“Terminator” (1984)

The season of Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles has ended and the new film, Terminator Salvation opens on May 21, 2009. It felt like a good time to revisit the original films starting with The Terminator. The now-Governor is perfectly cast in a role where he has to look big, say few things, and not express emotion. The details of 1984 are accurate, but painful. The permed and feathered hair, the bad fashion, the flashing lights and electronic music. The look is dated, but that fits in a movie about a guy from the future who comes back to save a girl from the past. And the less said about the special effects, the better. They were good at the time.

Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese was much more skinny and effete than I recalled. I can see why they cast Jonathan Jackson in his part in the TV series. There’s a strong resemblance. I was extremely impressed when I noted how much of the material from the original had been skillfully woven into the TV series, like Sarah’s anecdotes from when she was a waitress. Even the bad movie soundtrack has some motifs that the current music echoes.

The movie, though, stands up. It’s suspenseful, creepy and involving. We care about Kyle and Sarah, and want Sarah to escape. I look forward to watching Terminator 2, which I picked up yesterday in a fruitful stop at Half Price Books. And I continue to hope that Fox shows some smarts and renews both Terminator and Dollhouse, both of which look promising if they’re given a chance to develop.

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