Re-Watching “The Terminator” With a Newbie

So Terminator: Genisys came out over the weekend, and it didn’t do so hot.  Critics weren’t fans, accruing only an average of 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, and fans certainly weren’t clamoring to go see it, earning only $28 million in its opening weekend, coming in 3rd place.  I know that I wasn’t excited for the film, and apparently I wasn’t the only one.  I mean, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese?  Not only does he not look anything like Michael Beihn (heck, Anton Yelchin at least looked a little like him), but I can’t think of someone with a more forgettable face and less charisma.  He’s been in all these movies and I am only now going to remember him because this movie did terribly.  The guy’s gotta be someone’s nephew or something, right?  How does he keep getting these roles?  Forbes even called him the “anti-Chris Pratt,” which I love and I’m totally stealing.  Next up: Suicide Squad, apparently.  What in the hell…  But I digress, it’s not all his fault or anything.  Terminator: Genisys came out and people were not impressed.  What this means for the future of the franchise, I can’t say.  It may make a ton of money overseas and become a smashing success, but that remains to be seen.  I would guess that if it doesn’t it will get retooled and they’ll try again.  They really should stop, but Hollywood doesn’t know how to do that.

But fortunately, instead of going to see a terrible Terminator film, you can always go back and enjoy the original, classic first film in the series: The Terminator.  Which is what I did.

the-terminator poster

It had been a while since I had seen the original, so I was pretty excited sitting down to watch it.  I also had the pleasure of showing it to my girlfriend, henceforth referred to as “The Girlfriend”, who had never seen any of the films, and I was curious as to how she would respond.  She knew the basics of the series, though she was under the impression that The Terminator was a good guy even in the first film, but quickly learned that this was not the case.  So in we went!

The girlfriend is interesting in that during the first chase scene where Kyle is running for the police, she took the time to wonder why he didn’t get new pants when he got new shoes and a coat.  If you don’t remember, Kyle had taken the pants from a homeless man, then was chased into a clothing store where he grabbed more clothing.  She actually wondered why he didn’t take the time to grab new pants as opposed to gross homeless pants that he was wearing.  I had to point out how the police were on his ass and that he was a from a future where pants cleanliness is not a priority, robot death machines were.  She also wondered why so many police were after him, and I reminded her about how Kyle shoved a cop and stole his gun.  Her reply?  “He should’ve done a better job!”  Like that matters.

Idiot cop deserves to have his gun taken away!
Idiot cop deserves to have his gun taken away! -The Girlfriend

She was also surprised by how violent the movie was.  The Terminator shows up and blows one woman away, kills a second, then violently murders Sarah’s roommate and her roommate’s boyfriend.  That man goes down swinging, but dies beaten and bloody all the same.  Sarah’s roommate is then shot in the back and executed as she tries to crawl away.  The Girlfriend was definitely distressed when that happened.  It’s interesting how something that has now become a staple of pop culture has changed so much in perception that the original movie shocks those who have never actually seen it.  Especially after the goofy CG action-fest trailers that have been playing for the newest movie, she had this idea that it would be over-the-top and kind of silly when it’s actually quite gritty and violent.

The Girlfriend loved the soundtrack, too, which is not something that I had never really thought too much about.  She commented about how rare a good soundtrack is, especially in the 80s.  That’s not something that I necessarily agree with, though I know what she means.  80s soundtracks were definitely cheesy and full of synthesizers, but there was a fair share of great ones anyways.  Though this soundtrack, by Brad Fiedel, does stand out, and she really liked it.  For many, The Terminator score is iconic, and for good reason.  Again, I had never given it too much thought, but it really is ominous, exciting, and very morose all at the same time.  Truly excellent.

I’m going to take a minute to talk about how much I, personally, loved the car chases in this movie.  They were all done with real vehicles filled with real people and are so much more exciting for that fact.  I’m in love with Mad Max: Fury Road for the very same reason.  Real cars with real stuntmen doing thrilling and dangerous stunts are 1000x better than throwing CGI cars up on the screen, or having a CGI Arnold bouncing down the road.  This movie’s chases are no exception.  So cool and visceral.

CRUNCH SMASH *shudders with excitement*
CRUNCH SMASH *shudders with excitement*

Quick note: The Girlfriend was highly unimpressed with Kyle’s plastique bombs that they threw at the Terminator.  She felt they were nothing more than quick flashes of light and smoke, and I tried to convey that even an explosion that small can cause damage, but she wasn’t having any of it.  She thinks you made some weak bombs, Kyle.  Weak.

Then there’s the last scene with the Terminator, chasing Sarah and Kyle into the factory, damaged and skinless.  The Girlfriend definitely giggled at the first full shot of the Terminator, where it was clearly stop-motion.  Even though it looked great, it was still obvious what was stop-motion and what wasn’t.  Even so, The Girlfriend was still nervous when the Terminator was coming after them, especially when it was the full-sized puppet.  And when the torso is crawling after the injured Sarah?  Forget about it, still shocking and creepy as hell, and The Girlfriend thought so, too.

Come to Uncle Tickle!
Come to Uncle Tickle!

The Girlfriend also found Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor’s love story to be very tragic, as it is.  Kyle had never loved another woman before Sarah, it even being implied that he is a virgin, only to have their romance cut short by the ruthless Terminator.  It was upsetting how they only had a few precious hours together, but as Sarah says into the tape recorder, they loved a lifetime’s worth.  Poor Kyle.  And poor Sarah.  The Girlfriend was very upset for the both of you.  But hey, at least Kyle got to be with the woman he loved.

Only had to travel through fucking time to do it.
Only had to travel through fucking time to do it.

All in all, The Terminator holds up extremely well and The Girlfriend enjoyed it quite a bit.  It’s still terrifically exciting, frightening, and all-around badass.  It feels like an entirely different world than the Terminator movies that have come out as of late, and that is definitely a good thing.  This movie is a classic for many very good reasons, and if anyone wants to get rid of the sour taste in their mouth from Genisys, I highly recommend putting this on.  And show it to someone who hasn’t seen it yet when you do!  They’ll have a great time!

3 thoughts on “Re-Watching “The Terminator” With a Newbie

  1. Great post, I love the first Terminator.

    Jai Courtney is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. I was re-watching Jack Reacher the other weekend and I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see Jai Courtney show up as the villain. My first thought was: “How did I forget that Jai Courtney was in this movie?” And then I blinked and COMPLETELY forgot Jai Courtney. He’s like those Dr. Who aliens that you instantly forget the moment you quit looking at them.

    Bottom-line: he’s gotta be blowing every casting agent in Hollywood.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve actually seen I, Frankenstein and apparently he was in that one, too! Not that anyone should remember I, Frankenstein if they can help it. Jai Courtney…what…are…you….?


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