Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Kyle Reese describing the Terminator/ My ex
REVIEW The Americans have a film vault which they call the National Film Registry, it contains films which are deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” There are currently over 1000 films waiting to be assessed as the Registry can only take 25 films per year. Examples of accepted films include Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Dickson Experimental Sound Film (the first film with recorded sound) Casablanca and hundreds more classics. It also has a low-budget science fiction chase film called The Terminator.
So here is my question, how am I supposed to review a film that is this culturally significant? A film that virtually created a whole genre? Made not only James Camerons name but also Arnold Schwarzenegger? A film that’s launched a million parodies, references, imitators and inferior sequels?
I used a really, really big cinema screen.
And it was glorious.
The plot, for those of you who have never seen this film is simple, in the far off year of 1997, a computer defense system becomes sentient and decides to wipe out humanity. The survivors fight back and eventually win. But, in a last through of the dice, Skynet sends a Terminator back through time to wipe out the leader of the human resistance, John Connor by killing his mother in 1984. But the resistance finds out and also manage to send back a single warrior and the stage is set. The battle for the future will be fought in our present. (well, 1984)
And that really is the plot. It’s just a chase sequence, but it’s done so well that its easy to overlook the genius simplicity of the plot. There are scenes set in the future, but the vast majority of them take place in the present. The script is well written, most of the dialogue is realistic and people react like people. Not film characters. Kyle is initially assumed to be insane, logical alternatives are offered for the Terminators abilities. The humor and jokes come not through corny one liners but from people joking with each other, something many modern films lack.
Casting is another strength, to say that Arnold is perfect for the role is an understatement, it is impossible to imagine anyone else for the role (at least back in the day, now i’d rather imagine anyone else.) Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese is brilliant as the grim determined warrior and Linda Hamilton as the ordinary woman saddled with a destiny that she never asked for or wanted.
I’m not going to pretend that the special effects are amazing, in certain scenes they are blindingly obvious as puppets and models, but their existence is limited and don’t spoil the film. A personal favorite is the ‘Terminator Vision.’
The music is another masterpiece, from the classic theme to the screeching music when Arnold’s true form is revealed it’s a joy to listen to throughout.
The shots are steady, you can understand the action which again is a skill missing from most modern films.
In case you haven’t guessed yet, my score?
SEE IT NOW!