This is of the edited TV-14 version of the film and all thoughts below should be read as such. A review of the uncut version would likely be more negative as edited versions help to address my complaints for a product…typically.
All right, it’s time to take a look at one of the cinematic legends! The Terminator is a film that many people grew up with and it has quite the reputation. I’ve now seen most if not all of the great film classics like Jaws, Alien, and Twister. Most of the iconic legends were fun to watch, but still crumpled when it came down to the overall rating. Whether it was through animal violence, excessive violence, or just an unimpressive climax, they couldn’t match up to today’s films like Avengers, Man of Steel, and Tron. I’m happy to say that The Terminator was more fun than most if not all of the other classics. Twister gives it a decent fight. The Terminator still makes enough mistakes to keep me from giving it a truly solid rating, but I can see why this title is a classic.
Sarah was living her life as usual when things suddenly changed. A mysterious cyborg from the future was sent to destroy her so that the human resistance in the future would never come to be. The humans sent back one of their own to her time and his name is Kyle
Rayner Reese. He has to destroy the cyborg and keep Sarah safe, but that will be tough since The Terminator is just about invincible. Destroying him will take a lot of guts and determination. Sarah is also not helping matters since she doesn’t trust Kyle and goes to the Police. Can the cops help out or will they add to the body count!?
Let’s start off with the positives of the film. I have always loved time travel as the main focus. There are so many things that you can do with it so long as you head to the future or the future comes to the present. As long as you completely disregard the past, then I’m all set. We’ve seen great time travel adventures in shows like DBZ and Justice League in the past. Just about every big franchise has dealt with this plot and Terminator was probably the first to really popularize this. The concept of a machine coming to destroy you from the future is a good one. It’s hard to say who had handled it the best, but I’m tempted to say that Sonic The Hedgehog 2006 did.
The film also had a really fun soundtrack. This was during the time when it was okay to add quick techno themes to films in theaters. The battle themes are a lot of fun and the beats are catchy. Nowadays, it’s a little harder to picture a big film doing that, but some gems are still hidden among the others like with the Tron film. Having a nice soundtrack definitely helps to rise this film even higher among the classic titles.
I was also pleasantly surprised to see some more glimpses of the future after the initial scenes in the film. The blasters were fun to watch and the humans were managing to hold their own. Personally, I don’t think that they stand a chance against the powerful forces of Skynet, but it was still fun to watch. The future was definitely a grim place and it reminds us why robots shouldn’t be given too much power too quickly.
Finally, the film is just very interesting. There’s a constant sense of danger as Sarah runs away from the Terminator and the backdrops hold up fairly well. Something is always happening and the action rarely lets up to give you a breather. Unfortunately, that’s when things tend to get a little dicey, but the film’s tempo was another one of its strong points. Once you stop moving, it’s game over.
For time travel, there are many different theories on how it would work and I tend to like them all except for the one which claims that you can never alter the future. DC tried that in the Booster Gold comics and I definitely disagreed with that. As long as you can go to the past, you can certainly alter it. Whether you experience the changes in real time or not (Like in DBZ, where it just affects another timeline) you will still have changed things. This series is essentially using a closed loop system. The instant that The Terminator and Kyle went in the time portal, everything began to happen infinitely. Everyone would keep on doing the same things over and over again. The future would always go on and the past would always happen time and time again. It’s fun to wrap your head around that and it sort of starts the Chicken and Egg story.
Time for the negatives. Well, let’s start off with Kyle and his relationship with Sarah. Only in the movies will a character be running from deadly machines and the notion of time travel take time to quickly have a baby before doing some more running. Kyle and Sarah getting together did not make any sense and the whole thing happened way too quickly. They only knew each other for like a day and they were still willing to go all the way like that. Kyle claims that he loved her ever since he saw a picture of her and that also proves that he’s very shallow and just liked her for her looks. Possibly her reputation, but falling in love with someone because of a picture is pretty bad. Kyle ended up being my least favorite character in the film.
It was cool that he had a similar voice to Silver (Sonic) and Trunks (DBZ) but that was really his best quality. He was quick to threaten Sarah and he was constantly panicking when he showed up. It was pretty funny to see him take the conversation with the cops so seriously when they were clearly making fun of him. I guess that there is less time for sarcasm in the future eh? Kyle means well as he tries to save the future, but he should have stayed in the friend zone.
As for Sarah, she’s a decent lead. Of course, she also panics a lot and does allow herself to be with Kyle. So, I wouldn’t say that she’s a great character, but she’s not too bad and she does keep the dog in the end. That was a good move on her part and it does lead into one of the big positives of the film. I also enjoyed the police officers as they did a pretty good job of securing the perimeter. Did you think that the Terminator would scare these guys? Not a chance! The chief had it all figured out and he had about 30 men at his disposal for the fight. The officers were outgunned, but they had a lot of the best moments in the film. You can’t forget how one of them took pokes at Kyle’s story and showed why it could make a good novel..or film.
One of the big positives that I noticed in the film was a distinct aversion to animal violence. Just about all films nowadays could learn a thing or two from this one. At one point, The Terminator comes face to face with a dog and decides not to shoot him. That one moment had more depth than the entirety of the Jurassic Park trilogy and the writing was stellar. I feel like the film could have won an Oscar for that moment alone. There were several other dogs who appeared in the film and all of them lived. Even the two police dogs who went up against the Terminator came away from the battle unscathed. I was quite worried during those moments and I was mentally jotting notes on it. It’s safe to say that a scene of animal violence would have certainly pushed the overall score into the red.
Naturally, this film was originally in the mature rating so the film is excessively violent at different points. The scene where the Terminator shows his true eye is particularly gruesome and he impales quite a few people for the lolz. As far as the violence goes, it could have certainly been worse or better. It’s still a little more than there should be so I added it to this section. Again, due to the rating, it’s to be expected and it’s why most of the legendary films never get to have a great rating. Compare these to something like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and that film will almost always have the edge as it had an incredible fight scene with many epic things happening. The film dragged on a little though and still had its issues as well.
It also needs to be mentioned that there is an abundance of plot hax in this film. Again…it’s to be expected since the film is about humans trying to fight a super powered cyborg. They never stood a chance of defeating such a villain. So, I could name a few scenes in particular, but you get the jist of it. Terminator missing gunshots at point blank range many, many times. The army not coming to help the town (Welll….a bit of a nitpick there) and others. Mainly, it’s just the Terminator not destroying Sarah parts since he really had a chance to do so in just about every scene. His intelligence also seemed to greatly vary as he would make plans in one scene and just seem to walk around aimlessly in others.
As for the actual Terminator, he made for a good villain. Robots/Cyborgs are great when they’re played straight. The fact that he has no emotions is what makes him a very intriguing villain and he did a good job of hunting the heroes. He doesn’t have his iconic shotgun yet, but I mostly know him from the latter films. Seeing him as the antagonist was definitely interesting and I actually forgot that he used to be the bad guy. I’m just too used to him being the hero at this point.
As you can see, the film had many good and bad points. I’d say that they roughly cancel out into a decent film. Decent sounds more positive than negative and you can make that case. On a technical level though, the negatives were numerous enough to slow the film down. The film was still fun to watch though and I’d say that it’s similar to Alien. An engaging plot even though the score was certainly doomed at times. Terminator is a big step up from Alien and I still to consider it to be one of the best classics.
Overall, Terminator was a very interesting sci-fi film and handled the time travel aspect well. I’m not sure if I’m crazy about the loop, but I suppose that it was inevitable as soon as we found out why Sarah was being targeted. How will the sequels work? Well, in the future, Skynet will likely just put their next plan to work and that’s how things will get started. I’m definitely hyped for the sequel and the Terminator is definitely a fun franchise. I became a fan of it through the games so it’s nice to see what they were based off of. As far as the concepts go, the only classic film to really be about on par with this one is Men in Black, which was pretty incredible. I definitely recommend checking this film out if you’re a big Sci-Fi fan and know what you’re getting yourself into. The film can be a little intense, but you are likely aware of that. Take away the scene with Kyle and Sarah and I’m confident that the score would have been higher and more like what you would have expected for a review of this title. It’s neat that the film did so well with critics across the board and it was definitely something new and innovative for the time that still works well today. That’s why I’m hoping that the new film coming out soon ends up being really good. I’ll be checking out the sequel soon so definitely keep your eyes open for that!