It’s hard to believe that the original Terminator film was James Cameron’s first big budget Hollywood effort, well unless you count Piranha 2: The Spawning. As I do.
While hundreds of 80s films now gather dust in cupboards and shelves across the planet housed neatly in brittle plastic VHS boxes – Guys throw them out, it’s not coming back! – some films carry on to be repackaged and repurchased in ever more pointless formats and editions. Check out the “We mean it this time; Ultimate Edition”, or my favourite (and 100% real): TOTAL RECALL – Single Disc Edition!!
Suffer all those guys who foolishly bought the 2 disc version. Losers!
So I think by now with the prequels, sequels, threequels and nyquils that two visitors from the future are sent back to change or preserve the future, depending on what side you’re on.
The first is about 6 foot 5, nude and built like a heart with a head and legs, and when he asks you for your clothes just give ‘em to him, it will lengthen your life expectancy.
The second guy is an average guy that just seems skinny and scrawny by comparison to the living tissue over metal exoskeleton guy, that may be because he isn’t 85% titanium and doesn’t have a CPU in his head, or it may be because Michael Beihn went to acting lessons instead of the gym… I guess we’ll never know.
Now the second guy is the good guy, his name is Kyle Reese, he knows the son of the woman targeted for termination by the other big metal guy, despite the fact that she isn’t yet a mother – or even pregnant. That chickie is Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), and she works happily in a local fast food restaurant and lives with her ditzy flatmate and a giant lizard…
Wait, wait, wait…
None of this is important. What matters is just how cool all of this was then, and remarkably how cool it still is over 25 years later.
The makeup effects on the damaged T1000 (Arnie as the bad-robot) are awesome, and you totally forgive the fact that in a couple scenes it is obviously an animatronic head when you realise that it still looks really cool. Other scenes though that are definitely Arnold and you could swallow the fact that half his face is peeled off and he is filled with metal. The use of flashbacks – which are actually flashforwards to the future – are all realised spectacularly, especially when you understand just how low the budget was and how low-tech some of the tricks they used at the time (Yes I watched the special features), and once Arnie the exterior is gone and the shiny and gleaming robot version of him mercilessly and relentlessly continues its dogged pursuit of Connor it is still awe-inspiring.
All this before I even mention that the guy teased for being so robotic through his career is actually playing the robot. Arnie must have loved this role, they actually told him to be more wooden than normal, so instead of long speeches and pages of dialogue he gets to spit out maybe 15 lines of dialogue in the whole film and one of them turned out to be his own personal catchphrase even though James Cameron wrote it for him!
Well I’m out of exclamation points, suffice to say if you’re hanging around waiting for the next Alien Vs Predator, or you’re lamenting how The Expendables just wasn’t that rocking… and you haven’t seen The Terminator? Arise Sir Knight and head immediately to the video store (if it still exists) post-haste to rectify your oversight.
Final Rating – 8.5 / 10. A pretty simple story is laid out over an elaborate framework, then given a brilliant backstory. Add some superior SFX and a mono-syllabic Austrian bodybuilder and you’ve got yourself a timeless classic.