Evil Movie Review: The Terminator and Terminator 2 – Judgement Day
I think I was somehow accidentally transported to the 1980’s, since I have been catching up on some old classics like the original Star Trek series, and now here I find myself having finally (yes, as a 32 year old), finally watching the first two Terminator films. I won’t say it was by my choice, but I figured it was time to get up to speed on this series, seeing as how the upcoming film this summer stars Emilia Clarke and Matt Smith. I might as well understand all the background, and see what the Arnold hub-bub is all about. So here is my review of these first two films, with of course my feminine judgment and perspective.
The Terminator was released in 1984 (the year after I was born) and was a James Cameron blockbuster. Now, I have to confess, though I have always been a movie loving geek it is only in recent years that I have started to recognize names of directors and producers and how they might have influenced the films I love. And before Avatar I didn’t really know who James Cameron was, but now I realize he is responsible for a ton of stellar 80’s films, like Aliens and now The Terminator. It seems like he has been around for a long time and I should start paying more attention to those films that he is involved with.But back to the movie: I was forewarned there would be a lot of machoism and violence in these films. And how does the first scene start? With a stark naked Arnold zapping back to 1984 from the future LA of 2029. The introduction explained that in the future there was a huge nuclear war and a war against the machines when the machines originally designed as a defense system turned against the human species and tried to annihilate them. In a likely unrealistic move, the humans have nearly defeated the machines when lead by John Connor. But the machines have discovered time travel, and in an attempt to thwart John Connor from ever being born they send back a machine T-800 Model Terminator to kill his mother before he is even conceived. And that is what our dear Arnold is, a terminator machine sent to assassinate Sarah Connor.
Luckily the human resistance has time travel as well, so they send back a man named Kyle Reese to save Sarah. And to just about sum up the movie (spoilers!) Kyle and Sarah fall in love while escaping the Terminator, dozens of people including all those close to Sarah are killed in the process, and there are numerous car chase scenes and moments of the Terminator rising from the dead when you think he’s been destroyed. Ultimately Kyle is killed trying to destroy the machine, and the half annihilated machine is crushed by Sarah.
It’s a pretty simple story, but all in all I liked it. Why? There were several reasons. The first was I enjoyed Sarah Connor’s character. She starts out as a nobody waitress at a fast food joint, and when she realizes that her survival is tantamount to the human race’s survival she rises to the occasion. I mean, before these events she probably never got in a fight before in her life, but rather than screaming like a little girl or being helpless she fights back. Yes, she runs a lot too (which is exactly what I would have done in a lot of those moments), but she fights to survive and does a pretty good job at processing all this information as well.
The other reason I liked the movie was the main plot twist, and yes, major spoiler here. There were several occasions when Sarah is being informed about the future by Kyle and he obviously seems to not only admire her, but love her deeply even though they just met. It’s like there is an instant connection between the two. I was pretty sure from the moment they locked eyes that the unborn child of Sarah’s that saves the human race would be Kyle’s son as well. Now this is not officially revealed until the last scene as the surviving Sarah drives off to Mexico, but I enjoyed this aspect of the time loop. It makes you feel invincible, like Harry Potter with his patronus: he knew he could conjure it because he already had. And to think that Kyle probably knew that he did not survive the mission makes it even more selfless and heroic. Sarah was right when she said they loved a lifetime in the one night that they knew each other.
A third reason I liked the movie was its simplicity. I know that sounds lame, but sometimes it is refreshing to watch a movie that is only a little over 1.5 hours long and yet satisfies all that you are looking for. There was a general lack of dialogue as well, but messages and points were made easily. And in the day of overused CGI it was refreshing to have some Claymation shots of Arnold’s torn up face, even if it was a little unbelievable. The Terminator character is also simple and straightforward. I could see how he was probably scary back in the 80’s as well, though my 21st century wired brain just saw him as Hulk-like. But sometimes simplicity makes things more believable, and that’s what I felt this movie was. I enjoyed it, even with all the crazy gun scenes.
So I was excited to see the next movie which is known as the best in the series: Terminator 2- Judgment Day. Now we’ve made it to 1991 by the time we get to this film, so maybe my expectations were a little higher. Plus there was the fact that I expected, and was told by others, I would not enjoy the first movie, And the film was also directed by James Cameron. Lots of plusses here.This movie also starts off with the crazy lightning storm that is a person from the future transporting back in time. And yes, it is a naked Arnold all over again, who immediately starts looking for John Connor. There is another man that also travels back in time and takes on the persona of a police officer. So when he searches for John it is revealed that he is with foster parents. Wait, what? Was Sarah killed?
The man from the future dressed as a cop turns out to be a T-1000 model Terminator, who has this special mimetic-poly-alloy body that can change in to almost anything. And he is the one sent by the machines of the future to kill John, whereas Arnold’s T-800 type is this time sent back in time by the future John to help protect them. Arnold rescues John and starts to learn about human bantering from him, they rescue Sarah from the mental institute, and then they go about trying to stop the future apocalypse by killing the man responsible for make Skynet, and destroying his lab with him when he joins their mission. Throughout all of this the T-1000 continues to pursue them and several explosion filled, shot guns blazing scenes ensue until they conveniently end up in a steel mill where the T-1000 can finally be destroyed by being shot in to a vat of molten metal. And no Arnold doesn’t get to live, he too must go in to the vat so that no human can accidentally obtain him and his technology which might bring about the future destruction of the human race.
Nope, she is in a mental institute. She was put there after getting caught attempting to blow up a computer factory. Before going there she had been raising John to be a warrior and a leader. So unlike in the last film where she was just told of her importance, in this film she has risen to the occasion in becoming a bad ass warrior herself.
Wow, that was a lot longer than the first movie’s summary. And maybe that was one reason why I was not as much of a fan of this second film: it was too long. While the first movie’s violence seemed to have a point (to destroy Sarah Connor) this one seemed to have violence and explosions in excess.
Then there was Sarah’s character. After the first film I had pretty high expectations for her. And she was a buff bad ass in this film, but she kind of deserved to be in a mental institute. Not because of her delusions, which were actually the truth, but because of her losing her grip with reality and humanity. She seemed to stop caring about any human life except her son’s, and most of the time her acting made her look like a meth addict. I did want her to become a stronger character, but she just seemed to have become physically stronger rather than gain any depth or compassion in to her personality. I would have loved for an equally strong, compassionate, and wise Sarah instead of this muscular, psychotic, rage-filled Sarah.
The silly lines between John and Arnold were a little goofy too. Was that what people were looking for in comic relief back in the 90’s? One liners and slapstick? Oh well.
Even though I was disappointed in the film compared to the first, I did not hate it. There were some good scenes. In particular, I think the T-1000 character was terrifying in comparison to Arnold’s original T-800. This guy was also succinct, not talking much. And the fact that he ended up in a cop’s uniform for most of the movie seemed particularly creepy. Even though my CGI expectations are higher now, I totally recognize that this CGI was cutting edge back then. In fact, it seems pretty believable now, so gotta hand it to them for their great use of CGI with the villain. I actually wish there had been more scenes with his character, they were definitely my favorite. And there is just something terrifying about a machine that won’t die no matter how hard you try to blow it up.
That just about sums up my thoughts on the first two Terminator films. I am curious to see if men and women alike agree with me, or if my opinions are more of the female persuasion. Or maybe they are just mine, Lilith’s. I’ve still got two more films in the franchise to get through before this summer’s movie, so stay tuned folks.
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Posted on June 11, 2015, in Evil Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews and tagged Arnold Schwarzenegger, Evil Movie Reviews, Sarah Connor, Sci-Fi, Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Terminator. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.