Score : 79/100
Watchable Minutes: 80/107
Trailer Comparison : The trailer for The Terminator is incredibly cheesy. The voice over is hilariously bad but so representative of the time. It gets me in the mindset you have to be in to watch this type of movie. I watched this trailer before and after I watched the movie and I think it gives away a lot of the movie’s most important points.
Movie or Film : No question about it, Terminator is a movie. It’s made to entertain, put butts in seats, and sell popcorn. There’s no hidden message here that’s worth analyzing. It’s consumer friendly science fiction that is a product of its time.
In the not too distant future of 2029, humanity has turned the tides in the war with the machines. In a last ditch effort to destroy humanity, SkyNet sends a T800 Terminator back in time to 1984. The Terminator is tasked with killing Sarah Connor in an attempt to rewrite the future and prevent humanity’s last hope, John Connor, from being born. Arriving in 1984 moments after the T800 is Kyle Reese, a freedom fighter from the future who is sent back in time by John Connor to save his own mother. Together, Reese and Sarah must survive the relentless Terminator in order to save humanity’s future.
The Terminator is definitely one of the more unique movies to come out of the 80’s. It’s one of my favorite but also most disappointing franchises. I find it hard to separate this movie from its unfortunate sequels but I think that’s because there was so much potential for what could have been, compared to what we got.
In my mind, one of the best things about The Terminator is the opening and closing theme. The heavy notes feel badass and is one of the more iconic themes out there. That being said, the score for the rest of the movie falls flat. It’s uninspiring and very forgettable. The overall sound design of the movie is also very blah. It almost feels rubbery in a way, very much a limitation of the time it was made.
The visuals of The Terminator are also unimpressive. There are moments where the movie shines, but the dated CGI and blue screen overlays are jarring compared to other movies of the same era. I think that practical effects would have better suited this movie, but James Cameron is known for pushing the envelope on technology (cough cough Avatar and its five sequels). I can’t be too harsh about the visuals because the technology wasn’t very polished back then, but it’s not undeserving of the criticism.
Obviously the main attraction to The Terminator is the interesting concept that it’s based upon. SkyNet sends robot assassin back in time to prevent John Connor from being born, which in turn prevents the present they were currently experiencing from ever existing. This gives SkyNet the opportunity for a do-over. The 80s was no stranger to time travel and nearly 40 years later, it remains just as popular a concept to write a movie about. There are so many different ways of doing it, but making it so that the time traveler can only go backwards adds a layer of finality and desperation to the plot.
Nobody can watch the more desirable Terminator movies without talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton. Arnold is the perfect choice to play the T800 and I think it’s a career defining role for him. Linda Hamilton takes the character of Sarah Connor seriously and the platform she created at the end of this movie helped her take it to the next level in the sequel.
The Terminator is difficult for me to score. It’s an action packed classic sci-fi treasure from the 80s. I enjoy watching it but, again, I can’t separate it from its sequels. The unimpressive music and hit or miss visuals both take away from what is otherwise a good movie. For those reasons, I think it’s fair to put it at a 79/100. The Terminator suffers from the success of its sequel, Terminator 2 : Judgement Day, for me to score it any higher than a 79. It remains a much watch for me and will always be a recommendation for anybody who hasn’t seen it.
If you like this, check out :
- Terminator 2 : Judgement Day
- One of the best sequels ever made
- Back to The Future
- More time travel fun
- Timeline by Michael Crichton
- One of my favorite time travel novels