WolfmanOz at the Movies #87

I’ll be back.

It’s been a number of weeks since I last posted after an extended holiday in Europe and the UK but I’m back and reviewing a low budget science fiction classic, released in 1984, that broke box office records, and gave cinema a new superstar and a director to take notice of.

In The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a cyborg, where he has been sent back in time to assassinate the soon-to-be-mother of the future world leader, John Connor (who battles the machines in the future and leads an uprising). If Connor is killed, then there will be no one to oppose the machines of the future, and they will triumph. So the future John Connor has sent a protector back in time, to help save his mother – Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) who tells Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) about the machine that is trying to kill her. “It can’t be bargained with, it can’t feel pain or mercy, and it will stop at absolutely nothing until you are dead !” The movie deals with a war that was set in the future but the battle will be fought in the present.

Was there a better person to play a cyborg than Schwarzenegger ? For this movie he was a massively built oak tree of a man. His strange accent makes for a perfectly callous robotic sounding killing machine. It’s almost like his voice is a computer read out (which I guess it is in one sense). At one time his agent pursued Schwarzenegger to play the Kyle Reese, but Schwarzenegger wasn’t interested to be an action hero he was interested in being The Terminator and he played it so well and believable enough that it catapulted him to become the biggest film star in the world from the mid 1980s to the early 2000s.

The Terminator is one of those films that started something huge. People didn’t realise it at the time, but the careers of Schwarzenegger, James Cameron, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton were substantially started because of this film. And Cameron must have liked working with them so much that he gave most of them substantial roles in his next film Aliens.

The Terminator has become a science fiction action classic and started a massive franchise that is still churning out films nearly 40 years after the original, although none have bettered the original and now the series has degenerated into repetitious parody. As the budgets got bigger and bigger the quality diminished accordingly. There’s something edgy about The Terminator that the sequels could never quite match in that Schwarzenegger was the indestructible bad guy (cyborg) – not the super human good cyborg.

Many people look back at the films of James Cameron and suggest that the smaller the budget, the tighter the limitations, the better the end product. Films like Avatar, Titanic and True Lies had huge budgets and drew in even bigger audiences but I still yearn for the Cameron that gave us The Terminator and Aliens which were outstanding movies that packed a far bigger punch artistically.

The Terminator is a nightmarish, time travelling science fiction film told at a breakneck pace and delivered with confidence and style. The film has a very gritty, underground look to it and does a great job of telling its story amid the frenetic action. There is also a huge slice of horror and suspense thrown in, an impression that has diminished in the years since it’s release due to the inferior sequels. Viewed as a standalone piece however, The Terminator is an outstanding piece of work from a director with a very clear vision.


and the tease for next weeks post . . . Wannsee.

22 responses to “WolfmanOz at the Movies #87”

  1. MatrixTransform Avatar

    they don’t quite make ’em that good anymore

    watched T1 so many times that at one time I had the entire script in my head

    T2 was nearly as good as T1

    and now we have Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

    we have code that writes code and it isn’t even 2029 yet

    when we get there, if have enough money … i haven’t decided whether to got to Mars with Elon, or travel back in time to 1984

  2. Fair Shake Avatar
    Fair Shake

    Welcome back Wolfman.

    I think T2 took the franchise up to a new level and was v good. The rest were ho hum.

    I work for a German company. Whenever I leave a meeting I say ‘I’ll be bak!’. My german colleagues respond with their best impersonations of Austrian Arnie. Always gets a laugh.

  3. WolfmanOz Avatar

    T2 was an excellent sequel with Arnie playing the good cyborg (inverting his role from T1). The CGI special effects were superb and marked a quantum leap in quality.

    But I’ve always preferred T1 there was just something quite unique in Arnie playing the bad guy – I just wished he was a bit more adventurous in his future roles in exploring the dark side.

  4. Lee Avatar

    The Terminator is quite a good film, but I have gone right off Arnie since his sharp turn to the left and conversion into a climate change looney.

  5. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Likewise Lee – but T1 was in a time of non woke – so I’ll give Arnie a pass.

  6. Alamak! Avatar

    Welcome back, Wolfman and thanks for posting this.

    Movies about Robots, AI etc are becoming more relevant & bit more real as we see the expansion of LLM’s like Bard, Char GPT etc.

    Loved T1, T2 and the rest were pretty much c.rap riding off the amazing franchise started earlier. Possibly it was always going to be downhill as T* series never really examines the conundrum of what is robot vs human like Bladerunner. So like any story involving time travel and attempts to change future it only gets messier and less clear as recursive history feeds on itself.

    Thinking about it, the original T1 /2 movies could be considered quite feminist in true sense as it pits male power(Arnie) vs youth(John Connor) vs brains( Miles Dyson – scientist creator of Skynet) vs female instinct(Sarah Connor) to see who can shape the future best in a scenario where all humanity is under attack.

    Turns out the maternal instinct is one of the basic drivers for humans to survive and Sarah is a great example of that drive in action.

    Sad that modern movies have mostly abandoned offering any choices like the ones in T1/2 or Blade Runner leaving us with drivel like Barbie & its like (Men all BAD, Women all SUPERHEROES)

  7. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Nov 23, 2023 12:32 PM

    Top comment !

  8. Bar Beach Swimmer Avatar
    Bar Beach Swimmer

    Whenever Schwarzenegger‘s name comes up I’m always reminded of a young kid of about 12 who called into a radio quiz and answered the relevant question with “Arnold Shockingactor”.

  9. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Nice one BBS.

    I don’t think anyone (even Arnie) would claim he could really act but he had the presence of a movie star (which is something entirely different).

    It’s funny that in this role (as the evil cyborg) he was absolutely perfectly cast !

  10. Fair Shake Avatar
    Fair Shake

    ‘Come with me if you want to live.’

  11. Bar Beach Swimmer Avatar
    Bar Beach Swimmer

    Yes, sometimes an actor can inhabit the role so well that there seems to be no demarcation line.

    Maybe a theme for another thread?

  12. Bruce of Newcastle Avatar
    Bruce of Newcastle

    Wolfman – I have to agree the original is the best Terminator fillum. Unstoppable momentum.

    The second one is also seriously good with many zingers. Switching Arnie from baddie to goodie was a nice twist, and if Robert Patrick was a little wooden that is entirely forgivable for another unstoppable character, with some nice set pieces (the security officer identical twins were awesome!)

    I have to disagree though with one thing. Arnie was already a superstar…remember Conan the Barbarian? That was 1982. Maybe he saw James Earl Jones being a baddie, and a rather excellent baddie, that he wanted to be one too. He got his chance only 2 years later…

  13. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Bar Beach Swimmer
    Nov 23, 2023 5:14 PM

    I’ll have to make a note of that.

    Bruce of Newcastle
    Nov 23, 2023 5:49 PM

    IMO Conan movies put Arnie on the map (albeit I never cared for them) ie as an established movie presence but for me it was The Terminator that cemented him as the next big movie star.

    Agree re T2 as it was a smart twist . . . unfortunately the rest of the Terminator films were pretty ordinary at best.

  14. Bruce of Newcastle Avatar
    Bruce of Newcastle

    or Blade Runner leaving us with drivel like Barbie

    Heh, it’s fun that Ryan Gosling plays Ken in the Barbie movie and a very okay replicant in Blade Runner 2049. He’s one of those actors who needs a really chunky role to shine in, Arnie style. Hasn’t had that yet. Maybe he should be the next James Bond.

  15. The Beer Whisperer Avatar
    The Beer Whisperer

    Heh, it’s fun that Ryan Gosling plays Ken in the Barbie movie and a very okay replicant in Blade Runner 2049. He’s one of those actors who needs a really chunky role to shine in, Arnie style. Hasn’t had that yet. Maybe he should be the next James Bond.

    Gosling plays Lee Majors’ second great role as The Fall Guy.

    The trailers promise it to be much more entertaining than the original. And i thought he was crap in Blade Runner.

  16. Entropy Avatar

    I rocked up to the schonell theatre at UQ with some friends to watch The Terminator. Knew absolutely nothing about it, but was absolutely sold in the first five minutes.

    Conan the barbarian has an awesome soundtrack. And Arnie punches out a camel.

    A truly bad robot movie is Will Smith’s I, Robot. As in a really bad indulgence that has no connection to the revered novel beyond the name.

  17. Wally Dalí Avatar
    Wally Dalí

    Arnie’s best line, chosen from his list of ChatGPT prompts-
    “F*ck you assh*le”
    I remember bluffing our way into the local for the R-rated Total Recall, and being blown away by the opening credits, and the music score- like The Anvil of Crom and March of the Machines, totally gripping in its extended pulse and swelling volume.
    I missed seeing all of these epics on the big screen, with surround sound…

  18. Old School Conservative Avatar
    Old School Conservative

    The Terminator’s first arrival scene which included a nude full frontal had certain female members of the OSC household enthralled.

  19. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Old School Conservative
    Nov 24, 2023 11:16 PM

    You mean this . . .


  20. GreyRanga Avatar

    Didn’t Arnie complain he had too many lines to learn.

  21. WolfmanOz Avatar

    Nov 25, 2023 7:26 AM
    Didn’t Arnie complain he had too many lines to learn.

    LOLs ! ! !

    An urban legend I’d imagine as he only had 17 lines and 58 words to say.

  22. Alamak! Avatar

    An urban legend I’d imagine as he only had 17 lines and 58 words to say.

    not much content, but getting the right level of humanoid/human accent and style took him a lifetime.

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