#42 THE TERMINATOR
Starring Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Written by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurst and directed by James Cameron. 107 minutes long.
Originally made in 1984 and re-released in time for next week's Terminator Genysis.
There are very few note perfect movies, movies that score perfect 10s and Terminator is one of them. With an absolutely beautiful three-act structure, this is a film that Marvel comics used to show to new editors as an example of a perfectly structured story.
The plot is simplicity itself, it's a chase movie, a classic horror film! Sure it's got cyborgs and time travel and shit but ultimately it's about a girl being chased by an unstoppable monster.
Cameron tells how he dreamed up the plot for Terminator thanks to a fever induced dream he suffered in Rome while directing his first movie, Piranha II: The Spawning.
With a tiny budget, just 6.7 mill Cameron spent every single cent on that film, creating a script so lean even Mr. Sprat might have complained! He used all his past skills as a special effects co-ordinator for Roger Corman on films like Battle Beyond the Stars to create a superbly realised future world with almost, rudimentary special effects and back screen projection. Its brief, in comparison to his later films, running time meant that Cameron kept the whole thing racing along at break-neck speed.
This was the film that not only catapulted Cameron to the top of the heap of action directors, and made a star out Arnold Swarzenegger, but also launched the careers of Stan Winston (special effects guru), Gale Anne Hurd, Linda Hamilton and Bill Paxton, although for some unknown reason not Michael Biehn, who never quite capatalised on his starring role. Originally Arnolt had been offered the part of Kyle - the soldier sent back from the future to protect the mother of the freedom fighter who would grow up to win the war against the machine and Skynet but decided to play the Terminator instead. It was a great decision and one that would go on to see Arnie become the biggest Hollywood box office star for most of the 1980s.
Cameron went on to make Aliens and the Abyss before coming back to remake make Terminator with T2, which just opted to oomph everything up with a much bigger budget, running time and action. It's fun, but it's not the lean, mean killing machine of its predecessor. After that, he left the series and the world was treated to okayish T3 and the woefully shit, Terminator Salvation.
But this is the original and if you get a chance to see it I urge you to go and see Terminator back on the big screen and relive its masterful perfection.