The first film that I’ll be reviewing is James Cameron’s 1984 ‘the Terminator.’ As with all my reviews, I shall keep this succinct, accessible and interesting. I chose to start with this film, as it’s just one of those films that you’re expected to watch, isn’t it? Its engagement with issues of artificial intelligence and sentience within machines means that it is supposed to be one of the best films ever made. Is it the best? No, but it is pretty close.
The film follows the ditzy, young waitress, Sarah Connor, (Linda Hamilton), who unbeknownst to her will mother the leader of the human resistance against the evil cyborgs, as she is relentlessly pursued by ‘the Terminator,’ (Arnold Schwarzenegger) in what is arguably his most famous role, who aims to change history by killing Sarah Connor before she can ever give birth to her son.
Sarah Connor is assisted by a human soldier from the future: Kyle Reese, who is arguably the more attractive and likeable of the two. His experience and intuition gained by his battle-worn experience is a welcome contrast to Sarah Connor’s sobbing and complaining. Although, she has been thrust into an entirely unfamiliar world, where a terrifying cyborg is trying to kill her, so I guess it’s understandable, but is still quite annoying.
So the good. Well, firstly the narrative stays consistently good throughout the film. Cameron does well in keeping the suspense of the film high, whilst also injecting humour, which stops the film from becoming dark. Notable examples include Rick mistaking Sarah for his girlfriend Ginger and using dirty talk on her and Schwarzenegger telling the apartment cleaner to “fuck off.”
The visuals of the film were also very impressive. The ‘Terminator’ looked suitably terrifying with its red laser eyes and shining metal body. The scene where he rises from the fire is quite frightening, if a little predictable. I also quite liked the inclusion of the police. Whilst they only served as cannon fodder for Schwarzenegger, I felt like they added a strong human element to the film.
Perhaps they’re even a precursor to the human resistance fighting against the cyborgs in the future, although I could be looking too much into it.
Now the bad. Firstly, I’m going to come out and say it, I think that ‘the Terminator’ wasn’t as strong of a villain as it could have been. Other than shooting pretty much anything that moved and spouting off cheesy lines, he didn’t really do much. Granted, that was the role really required of him, but I still felt like more could have been brought to it. I also didn’t like the flash-forwards to the war between the humans and the cyborgs. Whilst they were important at displaying the sheer brutality of the war and the desperation of the humans, I felt like they were out of place and quite disjointing.
When the flash-forwards appeared, I felt that I had been transplanted from the present narrative and shoved into a completely new location, which I didn’t appreciate. As more minor criticisms, I felt that at times they substituted parts of the narrative for explosions and gunfire, which is a flaw in a lot of films (I’m looking at you Michael Bay) and I predicted Kyle Reese being John Connor’s father. But, at least, the film ended on a positive note: Sarah Connor riding into the oncoming storm that is Judgement Day.
Overall, I would rate this film as Awesome. It was very good, but it had a few too many criticisms to make it perfect.