Cameron delivers TechNoir
I was officially too young to watch "The Terminator" when it was released back in 1984, which seems a frighteningly long time ago, but being under age didn't stop me watching it. And to be honest since then "The Terminator" has remained one of my favourite 80s movies which is amusing seeing that it fits into a list which is full of teenage angst movies, thank you John Hughes. But there you go "The Terminator" is one of my favourites, from the storyline, the acting, the special effects and of course Arnold Schwarzenegger as the unstoppable cyborg from the future it all worked and to be honest still does.
In the future, the year 2029, the Skynet computer system is ruling the world causing the remaining humans to go underground as they form a resistance, lead by John Connor. In order for Skynet to wipe out the human resistance they send a killing machine, The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger - Conan the Barbarian), back to 1984 to kill his mother Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton - Dante's Peak) before she even conceives the future leader. But in order to protect their future, resistance soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn - The Rock) is sent back to protect Sarah from the Terminator. But what can kill a cyborg who will stop at nothing to complete what it set out to do.
I have to say that if you split "The Terminator" into the various elements, the hell bent robot determined to kill, the whole apocalyptic future and time travel it isn't that original. If you take the Terminator itself, it's more than reminiscent of the malfunctioning robot in "Westworld" and the other elements all seem to draw on other movies in one form or another. But because James Cameron who wrote and directed "The Terminator" wraps this up in quite a clever and intriguing storyline about the mother of a future leader coming under attack from a cyborg sent back from the future it makes it basically feel more original. It gives you this concept about having to save her so that her yet conceived son can help lead the resistance of the future and as such it causes you to contemplate the whole time travel and repercussions of her actions elements.
I am sure if you could be bothered to analyse the whole time travel element there must be flaws but on face value this whole concept works and disguises that in fact "The Terminator" is very much a stereotypical 80s action movie.
But whilst James Cameron serves up this intriguing storyline he also makes "The Terminator" memorable for many other things. Firstly there are some iconic scenes from the first time we ware introduced to a naked Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator through to the scenes in the bar "TechNoir" and of course a brief but sensual sex scene. But these scenes are not just visually memorable they also have some great dialogue as well and although something as simple as the Terminator asking for an Uzi. 9mm or telling the police desk clerk "I'll be back" just stick in your mind long after you have watched the movie. In fact just typing those words I can picture the scenes clearly and very few movies manage to achieve that sense of being memorable.
And of course with all these memorable scenes comes layer after layer of action and special effects, well it is a James Cameron movie so you expect nothing less. Considering its age and at the time a small budget the chase scenes are brilliant as are various moments of shooting. Then there are the special effects and whilst those big scenes are splendidly choreographed it's the smaller scenes which are ever so memorable. When we watch the Terminator return to his room and slice into his arm to show the robot mechanics underneath or remove an eyeball to display the red sensor it is still so stunning. Yes in this day and age these effects would be even more stunning, but for a movie which is over 25 years old these special effects are truly great.
Then on top of this is the acting and whilst you can honestly say that Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn work well together as Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese and don't do anything in the slightest wrong "The Terminator" is really Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie. He may have had less than 20 lines of dialogue to deliver but he creates such a memorable and imposing character as the Terminator. From those opening scenes where he appears from the future through the various chases scenes, the demolition of the police station right through to his final scenes Arnie basically dominates the movie.
What this all boils down to is that even now after more that 25 years "The Terminator" is still a stunning movie. From the direction and writing of James Cameron, the acting of Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn and the sheer dominating presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger through to all those iconic scenes it is great entertainment and so so memorable. Just mentioning various lines or scenes brings memories of the movie flooding back and for me that is a sign of a very good movie.