Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Take Cover, Skynet Is Coming

Yesterday Skynet went live (according to Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) but so far things are looking kind of quiet. Well, apart from the problems on the London Underground today, but it's hard to tell if that's the beginning of an A.I. takeover or just service as usual. So in honour of the beginning of the apocalypse here are some of my favourite moments from the Terminator franchise. Maybe it will be enough to placate our robotic overlords...
Naked Time Travel

Nice hair. What did you think I'd say?
Marty McFly had it easy, even if he did have to travel through time in a Delorian. Poor Kyle Reese would probably have been grateful for even a phone booth. Instead he had to travel through time naked - what with the whole "only organic matter can pass through" thing - shame they hadn't worked out a way to make it less 'burny'. No wonder he's covering his bits. By this time we've already seen "Ahrnuld" arrive in all his naked glory, and if you watch really carefully you can see his penis when he's walking around. Really, really carefully. We'll put that down to the steroids... that he never took of course.

Armageddon has never looked so cool

The opening to "The Terminator" is still an iconic moment, and all the more impressive when you consider the small budget that James Cameron had to work with. We see skulls, darkness and destruction - it was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen when I was allowed to watch the film at around 10 years-old. Yes, I got to see "The Terminator" when I was 10 - but only on the condition that I covered my eyes while mum fast forwarded the sex scene. It was years before I realised Kyle was John Conner's father. Seriously! But it was a price I was willing to pay if it meant I got to see the rest of the film. The visions of the post-apocalyptic world are still burned into my mind, and combined with Kyle's flashback (flash forward?) the opening perfectly captured the hellish world humanity faced if the robots won.

There's always time for a bit of romance

A picture from the future, from the past
One of the things I loved about The Terminator saga was the love story between Sarah and Kyle. They only spend a few days together and yet their love really does survive for years. The convoluted nature only made it better, with John giving Kyle a picture of his mum, knowing this dude is his dad. And also knowing that he can't let on, otherwise he might change the past. It's incredibly deep, more so than you would expect from an apparently simple sci-fi action film.

Ooh, pretty - we're all going to die!

The nuclear explosion in "Terminator 2" is astounding, even to this day. I can't think of many other scenes in a film that really show just what a nuclear explosion would do to you if you were caught in one. It's so tactile, seeing the flesh crisping and peeling off, before the skeleton of Sarah Connor is revealed and then blown to dust in the next wave off the bombs. Truly terrifying stuff that I think still has as much power now as it did then.

Arnie's back

There is an argument that "Terminator 2" simply copied a number of set pieces form the first film, but I say this is a damn good decision. Especially as they chose the best bits. When the Terminator arrives we don't know yet that he's gone all good and stuff, especially when he walks into a biker bar and demands "I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle", while the women look on approvingly. After one unwise biker stubs his cigar out on Arnold's ginormous peck, the chaos begins and our robot friend gets his cloths, boots and bike. All while "Bad to the Bone" is playing in the background. It doesn't get much better than that.

Arnie's back - the first time

"I'll be back"
How can I talk about the best moments in Terminator without mentioning "I'll be back", uttered in the most monotone way possible and yet still managing to be uber-cool. A few moments later a car smashes into the police station, taking out the guy at the desk, and then bloody carnage commences. This is the first point when I realised just how unstoppable a Terminator is - he's pulverised from all sides with bullets but doesn't even flinch, taking out one cop after another. Truly terrifying and I still feel a bit sad when I see Lance Henrickson being killed. (I think he's really cool - also it ended a possible crossover between Alien and Terminator forever.)

Single handed shotgun cocking

That sounds really wrong. But it describes a very cool action that happens a few times in Terminator 2; first by the Arnold machine himself, with the ever stupid John Conner on his bike and the T-1000 determined to kill them both. Arnie swings the shotgun round, reloading it in one fluid motion. Later, as the film hurtles to it's tragic and amazing end, Sarah Connor comes face to face with the same unstoppable killing machine. Injured, she cocks the gun one handed, pumping the T-1000 full of lead. Repeatedly. Until she runs out of ammo. Shit. Oh, it's okay - you have a friendly terminator on your side. Now limp away as quickly as possible!

In Your Face

Quiet you.
At least that's what the T-1000 thinks as he kills one of John's guardians, skewering the milk he was drinking as well as the man's skull to the wall. While in the shape of the man's wife. Amazing stuff and at the time came completely out of nowhere. In fact one of the things that really made the second film was the shape changing abilities of the T-1000, played by the brilliant Robert Patrick. And the mercury effect is still impressive, even though it's beginning to show its age.

Crane + Truck = Great chase

Okay, I have to pick something from T3, even though I hate the movie. It totally missed what made the other two great (decent story, sympathetic characters, etc) and though it had a very brave ending it failed to live up to be even half what the other two were. Even so, the chase sequence with the giant crane and a truck is one of the better chase sequences in cinema. Big, brassy and loud - much like the film as a whole actually.

So those are just some of my favourite moments from the Terminator movies. I haven't included the series as, though I enjoyed it, I honestly can't think of any moments that made me go "wow" in the same way as the films - even the crappy third one. And I also haven't included any moments from Salvation either as I have major problems with that film after the rubbish, cop-out ending. I was hoping for Connor to die and the robot to take his place, while everyone around him has to keep it secret. It would have worked beautifully and would also have explained why Skynet could never kill John Connor in their own time. But alas, it was not to be. Except for in my head - making it difficult for me to watch that film ever again.

What moments do you think stand out from the Terminator franchise (you're even allowed to pick stuff form the one's I've left out. I'm benevolent like that). All Arnie quotes are also more than welcome.


  1. Almost everything about 'The Terminator' is brilliant, so no problem that T2 is a practical remake.

    My fave quotes would be (in no particular order):

    "You're gonna die"

    Okay - that's not the quote but the speech Reece makes to Sarah in the car when he's 'explaining' the terminator to her. It's here on a mission to kill you. You can not reason with it. It does feel, get tired, get fed up. And it absolutely will not stop until you are dead.

    "There's a storm coming"

    This brief conversation between Sarah and the 'photographer' which closes the loop and makes it clear that Reece is John's father (doh!) The picture is of course a recurring theme across both the movie franchise and the SCC (annoyingly cancelled).

    "Fuck off ass-hool" (sic)

    There's the funny scene with the terminator in the apartment block, scalpelling his eye, and selecting an 'appropriate' phrase with which to dismiss the landlord. It's v quotable :-)

    "No fate but what we make"

    The theme of T2 and it ties in beautifully with the apocalypse theme (which I agree is a wonderfully powerful visual representation). It sets up lots of what eventually creates Skynet. And all that "grandfather conundrum" / time-travel malarkey. I like the complete change in Sarah between T1 and T2 ... she's completely kick-ass in T2 (you can almost forgive Cameron ... almost).

    "You're terminated mother-fucker"

    Or as it play on BBC2 ... "you're terminated ......... ..........." (sudden silence). It's just a great line after one of the most dramatic action-filled climaxes ever.

    I love 'Terminator'. It really is a great film :-)

    Sorry. gtg. There's a ginger Scottish broad at the door. She's looking for her daughter ... be back soon.

  2. They are on my list of favorites right up to Terminator three. You didn't mention 3 and it was pretty good. A machine gave his life for a human. You can't beat that.