Terminator, The

The Terminator posterNetflix IMDb
Linda Hamilton is a diner waitress who rises to the occasion when a robot killer from the future drives his Delorean at 88 miles an hour to leap into the past in hopes of keeping his parents from meeting… or something like that. Michael Biehn is sent back to stop him and engage in some baby-makin’—and that’s worth arriving naked in LA for. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a relentless robot and also happens to play a relentless robot who gets an apartment to settle down and rest and keep a kitty. And Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen are killed by their first franchise monster, with long and illustrious careers ahead of them where they repeatedly get killed by franchise monsters.

I mistakenly say Henriksen is killed by a predator in Predator 2, but it’s actually Alien vs Predator. I compare the film to Star Wars, Westworld, King Kong, Aliens, The Thing From Another World, Halloween, Back to the Future, and Harvey. I do a Jimmy Stewart impression. I bleep myself a couple of times to avoid the explicit tag. And I say that Brigitte Nielsen—who does not appear in this film—is German when she is actually Danish.

Start the movie after the original Orion logo has faded out and before the Hemdale title card has faded in.

6 thoughts on “Terminator, The”

  1. The time logic is fine in this film – a single time-line model is being used, and Kyle Reese can’t alter the past, only exist within the past that always happened and create the present he came from. It’s in the sequels that they muck around with this, showing that time can be changed, and therefore giving the impression that the logic of the first film wouldn’t happen.

    The problem I have is that it’s not clear whether the Terminator sequels insist time can be rewritten (à la Marty McFly fading because his parents didn’t get together), or whether new time lines are being created (à la Marty McFly being confused by his family being improved at the end of the first film). If time is being rewritten, then there are paradoxes created by the end of the second film (resolved slightly by the line in the third film that Judgement Day was inevitable). If new time lines are being created, then the Terminators wouldn’t alter anything of the situation they’re sending terminators back from, so what would be the point?

    1. It’s clear that in Terminator, Cameron is saying that the future can be changed by sending someone into the past. The the whole plan of the machines. Reese even has a little speech he’s memorized about how there is no fate but what we make. But the idea that Reese is his own friend’s father creates a paradox that Cameron thought was cool but is just nonsensical.

      Also, I think it’s a mistake to think that the creation of a “new timeline” in the past means the previous future timeline still exists. When Marty goes back to 1955, the one and only 1985 changes based on what he did there.

      Likewise, if you’re the SkyNet computer in the 2029, the moment you send the T-800 into the past, your reality changes to match whatever he did in the past.

    2. It’s clear that in Terminator, Cameron is saying that the future can be changed by sending someone into the past.

      I disagree. I prefer to look at it that both the machines and Reese ASSUME that time can be changed. However, the film shows that it cannot, and follows a single time-line logic that contradicts the characters’ assumptions, but is perfectly compatible with other science fiction models that use the same logic.

      There’s only a problem when, within the same fictional universe, Terminator 2 shows time can actually be changed. Until then it’s all just characters assuming things, but being wrong.

      ————————————————————————
      Also, I think it’s a mistake to think that the creation of a “new timeline” in the past means the previous future timeline still exists. When Marty goes back to 1955, the one and only 1985 changes based on what he did there.

      Likewise, if you’re the SkyNet computer in the 2029, the moment you send the T-800 into the past, your reality changes to match whatever he did in the past.

      I understand. However there are different fictional models for time travel, and all are perfectly valid as long as any work manages to stick to whatever rules it presents. Some fiction chooses to go by the “alternate time-line” method, so that anything characters do in the past don’t actually alter the time they came from; they don’t erase themselves by killing their grandfather, but they create a reality in which there won’t be a version of themselves born. Others go with a single time-line: Bill and Ted always did steal the keys Bill’s Dad was looking for. Both of these models, in my mind, exist precisely to prevent paradoxes like the Grandfather paradox. If there’s only one time-line and time can be rewritten, we have a problem when Marty prevents his parents from getting together. Not only would he fade from existence, but he wouldn’t be there to PREVENT his parents from getting together, ergo a massive paradox. The Back to the Future films are happy to use this time-travel logic, until the end of the first one when Marty himself hasn’t altered to fit the “new improved parents” timeline he has created. Hence Back to the Future is confused about what it’s doing with time.

      But this is all irrelevant when we’re talking about the Terminator. What we get with the Terminator is a single time-line logic for film one, then James Cameron changed his mind and gave us something else for film two. Thanks to Terminator 3 saying that Judgement Day still happened, there isn’t a paradox created by the terminators going into the molten metal. If the machines had lost and Judgement Day had never happened, we’d be asking what the characters had been battling with in the first two films.

  2. PS – Did you say Lance Henriksen’s android was killed in Aliens? He’s torn apart by the Queen, but is put into one of the cryogenic chambers at the end of that film, and he reappears in Alien 3, in a lot of pain and not for long, after Ripley boots him back up. I’d say that if she’d landed somewhere with enough technology he could have been restored more fully, so really don’t consider him “killed” in Aliens at all.

    If that’s what you said. Sorry – it went by quite quickly and I can’t remember at which point in the commentary you said it, or I’d go back and check.

    1. You’re completely right, of course. But his role in Alien 3 is so small that it hardly counts, in my mind.

      What logic are we following here?? 🙂

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