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The Terminator

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The Terminator (1984), the first of the action-thriller saga films, is considered by most film reviewers to be a better-crafted film than its more popular sequel T2 Judgment Day (1991); it is less dominated by special-effects and less pretentious.

Director James Cameron's sleeper film (only his second feature film), co-written with producer Gale Anne Hurd, is an exciting, well-paced action thriller with apocalyptic, monster, and adventure story elements. Stan Winston's special terminator and visual effects, created by Fantasy II Film Effects, vividly and effectively present a film-noirish environment and realistic stop-motion animation as the Terminator is transformed into a mechanical skeleton when his flesh and blood are stripped away in the course of his unstoppable pursuit.

During the Terminator's mission, he delivers the oft-quoted, straight-faced line "I'll be back" to a desk clerk. He does return, destroying the building by driving a monstrous vehicle directly into it.

This famous line would be repeated in slight different sentences throughout most of Arnold Schwarzenegger's later movies. (...And we all love it! ;)


Released: 1984
Budget: $6.4 million
Grossed: $38.4 million
Running time: 1 hrs. 38 min
Rating: R
Main cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor)
Michael Biehn (Kyle Reese)
Paul Winfield (Traxler)
Lance Henrikson (Vukovich)
Directing: James Cameron
Screenwriting: James Cameron
Gale Anne Hurd
Producing: John Daly
Derek Gibson
Gale Anne Hurd
Studio: Tri-Star Pictures


James Cameron directs this science fiction thriller about a futuristic killing machine called the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), which is sent back to the year 1984 to assassinate a young woman named Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).

The cyborg comes from the year 2029, following a nuclear war which has devastated the better part of civilisation. Computer defence mechanisms have turned on their creators, starting another war, in an effort to eliminate the human race altogether. Man's valiant rebel leader is John Connor, Sarah's son. John is destined to help the human race win this war, and the Terminator is the only thing standing in the way.

Sent back to the present, the cyborg must kill Sarah before John is born. It systematically eliminates every Sarah Connor in the city of Los Angeles. But Sarah escapes with the man sent to protect her, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), before the Terminator can get to her. What follows is a massive chase which will eventually end in victory for mankind.

Co-writer William Wisher, Jr. has a cameo as a police officer. This film marks Schwarzenegger's first big break in movies.

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Page last modified: January 12, 2012 | 14:32:53