The Terminator (1984)

One of the most influential blockbusters of all-time, Terminator defined what it meant to be an action movie – with bludgeoning pace, relentless thrills, dark time-traveling post-apocalyptic premise, and career role by Schwarzenegger. 9.1/10.

In order to prevent a future rebellion from occurring against the ruling artificial intelligence system called Skynet , a cyborg assassin known as the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent 45 years into the past to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). One of the few remaining members of the human side of the rebellion, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), is sent to protect Sarah in this wild race to save the future & humanity.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review

Cited as one of the greatest Action/Sci-Fi crossover movies and movies in general, The Terminator rocked the world when it came out in the 80’s. With extremely fast and thrilling pacing even by today’s standards and an absolutely iconic role from Arnold baring the titular role, it is not difficult to see why the movie has had such a legendary impact on cinema and the action film. One of the most influential blockbusters of all-time, Terminator defined what it meant to be an action movie – with bludgeoning pace, relentless thrills, dark time-traveling apocalyptic premise, & career role by Schwarzenegger.

The action and pacing. There are few movies that keep you on the edge of your seat as constantly as The Terminator does. Even from the very beginning of the film, the action is intense and extremely quickly moving and thrilling, with scenes varying from everything from shootouts to car chases through the highways of Los Angeles. It truly sets the trend and bar of what modern action movies could and should be, and expectations/rules for the genre in general. However, while many modern action films can rival The Terminator is action with modern technology and updates in filmmaking, few can combine them with such an genius concept and script. The Terminator’s idea of a postapocalyptic future where Technology has gone from serving humans to overpowering and ruling them truly explored fear in a new way, playing on humanity’s intrigue and fear of creation and creation overpowering the creator.

Even more applicable when viewing the film in modern times in the age of Social Media and far more advanced technology, the fear is everpresent and inescapable, making the idea that we could be conquered by our own creations even more terrifying. Also, the intricacy of the plot and the way it’s unfolded by having Arnold killing random people where the audience doesn’t know why as more and more is revealed about Sarah’s importance as the birth of the savior of future humanity from extinction is brilliantly written as a script. Finally, the cast and ending. Arnold is the perfect Terminator. Absolutely chilling in his disregard for human life and the savageness of his kills, he really plays the role of a humanity-dwarfing robot perfectly and makes you believe he is trying to end humanity. Also, Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton plays memorable and well-acted roles, and the 80’s music, character motivations, Cameron’s clear direction, and great ending tieing together all of the loose ends and past and future make this an epic, timeless film.

Now, although there are very, very few flaws in the film, there are still a couple of nitpicks in this gamechanger. First, there is a lot of excess carnage. I understand that the concept and tone of the film is supposed to be dark in what Cameron was hoping to achieve, but why Arnold, an “expert” Terminator model, needs to kill dozens of innocent civilians in order to find the right Sarah Conner is a bit nonsensical. Also, the cinematography and mise-en-scene can be a bit overtly-dim in parts, making it difficult to see for example the future war sequences. Finally, the CGI when Terminator is all robot at the end post-fire is questionable (albeit you have to give some pass for the time and where VFX technology was back then).

Conclusion

Overall, these are minor problems in comparison to all of the massive and legendary things this film achieves. It cemented sci-fi/action as a viable blockbuster premise – and stamped the economic profitability of movies so widespread in appeal, they can quite literally have people lined up around the block. One of the most influential blockbusters of all-time, Terminator defined what it meant to be an action movie – with bludgeoning pace, relentless thrills, dark time-traveling apocalyptic premise, & career role by Schwarzenegger.

Official CLC Score: 9.1/10