So I watched The Terminator…
With the release of Terminator: Genisys coming up in a few days I thought it would fun to travel down memory lane to the bloodshed and monosyllabic awesomeness that is the Terminator Franchise.
Okay, basic plot: in the year 2029, man and machine are engaged in a worldwide war that has scorched the Earth. With the humans on the brink of victory over the evil Skynet, the machines send back a Terminator (an advanced cybernetic killing machine that was apparently built in Austria) to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance – Sarah Connor. The human resistance manages to send back a protector for Sarah and her unborn son – Kyle Reese, a resistance fighter who isn’t nearly as powerful or as cool as The Terminator.
Let me start this review off by typing a set of words that aren’t often thought (well at least not without a hint of sarcasm) – how good is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting in this movie? A lifeless, emotionless killing machine with very little dialogue – he was born to play this role. Plus he’s playing a villain which is a breakaway from the hordes of action flicks that he’s built his career on. I love how efficient and determined The Terminator is. He doesn’t waste time with niceties, he isn’t looking to break into a monologue to give our heroes time to escape – he’s programmed to kill and he does that. It’s great to see a villain who’s proactive and actually focused on getting the job done.
Linda Hamilton’s actor was also an amazing part of this movie. The fragility and vulnerability she shows serve as this movie’s heart and soul. All the characters around her are focused killers and soldiers and she’s the port through which the audience connects to the story. Her acting is even more impressive when you compare it to the upcoming transformation of her character in judgement Day. Seeing this kind of juxtaposition and progression in one character really adds depth and makes the weight of the story more significant.
I found MIchael Biehn’s performance a little too inconsistent and erratic. I get that he’s a soldier who’s been forced to fight since the day he was born and this has frayed his wires and created a certain manic energy; but I couldn’t get a fix on his character. He was all over the place and it just seemed like he wasn’t in control of what kind of character he wanted Kyle Reese to be.
Speaking of things that are a little inconsistent and erratic – Brad Fiedel’s score left much to be desired. I watched this with a friend and more than once we looked at each other and said that the music didn’t quite match the tone of the movie or the scene it was placed in. There are sections of the score that are absolutely amazing and iconic but there are pieces in between that just seem out of place. I feel his score (like everything in this movie). improved with the sequel.
Speaking of things that needed improvement, the special effects in this movie feel very dated. I can’t really hold this against the movie because it was hamstrung by the technology of the time. There are moments, however, where the special effects defy their time and are absolutely outstanding. Stan Winston’s animatronic work with the Terminator skeleton being chief among these. Winston would later go on to do amazing work with the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park so it’s great seeing his earlier work.
Overall, this movie is just one of those movies you have to see at least once in your life. The Terminator and the characters in it are iconic and I loved watching it and I suggest you do the same. 8/10