There are some movies so iconic that you feel like you’ve seen them over and over. But one day, you sit down and watch the whole movie from start to finish, then realize it has been YEARS since you’ve seen it, so it is almost like seeing it for the first time. That is how I felt watching the Blu-Ray release of the now-classic iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Terminator. Was there ever a time when pop culture didn’t enjoy the tagline, “I’ll be back”?
The Terminator has spawned multiple sequels as well as a television show, with so much of the mythology of the storytelling looping around that even hardcore fans admit that the timeline is a little bit fuzzy and convoluted. But if time-travel doesn’t have you scratching your head anyway, the original Terminator did its best to be as straightforward as possible. Imagine your future child will be a great leader in the not-too-far future. This future is one of of desolation, resulting from a great war where machines developed, rebelled, and wiped out most of what is left of the human race. So, logically, a killer robot (human-looking! crap!) is sent to the past to kill you before this child is born, ensuring that the bad robots win and the future of humanity is screwed. Get it? Um, sure…
Sarah Connor (boufy-haired Linda Hamilton) is a nobody waitress in L.A., sharing an apartment with her best girlfriend, riding her scooter around town, getting stood-up on dates. Little does she know, but a huge, beefy, muscley Arnold Schwarzenegger has zapped into a dark alley, buck-naked from the future, and his Terminator self has one mission: to kill Sarah Connor. Luckily for Sarah, the future humans have also sent human soldier Michael Biehn back to the past (her present) to protect her from the Terminator. Keeping Sarah Connor alive is crucial to the survival of the human race, see? Try explaining all this to a poor waitress under duress as a Terminator tries to blow her head off in a nightclub.
The Terminator is much scarier than I remembered. Arnold’s steely gaze is both hilarious and also completely unnerving. If I saw his huge, leather-jacketed self aim a laser-guided shotgun at my forehead in the middle of a crowd, well, I’d probably soil myself. The Terminator is also funny and clever. Remember when director James Cameron actually hid behind the camera, instead of letting his ego ooze into every frame? This was his first movie, and is still one of his best. Sure, there are some things that are a bit dated (enjoy the dancing in the nightclub scene, the poor clay-mation type special effects as Arnold plucks out his eye in the bathroom mirror, and the herky-jerky stop-motion animation whenever they show skeleton-Terminator walking), but the movie is still a top-notch sci-fi thriller. I heard recently that The Terminator was inducted into the National Film Archives, and I think it is a worthy addition.
This particular Blu-Ray edition comes with a nice booklet as the disc-holder. The book holds a couple essays, filmographies of the main actors, and Terminator Trivia. The disc itself doesn’t have a lot of extras. The “Retrospective” is actually from the 1990s (this could certainly be updated), and there is a featurette called “Creating The Terminator: Visual Effects & Music”. Most interesting are the 7 Deleted Scenes, one of which explains a WHOLE lot about where they are at the end of the film, and why they were headed to that particular warehouse. It offers a kind of “a-ha!” moment as far as plot holes, but I can kind of see why they left it out.