The Terminator (1984)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lenticular Cover Edition)
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Overall Rating 78%
Overall Rating
Ranked #106
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Connections: The Terminator

In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the "Terminator" back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor, whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine? --TMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: July 7, 2004
In the year 2029, machines have taken over the world and wiped out most of the human race. A few survivors, led by a man named John Connor, continually fight against the machines with a small amount of success. The cyborgs decide that they should send a T-800 model terminator back to 1984 and kill Sarah Connor, the woman who will give birth to John; if Sarah is dead, she can never give birth to John, and he'll never lead the humans against the robots. After finding out about this, the humans also send a man, Reese, back to 1984 in order to protect Sarah from the terminator. The rest of the movie consists of the cyborg chasing after Sarah, and Reese trying to protect her and kill the cyborg at the same time, while the cops are continually chasing after them.

The storyline was pretty nice throughout, with the exception of one huge hole in the story that pretty much reduces this series of films to nonsense.
It's revealed in the end that Reese is the father of John Connor after Reese and Sarah got it on in a hotel. If Reese is the father, then that requires that he would have had to come back in time in order for Sarah to get pregnant with John. Had the terminator not come back in time to kill Sarah to prevent her from getting pregnant, then Reese would not have come back either, and Sarah would not have gotten pregnant. So with this logic, the cyborgs should have just sat on their asses and not send the terminator back in time so that Reese wouldn't have went back in time, Sarah wouldn't have gotten pregnant with John, and the cyborgs would have won the war.
Had that one little part of the story not happened, then things would have been flawless here. I don't quite get why they even went with that twist ending, as it really wasn't a major part of the plot... just seemed like something to pull a few tears from the women in the crowd. They could have easily removed that and added one single sentence into one of the dialogue scenes, and things would have been ace. For shame.

There's a few other scenes where more of the details on the war and how it started are revealed, and with the exception of the above spoiler, it was all pretty interesting and sensible. The majority of the movie, however, was set firmly in 1984 with Sarah and Reese running from the terminator, then the terminator catches up to them, action sequence, the heroes haul ass, Reese drops a bit more of the story, repeat the process until the credits roll. While the action scenes were done surprisingly well for a movie that is a few months shy of twenty years old, it did get a bit boring around the midway point. It seemed like they just took about thirty minutes of actual movie and padded it up to ninety minutes with action scenes. Granted, this is an action film, I do realize that, but the better films in the genre have more in the way of storyline to keep things moving along nicely.

The cast was decent enough throughout, nothing hugely great or terribly bad, but decent. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the terminator, and if you've seen one of his films, you've seen the majority and know what to expect there. Michael Biehn (Reese) is a few notches above Arnold in the acting category, but that still puts him around the average mark. Then, there's Linda Hamilton (Sarah). This movie was made and set in the eighties, so obviously, everything has an eighties touch to it. While I'm sure this all looked hip and modern back then, it really didn't age well in this day and age. It wouldn't have been so bad had it not been so overused in so many scenes, but it was, and hence, some of the scenes that were supposed to be serious just came off as either lame or hilarious.

Overall, a decent enough action flick in terms of action sequences, but don't expect much in the way of storyline from it. Worth a rental if you haven't seen it and enjoy loads of special effects, but it's definitely not the classic it's made out to be. 5/10.
Big D #1: Big D - added August 24, 2004 at 3:08pm
WRONG. It IS the classic it's made out to be. Sure, Arnold Schwarzenegger is now the governor of California, but who the hell cares? It is an excellent classic PERIOD.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added September 10, 2004 at 8:01am
The mahcines didn't KNOW Reese was his father. The terminators were basically a government defense computer system gone haywire, and if you notice in the police car's computer in the beginning of T2, it says that John Connor's father is unknown.
Chad #3: Chad - added September 10, 2004 at 2:08pm
It's been a few months since I watched this, but let's see if I remember the facts well enough. The machines sent a terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor, so that she wouldn't give birth to John, who would go on to lead the human resistance. Had the machines not sent a terminator back in time to kill her and prevent John from being born, then the humans wouldn't have sent Reese, Sarah wouldn't have gotten pregnant, and John would have never been born. Which means that in order for John to be born, the machines are required to send a terminator back in time to kill Sarah, which would also mean that John wouldn't be alive at that point, due to Reese going back in time only as a direct reaction to the machines actions. Unless you go with the multiple timelines theory, it really doesn't make a lot of sense.
Crispy #4: Crispy - added September 10, 2004 at 2:31pm
I kinda see what your getting at, as to what started the cycle. (lack of a better term) Basically, it all comes down to how you view time.
Big D #5: Big D - added April 6, 2005 at 10:52pm
I could be wrong. Let me take a look at both Terminator and T2. In Terminator, Reese is the Terminator. In T2, John is the Terminator. No wonder this movie got a bad rating. Oh, fuck it all...
Crispy #6: Crispy - added July 13, 2005 at 7:10am
dude, wtf? Arnold was the terminator in both, the second had 2 terminators...
. #7: . - added September 13, 2005 at 9:17pm
Pretty good film IMO, well worth seeing.
MrDerp #8: MrDerp - added September 20, 2005 at 4:57pm
The point of the film isn't so much how the storyline all works out. It's about the message involving technology and machines in our own world. This movie is legendary.
bluemeanie #9: bluemeanie - added October 18, 2005 at 9:56pm
Not nearly as nice as the sequel, this one does give us some killer Arnold one liners. 6.5/10.
Greg #10: Greg - added January 1, 2006 at 6:11pm
This is the best Terminator that was made. To me, human vs. machine is more entertaining than machine vs. machine. The special effects aren't nearly as good as in the second one, but the movie is still better.
ScarsRstarS #11: ScarsRstarS - added January 10, 2006 at 8:57am
Very god. Some of teh scences could been a little better but almost perfect. 8.5 / 10
Edd #12: Edd - added April 3, 2008 at 3:09am
Maybe ANY person that knocked Sarah Connor up would have had John as the son. Ever think about that?
Crispy #13: Crispy - added April 3, 2008 at 9:10am
You flunked Biology huh?
Griffinheart #14: Griffinheart - added September 28, 2008 at 11:02pm
Showed this to a Chinese exchange student in my dorm the other day. Excerpts:

"Why is Arnold naked?" "Well, in this universe, time travel requires...just because."
"Why is Arnold stealing that man's clothes?" "Because he's cold."
"Any one can go into a gun shop and buy a gun?" "Pretty much, yeah." "Woooooooooooow!"
"What is she?" "Basically a prostitute." *blank stare* "A hooker. Whore. A woman you pay to have sex with." "A call girl?" "Sure."

Ok, that last one was from when we tried watching Firefly (too much dialogue for him), but it was still an interesting night.
Greg Follender #15: Greg Follender - added April 12, 2009 at 2:42am
Without this gem of a film, there would be absolutely no need for the effect-laden sequel...
This movie has twice the heart and ingenuity of either it's sequels and doesn't pander to the Hollywood cliches like they do.

Sure, you could argue that the whole "Connor" conundrum hurts the film's story... but one could also argue that once time travel becomes possible, simply interfering with such abstract constructs might engender a sort of ripple ("Butterfly Effect") or distortion in time that basically serves as a self fulfilling prophecy, history-wise.

Geez... there are bigger, more embarrassing holes present in both the 2 sequels... why is it that a bucketful of special computer effects render them more forgivable than this film's few quibbles?

This tale was incredibly dark and visionary for it's time... and it alone had the balls to keep Arnold as a hardcore bad guy throughout it's running time instead of reintroducing him as a milk-toast good guy to cash in on box office returns. Ugh... and don't get me started on the bland, generic villain theatrics of the following films...

A great moment in pulp-styled science fiction film... gritty and violent, this dystopic view of our possible future forever changed the way I looked at computer related systems!

C'mon... remember the first time you heard Arnold say, "I'll be back..."



Ginose #16: Ginose - added June 9, 2009 at 9:41am
Really is a fantastic film. Perhaps not as complex or intricately weaved as the second, but had ridiculously better pacing (especially after watching Cameron's cut of "T2"... for the love of film, that man should never be aloud to edit his own movies) and was completely content with being nothing more than a fun, grusome sci-fi/action movie.

In the end, it's all I ever really needed from either Arnie or James Cameron, and neither have given me anything this good since...
Lucid Dreams #17: Lucid Dreams - added May 26, 2010 at 11:32pm
Five out of 10 Chad, really? I thought this movie was great and had some of Arnold s best lines. 9/10
Rest Easy Soul #18: Rest Easy Soul - added July 27, 2010 at 10:42am
I like this one better as the second. Why? Because Evil Arnold makes for a much more fun protagonist than Liquid man.
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