Dir: James Cameron
Not an irrational prejudice (I was 9 when the movie came out), but more a "slipped through the cracks" film. Either way, this was my first time viewing it.
How cute! Having come to expect giant blockbuster spectacle from these types of films, I was surprised to see how quaint and shoestring this was. While no doubt cutting edge at the time, the make-up and special effects come across now as refreshingly home made, something out of Sinbad or Jason and the Argonauts. They are fun, as opposed to something that is supposed to dazzle me or blow my mind. This is one year after Jedi, and The Terminator looks like Plan Nine From Outer Space in comparison. I must admit that I usually prefer this approach. A director doing the best with what he has gives me lots of room to suspend disbelief. I am rarely blown away by the technical aspects of a film; but I am always willing to have with one.
It is The Terminator as a character that drives the film, not the cyborg as a special effect. The Gov is decidedly bad ass, and the concept of the unstoppable killing machine creates terrific tension throughout. I wish the movie had done some more sophisticated ruminations on the future it envisions, or on time travel per se. The Matrix, in comparison, really emerges as a special movie, having both broad and intellectual appeal. But the concept must have been quite original at the time, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than this movie is blushing.
An unintended down point of the film is the continual 1980's time signature. The worst decade of them all is in full gaudy display here; New Wave and hairspray saturate every frame. Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn are truly awful actors. But Arnold makes up for all of that. He is the only possible choice for that character, turning all of his weaknesses into essential character traits of the cyborg. Easily, the best part of this movie was watching him work.
Necessary viewing for historical purposes, but I doubt the DVD will be on my Xmas list.