The Terminator

Where it all started.
By dg
June 01, 2009

With the release of the fourth Terminator film I wanted to do an article on the first film where it all started. The Terminator films or the first two are my fav films I grew up on. It has a massive fan base and not surprising because everyone who's seen them will tell you how amazing they are especially the first one for its originality and brilliant story.
Although The Terminator was a low budget film they made it look much more grander in scale like a big blockbuster you would watch today thanks to Cameron's genius. The first film was important for its time showing how great action can be done and also really well acted. I'm sure The Matrix films were influenced allot from the Terminator which you can tell. I'm not gonna go into the whole time paradox and all that because I don't quite understand it myself so its just from what I know.

Everyone knows the story. In the year 2029, a computer called Skynet is fighting against a human resistance, after having nearly destroyed the rest of humanity in 1997. Skynet has found a way to send some of it's warriors, called Terminators, back in time. This is the story of the Terminator sent to kill the resistance leader's mother in 1984, before she gives birth. The resistance sends a warrior named Kyle Reese back to 1984 to protect the young woman. The question is, can Sarah Connor survive long enough to have her child so that history remains on track?

James Cameron got the idea from a dream in Rome. His vision was of a metal Endo-Skeleton emerging from flames and most of the script was written backwards from there. The Endo-Skeleton would have to be futuristic and Cameron couldn't afford to set the film in the future. The solution was to bring the future to the present, hence the 'time travel' aspect of the script was written in.

The first film was originally supposed to have Lance Henrickson playing The Terminator, so the concept was to have a machine fit in with any crowd but then changed to a big body builder, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He made the Terminator seem more threatening and even O.J. Simpson was at one time going to play The Terminator. I think it would have been interesting to see Lance as the Terminator but it would probably would be a more normal thriller rather than a big action film with Arnold in it. Arnold was original going to play Kyle Reese but Cameron knew his acting wasn't great at the time and went with Michael Biehn who was great in the film. Michael Biehn had a great working relationship with Cameron's other films as well. Then there was John Connors mother Sarah Conner played brilliantly by Linda Hamilton and so the franchise began.

I loved the opening to The Terminator which was very eerie with a flying HK going over the top seeking out resistance fighters. You then see a solider running across the rubble with a another HK firing down which looked awesome. I always wondered if the solider running was Michael Biehn just helping out with that scene. You then see the story in writing appear which sounded cool especially where it says" the final battle would not be fought in future but the present day". The titles then kick in with futuristic letters over lapping and of course the amazing theme by Brad Friedel who did a brilliant score for the whole film.

Both solders arrive in great fashion with electricity surrounding the area. The Terminator arrives first crouching down. You then get to see Arnold in his early days standing up, absolutely huge looking around with the iconic Terminator stare. He slowly walks towards the edge of a road or building looking across the vast cityscape of Las Angeles. The Terminator demands clothes from some punks and you hear some funny lines. Then the Terminator rips a guys heart out played by Brian Thompson. You get to see a small cameo from Bill Paxton too.
Then Kyle Reese arrives in a dirty alley way. Originally there were two soldiers sent back but one died from the time travel and tells Reese to carry on and save Sarah Conner. It was written out because Cameron thought it wasn't necessary. I'm sure if you looked on the internet you would find the info, it was in an early draft he'd written. Kyle Reese steals some tramps clothes and runs way from some cops. He eventuality gets some shoes and a shotgun and carries on his mission to find Sarah Connor from a telephone book.

All the special effects were great in the film even if it wasnt CG back then. I think thats what makes old films so good is that they used older effects and models which gave them that certain feel and magic to the film which appreciate much more than CG.
Stan Winston did a super job on the film with the animatronics. I really enjoyed watching as he opens his arm up and tries to fix himself moving the metal strings up and down. Is was great seeing how the Terminator saw things which looked great tracking everything which was in his sight with an eerie echo sound in the background. I think it was the first time I saw something like that watching him track targets down.

The future war scenes were really impressive to watch and although you never get see loads in the film, Cameron gave you a good idea of what it was like. You see them through Reese's flashbacks which were gritty, dark and rubble everywhere. I liked how the resistance soldiers looked with there armour and weapons especially the grenade pipe bombs they carried to blow up the HK's and Plasma rifle guns.
You see Reese going down into an underground bunker where the surviving humans live. Its quite sad because it shows how they survive and eat in horrible conditions. You then see Reese take out an old picture of Sarah Connor and you get the first clue showing his love for her as he stares at it. You then see Franco Columbo make an appearance as an infiltrator Terminator looking menacing. Reese fires at him but gets knocked down by an explosion and you see the picture of Sarah Connor burring in the flames.

As stated in the making of the Terminator "the films are a wonderful life with guns". Kyle Reese steals a shot gun from a police car and saws the end off. But the Terminator with all its knowledge goes to a gun shop where he stacks up for supplies. He asks for Plasma Rifle 40 watt range, which I'm sure every body remembers not realizing they haven't even been made them yet. He gets a really cool gun with laser sighting and then blows the shop owner away, who's been in allot of 80's films.

There's a few good things that happen at the Police Station, where Reese gets interrogated and he explains to the asshole Dr. Peter Silberman, who he is and what his mission is to do. He explains that John Connor sent him back through time and they blew the whole place and he also mentions that there defense grid was smashed and that the resistance fighters had won. This makes you imagine how it would have played out and wonder what the time displacement machine looked like but because of the budget they were unable to do it which is disappointing.
On the T2 special edition you can see the artwork for the Time displacement which is great and on the T1 special edition there is artwork done brilliantly by Cameron of what Skynet looked like. Although there probably show this in the new films its a shame that they didn't in T1 or T2 because it wont be the same without Michael Biehn who did a great job with Kyle Reese.
You also get to see Lance Henrickson through the film playing a cop and Lieutenant Ed Traxler played by Paul Winfield, who seems to believe Reese which is really interesting.

There were plenty of intense action scenes in the film. The shoot out at Tecnoir disco where the Terminator nearly kills Sarah Conner and Reese saves her at the last second which has a great build up. You then finally get to find out what's going on as Michael Biehn explains brilliantly in a car chase.
The other is at the Police Station which was memorable. This is where Arnold Schwarzenegger says his most iconic line "Ill be back" unawhere he meant he was coming back to kick ass. Arnie blasts his way through killing any cop in his way.

The love scene in the film was important because although it had allot of action, it was still deep down a love story just based around it and showed that Reese would become the father of John Conner.
Its quite a sad scene because all Reese knew in life was how to fight and survive and never loves anyone apart from Sarah Connor.
The Terminator tracks them down for the last time in the final chase where he gets smacked down by a big truck but keeps on coming which was scary. The most memorable bit is when the truck gets blown up and the Endo-Skeleton appears out of the carnage just when you think its all over and you wonder if there ever gonna kill the thing. Although the Terminator is now taking over by Stop Motion, Arnold is no longer seen in the film any more which is weird because he's the star of the film.

The factory part was great as they just about get away from the Terminator. He smashes through the door and tracks them down as Reese must fight him off one last time. Reese dies from his explosion he put on the terminator and it explodes and bits of metal fly everywhere. Its a sad scene when you see Reese dead and you wonder how Sarah will cope with out him. Then the Terminator comes after her with no legs. Probably one of the scariest moments in the film as she goes under the crusher and finally destroys him for good.
The last scene you see Sarah pregnant trying to make sense of everything and her fate. You see her picture taken by a boy which Reese described to her.This ends the film brilliantly as you see her driving off into the distance.

There's been quite allot games based on the first film but three stand out for me as being the best. The first being the Sega Megadrive version which was fairly decent. The other one is the Sega CD version which in my opinion although a platform is still the best. The background's were great and they managed to capture the film the most and the way Reese looked. The music was wicked as well it suited the feel of the film and game.
The last decent game based on this film was Dawn Of Fate which tells how Reese got sent back which is pretty fun to play.

I think they should remake the Sega CD version. Starting off in the future and then carrying on where the film started with some great levels and extra ones with Reese. Be great if they could use Michael Biehn's voice and Linda Hamilton's and even Arnold's to voice their characters.
The only problem is it might clash with the new films but I think it would be successful if they did do it especially with the graphics they have today.

Lastly I would like to quickly talk about the new films. When I heard they were planning on making three new Terminator films I wasn't impressed. I think making three new films seems too much since Cameron was able to tell his story with two films so why the need for three films.
Just seems as if there completely milking the franchise.
But then I wouldn't really want the franchise to end on the disappointing T3, so hopefully the new films can do the first two films some justice.
What ever happens in the future and how the new films turn out this film and the second one will always remain classic's.
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