The Terminator is a 1984 film directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. The film was a modest box office hit and drew mostly positive reviews for its action and pacing. The film has become an enduring favorite and has made a number of AFI “best of” lists and maintains high marks on review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. The film spawned a number of sequels and a television series. So does The Terminator, as one of the most well known 80s sci-fi action films, deserve the label “classic?”
Should this film be considered a classic? When I think of late 70s and early 80s sci-fi there are three directors who come to my mind: George Lucas, Ridley Scott, and James Cameron. Lucas of course created the Star Wars films while Scott made his mark with Alien and Blade Runner. Cameron had Aliens and The Terminator. For me, those directors define that era when it comes to sci-fi with Scott and Cameron having quite a bit in common because of the dark tone of their films. The Terminator is a tense and lean film that works even as it approaches 30 years old. Yes, the effects are dated and there is a nagging synthesizer soundtrack. However, the film about the relentless terminator remains entertaining and intense. It is a testament to the story and the actors that a film so firmly rooted in the 80s has aged this well. As a representation of 80s action films this is definitely a classic and deserving of the label. That said, I think that Rambo: First Blood is probably my preference over The Terminator. I think the surprisingly thoughtful First Blood is a superior film and has aged much better. Still, The Terminator is a definite classic and for fans of 80s style action one of the definitive films from the era.
Would I own this film? Probably not. It is one that I like to revisit occasionally when I go on a terminator kick. Personally, I enjoy all the terminator films but they have never been among my all time favorites and thus probably won’t find a permanent place in my collection. That said, if you need to have an action movie night The Terminator should be on your short list.
Unfortunately I could not find a trailer or hardly any clips where YouTube hadn’t disabled embedding. Here’s a clip of one of the classic lines that I found with embedding still enabled.