“I’ll be back.” Those are the famous words that turned Austrian bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger into an action movie icon before he was the Governator, of course. 1984 was not only the year that turned Arnie into a superstar but also then relatively unknown writer/director James Cameron into a Hollywood big gun as well. Together these two businessmen created a sci-fi franchise that has broken box office records and entertained the masses for nearly three decades. That franchise of course is The Terminator and now the landmark film that started it all has been re-released in a special Blu-ray edition.
In case you don’t know, The Terminator is about a possible future, a future in which machines have taken over the world. There has been a nuclear holocaust that has wiped out most of humanity. A few survivors linger underground hiding in the darkness from the unforgiving machines, the Terminators. The Terminators are cybernetic organisms created by the company Skynet. They have the outward appearance of looking human but underneath their skin, they are cold, brutal metallic killing machines.
A human resistance fighter by the name of John Connor soon leads the remaining humans to fight against the Terminators but Skynet tries to prevent this from ever happening by sending a Terminator (Schwarzenegger) back in time to kill Connor’s mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) thus causing John Connor’s existence from ever occurring. However, a fellow resistance fighter, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is also sent back in time to protect Sarah from the sinister Terminator.
The Terminator is an action-packed thrill ride from start to finish. There are scenes in it that are so memorable and so adrenaline-pumped that I’m almost out of breath just thinking about them. Schwarzenegger is perfect as the Terminator. His physique is that of a Greek god and his mannerisms are cold and apathetic like a machine. Linda Hamilton also gives a strong performance as Sarah, the innocent victim in all of this, fighting for her life. Finally, there’s Michael Biehn who portrays the heroic Reese like a shell shocked Vietnam veteran who has only one mission: to keep Sarah Connor alive.
James Cameron is a cinematic wizard. He took a simple story of good versus evil and put a wholesome down-to-Earth woman in the middle of it. The Terminator and Reese are battling over Sarah’s future and she hasn’t even done anything yet. The writing is strong and the editing is superb. A gritty sci-fi action thriller, The Terminator is an absolute marvel to look at. The late great make-up and creature effects genius Stan Winston made the Terminator look as real as possible. The skin, blood and metallic endoskeleton all look genuinely real and it is no wonder Winston has won four Academy Awards for his work; however surprisingly none for this film. He did however win eight years later for the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Another aspect of the film worth mentioning is composer Brad Fiedel’s ominous synthesized score. Like the film’s title character, the score is metallic and foreboding, very appropriate for the mood and atmosphere of the film.
The Terminator is a sci-fi classic. There’s no doubt about it. Since its release, it has spawned two sequels, a prequel, tons of merchandise and a very extensive fan following. Like many other franchises to come out of the ‘80s, The Terminator is probably going to be around for another 30 years and so on. Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron’s careers skyrocketed respectively after 1984 and rightfully so. The film they have offered us is a timeless tale that will entertain Blu-ray audiences for years to come.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
The bonus features for The Terminator are pretty terrific. The Blu-ray case is actually a mini book. This fascinating book features essays, biographies, photos and trivia, an absolutely delightful memento for Terminator fans as well as film aficionados. Bonus features on the disc include seven terminated (deleted) scenes and two informative behind-the-scenes featurettes.