I’ll never forget seeing The Terminator the first time around. I saw it with a quasi boyfriend who’d seen it before I had. He told me I’d love the film and he couldn’t wait to show it to me. Watching it, I was hopelessly intrigued with the opening sequences and distinctly remember leaning over to him and asking questions like – what was going on with Schwarzenegger being naked and why did it ‘whatever’s happening’ hurt the second guy and not Arnie etc? My friend simply smiled and told me to watch – I’d find out. I didn’t ask any more questions after that, not because my friend told me to watch but because I was hopelessly enthralled. By the time the credits rolled, I thought it was one of the best movies I’d ever seen and I wasn’t alone. The Terminator was a huge hit. Everyone loved it because, simply, it had something for everyone. It was sci-fi yet present day. It was a relentless action movie yet a romance. It was even horror. It checked all the boxes and, of course, while some special effects seem slightly outdated by now (the latex false head of the T-800 for example), they were great at the time. It’s not to say we were fooled by it; it was obviously latex to us in the 80′s as well but it was still groundbreaking for the time and you just rolled with it. The future sequences were excellent and Stan Winston’s work was simply fantastic. Anyway, I was so pumped by the film my friend and I watched it again and I’ve seen it countless times since.
The machines rose from the ashes of the nuclear fire.
Their war to exterminate mankind had raged for decades, but the final battle would not be fought in the future.
It would be fought here, in our present.
Terminator is a fantastic film from the get go. It’s immediately intriguing, fast paced and you honestly care for the characters of Sarah and Kyle and the story works because at it’s heart, The Terminator is a love story. Is there anything more touching and beautiful than crossing time for love? Aliens aside, I believe one of the main reasons James Cameron’s films are such hits are because at their core there are always two people in love. From Terminator to Avatar, there’s love. Even Aliens has love at it’s core, albeit motherly. (Of course it also helps that Jim’s a wonderful storyteller and a perfectionist as well).
I’ve seen Terminator countless times now and no doubt will see it countless times more. Simply, it’s a classic. Everything about it is fantastic – story to cast and even bit parts. It’s fun to see Bill Paxton and Brian Thompson as punks; the legendary Lance Henrikson and Paul Winfield work absolutely brilliantly together as the cops Traxler and Vukovich and Earl Boen is wonderful as the jaded (then later excited) and smug psychologist Dr. Silberman. Again, the cast is great and kudos to JC & Stanzi Stokes.
The lovely and talented Michael Biehn as Kyle. He did a magnificent job and was perfectly cast. He conveys strength, gentleness, weariness and love all down to a T. This movie would start my love affair with him as an actor – and screen hunk, of course.
The mother of the future. We don’t know this at the time and I remember thinking Sarah was so sweet – which is what we’re meant to think of course. Linda was perfectly cast as the infamous Sarah Connor. She’s as sweet as sweet can be when we first meet her and it’s fantastic to see her slowly progress into a far, far stronger person by the end of the film. There are many, many reasons I love James Cameron but one of them is this: there is always an extremely strong female lead in his films. The only exception is True Lies but that was adapted from a French film so it doesn’t really count. But Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, T2, Titanic and Avatar all have wonderful female leads.
You’d think Lance Henriksen and Paul Winfield had truly been working together for years they’re so natural together. Another refreshing thing is – these cops are smart. Two murders – both victims names are identical? Call the next Sarah Connor!
You can’t talk about Terminator without mentioning Stan Winston’s and Fantasy II’s wonderful models based on James Cameron’s designs. The future machines, like the flying HK’s, were awesome and the T-800 endoskeleton is obviously iconic.
Lastly, perfectly complementing the film is Brad Fiedel’s score. Everyone knows The Terminator music now but there’s also hauntingly beautiful pieces on the soundtrack as well that perfectly compliment the love story the movie is centered around.
In 2008 the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
~keep going for a few more pics~