The Terminator (1984)

Director:  James Cameron
Arnold SchwarzeneggerLinda Hamilton, Michael Biehn

Plot:  In the Year of Darkness, 2029, the rulers of this planet devised the ultimate plan. They would reshape the Future by changing the Past. The plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable. They created 'THE TERMINATOR'.

  Action / Sci-Fi / Thriller

Awards:  -
Runtime:  108min

Rating:  M18 for profanity, strong violence, disturbing images, and some sexuality. 


The film that launched the career of acclaimed director James Cameron as well as making Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name, The Terminator was one of the most influential science-fiction films ever made. The late 70s and early 80s represented a period of fertility for Hollywood filmmakers who chose to explore the sci-fi genre.

The results were genre-defining gems that include George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), and Blade Runner (1982), Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and this. James Cameron would later go on to make extraordinary sequels such as Aliens (1986), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and the box-office success Titanic (1997), establishing his status as one of modern cinema’s most spectacular filmmakers.

In a role that forever immortalizes Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator is a simple character that requires almost negligible facial expressions and few lines of dialogue. Yet the role demands one to exude a fearsome and remorseless presence that not only presents a significant threat to the survival of the film’s protagonists, but also leaves viewers cowering in terror. Schwarzenegger fits the bill perfectly in a role that probably wouldn’t have gone to anyone else.

Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) plays protector to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), with the latter being targeted for termination. The reason? Her unborn son, John Connor represents a genuine resistance to the survival of Skynet, a machine superpower that rules a post-apocalyptic Earth decades later. Yes, the plot will leave many scratching their heads. However, fundamentally as a motion picture, The Terminator is still an effective chase movie.

I will not explore the merits of its plot because it is difficult to discuss it in brevity except to say that the story has a strong emotional core that lends The Terminator a unique advantage over other chase movies. The action sequences are well-crafted though compared to its sequel they are less fluid. However, they give the film a grittier and rawer feel.

The visual effects created by Stan Winston were ahead of its time. The most memorable of scenes include the one when Schwarzenegger removes his damaged eyeball to reveal a mechanical lens that illuminates with a red spot. The Terminator is shocking, provocative entertainment that is expertly directed and written by Cameron. And the last quarter of the film is still one of the most suspenseful climaxes ever done in the genre.


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