Friday, October 4, 2013

Revisiting the Classics -- The Terminator

Today we have the 1984 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie The Terminator.

The story mostly takes place in (then) present-day Los Angeles. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is a carefree waitress living an ordinary life. That all changes, however, when a hulking thug (Schwarzenegger) begins systematically murdering the Sarah Connors in the phone book. Said murderer eventually tracks her to a night club, intent on finishing the job. But a mysterious stranger named Reese (Michael Biehn) shows up to save her. He explains that he's come back from a post-apocalyptic future in which machines have turned against humanity. One such machine, the Terminator, has been sent to kill Sarah because her future son, John Connor, is destined to lead mankind to victory over them. She initially (and understandably) refuses to believe him, but after some more superhuman carnage from the Terminator, she accepts that what he's saying is true, and together they try to survive long enough for Sarah to give birth to John.

When this movie first came out, it challenged us to new ideas. What if technology advances beyond our ability to control it? What if it decides to terminate us? Is it a risk worth taking? Director James Cameron brought us a thought-provoking vision of the future that would not be equaled until The Matrix came out in 1999. In addition, solid acting by the cast (especially Schwarzenegger as the terrifying titular character) help convey the emotions the characters go through.

The audio and visual component of The Terminator continue to hold up today. Stan Winston was the man when it came to visual effects, and this film is a prime example of that. Everything from the future scenes, to the Terminator's make-up and prosthesis's, is very realistic and believable. And Brad Fiedel's moody synth soundtrack really brings you into the story. To this day I love listening to the Terminator theme.

The movie spawned three sequels, with Terminator 2: Judgment Day being my personal favorite. You can skip the third film, as it doesn't bring enough new ideas to the table in my opinion. Terminator: Salvation is pretty good, though. The series seems to have gone dormant in recent years, though there's been talk of a reboot in the works.

Bottom line: all science fictions fans should see The Terminator at least once in their lives.

"I'll be back."

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