As a self-styled “GeekyNerdyGirl,” I am ashamed to admit that it has taken me nearly 30 years to see the original Terminator film. To be fair, it came out the year before I was born and it would have taken me some time to grow into the science fiction thriller anyway, but I really have no excuse for the last 15 years or so.
While I have always been aware that not watching the movie was a geekynerdy cardinal sin I needed to correct at some point, I’ve been feeling even more pressure to check it out lately, what with the impending release of Terminator: Genisis and all – which appears to take the plot from James Cameron’s 1984 film and turns it on its head. Luckily for me, The Terminator was airing on the Sundance Channel the other night, so I was finally able to cross it off my list!
Unlike some other pre-CGI movies, I found most of the special effects in the Terminator to be just awful. Maybe they were well received at the time (I’m assuming they were since the film became a franchise), but the laser-gun battles between the humans and the machines in 2029 seemed extremely flat to me, and the animatronic Arnold Schwarzenegger was a very obvious fake. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the scenes where “he” fixed himself up after some run-ins with Kyle Reese and was able to recognize the ingenuity of the work – I just didn’t think it held up with time.
That said, I thought the final chase scene between the Terminator and Sarah Connor was phenomenal, not because of the effects, but because it really showed the singular purpose of the T-800. It had no legs at that point, but its operating system was still going strong and it was going to do whatever it could to get to her. Thinking about it now, that’s really what makes the concept of cyborg fighters so scary: you can hit them, shoot them, and blow them up, but as long as the “brain” is still working, they will continue to come after you… assuming you’re a threat to them in some way.
Overall, The Terminator was a fun Friday evening flick. Though the special effects left something to be desired, I was excited to finally see the original film and hear all of the lines I have come to know in other ways, such as Reese’s “Come with me if you want to live,” and Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back.” I also really enjoyed the way the movie tied past and present together at the end. It seemed to set things up perfectly for Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which I guess I will just have to see next!