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.