Andy's Anachronisms
Time Travel Movie Reviews


The Terminator (1984)
Your future is in his hands.

Directed by James Cameron

The Basic Plot

A Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenneger) from the year 2029 is sent to 1984 on a mission to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and prevent her yet to be born son from becoming the leader of the resistance. A lone soldier named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is sent by the resistance to assist Sarah and stop the Terminator.

The Analysis

Written and directed by James Cameron, The Terminator represents a ground-breaking film that established not only Cameron's presence as a film maker, but also solidified Schwarzenegger's reputation as A-list action star. As a work of science fiction it holds up remarkable well after almost twenty years. Stan Winston's spectacular special effects on the terminators and the futuristic scenes of 2029 still look fresh.

While The Terminator is typically thought of as science fiction film, there's a traditional horror film at its core. In addition to unfeeling inhuman Terminator as the unstoppable monster, Cameron weaves a number of modern fears into his plot. The fear of serial killers is realized on screen as the Terminator stalks and kills the suburban housewife Sarah Connor in her home in broad daylight after seemingly picking her name out of a phone book. Cameron also plays up 1980s fears of a nuclear holocaust by envisioning a global nuclear war launched in 1997 by the machines of Skynet to eradicate mankind.

Above all else The Terminator is an action driven story where the pace rarely lets up for the first 2/3 of the film until Reese and Sarah's romantic interlude at the cabin as they prepare for their final showdown with the Terminator.

As for the time travel aspect of the film, Reese argues with Sarah that he is from only one possible future and that time is not immutable. The audience however suspects otherwise since through the course of the film we come to realize that Reese is in fact John's father and that if he failed to send Reese back in time on the mission then he would not have been born. It appears from our perspective that time and fate have conspired to create this time loop that connects the past and the future and that time is immutable.

The Terminator was followed in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgment Day. A bigger, louder sequel that featured a kindler, gentler Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) sent this time not to destroy Sarah Connor and her legacy, but rather to protect them from a newer more modern Terminator (Robert Patrick). [Review coming soon]

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is due out in theatres July 2nd, 2003 and my preview page of it can be found through this link - Terminator 3 Review.

Review Posted: 2003-04-27

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