Combustible Celluloid
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With: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Bess Motta, Earl Boen, Rick Rossovich, Dick Miller, Shawn Schepps, Bruce M. Kerner, Franco Columbu, Bill Paxton, Brad Rearden, Brian Thompson
Written by: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr.
Directed by: James Cameron
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 108
Date: 25/10/1984

The Terminator (1984)

4 Stars (out of 4)

He's Back

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Terminator is a brilliant sci-fi film that cleverly combines strong storytelling with suspense and killer set-pieces.

In James Cameron's story, people can travel through time in a giant globe, but they lose their clothes during the trip. Two figures arrive in the present day of 1984, one is a big, monosyllabic man-mountain (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and the second is the handsome, spry Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). They're both looking for Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The former wants to kill her and the latter wants to save her. In the future, machines have taken over, and Connor's son leads the human rebellion against them, so the machines have devised a clever, if unorthodox, method of wiping him out before he's even born.

The movie gave Schwarzenegger his only great role and one of his greatest lines, "I'll be back." Somehow writer/director James Cameron, who spent $200 million on Titanic, brought this in for under $9 million. The FX seem quaint today but they get the job done better than most of today's CGI.

MGM's DVD is proudly presented in both a new stereo track and the original mono (!) track. It comes with lots of not-too-exciting extras, including documentaries and deleted scenes, but the movie alone is worth the price. Bill Paxton plays one of the punks and Dick Miller is the pawnshop clerk. Harlan Ellison complained that the film stole ideas from some of his old "Outer Limits" scripts; the studio settled out of court and Ellison's name now appears in the credits.

In 2011, MGM and Fox released a deluxe Blu-Ray book edition.

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