25. The Terminator

25-the-terminatorBackground info

Title: The Terminator
Director: James Cameron
Year: 1984
Run time: 1hr 47m

“A cyborg (part man, part machine) is sent from the 21st century to present-day Los Angeles to assassinate a seemingly innocent woman whose child will play an important part in the world from which the killer came.”

Live blog

0:55 – Ooh, 2029. I love films that have such a distant future that is now actually not that far away.
2:58 – Someone gets a special mention for the Terminator’s individual effects? They must be good.
4:52 – Goodness me, is there ever a need for naked Arnie?
7:03 – Whoever that is doesn’t seem to have handled the transition quite so well.
8:11 – That is really bad 80s keyboard music.
13:40 – That could be a new motto for life: “In 100 years, who’s going to care?”
14:54 – What does sawing off a shotgun actually do?
23:52 – A lizard called Pugsley? Really?
43:13 – He’s kinda handsome, I’d do what he says.
55:55 – Films where people take out their own eyeballs should come with a HEALTH WARNING.
59:46 – That’s the “I’ll be back?” Somewhat underwhelming, I gotta say.
1:06:06 – I’ve decided he’s not so dishy. He didn’t offer his her coat or anything.
1:13:33 – If life was like that, I’d offer to travel through time too.
1:13:55 – He gave her his coat! Yay!
1:17:07 – Of course the only thing to do when you are being chased by a crazy terminator fella is to divulge your whereabouts.
1:21:18 – So, he’s going to turn out to be the father of John Connor, I see that. Isn’t it going to be some kind of paradox?
1:22:15 – I’m not an expert on being chased by a Terminator, clearly, btu I think all that kissing and stuff might let your guard down a bit.
1:31:57 – Worst animated robot ever! For this they got a special credits mention?
1:37:05 – Umm… now I feel bad for going on about the coat business.
1:42:50 – It would be better if she didn’t tell him anything then the decision would be easy.

Conclusions

The Terminator was another iTunes 99p Film of the Week, and Mr C’s eyes lit up when I told him so. It was clear that this was going to be next film, and considering all I know is the “I’ll be back,” line, I was curious.

Despite the fact that this film is so very dated, and the special effects are nothing to write home about, it did strike a chord with me. The time travel element was good. However, I got a bit bored by the ‘just won’t die’ element of the Terminator. A bit like the slasher films when they always get back up again. Still, I’ll put Terminator 2 on my list.

Rating: 3/5.


Be Kind, Rewind – Dec 2014

Despite the amount of grief I got for my criticisms of the film, I stand by it on a second viewing (five years after the first, where the heck has that time gone?). I really enjoyed it, probably more than I did the first time, right up to the point where they ruined it with the cartoon robot. And it’s not that the effects are bad, because there are plenty of dated effects throughout the film that are fine because they fit. It’s that the robot is so jarringly different and unbelievable that I have a hard time taking it seriously.

Watching it this time with Mr C was better, because he pointed out that it’s a frame rate issue that really makes the robot Terminator struggle to blend in. When there are the close ups and animatronics instead, they are perfectly acceptable, good in fact.

In more positive news, I thought the death scenes were really well done. Good use of shots so as not to show the gore in too much detail, but show the effects brilliantly. Like biting his hand, you see the beginning of the bite, then you see the blood on her mouth and you put two and two together. Expertly done. On a second viewing, I think Reese is more handsome than ever, and that’s actually saying quite a lot because it’s not often you find anyone being particularly attractive in the eighties.

I also thought the heartbeat that accompanies the Terminator around was fabulous. The music is pretty good really, if you can accept the dodgy eighties keyboards that sometimes appear. The threatening heartbeat sound was perfectly chilling in exactly the right places.

So to sum up, I think the film without the last few scenes is worth a 4 out of 5, but I still can’t go above a 3 because fuzzy cartoon Terminator really, really bugs me.

(Additional note: If you don’t mind amusing not-to-be-taken-to-heart criticism of films, I enjoyed this video: Everything wrong with The Terminator in 6 minutes or less.)

18 comments

  1. THREE-OUT-OF-FIVE?

    What the jinkies?!!

    It’s an absolute classic of a film, though the whole time travel paradox thing did mess up my mind a bit when I watched it as a young ‘un.

    Trivia: Arnie only has 16 lines of dialogue in the film.

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  2. Bassano

    1) Stan Winston was an f/x genius. In 1984 this was ground breaking
    2) As well as making it easier to conceal, sawing a shotgun widens it’s dispersal pattern
    3) This was the movie every teenager raved about in the playground after seeing it (BBFC shudders)
    4) T2 is more action packed and a rip-roaring ride. T3, not so much

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  3. Stan Winston was an f/x genius. In 1984 this was groundbreaking.

    Fair enough if this was good for its time, but it didn’t seem to fit the film at all. One minute I’m watching a fireball rip through the streets, the next minute a fuzzy cartoon robot walks out of it.

    It was better in the factory.

    He was clearly ahead of his time.

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  4. Oh dear. It’s a bit harsh to criticise the special effects from a film made 25 years ago – to James Cameron’s credit he hasn’t gone back and messed with it like George Lucas did with Star Wars. I don’t think they had computers that could clean up the effects like nowadays.

    The special effects can’t have been that bad if you didn’t realise the Truck that blew up at the end was a model on a small set 😉 To be honest, you can tell it’s a rubber face and a model robot, but that’s part of the charm that they tried to make it real, whereas nowadays there’s too much reliance on computer fakery and it feels artificial and lazy…

    But the music is awful – really shows it’s age. However, the story is fantastic and I have to say, it’s my favourite of the whole series (and I like all of them too!)

    A shame you didn’t like it that much. Fingers crossed for T2 – where I reckon you won’t be disappointed by the FX…

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  5. I don’t think they had computers that could clean up the effects like nowadays.

    I understand that, and I have no problem with bad special effects but they have to fit the context of the film. All the stuff from the future was also pretty bad, but it worked because it all fitted together. The Terminator’s effects were a surprise and brought me out of the film, which I’m assuming wasn’t really the intention.

    I did like it, I just felt a bit let down at the end.

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  6. I understand that, and I have no problem with bad special effects but they have to fit the context of the film. All the stuff from the future was also pretty bad, but it worked because it all fitted together. The Terminator’s effects were a surprise and brought me out of the film, which I’m assuming wasn’t really the intention.

    I did like it, I just felt a bit let down at the end.

    Ah, I see now. Well, good on you for watching it before T2 – I think you will like that one better TBH.

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  7. The thing with Star Wars is, both ways are right and wrong. My wife prefers number order, but I like to watch the old ones first, because there are lots of surprises in the story that are ruined if you see the prequels first. It just feels right to watch them this way…

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  8. John

    2) As well as making it easier to conceal, sawing a shotgun widens it’s dispersal pattern

    That actually isn’t true for the most part. It was believed to be true but tests on barrel lengths (which is important for wing shooting) show that length has very little to do with the dispersal pattern. Diameter of barrel is the main factor in determining the shot spread.

    It’s mostly about being able to use at close range. In addition to being easier to hide, as everyone else has said, it makes it more nimble and easier to use at close range. So, it basically gives you the damage of a shotgun with the nimbleness of a large pistol (imagine trying to shoot someone next to you with a 32 inch barrel). If you ever look at trench guns from world war 1 or 2 or riot guns, they have short barrels for the same reason.

    ok, I’ll stop talking about guns now.

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  10. Jordan

    Knowing what I know about Star Wars I would suggest you watch just Star Wars (A New Hope), The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi and if you want to see another Star Wars Movie after that watch “Spaceballs” from Mel Brooks.

    Avoid the prequel triolgy like the plague. There is a reason why Lucas started with Part IV of a six part series, that is the subplots just stink enough that you being to wonder why the “more primative culture has the more advanced technology” (Quoting from Planet of the Apes, 1968 version, there)

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  11. George

    I echo Jordan as far as the order, and as a kid recal that the original Star Wars Movies’ special effects were not that bad, the redos have made them worse. I would just like the ability to find an original on dvd.
    Episode 1 was dreck, but 2 and 3 were ok.

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