Thursday, March 28, 2013

MR Terminator 1

It's time for another one of my favorite movies of all time!

This movie came from someone's nightmare, surely that's a good thing, right?

Movie: The Terminator 
Directed by James Cameron
Release date 1984
Genre Science-fiction horror
Country USA

Before James Cameron ever did Aliens or Terminator 2 for that matter, there was The Terminator.

The original movie that made him a well renowned film director. And a pioneer of the science fiction genre. Story goes, the idea came during release of Piranha II, his feature film debut. Cameron got really ill and the idea can in a dream. He had a nightmare in which he saw that image of a terrifying robot coming from a fire.

The original idea was to have a war between these metallic robots, but due to budget constraints the story was changed from several robots waging a war to a simplified single cyborg chasing after someone. But the war was kept in the future, and the story revolved now around time travel.


The year is 2029.

There is a war between mankind and machines now. Man in his perpetual search of technology caused a nuclear holocaust. An all seeing artificial intelligence network by the name of Skynet has become self aware. Skynet has developed a gigantic robotic army to get rid of the last surviving members of the human resistance.

But the humans are strong, organized. Thanks to their leader John Connor. So Skynet sends a T-800 Terminator model in the past, to track down Sarah Connor and kill the unborn child before he becomes a problem.
"The Terminator's an infiltration unit, part man, part machine. Underneath, it's a hyper-alloy combat chassis - micro processor-controlled, fully armored. Very tough. But outside, it's living human tissue - flesh, skin, hair, blood, grown for the cyborgs...The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these are new, they look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot."

A human resistance soldier, Kyle Reese is also sent to 1984. He then spends most of the film either trying to track The Terminator and Sarah, or protecting her from the robot.

The films is at its core mostly about the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor. Unlike the later big blockbuster it isn't all about spectacular explosions and special effects. This is a more grounded film, simply an horror film akin to slashers like Friday the 13th or Halloween.

It certainly is an harder movie than you'd expect. With plenty of graphic violence, gore and dark.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was originally cast as Kyle Reese, fresh off his heroic and main character type of roles. But as soon as Cameron saw him, he knew he had his Terminator. Plus, the main character wasn't really the humans here but the robotic threat. And for this kind of role the presence was more important than anything else, this was his beginning that means even his accent even worked to his advantage.

The other actors did great as well. Michael Biehn made Kyle Reese a cult classic figure of the science fiction genre, and Linda Hamilton as well. This was long before Sarah Connor became the badass the is usually depicted to be later in the franchise. Here she still is very much a normal gal. She works at a dinner, vomits at the first sight of blood and panics under a desk. There's a very natural development of her character through the story until she became this strong female heroine in typical James Cameron fashion. At the start she might need a man, runs away and all, but at the end of the day she is now a fearful fully invested master of her own fate.

A lot of other famed actors got here their first role as well or their most noted appearance in the genre.
Detective Hal Vukovich is played by none other than Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton plays a small role in Terminator 1, a punk that gets killed by T-800. (add that to the things that killed him on screen on his resume)

The film is small. Simpler compared to later films in the series. It wasn't expected to be a success actually. But it launched Cameron's career and helped Schwarzie's as well.

The war between machines and humans is something that always interested scifi authors. This is a more grounded take on this pitch. Very violent and dark. The body count is very high, I love how someone announces there's 30 cops in the building, as to announce it. Then the T-800 pops up and guns everybody in sight. This unstoppable killing machine cannot be prevented, like the future Kyle Reese comes from. It is happening, you cab only try to keep hope. It's brilliant!

The special effects were done by Stan Winston and his workshop. The future war uses a lot animatronics and miniatures to give us this surreal landscape.

The music was composed by Brad Fiedel. It's mostly electronic sounds to give this movie a very unique 80s-style view of the future. The Terminator Theme is now classic.

Overall, I truly love this movie! It's honestly my personal favorite.

My favorite James Cameron movie is actually his very first one. The second Terminator is probably the world's more badass movie ever made, but the first one was so much more brutal, violent, it actually felt more real to me as a kid. It was more of an horror flick at heart.

I tend to classify this movie as a slasher/horror film rather than an action film, and it fits that moniker better.

It's a story of a predetermined fate you can't escape from. A perfect time loop.

The Terminator's legacy generated a long line of derived products, successful movie sequels, a TV series, games, comics, you name it! It still is to this day a very well known franchise despite its absence from the silver screen. (though there's rumors of another one as I write this line)

I give it:
3 / 3 UFOs!

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