Friday, July 28, 2017

Sci Fi Top 100, #9: "The Terminator" (1984)

Movie Stats:
Released 1984 (USA)
British & American, in English (minor, mostly translated Spanish)
Director - James Cameron
Stars - Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Plot Summary:
In the 21st century, the human race has nearly been wiped out by intelligent machines. Those machines send a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton), the woman destined to give birth to the leader of the future human resistance. Biehn co-stars as Kyle Reese, the man sent back in time to protect Sarah. This is the first installment of the Terminator franchise.

Warnings:
Heavy blue language; extreme violence; extreme gore; brief male nudity (butt & peen); brief female nudity (breasts only); sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
Most of the special effects haven’t held up well. The portions where Arnie’s head is clearly a robotic model are particularly egregious.

I didn’t care for the 80s-rific soundtrack.

[SPOILER]
I think it’s a little creepy that Kyle was “in love” with Sarah his whole life just because he saw her picture. He didn’t actually know her. He only knew of her. That it turns out that she was thinking of him when the photo was taken doesn’t make it okay by me.
[SPOILER]

Good Stuff:
In this series, #2 seems to get the most love, but I thought this one had the better storyline of the two. It didn’t fall into the time travel trap & it didn’t leave any loose ends.

Despite his slight creep factor, I found Kyle incredibly relatable. I enjoyed his flashbacks. I liked that the film addressed the fact that he had PTSD without getting preachy about it. And I did understand why a man with such a background would latch on to the first beautiful thing that he saw.

The action sequences are pretty cool.

The Verdict:
Believe it or not, I never saw this before. My husband has always claimed that #2 is the only good Terminator movie, so I went into this with low expectations (even though my film taste and his usually aren’t well aligned). I was pleasantly surprised. I actually liked this film a lot. I thought it was better than #2, largely because it’s a better story with fewer plot holes, but also because I think Kyle is a better/more relatable character than young John Connor (I also liked Sarah a lot better in this than in #2). The special effects and soundtrack leave a lot to be desired, but I’m sure they were cutting edge at the time this film came out. Also, I sort of wish I’d seen this years ago because I had no idea how much #2 “repurposed” from it (one liners, or the fact that young Sarah drives a scooter & young John drives something similar, etc.). In the end I felt a little disappointed that #2 wasn’t as original as I thought. If I were to recommend a Terminator movie, I’d go with this one.

I give it 4 stars.

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