The Terminator (1984)



“Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with...it doesn't feel pity of remorse or fear...and it absolutely will not stop.Ever. Until you are dead.”“Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with...it doesn't feel pity of remorse or fear...and it absolutely will not stop.Ever. Until you are dead.”

“Listen. Understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be reasoned with, it can’t be bargained with…it doesn’t feel pity of remorse or fear…and it absolutely will not stop.Ever. Until you are dead.”


The 1980’s has produced so much for the world in regard to popular culture. Everything from music, movies, style, and speech. Movies during this decade have influenced what’s to come in almost every genre. The Terminator is just one of those films that have influenced films released after it but popular culture as well. In fact, one could argue that The Terminator is the most influential science fiction film to come out of any decade. Nearly 40’s years later – it stands the test of time. It starts a rather divisive franchise that branches into the small screen and even videogames.

Time travel can be difficult to maneuver in film. We’ve seen it done too many times before but back then, it’s a fresh idea that doesn’t get too much criticism. The only reason being – the only time travel that happens in the film is during the first 10 minutes. The rules of time travel don’t need to be established yet as at the time who knew that a franchise could be a possible result if the film is successful or not. All it takes is a simple line of dialogue to explain what the rules are, it’s not that difficult. Certainly, bad films seem to get franchises very easily these days *cough Transformers cough*.

The premise is rather cheesy and a bit campy when you really think about it. Machines taking over the planet while simultaneously wiping out the human race. But to get one of the biggest action star’s to star as the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is an automatic win. Some of the best dialogue and easily the most quotable dialogue comes from Arnold being Arnold. If you really think about it – how many times do you say “I’ll be Back” while imitating his accent? Come on, I’m not the only one that does it.

If you can overlook the story of the film this film is brilliant. It does have some very dated effects and the future of 2029 looks straight from early Saturday cartoons (remember those). The action is the main star of this film. What director James Cameron achieves is fitting the action in with how the plot unravels. Nothing is overdone or drawn out to make it feel like the film is dragging. Too many times an action sequence can kill the momentum of a film but in The Terminator that’s not the case at all. The sequences are planned out, they’re concise and choreographed perfectly. Cameron got the most out of a shockingly low budget, setting a standard for how films can be made great by keeping costs low.  

“John Connor gave me a picture of you once. I didn’t know why at the time. It was very old – torn, faded. You were young like you are now. You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have.”

To stop the Terminator, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) travels back in time along with the Terminator (not to the same place or together with) to save Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from being killed.  The Terminator’s motivations are thought out and well executed. It must stop Sarah Connor from having her son John who becomes the leader of the resistance that fight the machines in the future. Watching these older movies now – it’s almost hard to believe that we are just nine years away from the events depicted in the opening and flash forward scenes.

Regardless of all the cringy dialogue or outdated effects, the cinematography is beautiful. Some of the shots are incredibly crafted that have molded the science fiction genre into what it is today. The scary thing about the Terminator is its ability to think. It’s artificial intelligence is the most terrifying aspect to Sarah and Kyle. No matter where the pair go or run to, the Terminator can find them. Even with it’s ability to adapt to the situation, the Terminator cannot compete with the human ability to innovate or improvise exposing the flaws in the machine.

Sarah Connor as a character is superhero status. She’s a bad ass action hero. Her origin doesn’t involve the death of her parents where she needs to avenge them. She’s a regular person thrust into a war that is laughable when the thought of it is mentioned. She has to be brave or she dies there is no in-between. Linda Hamilton is a damsel in distress at the cause of ignorance. It’s hard to fathom everything Kyle tells her because machines rising up to take over the planet sounds like a joke. Michael Biehn is heroic and fearless – looking straight into the Terminator’s eyes (or whatever they want to call them) knowing that he could be killed at any moment. He also doesn’t care that he sounds like he’s on drugs when questioned. He’s righteous in his beliefs and a soldier at heart willing to die to save humanity.

“Move it, Reese! On your feet soldier! ON YOUR FEET!”

Overall, The Terminator gives out a lot and I mean a lot of cheesy dialogue, some bad effects at times and some really laughable gun fights (does anyone in that police station know what the word cover means?), but what makes this film a modern classic is the look and feel of a top tier brilliant unforgettable action science fiction movie that has influenced the way films are made, shot, and directed today. This film launched James Cameron into what he is today, a master at the craft of directing. All negative’s aside, seriously, they don’t matter- this film is so much fun and terrifying at the same time. It has aged pretty well considering and is completely berserk in the best ways possible. If I were to rate The Terminator, I’d rate it a 4.9 out of 5.

So, tell me guys, have you seen The Terminator and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.

The Terminator is written by James Cameron & William Wisher Jr and directed by James Cameron is Rated R and has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Terminator was released on October 26th, 1984 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 48 minutes. The Terminator can be bought by online retailers such as Itunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.

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*I do not own these photos used in this article; all rights reserved to the copyright holder*

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