The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction action movie directed by James Cameron; best known for Hollywood blockbusters that include, among others, Aliens, True Lies and Titanic. It centres on Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a Los Angeles native who alongside her liaison in Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) aim to quell an imminent futuristic danger in the form of a Cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger).


There are a lot of reasons why James Cameron is the arguably one of if not the best directors to ever grace Hollywood; his resume speaks for itself. The best thing I like about him is the fact that he is a visionary; seeing the most probable future that the world is moving gradually towards and in turn taking us, through his movies, to it before we even think about whether or not we want to experience it in the first place. Be it the concept of alien life in our cosmos or even the possibility of time travel and a Machine dominated world, he has evidently left little to no stones un-turned in relation to science-fiction and this film I am reviewing is very much a testament of the latter.

At the onset, we get introduced to the T-800 Model 101 Terminator, who I will be referring to as “Arnie Cyborg” from this point onward in my synopsis for convenience reasons and also because I think it’s cool. From the moment it appears on-screen you know it means business; I don’t really get why it came naked from the future but all in all, those few guys who failed to comply with its order to hand in their clothes got a vivid taste of the cyborg’s violent potential and I loved it. Basically, it’s on a strict mission to kill Sarah Connor and thus if you try and compromise the cause in any way, it will kill you. Shortly after, there is another time travel event and this time, it involves a real man, Kyle Reese to be precise. He has also been sent from the future and unlike the robot, he is confused, draws the attention of the authorities but as far as his intent is concerned, protecting Sarah Connor from an early demise is all he has to do.


Speaking of the angel, she is just a young ordinary vibrant lady trying to make ends meet at a local diner. She is not in any way stress-free, in fact her job is the very epitome of stress; confusedly serving many customers with no help whatsoever. Just to add a bit of salt to injury, an errant kid has the nerve of placing an ice-cream inside her apron pocket; funny moment by the way, for me of course, not so much for her. Unbeknownst of Sarah, two parties are in search of her and who coincidentally employ an identical way of finding her location; the phone-booth directory. I am not quite conversant with why the phone-booths housed directories containing information on people’s residences that anyone could get access to but one thing’s for sure, they must have been a bane to the existence of any serial killer target; in this case, anyone named Sarah Connor. There are quite a number of them around town but Arnie Cyborg is taking no chances, it opts to kill them all of them in the order they appear in the directory.

The latter was quite an interesting arc in the movie for me. The killings raised a lot of eyebrows and caused a considerable amount of tension not only for the locals, but the police department as well with Lieutenant Ed (Paul Winfield) and Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen) being the officers in the thick of it all. In the beginning, the two treated it as a mere homicide case but once the identical patterns started to occur, it became real serious real fast and thus they make it their business to reach out to any S.C they can find. Eventually, they do manage to get in contact with one of them and it so happened to be the ‘real’ Sarah Connor if you know what I mean. By the time Connor’s life takes a turn for the worst and she is scampering for to keep herself safe, the film has already given you a compelling reason to invest in her character and why she ought to stay alive. It’s simple, there’s a killer-bot on the loose tracking her innocent soul with her only ‘mistake’ being the fact that she was going to give life to the outright leader of The Resistance.


The action sequences are quite the gem for an 80’s movie; the gunfights where my personal favourites. Whether it was in a club, while driving on the streets or just in a police-station swarming with armed police officers, the killer cyborg could seriously hold his own. By now, I assume you have already seen The Terminator but even if you haven’t and you eventually do, I think you’ll agree with me that Arnie Cyborg is one of if not the most intelligent robots to grace any film. It knows every single type of ammunition in existence and how they work, knows how to drive a vehicle and do a perfect drift as well, knows that stealing a police vehicle and accessing select information through the communication equipment is the most convenient way of tracking Sarah Connor and finally, it knows how to escape the scene of an accident Batman style; what more could you earnestly want in a robot? The attributes of this cyborg just goes a long way to show you the sheer might of Skynet and why Schwarzenegger’s character had to be their last and most efficient throw of the dice to save their legacy; a legacy threatened by the Resistance more so John Connor.


That said, this James Cameron project is not without blemish. The montages in some of the action scenes weren’t appealing to eye, at least from a critic’s point of view case in point the car chase scene where the authorities are in pursuit of Sarah and Kyle. The shots were cut too fast and thus I didn’t really get absorbed into the stakes in play as much as I would have wanted to. Secondly, The Resistance sending an emissary just about the same time as SkyNet made sense; John Connor felt an immediate threat to the impending victory they were to accomplish and thus sent one of his own men to secure it. However, we don’t get to see these scenes in the movie and we only know of them through Kyle Reese’s narrations to Sarah Connor and later on to the police officers. In spite of the fact that I hold Cameron’s film-making in high esteem, he should have known better than to exclude these scenes which I feel would have enhanced the tone of the film and breathed more life to the agendas of both Reese and Arnie Cyborg. Last but not least, there is the paradox issue. Picture this, if Kyle Reese was sent from the 2027 future to the 1984 past to secure a future with John Connor in it but died in the process, how does he then exist in 2027 to be sent when he died in 1984?; well, that’s quite the head-scratching question, isn’t it?


When all is said and done, you can’t really dispute with the immense Box Office numbers accredited to The Terminator vis-à-vis the amount of money it took to make the film in the first place. It’s a great movie; Arnold Schwarzenegger can do no wrong when he is in a lead role and I solemnly see myself watching this movie again in the future; maybe I should see it in 2027? That would be a perfect way to pay homage to this spectacle of a motion-picture.






40 thoughts on “THE TERMINATOR (1984) RETRO REVIEW.

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      1. Yea. Terminator was one of those childhood films that I remember watching all the time. Predator was another one I remember playing over and over again.


  1. Great post on a great film.
    As to the paradox … I don’t believe Kyle Reese was born yet in 1984, or of he was, he was really young. As such, his future self being killed in 1984 won’t effect his ability to be sent back. The key for him was to protect Sarah Connor and father John. The only way it would become paradoxical would be if either killed his past self or, if he hadn’t been born yet, killed his parents. At that point he wouldn’t have existed to be sent back in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! Thanks for clarifying that; I don’t want to look too much into it because I have to admit, I find paradoxes related to time travel really confusing😄. All the same, I get your angle… It’s acceptable 👍😎. Thanks for reading the review as well.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. THE TERMINATOR is a complete and utter masterpieceand always will be for me.

    It also showcased one of the great underated love stories of 20th century film (“I came across time for you Sarah. I love you – I always have.”)
    Plus that T-800 Model 101 sure was handy with a scalpel.


    1. Oh really? .. . I on the other hand am torn between this one and Rise of the Machines as my best in the franchise. All the same, I think I’ll be able to rank the Terminator movies well enough once I rewatch and review all of them; from the first one to the latest. 😎

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, the original was dope.
        I didn’t finish Terminator Genysis; there was a black out as I was watching it and I somehow never bothered to go back and watch it.😊


  3. One of my favorites and I have it on DVD. I’ve watched it many times, one of my favorite scenes is the very last scene it is so tense of scary still even after having watched it many times.


    1. Yeah👍.. .It was lurking towards Horror territory a bit. Arnie Cyborg gets burnt but is still able to forge on. Kyle Reese blows it up but still, it struggles on. Finally, it takes Sarah Connor’s ingenuity to crush it with that machine and even at that moment, the robot was in the verge on choking her or even snapping her neck; either way, the result would have been the same. I’ve watched that scenes a couple of times and I really felt scared for Connor; it’s intense stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like scenes like that in movies, but I’m not a horror fan. It had elements of what I like best in movies, humor, suspense, romance, action scenes with chases and good ending making you want to know more.


      2. So am I… But I watch them anyway, because I feel it’s not right as a movie critic to only review movies of your genre preference. My dread for horror films dates back to when I was just 10. I watched “Eight Legged Freaks” and long story short, my life was never the same again. I developed arachnophobia which by the way am still struggling to get rid off.. I’m trying though😄
        Anyway, I can’t imagine a scenario where they didn’t make a sequel to The Terminator; that ending deserved one and boy was it a good one.


    1. I concur. There are some “action” movies made in recent times that are undeserving of their title; case in point MAX STEEL. Every bone in my body is well aware of the fact I despise that movie and honestly, I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t .


      1. Understandably so😎👍, you need to get value for the money you invest to see motion-pictures. I just feel sorry for childhood fan of Max Steel who saved up real cash to go see the movie two years ago.. . That guy is well within his rights to go seek a refund😄


  4. One of my favorite scenes is Arnie on the motorcycle and the semi, etc, I could watch it many times and have. I have the whole series on dvd, as I only do a few movies. I have the Bourne series also. I love most movies. I saw the original “War of the Worlds” as a child and it was the scariest movie I ever saw. I’ve seen the new one just recently and it had some cool tension and fear in it also.


    1. Yeah😄, Arnie Cyborg sure knows how to work a gun real good.. Especially considering the circumstance he was in.
      Surprisingly I haven’t seen WAR OF THE WORLDS yet. .. But I’ll make an initiative to do just that real soon. 😎


  5. Sarah Conner – one of the iconic sci fi characters. This one of my fav movies of all time. I can never decide which I love more – the first one or the amazing Terminator 2: Judgement Day (“Come with me if you want to live”)


  6. I just watched it again the other night, it’s funny how you start noticing little detail, like kids in Kyle’s nightmare (when Terminator Franco Columbu, Arnie’s best friend from the bodybuilding times gets into the resistance hideout), when shown from the front, it seems the kids are watching TV, but then the camera takes a turn and you see there’s just something on fire (like real fire) inside an empty TV box, and it’s casting lights and shadows on the kids faces. I just love the details like that.

    Liked by 1 person

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