The Terminator (1984)

If all robots look like The Governator, we’re all doomed.

In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?

James Cameron is a guy that a lot of people don’t like because of his attitude, but say what you will, this guy knows how to make a good film. If you read that synopsis up above, it’s pretty laughable but it’s Cameron who doesn’t let that get him down and relies on many action scenes that keep the pace up and running. When you watch these action scenes, it’s awesome to see what Cameron does with such a low-budget and how he makes this type of film-making so much fun.

The action scenes are awesome and running at a brisk pace but the whole film is a great blend of all sorts of genres which makes it even better. It’s action, it’s sci-fi, it’s a little bit of romance, a little bit of horror, and a tiny hint of black comedy that all works so well. But when all that action is done, these characters actually are talking about something and I have to say that I liked the love story, no matter how corny it may have seemed.

My problem with this film is that like a lot of 80’s films, this does seem a bit dated. The visuals for the time we’re state-of-the-art, but looking at them now, I have to say they can be pretty laughable. The low-budget feel of this film made it seem very naturally made, but those special effects don’t stand the test of time at all. Also, there are many moments of random 80’s cheese, but I think when reviewing a film from the 80’s, that’s practically a given.

Even though many people are hating on him because he can’t keep it in the pants, Arnold Schwarzenegger is the man! The role as The Terminator he takes is perfect because he fits the look of a souless gun for hire. His chopped up hair, big shades, and 80’s punk look, make shim look like the Incredible Hulk if he went to down-town New York. Linda Hamilton is great as Sarah Conner who fits the convention of a girl-on-the run, and doesn’t get annoying one bit. Michael Biehn is OK here as Kyle Reese and is very good at playing that loner that is so angry and troubled, but still you want to see live on.

Consensus: Although the special effects may be dated, The Terminator is a great sci-fi action film because James Cameron keeps the film moving at a good pace, and has plenty of fun with what he’s making, and that leads to the viewer having an even better time.



  1. “James Cameron is a guy that a lot of people don’t like because of his attitude, but say what you will, this guy knows how to make a good film.”
    I agree. Even Avatar is good-great thanks to him.

    Terminator 1 was very good, but T2 was even better.

  2. I don’t quite agree that Terminator’s special effects are dated. I love them even today, despite the proliferation of high-budget extravaganza. That said, I’m with you in your stance that this is a terrific film, and James Cameron sure did one hell of a job in making this chilling and immensely engaging sci-fi thriller. And yes, Arnie was absolutely spot-on as the cold and seemingly indestructible killing machine with a heavy Austrian accent.

  3. I am one of those that thinks The Terminator is better than T2. Both films are great – T2 is a fabulous sequel but the first film is a masterpiece!
    Good review Dan!

  4. brilliant movie from schwarzenegger and cameron. love this movie as wellas T2 and true lies. i also love the abyss and aliens. i hate titanic.

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