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The Terminator (1984)

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In 1984, a human soldier is tasked to stop an indestructible cyborg killing machine, both sent from 2029, from executing a young woman, whose unborn son is the key to humanity's future salvation.

Director:

James Cameron
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569 ( 54)
Top Rated Movies #242 | 7 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Terminator
Michael Biehn ... Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton ... Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield ... Lieutenant Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen ... Detective Hal Vukovich
Rick Rossovich ... Matt Buchanan
Bess Motta ... Ginger Ventura
Earl Boen ... Dr. Peter Silberman
Dick Miller ... Pawn Shop Clerk
Shawn Schepps ... Nancy
Bruce M. Kerner Bruce M. Kerner ... Desk Sergeant
Franco Columbu ... Future Terminator
Bill Paxton ... Punk Leader
Brad Rearden ... Punk
Brian Thompson ... Punk
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Storyline

Sent back from a dystopian 2029--where the cold machines have conquered the entire world--to 1984 Los Angeles, the indestructible cyborg-assassin known as the "Terminator" commences his deadly mission to kill humankind's most important woman: the unsuspecting, Sarah Connor. However, from the same war-torn post-apocalyptic future comes a battle-scarred defender--Kyle Reese, a brave soldier of the human Resistance Army--bent on stopping the cybernetic killer from eliminating the world's last hope. But, the Terminator has no feelings, he doesn't sleep, and above all, he won't stop until he carries out his grim task. Does our future lie in our past? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

I'll be back! See more »

Genres:

Action | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Geena Davis auditioned for the role of Sarah Connor. She co-starred with Linda Hamilton in Secret Weapons (1985) the following year. See more »

Goofs

Traxler allows Sarah to take a nap on the couch, and he tells Sarah her mother should arrive from Big Bear in about an hour. Shortly after, the Terminator arrives, and Sarah and Reese flee, all of this happening at night. Later, the car Sarah and Reese take runs out of gas, and they spend the night under a bridge. A short time later, it's light out, or the next day, and they make their way to the Tiki Motel. Sarah then gets on the phone, and we find out the Terminator is there, and has killed her mother, mimicking her to get Sarah to reveal her location. The question is, why would Sarah's mother still be at the cabin in Big Bear when she was supposedly on her way to pick up Sarah at the police station? No mention is made of her stopping along the way at a pay phone to call her, and there were no cell phones in 1984. It also takes a lot longer than an hour to get to get to Los Angeles from Big Bear. The Central Division of the LAPD is about 120 miles (190Km) from Big Bear, with the first 40 miles (65Km) which is on highway 38, a twisty two lane mountain road. It's closer to a 3 hour drive in all. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[the garbage truck's engine stops]
Truck Driver: What the hell? Goddamn son of a bitch...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits run while large outlines of the two halves of THE TERMINATOR cross each other. After the last directorial credit is shown, the title THE TERMINATOR zooms backward, is filled by metallic blue, and reveals itself. See more »

Alternate Versions

On the TV versions shown in the USA, the sex scene between Sarah and Kyle shows just their hands moving to the theme song that plays. See more »


Soundtracks

Beat Street Breakdown
(uncredited)
Performed by Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five
See more »

User Reviews

Compelling science fiction
24 June 2002 | by Aidan McGuinnessSee all my reviews

For the gift of `Aliens' and `The Terminator' I am willing to forgive Cameron's `Titanic'. The key plot concept is beautifully simple - machines take over the earth in the future. Machines are eventually over thrown by one man. Machines travel back in time to kill man's mother, thus preventing him being born and stopping their own defeat. One human also travels back to stop the machines from killing his leader's mother.

`The Terminator' is a classic good versus evil struggle, with little in the way of greys clouding the issue. The terminator is an unstoppable brutal remorseless killer, and it perfectly suits Arnold Schwarzenegger's limited acting abilities. His few lines, including the infamous `I'll be back' are all well judged and timed, and give a great feeling of precision and inhumanity to his character. Coupled with his chiselled features, he's the best choice for the role. Michael Biehn is playing a character type that he'd reprise two years later in Cameron's `Aliens' - the human tough guy: he's got the fight, but still the ability to love and care for people. His features are well chosen for this and although his delivery of lines is hardly exceptional - they tend to come out in the same tone of voice - he's able to carry his part. Linda Hamilton is the woman-thrown-into-chaos, somewhat reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley character in `Alien', although Hamilton doesn't have Weaver's strength of presence. All the actors are, for an action science fiction, above average and so never distract.

It's the script, with Cameron's force behind it that lifts the movie from mediocrity. Yes, there's a certain amount of corniness - the `we loved a life time' element for example - but the movie has a real sense of conviction present. The movie believes in itself and, through its passion, will make you believe too. There's a general sense of darkness in the movie - rarely do we see daylight, and, when we do, it's often the soft light of dawn. There's a nice sense of tension in the action scenes, helped not only by Cameron's camera work but also by an excellent electronic score (including a fantastic brooding credit sequence). Sure some of the SFX look clunky in these days of `Attack of the Clones' and `The Fellowship of the Ring', but they still work. There's a certain sense of inevitability, intertwined with hope, permeating the picture that creates a mood I particularly enjoyed and that's harder to find in the current crop of science fiction movies.

`The Terminator' is not a perfect picture. The movie lags in some parts, and the romance element is fairly contrived. Despite all that the movie brims with energy and promise, a script that mostly delivers, characters you can enjoy, and the ultimate Arnie role. Well worth catching. 8/10.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

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Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

26 October 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Terminator See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,020,663, 28 October 1984

Gross USA:

$38,371,200

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$78,475,971
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (original release)| Dolby (DVD Re-Release)| DTS (DTS HD Master Audio)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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