Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#457. The Terminator (1984)

Directed By: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

Tag line: "The thing that won't die, in the nightmare that won't end"

Trivia:  O.J. Simpson was considered for the role of the Terminator, but the producers feared he was "too nice" to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer

James Cameron’s 1984 action/sci-fi classic The Terminator is the movie that helped transform Arnold Schwarzenegger into box-office gold. The Austrian-born bodybuilder would go on to dominate the action genre for the better part of a decade, appearing in some of the most exciting films ever to emerge from Hollywood. 

The year is 2029, and the world as we know it has been destroyed.  A brutal war between man and machines has killed millions, with the machines winning out as the planet's dominant species. 

Only a small pocket of resistance fighters remain, who, despite limited numbers, have disrupted their enemies time and again.  In an effort to stop the rebellion before it starts, the machines send a highly developed cyborg, known as a Terminator (Schwarzenegger), back in time to Los Angeles, 1984. Its mission: kill Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), the woman who gave birth to the future leader of the resistance, John Conner. With Sarah Conner dead, John Conner will never be born. 

To protect Sarah, the resistance sends one of their own, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), back to the same time period. Heavily armed, Kyle does what he can to shield Sarah from the ruthless Terminator, which will not stop until its orders have been carried out. 

Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is a cyborg of very few words, speaking only a handful of times throughout the film. And when it does talk, it's usually short and to the point (like the actor’s now-patented catch-phrase, “I’ll be back”, a line he uttered for the very first time in this movie). But then, this is a machine that doesn’t need words; it may speak softly, but it carries a big arsenal. Moments after its arrival in the past, the Terminator immediately gets down to business, murdering one punk rocker (a young Bill Paxton) before stealing the clothes of another. 

From there, its off to a gun shop, where the Terminator orders the proprietor (Dick Miller) to pull all his best weapons off the shelf, only to shoot the poor guy with his own merchandise! 

To ensure the success of his mission, the Terminator next turns his attention to killing every Sarah Conner in the phone book, taking out the first one (Marianne Muellerleile) by pumping six rounds into her as she stands defenseless in her living room. 

The Terminator is a killing machine, programmed with a single goal and a driving determination to see it through. Reese fills Sarah in on just what they’re up against when he says, “It can’t 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”. We’ve seen Schwarzenegger play tough before, but in The Terminator he’s also damn scary, and there are times when this action masterpiece even feels like a horror movie (especially in the final act, when the chase intensifies). 

It was his role in The Terminator that catapulted Arnold Schwarzenegger to super-stardom, and films like Predator, The Running Man, Total Recall, and the first Terminator sequel (1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day) strengthened his status as the #1 action hero of his time, a man with no fear who always got the job done. 

This is the very attitude that steered his character in The TerminatorOnly in this one, he was working for the other side.


Anonymous said...

It's definitely a little bit dated in some spots but still has awesome action scenes, and Arnold just being so terribly cool and evil. That police station is probably one of the most iconic scenes of 80's cinema as well. Good review my man.

Kevin Bachelder said...

I can still remember seeing this for the first time when it came out in theaters. Very powerful on the big screen.

Anonymous said...

I need to watch this again. That is just too funny about OJ being thought as 'too nice' for this film. WOW, that goes to show what a good 'actor' he is in real life apparently.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by, and for the comments.

@dtmmr: As you said, it's an incredible action film, and I have to agree with you regarding the police station. The first time Arnold used his famous "I'll be back" line...that alone makes it iconic!

@Kevin: I never saw this in theaters, but was lucky to catch TERMINATOR 2 when it came out. Still, I'd have LOVED to see this one on the big screen as well.

@Flixchatter: That tidbit about O.J. blew me away! Not that he didn't get the part, but that he was "too nice" to play a killer! Talk about irony!

Thanks again, one and all!