James Cameron directs the iconic The Terminator, centred on a ruthless cyborg send to the past (1984) by a sentient computer network, Skynet in order to kill Sarah Connor, while Kyle Reese is also sent back to the same time to protect her from the terminator, the film stars Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The film that kicked it all off is also a great sci-fi film in general, The Terminator works really well as a standalone film even if you don’t compare it to the sequels as Cameron ran with a creative and inventive idea for sci-fi action which allowed him to be pretty inventive with it, much to the films credit. The casting is great and Arnie as the T-800 is probably the perfect role for him, with plenty of action and a relentless drive, while Biehn as Kyle Reese is great, enthusiastic in his performance, he really sells the idea of wanting to stop the future war to the point that you could totally believe he was crazy, while Linda Hamilton is awesome as Sarah Connor, a waitress way in over her head at this point but wanting to stay alive.
The feeling of the 80s is captured well but it doesn’t every feel too cheesy which is a great thing, the film works as a captivating action thriller despite the setting and the T-800 is just a great antagonist, ruthless and relentless, you could almost class the character as a horror icon and you really get the feeling that the terminator won’t ever stop and practically can’t be stopped either. For all intents and purposes, The Terminator is a sci-fi thriller and one that grabs your attention and keeps it for the duration of the plot as you want to find out how, if at all Sarah Connor will survive.
And the T-800 is portrayed with the flat performance from Arnie – which fits the role perfectly. The visual effects for the time are also great and seeing this weird blend of man and machine relentlessly hunting down its target is pretty terrifying in itself, while the future scenes featured look good, ambitious for a film from the early 1980s as does the Terminator itself, an unnerving, unrelenting killing machine.
The pacing of the film is great and it certainly flies by as the film is a fun thrill ride with some great action, with set pieces that only The Terminator can do because of its unique premise and technology and fighting near unkillable machines makes for some really great action, especially because the Terminator is seemingly unstoppable, you don’t know how it will be beaten (unless you’ve seen it) and that uncertainty over this killing machine makes for great tension. The Terminator is a great entry point for the iconic sci-fi series, while often overshadowed by T2, it introduced an intriguing and audacious premise, some great characters and a great story, remaining a staple of great sci-fi action and one of James Camerons best films to date.
. Great action scenes, well choreographed
. Inventive, creative plot
. Has some tense scenes