Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

17 January 2008

The Terminator, dir. James Cameron (1984)

STEVE says:
In anticipation of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, we thought we'd go back to the beginning. I haven't seen The Terminator in years, and I'm surprised by how well it holds up - although I did make a comment about some of the cheesy puppetry. Nikki told me, "It's the 80s, there were no bad effects - just effects." So with that in mind, I guess the stop-motion Terminator bit at the end maybe isn't so bad. But I still think James Cameron's an asshole.

Here's the story: Turns out that certain aspects of The Terminator are strikingly similar to two episodes of The Outer Limits - "Soldier" and "Demon with a Glass Hand", both written by Harlan Ellison. Harlan sued Cameron over this and won, settling for a couple hundred thousand dollars. A credit was tacked on to the end of The Terminator that reads, simply "Acknowledgment to the works of Harlan Ellison."

Acknowledgment? "Inspired by" if not "based on" would have suited, but "acknowledgment to the works of" sounds like he's doing it begrudgingly. What a tool.

Still, you judge the art, not the plagiarist, and The Terminator still rates a 3.5 out of 5.

NIKKI says:
I hadn't seen this movie for a really long time. I haven't watched the sequel since I was hanging out with these two girls, Christy and Mellissa, so that's at least 15 years ago for that one. So, in perhaps, let's say, 18 years... I really hadn't thought too much about the original Terminator. My feelings on it overtaken, really, by the sequel. That movie had such an impact on my life, because I think it was the first time I was conscious of a film as a phenomenon. Catchphrases, shirts, references in other films -- it was major. And those girls and I just loved Edward Furlong, although Christy "won" him as her beau-officiale because we couldn't all three have the same guy lest we end up actually hanging out with him -- how could he choose between us? T2 was major. I can't really remember another film coming close to achieving what it did as a cultural landmark. Anyway... revisiting the original was made even more interesting with all of the T2 stuff in my head. The first movie is still good, still effective, and certainly lives up to its status as the precursor for that big-time follow-up.

It was weird seeing the Terminator as such a brutal force when he's so lovable in the sequel. And it was nice to remember Sarah Connor before the news of the future war completely eradicated her sense of herself as anything but a warrior. We watched the film in preparation for viewing the new Sarah Connor Chronicles TV show, and I'm glad we did because we see the genesis of this iconic future-woman, so powerful and yet not, governed by a future she can't change. It's great her story is carrying on.

I really like this story -- the woman who finds out her son saves the world after a major world war, terminator machines sent back in time to destroy her. It's the perfect speculative tale. And all too real now that we have actual wars occurring, machines thinking for us all the time. So, it holds up as a concept. And it really lacks the cheese of, say, a Future Cop or something similar. It retains a great drama, perhaps because its characters are well crafted, its story well written.


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