- Movie Rating -

The Terminator (1984)

| October 26, 1984

The Terminator is a one of those perfectly balanced sci-fi action pictures that does a very good job of balancing the action and the humanity.  And – WOW! – this is an action picture with a capital ‘A’.  Once it gets moving it rolls at a breakneck pace and never lets up.  It is tightly written and the characters written just well enough to make us care about them but not so much that the character-building gets in the way.

As sci-fi movies go, this one is pretty clever.  A machine from the future is sent back through time to eliminate – or terminate – the woman who will give birth to the man who someday will save humanity from total extinction.  The machine (and this is really clever) is so advanced that it looks exactly like everyone else.  Okay, well . . . he looks like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  But still.

The woman is Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton), a lonely unassuming waitress of seemingly no importance to anyone.  One day at work she hears a news report about the murders of two other women in the area who are also named Sarah Conner.  That night, she is chased down by The Terminator and is rescued by a sweaty man who informs her that she is will give birth to the savoir of the future.  He is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) a man who served under her son and has come back in time to save her from the machine.

It is not a shock that Kyle and Sarah fall in love as they flee from the pursuing Terminator and I think it’s crucial.  If the future has been destroyed by machines (apparently, they went will go nuts, staged a revolution that claimed a billion lives) then these two lovers represent the human element.  Without it, this is just another soulless action picture.  Kyle has a reason for coming back through time that is only revealed later.

Casting is key.  Hamilton is perfect as a mousey, more or less invisible woman who finds herself in the middle of a hurricane of violence, and she has good chemistry with Biehn.  But it is Schwarzenegger who makes it work.  He is playing a machine wrapped in human flesh and Arnold’s odd looks and accent add to the effect.  Director James Cameron noted that one of the reasons that he chose him for the role is that his accent makes the machine’s speech feel a little formal, like the software hadn’t quite gotten the speech down right.

All I all, this is a very good movie.  It is balanced right, it plays right, the script is tight and the performances are just enough.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty