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This is a near perfect 80's action movie. A very violent and chilling thrill ride that is expertly written and directed.
This film is often overlooked now because of the big budget sequel that followed it but this is the film that shows why they have had such a hard time building a franchise and carried on rebooting it.
This film is a classic of its era and that is very important. James Cameron, I am very sure was aware of similar type films failing because they become silly and dated quickly. You can see a lot of decisions for the villain and the future were probably due to budget constraints but with hindsight they kept the film focused, gritty and real.
Cameron decided he wanted this to be gritty and believable, people have to buy into it from the get go and not laugh at it. A lot of films about time travel fail because of their vision of the future or what they bring back from the future. So as a plot device Cameron kept it simple. The two characters sent back from the future arrive naked, no futuristic weapons or clothes and just a name of a woman They both have to track down the same woman, one to protect her and one to kill her. Its very simple and it keeps the film grounded.
The sequels (bar T2) have failed because this film was not written to have a sequel, it is a stand alone film. It says that at the beginning. The fight for the future will be fought tonight, in our time.
We are given a brief outline of a future. There was a nuclear war, Skynet, a defense system attacked the human race after becoming self aware and caused a nuclear war. The few survivors band together and hid underground, so Skynet built infiltration units, cyborgs to blend in and wipe out the few survivors. The T-800 sent back through time is a newer model. Undetectable, it has living skin over a metal skeleton.
We are not given much else. Skynet HAS BEEN DEFEATED IN THE FUTURE. The war is over. The survivors formed the resistance to fight back and they broke into the lab with Skynet and blew it up. It's over. Again, "The fight for the future will be fought tonight"
The resistance is lead by John Connor, After getting into Skynet they find out Skynet as a last act and chance of defeating the humans has sent a Terminator back through time to kill John Connor's mother-Sarah Connor, hoping this will alter the war in the future.
Due to the nuclear war the records were lost. The film is set in '84 and the war began on August 29th 1997 so it is believable as most records were paper and we did not have the internet or social media like we do nowadays. The year the Terminator is sent back is 2029 so John Connor is the leader of the resistance but was very young when the war began and there were virtually no records on him.so his mother is a viable target.
This is all told through Kyle Reese's character and very quickly. The future is never dwelt on and other than a few visions of his nightmares this is all the information we are given. He is later arrested and explains a little about time travel and the Terminator but this is not world building, Cameron wanted the focus on the here and now.
When questioned by the police he is asked why he did not bring back "ray guns" he replies "nothing dead will go" (The Terminator has living skin)
They can't go back to the future "It's just him and me" as after he was sent back they blew up everything, including the time displacement unit. The war was over and Skynet had lost. He does refer to skynet as a villain but it is left to our own imagination as to what Skynet actually is.
This film was never written to have a sequel. It works very well in the era it is set and the villain, Skynet is really just a plot device to explain the Terminator. We are not given much detail about it.
We know there was a war and to alter the outcome of the war a Terminator has been sent back to stop John Connor being born,
John Connor we are told lead the resistance and defeated the robots and is a war hero.
The clever twist is Skynet essentially kills itself by creating a time loop, if you will. Connecting the future to the past as Kyle Reese is John Connor's father and has only been sent back because of Skynet sending a Terminator back through time. This is not fully revealed until the final scenes in the movie so it is a nice moment to take away from the film.
The film itself is a very violent and very dark movie. It can not be replicated nowadays and is still one of the most violent movies ever made.It is very chilling at times. Since T2 every sequel has been a PG-13 and it is a stark contrast to its original source material. That has become the problem, this film should be regarded as the source material the rule book but every sequel has focused on copying and imitating the sequel to this film and that has resulted in 3 sequels that are so far removed from this movie they are hated and became failures. If you watch this film and then watch Terminator Salvation there is no connective tissue other than the property-Terminator.
The glimpses of the future Cameron shows in this movie are frightening. The soldiers are all hiding in a very desolate future and being hunted down. The scenes are very short but for any fan the images all was stuck with you. When you see the future war in Terminator Salvation...It's all very, very wrong. The vision has been lost, the fear, the dread, the destruction, the end of humanity is gone.
The 3 leads in this movie are all very good. Nowadays It is odd to think of Arnie as scary but in this film he is an unstoppable killing machine. He is absolutely perfect and every scene with him in it is breath taking. His character is genuinely scary as it hunts down Sarah Connors through a phone book one by one until it finds it's target.
Due to records being lost The Terminator has no information other than a name and a city so The Terminator is working his way through the phone book killing off Sarah Connors. The opening scenes with The Terminator are brutal and the film is almost like a horror movie as he guns down numerous women with ferocious accuracy.
The film is mainly filmed at night too and gives off an air of a horror movie.
This would launch both Cameron and Schwarznegger's careers and it is easy to see here. His presence is immense and every scene is so memorable. It created 2 icons of modern cinema.
Biehn plays the soldier tasked with protecting Sarah Connor and later falling in love with her. He is perfect for this role and he is always a soldier, he barely cracks a smile through the whole film and his serious performance adds to the cranked up tension that is built throughout.
Linda Hamilton is a great Sarah Connor and the role would be expanded on and become iconic in T2 but her performance in this film is probably forgotten a lot but it's a shame as she is very good here.
When we are first introduced to her she is a young waitress and seems like just a pretty L.A. girl and during the film she transforms and defeats the Terminator herself fulfilling her own prophecy. The final scene with her at the gas station is a highlight and wrapped up a terrific film that ends with the war looming...
This film stands the test of time and does not need to be remade but i do feel if they want to expand on the Terminator name/brand they should take a closer look at this film and study the rules created within this film. The inconsistencies in the later sequels just annoy fans, and studios need to understand this and T2 are the only films with Terminator in the title that anybody liked!
Special mention to Brad Fiedel who did the soundtrack to this and T2, it is absolutely superb. He never returned for the sequels and his music to the first 2 movies is mesmerizing at times...if you ask anyone who has seen this movie to hum the music i am sure they can! it was so memorable and is vital to this movie.
Although made in 1990 this is an 80s action film! This is a dumb action movie that will please fans of the late 80s early 90s action era.
At this point in time action movies ruled at the box office and Arnold Schwarzenegger was the box office juggernaut.
To put it into context this is the year Arnie released Total Recall and Kindergarden Cop, Sly Stallone was wrapping up his Rocky series with the disappointing Rocky V, Die Hard 2, Predator 2, Another 48 hours were all riding high at the box office. Along with Steven Seagal in Hard to Kill.
Seagal and JCVD were the pretenders to the action movie throne at this time. Although neither would reach the heights of Arnie and Sly.
So, this was a different time and there was a lot to admire about JCVD back then. He was the scrappy underdog, his films did not have the production values of his peers but he was a bonafide star and his star was rising.
This film was made during his peak. Coming off the back of his best 2 films Bloodsport and Kickboxer and made the same year as A.W.O.L (depending on where you live! Lionheart in Canada!) Death Warrant was his first film removed of a total martial arts background. Set in a prison and playing an undercover cop, this was his first real "acting role" prior to this he just played a martial arts guy and the film showcased his skills within that domain. So, it has teething problems from the start as it is really just an action vehicle for a rising star. He does have lines but his limited grasp of English is covered up with him being from Canada! nice touch!
The film its self is a rip off of Stallone's so bad it's good Lock up that was set in a prison but, whereas that film took its self too seriously this film is very tongue in cheek throughout. The bad guy in this film, The Sandman is a memorable highlight but the final showdown between the 2 is a little disappointing.
Overall this is a decent action film from that era. Up against better films at the box office but a solid video rental back in the day. For JCVD fans this is still better than a lot of his later films and has a low budget charm.
After this JCVD would make his box office break through in Double impact in '91 and follow that up with Universal Soldier, which became a cult classic in '92 and probably what he is best remembered for in terms of his Hollywood movies.
This film is a straight forward action thriller with a good villain and is a good watch for action fans. For a film of that era it lacks the cheesy 80's soundtrack and the corny nature of other films but is a worthy watch for anyone new to JCVD or on a JCVD binge!
I would say this is a guilty pleasure along with Cyborg and they are both entertaining action films from that video rental era.
A stone cold classic and a blue print of how to make a summer blockbuster.
I just re-watched this movie and it is still a remarkably good film. Yes, some of the effects have dated as time moved on but the big memorable scenes, namely the T-Rex scene, are still very impressive.
This movie arguably kicked off the huge summer blockbuster/special effects extravaganza of the 90's and it has still not been topped!
Due in large parts to other directors not understanding that you still have to make a compelling film with compelling characters and not just rely on CGI special effects.
As i said this is almost a blue print of how to make a movie like this. The set up to this movie over the first 15 minutes is swift but builds the expectation, it's brilliant. You know the dinosaurs are coming but Spielberg keeps his cards close to his chest. Much like in Jaws and it builds anticipation.
One of my favourite scenes is when they are all talikng about the moral implications of bringing back dinosaurs, it's a classic scene and Jeff Goldblum is on terrific form for most of the films early scenes...but all of this is entertaining because Spielberg's characters are compelling. This helps when the dinosaurs show up as we are invested in these characters.
The action in this movie is top notch. From the early T-rex scenes that still have you on the edge of your seat to the kids being chased around the kitchen by the velociraptors. All of the action in this movie is memorable and it is some of the best action sequences Spielberg had done since Raiders of the lost Ark.
An absolute delight to watch again and again and not one of the sequels has come within spitting distance of this movie.
This story of the Newton Boys really deserves a remake with a Scorsese or Spielberg in the directors chair. The film here is very disappointing. I was hoping for something closer to the Untouchables but instead we got this slapdash of a movie.
The story of the Newton boys could be an epic for the ages. This movie is sadly forgettable and frankly boring. The cast is impressive on paper but it focuses on Matthew McConaughey too much and it never really shows the bond of the four brothers. Ethan Hawke in his few scenes is impressive and charming, the other 2 just make up the numbers.
Matthew McConaughey is on the charm offensive here and at times it is too much. He can be annoying if he is constantly grinning at the camera. He is a good actor and i like him but he over played his hand here.
The films hodge-podge telling of the story of The Newton Boys is the biggest let down. The end credits shows some stock footage of the real brothers talking and that was the most enjoyable part of the film.
This film is style over substance and a waste of a great cast and great story.
This is a lot better than you would expect. It is a very low budget video rental classic. I remember this from the old days of going to the video shop, this movie made the rounds for Van Damme fans and is not one of his best or worst.
The experience of watching this film will depend on if you watched it back in the early 90s or not. Probably not sophisticated enough for newer audiences but oddly reminds me a lot of the new show from AMC Into the Badlands.
The film is a cheap knock off of a better movie, think Cobra crossed with Terminator but set in Escape from New York.
The bad guy is a highlight as he adds menace, i believe he popped up in Point Break a few years later too.
The film is cheap throwaway fun that i just about enjoyed for the nostalgia and the odd editing style they had back then. They show the same kick from a different angle to make it look like he performed 2 in rapid time...very odd.
This is a really interesting review of the movie.