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George At 

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The Terminator


1984 was a great year for James Cameron, Schwarzenegger and movie goers, with THE TERMINATOR hitting theatres.

Cameron had cut his teeth on low budget films like "Piranha II: The Spawning" and only had about $6million to make the time traveling cyborg film that would start a dynasty.

Schwarzenegger is the title killing machine, sent back from the future to kill young Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) before she can give birth to John Conner, who would defeat our robot oppressors in 2029.

Hamilton is SO young here, donning big 80's hair and mom jeans that show no sign of the total badass she would become in the sequels.

Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn from "Aliens") is a soldier sent back from the future to destroy the Terminator before he gets to Sarah.

Cameron spends about 15 minutes teeing up the story and then unleashes an hour and a half or nearly constant action, as relentless as the cyborg.

With great mechanical effects from Stan Winston at the beginning of his career, the film pushed the boundaries of special effects in its day. Most of them still hold up, except for the very clunky and bad stop-motion animation that sneaks in near the conclusion.

Paul Winfield (Sounder) is a fearless police captain, Cameron regulars Lance Henrickson (Bishop in "Aliens") Bill Paxton (Aliens, True Lies) show up as well, with Paxton playing a young punk rocker in the very first scenes.

Los Angeles in 1984 feels like another planet, its a nostalgic look back to the music, streets and fashions of the time. Was there ever a worse year for cars? LOL. Every car they steal feels like a giant boat that your grandparents drove to church on Sundays.

Schwarzenegger exploded into a superstar after the film. He practiced with weapons for a month before filming started and it pays off.

With only 14 lines of dialogue, he manages to make several of them all time classics.

Watching the original again after many years, it was a lot darker and more violent than I remembered. Cameron does a lot with the budget and the car/truck/motorcycle pursuits are all really well staged.

Of course, Cameron would top himself in every way possible seven years later with one of my favorite films of all time and history's best sequels, "Terminator II: Judgement Day".

After the original hit theatres, Cameron would follow it up with "Aliens" and "The Abyss", then T2. That's one hell of a run! (He then followed it up with two little films called "Titanic" and "Avatar". NEVER bet against Cameron.

Still very entertaining 36 years after its release, THE TERMINATOR gets an A-.

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