On Sept. 10 and 13, Flashback Cinema will distribute a feature that became an unexpected classic within the science-fiction action genre. This review is a special one particularly for several reasons. First, without Arnold Schwarzenegger, I would not have the passion for cinema that exists; he made me fall in love with films, entertainment and the creative process behind the concept.
Second, during my childhood, watching him on screen literally made me want to become involved in acting, writing, directing and makeup designs. I would recite his one-liners and act out scenes from his films with my friends. Third, during his magnetic rise in the '80s and peaking in the '90s, he without a doubt was a hero of mine to the point of attempting to emulate everything he represented at the height of his popularity.
Visionary director James Cameron created a story that ultimately changed the way audiences approached cinema forever with visual effects still remaining effective and groundbreaking today, a conceptual basis mirroring our reality regarding technological advances and launching the career of Schwarzenegger at the same time, cementing Cameron as a means of continuing to innovate and pioneer film into the future.
In 1984, "The Terminator" was released, painting a story of a sinister artificial intelligence program known as Skynet sending an infiltration cyborg unit known as The Terminator from the future into the past. Its purpose is to eliminate Sarah Connor, a woman who would give birth to a mysterious messiah-like figure, leading the human resistance to victory over the machines, preventing their goal of total human annihilation and nuclear war. Skynet created a cyborg capable of blending in within society, programmed for a single purpose of terminating its intended target. Their adversaries, known as the human resistance, in a last-ditch effort send a soldier named Kyle Reese to protect Sarah Connor from the sinister cyborg. Throughout the film, audiences are engaged with sullen and haunting nuclear war imagery, powerful contrasting character development of Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese and witnessing in fear The Terminator seeking to fulfill its mission with sheer programmed persistence.
Cameron's cinematic creation definitively is viewed as a science-fiction horror action film, paving the way for action adventure of the future. Utilizing practical effects, stop-motion animation, set designs and innovative technological capabilities and camera methods presents the story in a manner that has not even come close to being replicated nor surpassed by any other film director. Starring Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn, "The Terminator" remains one of the most, if not the most, influential science-fiction action films of all time.
My earliest memories of "The Terminator" have me in the living room as a child as Schwarzenegger in menacing fashion appears on the screen. From that moment, I remember vividly saying to my parents these very words, "I want to be exactly like him when I grow up!" His silent, intimidating, machine-like charisma captivated me in a way that I never experienced before. Schwarzenegger portraying the iconic T-800 model 101 infiltration unit provides the perspective of how a cyborg/machine could potentially infiltrate humanity without suspicion. It's equally frightening how he performs the role in convincing fashion. Once the Terminator is on screen, all your attention is upon the cyborg, and when it's on the trail of its target, you find yourself on the edge of your seat. For the visual effects, by 1984's standards, it holds up remarkably amazingly. To give a better perspective of the innovative and creative genius of Cameron, if "The Terminator" were released today in 2023, its presentation and technological effects would appear as if it were created with our modern capabilities.
Hamilton portrays Sarah Connor, a young, naïve, frightened woman on the run for her life before accepting her destiny as the mother who gives birth to the son that leads humanity to victory over the machines. Her performance became the quintessential blueprint for the concept of the strong female role of a likable, determined and strong-willed character gradually overcoming the nightmare into an iconic figure of storytelling and popular culture.
Biehn brings to life the battle-scarred Kyle Reese sent from a human-annihilated future that has been destroyed by the machines. He captures the essence of a soldier; despite his experience in battling terminator models, it becomes no secret that he is still out of his element. I've always appreciated his performance as the vulnerable, tormented, strong and haunted character doing everything possible to protect Sarah Connor.
"The Terminator" is truly one of my favorite films of all time. I could watch it a thousand to a million times over, never finding myself becoming tired of the feature. Everything about the presentation is perfect from beginning to end with the visuals, dialogue and character exposition and performances all across the board cementing it as a masterpiece. Flashback sequences showing a nuclear war-torn Los Angeles are still haunting because of how they are presented. The most memorable scenes are the police station action sequences with the Terminator on its violent mission in searching for Sarah Connor. The very scene I am describing is disturbingly chilling with its silent method of an emotionless, calculating, programmed and efficient machine displaying no hesitation or remorse for its deeds. Words cannot describe the sheer power of that moment.
Filled with wonderful acting, writing, creativity, visuals and frightening/realistic ground-breaking cinematic influence, "The Terminator" is an absolute masterpiece from the year 1984 and a highly recommended adventure. It is an absolute 10/10 and two thumbs up feature.
To watch Isaiah Ridley's movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.
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