The Terminator (1984)

Rating: 15

Length: 1Hr 47

Release: 11.1.1985

About: Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.


The Good

  • As much as the arriving naked baffles me (and suffers from the sequels almost lampooning the process), I do love Kyle Reese’s Supermarket Sweep of what I could imagine being the ‘things’ everyone would go on to wear in 1985.
  • The gritty colourisation that is almost the definition of 80s movies. I feel at home with it and it hides some of the film’s ageing and instead gives it the retro feel that Stranger Things has painfully replicated.
  • The two dream sequences gives a better look at the post-apocalyptic future than any of the future movies do. While watching the first dream sequence I actually thought about how this franchise has perhaps kept hold of the time-travel assassin trope (fuck, they’ve over used it so much it’s become a trope!) for too long. What the franchise needs is a war movie. Show the audience these cyborgs in a different genre.
  • I remember being a kid and being scared by The Terminator. I still felt that apprehension and the key is in the lack of dialogue. There’s no reasoning with him; he’s a juggernaut computer with an ass you could bounce coins off.
  • Sarah Connor is one of the best female protagonists with one of the best character development. She stands among Leia, Ripley and others as a character who shows strength in a male dominated genre. What sets Connor apart is her development from traumatised to the bad ass she becomes in Judgement Day. It’s subtle but there’s a line and when you hear it, you know she’s no longer the same.

The Bad

  • There are some scenes towards the end in which Arnie looks like he’s in the French Revolution or a girl who has a heavy hand with a foundation that’s twenty shades out. It’s really hard to tell if this is something that hasn’t ‘aged well’ or a shit make up job so I have to write it up.
  • The stop motion sticks out in some parts and I put it in the bad, not because of it not ageing well, but because it is only about 5% of the footage that doesn’t look right, suggesting inconsistencies. It certainly looks better than, the opening sequence of Lockout (2012), for example. Plus, I personally would take stop motion over CGI any day. Except for Jurassic Park (Sorry, Phil Tippett).

The Ugly

  • “You’re terminated, fucker.” It’s strange that as someone who loves her puns and adores these sort of wise cracks in Buffy, I rolled my eyes and groaned at this death nell for the Terminator. Again, I feel it’s the sequels that actually harms this film more than the film in, and of, itself and what it perhaps just a line rings a little hammy.

Final Thoughts

A solid classic, only tainted by the tonal shift of the sequels.

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One thought on “The Terminator (1984)”

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