There have been five Terminator movies. Two of them are good. All of the others are awful. If the new one is awful (it will be), then we’ll be down to a success rate of 33%.
Why the hell they still making these movies?
The Terminator is one of my favorite classic sci-fi films. It’s a fantastic, brutal and wildly entertaining action movie with some mild horror elements! Sure, it has a slim bit of that 80’s cheese with the one-liners (which have been completely ruined thanks to all the sequels) and the stop motion animation. But it still mostly holds up to this day!
Story: Imma Fuck- I Mean Save Your Mum
Back to the Future is about a man who goes back in time and accidentally comes close to banging his mom. The Terminator is a movie about a man who goes back in time and intentionally bangs his best friend’s mother and becomes his father! WITH KILLER ROBOTS!!
The 80s were fucking wild!
In the future, humanity is on the brink of destruction. The super A.I. Skynet has launched a massive nuclear strike on the earth, leaving the planet desolate and gray. Next, it sent out the Terminators, unstoppable killing machines disguised as humans. But one human stands in their way, organizing a resistance against the A.I.: John Connor.
Desperate, Skynet sent their greatest killing machine, Arnold ‘Maidfucker’ Schwarzenneger, to the past to murder Sarah Connor, John’s mother. To stop this, John sends back Kyle Reese, his right-hand-man. Now it’s up to Kyle to keep Sarah alive and stop the Terminator. But can they handle an unstoppable monster from the future and get out alive?
I absolutely love this premise! A monster from the future with almost unstoppable abilities, hunting down a woman from a much simpler and less advanced time is an incredible premise! It’s an idea that, if executed well, could be incredibly interesting! On the other end, it could be incredibly stupid and uninteresting if done poorly.
Just look at the Terminator films beyond 2. But hey! This movie did it super well!
The premise is fully realized and utilized to perfection in this movie! The Terminator is the perfect blend of unkillable and unrelenting, making it both super interesting and intimidating. Sure, we could get into how it is an odd choice to use Arnold Schwarzenneger, the man who probably blends into a crowd the least, but who cares?! The Terminator is fucking rad as hell!
The other characters are also very likable, relatable and interesting. Sarah Connor is an excellent protagonist with a simple but compelling arc, going from a clumsy, down-on-her-luck waitress to a Terminator killing bad-ass! Kyle Reese is an excellent hero, with each of his scenes showing off his knowledge and survival skills perfectly. He and Sarah have excellent chemistry together (even if their relationship becomes a bit forced and rushed in the romance department).
In terms of pacing, this movie is absolutely perfect! It spends just enough time establishing the characters and setting in the beginning. Then, when the action starts up, it never wastes your time! We go from one action scene, get enough time to recharge our batteries, then bam! The movie sends us straight into the next one! The film has a constant sense of progression, never wasting even a moment of the audience’s time.
Even if the dialogue is pretty… bad, there’s no beating around the bush, it’s bad! It sounds stiff, forced and ridiculous, even if we ignore the one-liners! Not all of it is bad, don’t get me wrong. But it’s a film from the 80s and it definitely shows its age in that regard.
Visuals: 80s Sci-Fi Boner
I have a huge soft spot for classic sci-fi films! They have such an incredible charm to them. Plus, I was practically raised off of them. So I may be just a little biased when I’m talking about this movie.
But god damn this movie still holds up! Mostly.
All of the practical effects are still nice to look at, even today! They give Skynet’s weapons of death and destruction an incredible sense of presence that simply wouldn’t be possible with CGI. Sure, the stop motion animation used in the later parts of the film is a little janky. But if you ask me, it has its own charm to it! It gives the Terminator a sense of inhumanity. Plus, it’s super creepy looking!
In terms of cinematography, this movie is only okay. None of the shots are bad, but they lack creativity. They do the job and they do it well. But it didn’t win any awards for a reason.
Also… everyone looks kind of ridiculous. It’s just how people looked in the 80s, I understand that. But it’s aged more than anything else in this movie. Honestly, it’s kind of hilarious at times!
The music, on the other hand, has aged marvelously! The Terminator theme on its own would propel this movie’s soundtrack to insane heights. But then you get all the synth tunes and the classic eighties insert songs! It is so good!
Unlike the next part.
Performances: Why Does the Robot Sound the Least Robotic?
Is it an insult to say that this is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best performance?
I say that as a joke, but it’s super true! He perfectly carries the intimidating, emotionless and unrelenting air of the Terminator. Sure, that could say bad things about his abilities as an actor. But in the context? He is the perfect casting?
Everyone else, on the other hand? Not so much. Everyone else sounds like they were taken off of the street and offered a crisp twenty-dollar bill. They sound so mechanical and forced that I’m surprised they never worked with the ‘anyone could be the Terminator’ idea!
Though, to be fair: I’m sure half of that is the dialogue. I can give them the benefit of the doubt.
The Terminator isn’t the best film in the franchise. That title still belongs to Terminator 2. But this film is a clear sci-fi classic through and through. Far from flawless, yes. But it is still a ton of fun to watch to this day!
Even if it didn’t need more than one sequel. Or reboot. Or whatever the fuck that new ‘Dark Fate’ movie is going to be. After… whatever the hell ‘Genisys’ was, I don’t think I know anymore. But that’s all besides the point.
If you still haven’t seen it, then you absolutely should go back and watch The Terminator. It isn’t the best sci-fi film from the eighties. But it’s worthy to stand with all the others that came out at the time.
Most of which got into Mortal Kombat before it did. But hey! It got there too! In the end!