Terminator Binge: Day One

So I’ve never seen a Terminator movie. I know, I know, don’t @ me.

I’ve always heard “I’ll be back” and “Come with me if you want to live” and known it was from Terminator, but it just missed me. Surprising for someone who generally loves Sci-fi movies.

UNTIL NOW

Now that there’s a new Terminator movie coming, Terminator: Dark Fate, I’ve decided it’s finally time to binge all 5 previous Terminator movies and see what I’m missing (I did the same thing with the Mission Impossible series last year before MI: Fallout came out).

I’ll be writing my thoughts immediately after each movie, so you’ll get my thoughts untainted by the sequels, as if I was watching them as they released. This binge will cover The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator Salvation (2009), and Terminator Genisys (2015). I’m not going to get in to the Sarah Connor Chronicles TV series (I just don’t have the time), though I have seen a few early episodes of that.

I’ll throw up a warning when I’m getting into spoiler territory.

Okay, let’s get into it.

The Terminator (1984)
Okay, I understand why this is a franchise people love, and why the studio has made so many of them. This is a really good movie. Just off the bat, this movie 80s so hard that it almost felt like a parody of the era, and then I remembered this was an actual time and people actually dressed like this and wore their hair like this so that’s just something to keep in mind.

The practical effects were pretty good overall, with a couple notable exceptions (looking at you rubber Schwarzenegger mask). For as futuristic as the premise of the movie is, there is very little in the way of special effects. The few that are there, however, make the movie feel older than 1984, especially once you consider it came out one year after Star Wars – Return of the Jedi. Luckily there are only a couple of those moments so it really does hold up.

Okay, now I’m getting into spoilers so click away if you don’t want a movie that came out 35 years ago spoiled.

The story is mostly what I expected based on the trailer and just knowing about it through pop culture (and also watching a few episodes of The Sarah Connor Chronicles when it was on TV). But when you’re watching a movie this old and this much a part of the zeitgeist, going in fresh wasn’t really an option. For me, knowing the premise and a few of the plot points, like the identity of John Connor’s father, didn’t really take away from the experience of seeing it for the first time (but I understand if it would for you, which is why that’s in the spoiler section… see, you can trust me). 

The biggest problem I had with the special effects was the skinless terminator at the end of the movie. Watching what appeared to be a stop-motion robot walking kind of took me out of the picture if I’m being honest. But I still enjoyed it. And watching him rise from the burning wreck was a really cool scene.

The character development for Sarah Connor was pretty standard for a movie like this, with a rather timid and fearful character giving way to a strong, self-sufficient one, but I bought it. The ending was a bit rushed for me; she went from being placed in the ambulance to on-the-road 5 or 6 months pregnant. I would have liked something in between, like the authorities reacting to SEEING A FUTURISTIC ROBOT KILLING MACHINE CRUSHED IN A HYDRAULIC PRESS. Like how are they reacting to this‽ Really would have been an interesting scene.

I honestly don’t know where this story takes Sarah in the movies; I have no idea what happens next. But at the end of The Terminator, I feel like she has a firm grasp on her place in the story, and has a plan for how to keep her baby safe. It’s exactly what you want from the first movie in a franchise. It sets up the world, the primary conflict, the main characters, and leaves the viewer wanting answers.

Come back tomorrow to see if I get any!

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