Release year: 1984
Director: James Cameron
Screenwriter: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Earl Boen, Bess Motta
Ratings: 3 Saturn Awards: Best Sci-Fi Film, Best Writing, Best Make-Up
A cyborg assassin (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent back from the future to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a young woman who unknownst to her will play a significant part in the human resistance in the war against the machines. To help her, the humans send back soldier Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect her but is there any way of stopping the seemingly indestructable terminator?
At the time James Cameron (Aliens, 1986) made The Terminator he had only directed Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) so it’s safe to say he was a virtual unknown when he blasted into our mind with his futuristic nightmare-vision of the future (litterarly as the idea was spawned from a nightmare Cameron had during sickness of a metallic torso dragging itself from an explosion while holding kitchen knives) instantly making a name of both himself and his star Arnold Schwarzenegger (Total Recall, 1990). The Austrian bodybuilder was a perfect fit for the part, both in terms of his impressive and intimidating physique but also because his thick accent only added to the inhuman feel of the cold robotic killer. Though not many believed in the movie before it’s release (Cameron fired his agent because he disapproved of him making the film and Orion Films only held one press conference for the movie because they didn’t have any faith in it), but it was number one at the box office for two weeks and is today considered as one of the best films of 1984 as well as one of the best sci-fi films ever made. The titel character became an instant iconic figure, with ‘I’ll be back’ becoming one of the most known movie quotes in history and the geniality of the character and the story has so far meant four additional Terminator movies with two more planned. But though the Terminator are a brilliant enough character to make this a mvoie to watch and cheerish alone, Cameron’s futuristic thriller is also a brilliant story based on a good idea. Hamilton (Dante’s Peak, 1997) and Biehn (The Abyss, 1989) bring plenty of beating heart to the steel cold story and delivers strong but vulnerable charaters that makes sure you are at the edge of your seat as they run for the lifes. The only thing holding back this movie is in fact that the special effects haven’t quite been able to stand the test of times, working in some places while being out-dated in others, but with the rest of the movie still standing strong and with strong images that will stay with you this remains one of the very best sci-fi action films and a modern classic.
James Cameron’s original idea was that Skynet would send two Terminators at once: one would be a cyborg, while the other would consist of liquid metal and was able to shape-shift. Cameron realized early on that this latter effect could not be realized with the special effects at the time, so he abandoned it early on. When a completely computer-generated special effect proved to be a success in Cameron’s The Abyss (1989), he revived the idea of the liquid Terminator for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).
Picture copyright: SF Films