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Monday, August 13, 2012

The Terminator: 1984

Release date: October 26, 1984 (USA)
Director: James Cameron
Music: Brad Fiedel
Rating: R (USA)
Story by: William Wisher Jr.

   "The Terminator."  How can you be as menacing and to the point as this name?  And with a name so simple, who would have guessed there would be a bigger theme here?  World domination, sure.  World destruction, defiantly.  But this film only sets up these  key points during the very end of the third installment of the series.  What the very first film provides for us  is the foundation that the audience will refer back to when the next two films hit the scene.  But what James Cameron didn't realize was that this film would be the beginning of a franchise of films.  Lets meet our cybernetic organism from the future, "The Terminator."

   It goes something like this.  In 2029 Jon Connor is the leader of the remainder of the human race.  Skynet, a self aware super computer, has unleashed its robotic military to exterminate the human race, and Jon is the only one who can save us all.  Learning about this, Skynet sends a Terminator (Arnold Shwarzenegger) back in time to the year 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) so that she doesn't give birth to the savior of mankind, Jon Connor.  That is friggin awesome!  "The Terminator's" story line is defiantly one of the more positive parts of the film, and this was proven through the three other films that spawned from it, as well as a T.V show.  James Cameron might not have seen it at the time, but other directors knew that this concept was ripe for expanding upon in the world of cinema.  I believe that each film was made by a different person, and this is a very interesting notion because even though each film fits together with the last (for the most part) they each take things in a slightly different direction.  I think that this film had a less of an impressive budget, so it can be excused for it lack of action, (although it had allot)  but I also think that it had the most tension, mainly due to the fact that there was no hope for anyone to survive in this film (especially Sarah Connor).

   This is why I like the movie a lot.  Sarah Connor is essentially a normal person, and does not seem the type that would raise the savior of mankind.  But because of this, it is very realistic that she would have to grow into the role.  She would have been able to do this naturally through the course of time, but because of time travel, things go haywire and our character is thrown into a conflict that she herself cannot face alone.  Sarah has not prepared herself to mentally handle the fact that Cyborgs will be coming back from the future to destroy her.  I'll be honest, I might not take news like that too well, which is why Sarah Connors character is very likable:  because we connect with her and the way she would respond to the situation that she is thrown into.  This is what sets this film apart from the rest of the franchise, and would (for awhile at least) be the only origin story of Sarah Connor.  

   The effects in this film are something quite special.  Although primitive by today's standards, back then it looked very good.  As for myself, I like them, but this is another reason why this particular film differs from the others.  James Cameron utilizes stop motion very well,  as well as an animatronic replica of Shwarzenegger for close ups of of his robo- interior.  These scenes are very impressive, being that there is no form of CG anywhere in it. 

   For now, this would be a modest film.  But when James Cameron got enough money to make the sequel he always wanted, people started paying attention to to this film.  And when this second film hit theaters, it became a huge success and was thus transformed into a cult classic.  To this day, T2 is on my top ten list of films.  I love it.  But as for this one, I can confidently say that it was an interesting start to a huge successful franchise.  I only hope that for science fiction fans alike, we can go back to this film and respect it for what it's worth today.  If you've looked past this film because of the sequel, let me remind you that T2 would not be here without T1, because all the film really is in the end, is an opening act for the first installment.  But remember, that doesn't excuse you from passing it up.  You could never have fathomed what you would have missed if you had.


Watch the full movie here
 Next Review:  The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension 1984