The Terminator (1984)
Review by Jude Felton
Director James Cameron has probably become more synonymous with big budget visual extravaganzas over the years, with movies such as Titanic and Avatar dominating Box Office receipts. He has made some absolutely outstanding movies though, and yes I did enjoy Titanic, such as Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, it is his 1984 movie, The Terminator that I hold dearest to my soiled heart. It’s just a damned fine movie, and let’s face it; Arnold never had another role he was more suited to.
I could spend a few paragraphs rehashing the plot of The Terminator, but is it really necessary? I suppose I should mention a wee bit, just in case there is anyone that hasn’t seen the film. The Terminator of the title is sent back in time to the present day, which is 1984, in order to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The reason for this is that she is the mother of John Connor, who once he is born and grows up, will lead the resistance against the machines that have taken over Earth.
Also doing the time warp is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a soldier sent back to help Sarah and stop the terminator. It’s all very simple, except when you stop to think about it, and that’s when it will start to really hurt your brain. Why? Because if the terminator and Reese didn’t come back in time… well, let’s just say a lot of this could have been avoided. It really is a great story, and one that Cameron expanded on perfectly in Terminator 2. Yes, there were two more sequels, and both had their merits, but it is this film and the first sequel that work by far the best.
Anyway, on the surface The Terminator is just the perfect action film, which also has its share of scary moments. The first time I saw it on VHS there were more than a couple of moments that I had to watch through my fingers. It is, first and foremost though, a flat out raw and bloody journey of violence. The incredible set-pieces, such as the Tech Noir shootout and the police station massacre, are just movie perfection.
There is a lot more to The Terminator though, believe it or not. It works incredibly well on an emotional level, once you dig past the extreme violence, and focuses heavily on relationships, and the impending sense of dread of what is to come. Is it the perfect movie? Well it’s not far off, of that you can be sure. Okay, so it looks a little dated in places, and some of the special effects later on in the film look pretty poor, but none of this matters as the story itself, and great performances from the three leads, propel The Terminator into absolute greatness.
Now, 20th Century Fox and MGM have delivered the Remastered version on Blu-ray, and guess what, it looks freaking superb. Once you get past some of the low-budget effects, which still look dated, the picture itself is terrific. There’s a clarity I never thought I would see in this film, and the sound is absolutely thunderous. I watched it at about one in the morning and had to keep turning it down, for fear of waking the neighbors! So, in case you were wondering, yes, you do need to buy this edition. Hell, the film is great on any format, but this Blu-ray edition is just wonderful.
There are some special features included on the disc, such as 7 deleted scenes and a Terminator Retrospective, which are all good and well. I would have liked an Audio Commentary and maybe a few more bells and whistles on such a good release. Mind you, this is a disc that would be worth picking up even if there were no extras; such is the quality of the film and the AV quality.
The Terminator is a film that every collection should have, and this Blu-ray release is definitely one that is worth your time. I was a little hesitant as to how good it would look and sound, as you never know how much effort is going to be put into these releases, but I needn’t have worried; it bloody superb.
The Terminator Remastered is available now on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox and MGM.