The Terminator (1984)


A landmark sci-fi action movie from director James Cameron, it’s almost as much fun nowadays to look at just how full of irony The Terminator is. A movie that has proved to be so influential and have such a lasting legacy yet Harlan Ellison was able to get an out of court settlement after making claims of plagiarism. A film that almost had O.J. Simpson in the role of the main killer baddie but the producers feared that he was “too nice” to be taken seriously as a cold-blooded killer. A sleek, action thriller that led to a behemoth of a franchise that would then end up consistently at odds with it’s increasingly varied timelines.
But watch the movie just as a slice of big-screen, big-action entertainment and it’s easy to see just why this remains an action classic so many years after it first exploded onto screens.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator, a deadly cybernetic organism sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Thankfully, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) has also been sent back in time and he intends to keep Connor safe, no matter what. The future of the entire world may just depend on her.

I’m sure there have been entire books written on The Terminator and it’s impact upon both the sci-fi and action genres so it’s one of those movies that becomes even harder to review as the years roll by. Yet, treat yourself to a viewing of the film after a long spell away from the thing and you may be impressed (as I was) by just how fresh and brilliant it all is. The polar career paths of those involved are also surprising, considering just how well everyone does their part here. Arnie would, of course, go on to have a blockbuster career that would lead to his position as “the governator” while Cameron has had more than one knowing smirk aimed at naysayers as he became “king of the world” . . . . . . twice. Linda Hamilton gives us a strong female figure right up there with Ripley (who was, of course, ultimately built up by Cameron in the sequel to Alien) and Michael Biehn is a likeable, gruff hero.

Action-packed, stylish, neon-lit and featuring support from Bill Paxton (in a very small role), Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen, the sequel may have raised the action movie bar completely but the original laid the groundwork and showed what could be done with some down and dirty shooting techniques, the right people in place and some great effects from Stan Winston and everyone else involved.

The Terminator is being shown on Tue 21st June at 1500 in Filmhouse 3, tickets are £9 each and the movie will be followed by a lively discussion exploring whether rational thought is mechanically possible. This is part of the “Reel Science” portion of the EIFF and includes participation from the Edinburgh School of Informatics.


Film Rating: ★★★★½

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