Posted on June 7, 2018
The Terminator (1984)
The Terminator is science fiction/action film directed by James Cameron. The film stars Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Michael Biehn.
The Terminator soundtrack was composed by Brad Fiedel, who used a synthesizer to create the haunting theme.
This installment launched a franchise that spawned multiple sequels, a television series, and other types of media.
The Story (SPOILERS)
The film takes place in Los Angeles, 1984. A robot assassin, Terminator Model T-800, time-travels from the future year of 2029 in a ball of blue energy.
It assaults some locals, stealing their clothes to blend in. It then proceeds to steal a large amount guns from the Alamo Sports Shop. The T-800 begins to hunt down every person listed as “Sarah Connor” in the phone book.
Kyle Reese, a human soldier from 2029, arrives in a similar time-travel fashion. He steals a homeless man’s clothes and takes a shotgun from an unattended police vehicle.
The T-800 tracks the last Sarah Connor from the phone directory, a waitress, to a nightclub. Kyle rescues her from an attack, which killed several club patrons.
The pair hijack a car and escape with the Terminator pursuing them in a stolen police car.
As they hide in a parking lot, Kyle explains to Sarah the situation:
- An artificial intelligence defense network, known as Skynet, will become self-aware in the near future.
- Skynet causes a nuclear holocaust by taking control of the United States’ nuclear arsenal.
- Sarah’s future son John will rally the survivors of the fallout and lead a resistance movement against Skynet.
- Skynet sent a Terminator back in time to kill Sarah before John is born, thus preventing the Resistance.
- The Terminator is an murderous machine with an external layer of living tissue that makes it appear human.
Kyle and Sarah are apprehended by police. A psychologist, Dr. Silberman, concludes that Kyle is delusional and attempts to rationalize the events of the attacks.
he Terminator enters the police station, is denied entry by the desk Sargent, and proceeds to issue the seminal quote “I’ll be back”.
He exits and drives a car into the police station lobby, killing multiple police officers in his attempt to locate Sarah. Kyle and Sarah escape, taking refuge in a motel, where Kyle teaches her how to assemble explosives.
Kyle and Sarah discuss their emotions. They share an intimate moment and have sex.
The Terminator finds their location and the duo are alerted by the sound of barking dogs. They escape in a pickup truck while it chases them through a tunnel on a motorcycle.
Kyle is wounded and Sarah rams the motorcycle, causing both the truck and motorcycle to crash. The Terminator steals a tanker truck and attempts to run over Sarah and John.
Kyle slides a pipe bomb onto the tanker, causing an explosion that burns the synthetic skin from the Terminator’s endoskeleton.
The machine pursues them to a factory, where Kyle jams a bomb into the machine’s abdomen. It explodes and blows the Terminator apart, unintentionally killing himself and injuring Sarah with the debris.
The T-800’s still functional torso reactivates and crawls after Sarah. She lures it into a hydraulic press, crushing it and saving her life.
Months later, Sarah is traveling through Mexico. She is pregnant with Kyle’s son and recording audio tapes to pass on to John in the future.
At a gas station, a boy takes a Polaroid photograph of her (the same photograph John will eventually give to Kyle). She drives off into the stormy distance as the credits begin to roll.
This film was important to my understanding of adequate pacing. Akin to Jaws, the film focuses more on the chase aspect with rising tension.
Viewing this film is required to fully appreciate the excellence of the sequel. It phenomenally builds on the plot-lines introduced, allowing viewers to fully grasp Sarah’s character development.
Her transition from meek waitress to the hardened outlaw seen in the second installment is not to be be missed. For more context, check out Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
I admit that I watched this film far too early (I was roughly 12 or 13). My recommendation would be to adhere to the “R” rating, mainly due to the intense violence, language, and the obvious sex scene.
The impact it left on me is undeniable, but I can’t help but wonder if I was ready to view this film when I did. Regardless, this is an excellent thrill ride that I highly recommend.