talents. The Terminator is arguably the best example of this, and could you picture anyone else playing the part as well as he did? He’s just relentless as the cyborg sent back in time to kill the mother of his enemy. Focused, seemingly unstoppable, and genuinely intimidating as he goes about his murderous mission.
James Cameron’s Terminator is an action science fiction flick that works on a lot of levels. Certainly it’s a great action film, but it’s also a love story. There’s an element that looks forward to the future, and wonders if our reliance on modern technology will ultimately be our undoing. But it’s all told as part of an entertaining yet simple plot about saving the future in the past.
Being that this was Cameron’s second full length feature film, and given the limited budget available, it’s not totally surprising The Terminator is a little rough around the edges. The visual effects are mostly decent, but some of the makeup effects looked less than convincing even back in 84.
There’s plenty to enjoy here though, from the solidly staged action, and the chemistry between Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn. The score by Brad Fiedel sets the perfect tone for The Terminator, and the animatronics and stop motion sequences at the end of the film are very effective.
This is a violent science fiction film so expect a high body count and plenty of action. If action and science fiction are your thing, you should have fun with this. This is gritty, dark and violent with very little humor to break up the tension.
I think a regular DVD or streaming show will service this film well enough. The HD copy I watched further exposed the limitations of the makeup effects. If your local theater were screening it you should try to make that show.
I loved the first time all the key players in this story get together in the Tech Noir club. The initial build up filmed mostly in slow motion has a kind of dreamy quality about it and then – BANG – Resse (Michael Biehn) unloads on the Terminator, and the chase begins!