The Terminator ***1/2

Arnold Schwarzenegger is "The Terminator"

Arnold Schwarzenegger is “The Terminator”

The first “Terminator” film was the movie that put Arnold Schwarzenegger and director James Cameron on the map.  The story involved a killer cyborg, sent back through time to kill a woman named Sarah Connor.  In the not so distant future, nuclear war has devastated the planet.  Machines began waging war against mankind.  The few humans that survived the original attack, banded together and resisted  the machines.  They were lead by a man named John Connor.  Their plan is to kill Sarah in hopes that mankind will be leaderless in the future, thus becoming easier to wipe out.

Schwarzenegger plays the title role perfectly as an emotionless machine that simply does not stop coming.  He is determined to finish his mission, no matter what the cost.  This notion is no more real in the films most powerful scene, as when he storms a police station, killing as many cops as he can, trying to reach Sarah. 

Michael Biehn plays the man sent back by the human side to find and protect Sarah.  He turns out to play a more pivotal role then even he could comprehend.  Biehn proves to be a strong dramatic actor who can also look very convincing as an action hero.

Sarah Connor is played by Linda Hamilton who, to me, is the real revelation in this film.  Her performance is awe inspiring.  She starts out as a plucky girl in her early twenties, working a dead end job during the day, and enjoying some fun at night.  Her transformation to the mother of man kinds last hope anchors everything that happens in the film.

When I watch it today, I can appreciate what Cameron and his filmmakers achieved on a very limited budget.  The action holds up pretty good by today’s standards.  It was the film that started a franchise, and lead to one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time.

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