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Logline: A cyborg with human flesh is sent back in time to 1984 Los Angeles to terminate a woman whose unborn son will help save the human race in the future war against machines.

Review: “I’ll be back.”  James Cameron’s The Terminator is the classic sci-fi thriller that ensured Arnold Schwarzenegger’s continued success as an actor and launched a franchise that continues to this day.  The Terminator remains a classic with some remarkable special effects.  The film is well-paced and offers some fascinating story elements.

In the early 80s, James Cameron had a nightmare in which a cyborg emerged from flames, an image that inspired him to write The Terminator.  The film was given a modest budget especially when one considers its size and scope.  Despite this, Cameron and his team crafted a film that has the appearance of a big budget Hollywood blockbuster.  The film owes a lot to special effects wizard Stan Winston.  Winston’s visual effects remain impressive to this day.  Cameron would go on to direct such films as Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Titanic (1997), and Avatar (2009).  Cameron’s name has become practically synonymous with big budget Hollywood blockbusters so it is fun to look back at the filmmaker’s humble beginnings.

Say what you will about Schwarzenegger as an actor but he is perfect as the Terminator.  Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn give solid performances and have great chemistry onscreen.  Their characters’ love story feels neither rushed nor forced.  As an action film, The Terminator excels.  A chase movie through and through, the film never lets up.  Rather than bringing the film to a halt to relay exposition, this dialogue is exchanged during a car chase sequence.  The film has the momentum of an efficient machine that reaches its apex during an intense final confrontation, in which Cameron’s nightmare comes to fruition on film.

What more can one say about The Terminator that has not already been stated?  It is a classic that meant huge success for Schwarzenegger and Cameron.  It was followed by Terminator 2: Judgement Day, one of the greatest sequels in the history of film.  Simply put, The Terminator is an iconic film that demands to be seen.

Rating (out of ****): ***1/2

 

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