The movie that taught us that if a big scary-looking dude in a grey ’80s trench asks if you’re “Sarah Connor,” you say “Hell no!” James Cameron‘s now-classic sci-fi action film about a robot assassin sent back in time to kill the mother of the yet-to-be-born leader of a future human resistance movement is actually structured and plays more like a horror movie, as a pretty blonde (Linda Hamilton) is pursued by a relentless and seemingly unstoppable monster (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and whose only hope is a guy who might be completely off his rocker but at least knows how to work a shotgun (Michael Biehn). Modest and quaint as compared to Cameron’s gargantuan-scale later works (even Aliens, which came out a mere two years later), The Terminator nonetheless remains a taut and intense ride, with Arnold taking on for the first time what would become his most iconic (and most quotable) role — and one that could definitely only ever be played by him. Cameron’s ultimately a bit of a softie, and the father-son dynamic of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, while of course technically the more impressive film, makes it not nearly as edgy and dangerous as compared to its lean and mean predecessor. The best shot in the movie (and the one that will most assuredly get your heart pumping) is the one slow-motion moment in the dance club where Sarah drops something on the floor and bends down to pick it up, inadvertently hiding herself from view just as the Terminator looks her way.
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