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Rewind Review: The Terminator

“I’ll be back.”

Got the chance to rewatch this classic in 35mm at the Prince Charles Cinema for its 35th anniversary. You all know the story but anyway, a seemingly indestructible cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a young waitress (Linda Hamilton) whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines. While a human soldier (Michael Biehn) from the same war is sent to protect her. 

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The plot is paced extremely well with constant tension due to the terminator being on the pursuit and intersected with us visiting the future which has a great bleak set design.
What I love about this movie’s tone and visual style is how gritty and realistic it feels. The night time sequences especially, look really cool and similarly to ‘Blade Runner’ utilise lighting extremely well. There is only a few digital effects, everything else is prosthetics, props and stunts. Schwarzenegger’s self surgery scene is still grim and very realistic in showing us the machine inside. Speaking of said machine, it’s still one of the most iconic designs and I think the stop motion movement adds to its intimidation. The action sequences are all unique, memorable and well shot and choreographed. Whether it be the shotgun car shootout, the insanely brutal club and police station gunfights or the final chase with the tanker every sequence is a blast (literally and figuratively) to watch.

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The performances here are also excellent. Schwarzenegger’s screen presence is brilliant. He nails the in-between movement of half man and half machine and still gives the terminator personality and emotion whilst simultaneously not, through eye movements and expressions. With barely any dialogue (aside from iconic one-liners) he brings a relentlessness to a terrifying antagonist. Linda Hamilton’s transformation from victim to the beginnings of a badass action heroine is great to watch, she has great chemistry with Michael Biehn who is excellent as Kyle Reese and has some great and interesting expository sections.

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Aside from a few dated effects and a slightly repetitive structure ‘The Terminator’ is essentially perfect. Blending sci-fi, action and horror to make one of the most badass franchise starters of all time.