Monday, November 3, 2014

711. The Terminator (1984)

Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, from the screenplays Soldier and Demon with a Glass Hand by Harlan Ellison
Main Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen
Click here to view the trailer


It was a year ago this month that I sat down on Black Friday (the morning after working retail, in the middle of the blitzkrieg, on Thanksgiving night), watched Total Recall and proceeded to give it a praise via my review. Twelve months later and we're returning to Arnie in action and yet another positive review for the muscled Austrian.

For the sake of this plot synopsis, lets forget about the blatant plot holes and just focus on the meat & potatoes. Trust me, there'll be time for talking about all the things that were wrong with this plot. Anyway, it's 1984 and all of a sudden a naked T-800 Model Terminator (Schwarzenegger) suddenly appears on the streets of L.A. with one mission: Kill Sarah Connor (Hamilton). Why? Because Sarah's son (who isn't even born yet) will go on to become a great General in the war between man vs. machine and thus, the machines need him disposed of. Meanwhile, Kyle Reese (Biehn) is also sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor. The T-800 hits the local phone book and finds three listings for Sarah Connor, unluckily choosing the wrong two first, tipping off the police that the third Sarah Connor (the right one) may be in danger. Eventually Reese finds her first, somehow convincing her of the elaborate story that he's from the future to save her because her unborn child is a wanted man. From here, it becomes a big cat & mouse game with the T-800 in hot pursuit of Sarah and Reese - who end up having sex, conceiving the future John Connor. That about brings you up to speed.


Anytime I've ever watched this movie before, I've always been able to easily overlook the giant holes in the plot, but for some reason they got to me this time. There were two big ones, one that I discovered on my own and the other that I realized after perusing the IMDB message boards. Here's the first: If Kyle Reese is killed in the past, isn't he still dead in the future? I mean it's Marty McFly and the fading picture all over again people. If Reese ceases to exist in 1984, then he still ceases to exist in 2029. Right? I mean, hey, I'm no time travel expert but I've seen Back to the Future a lot. The other one that was brought up on the boards is this: How does John Connor even exist if his conception came about by him sending Reese back in time? In the real world time line (the one without time travel, the original 1984) Reese and Sarah didn't know one another, therefore didn't sleep together and didn't conceive John. If he was only conceived when he was sent back then he wasn't around to even send Reese back - right?! God, what a fucking mess of a plot this is. But hey, for the most part, I'll gladly overlook it - because it provides a couple of hours of harmless entertainment and I got my money's worth out of it, ten fold.

I mean you've got action, you've got a thriller, you've got a horror movie and you basically have a non-stop chase scene from beginning to end, with a bunch of really cool, "holy shit" moments thrown in there for good measure. The plastic bombs being thrown at the Terminator while he pursues Sarah & Reese on a motorcycle, the T-800 rising from the wreckage when one of the bombs is thrown into the flammable semi that he's driving, now completely shed of his skin and of course, the raid the T-800 does on the police station. I'll admit, I pretty much hated the all of the scenes that flashed forward to the war, but what can you do. Here's another question for ya': Why was John Connor never shown? I mean, unless they KNEW there was going to be a sequel, where they'd break out John Connor then, there was really no good reason not to feature him in the futuristic scenes. And seriously folks, this think looked like a train wreck on paper, so I can't imagine they anticipated making another one.

In closing, this was a pretty big film from my childhood. I remember they used to run it on the USA Network like clockwork back in the day. Granted, I remember Judgment Day being an even bigger deal to me when I was a kid, but I'd catch this one here & there and was always a fan of it. And as THE BOOK points out, Schwarzenegger's bad acting actually works to the characters advantage here, as robotic dialogue is actually a plus! I'll never understand the appeal of Linda Hamilton though. She's just so tomboyish that it made me wonder why a better looking leading lady wasn't chosen. I realize liking two Arnold Schwarzenegger movies is enough to get my movie snob card revoked, but screw it - I like what I like and this is a damn fun film!

RATING: 7.5/10  I was gonna go '8' but then all the plot hole stuff really threw me off, so I said dropped it a half notch.


November 3, 2014  11:05pm


  1. OK Andrew ..Do you want to make a bet what my reaction to this one will be?
    I mean .. come on.. it's got Arnie in it.. a lead that is nothing but monosyllabic grunts and rippling muscles, it's all bangs and explosions. Lots of mindless gratuitous violence. If watching in a cinema you stagger out gasping for air from the heavy fug of testosterone.. You know i dislike action movies..
    But.. Im going to agree with you. It's not all that bad as a bit of escapist fun.
    I have surprised many another person by defending Terminator.
    It's there with those dreadful 50's sci-fi films such as 'Them!' and '500 million miles to earth' ...(I may have got that number wrong) surprisingly enjoyable despite all sorts of tings I would normally regard as faults. Even those plot holes don't worry me .. hey it's time travel Sci-Fi, almost anything is possible.
    I may even go to the 8..
    Just to re-establish my credentials.. I'll say i don't rate T2 anywhere near as good. That is just a retread that's so smug with it's CGI special effects and I feel built the film round "hey guys, I can do this.. (shows an effect such as the melting metal) .. how can we weave that into the story?"

    So .. on that bombshell...

    Have you been to vote yet?

    1. Nope, no voting for me Ray. I never registered to vote. In fact, the only member of my family that does vote is my father and he's working today, so he won't get to vote either. Actually, I know LITERALLY nothing about the elections that are going on today and probably couldn't even tell you what is being voted on - senators? governors? mayors? No clue....

      SHOCKED that you like this - I really am. I guess there's a disagreement in our future though....

  2. ".. there's a disagreement in our future.."
    Oh gosh.. what is it you have lined up for us?
    (there has been an urban teen remake of 'Sound of music'??)

    1. God no to that Sound of Music remake! But I was referring to T2.

  3. Seriously, Linda Hamilton was so hot in this movie. I am not with you there at all. Her acting was pretty great too. I think she was great for this role. I wish they would cast good actresses in action rolls now, which in my opinion they usually don't. I would give this one a nine easy. I don't think the plot is any more crazy than most action or sci-fi films. Still, a good review.

    1. Thanks for swinging by Larry, always good to hear from you. I just found nothing appealing about Hamilton, but glad we can agree that this is great.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...