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The Movie The Terminator Is Actually A Love Story

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No, I have NOT lost my mind. Yet.

It took me a long time to realize this, what with the evil robots, dystopian future, car chases, and death—things I do not normally look for in a movie choice. But I found myself watching The Terminator over and over again.

One day I realized that the scenes that hit me the hardest were the ones between Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese.

Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) is young and innocent. She is put into danger. Emotionally damaged (and hot) Sergeant Tech-Com Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) shows up from the future to rescue her. He is like a knight in shining armor. Except, of course, he showed up naked in a ball of energy, then stole a homeless guy’s pants. Details, details.

Reese saving Sarah Connor in Terminator

Reese saving Sarah Connor in The Terminator

Most of the movie, she only refers to him by his last name. The first time she spots Reese, she fears he might be a killer, so she quickly escapes away from him to a public place. The next time she sees Reese, he is loading up the future governor of California with bullets. As she runs screaming from the building, Reese pulls up in a car in front of her and screams one of the most romantic lines in the movie:

“Come with me if you want to live!”

You can say a lot of things about James Cameron, but you can’t doubt this this franchise is highly quotable. This line is used in most of the following movies, and is sometimes used in other pop culture references as well.

Kyle is crazy protective of Sarah. Sure, it’s his job. But then we see him in the future, back from a dangerous mission, sweaty and dirty, studying her face in a worn picture. He longs for her, just by looking at her picture. Cut to him gently brushing the hair off her face as she sleeps with her head in his lap. (I bet he is rocking a bad case of morning wood.) When they get up to leave, he gives Sarah his coat. Always hot.

Reese (Michael Biehn) in The Terminator

Reese (Michael Biehn) in The Terminator

Later, when danger takes a break for them to hold up in a sleazy hotel room together, Sarah asks Reese if he has a girlfriend in the future. He admits that he has never been with a woman. From what he has already told her about the future, she knows it is not a place where love is treasured, only survival. Reese tells Sarah about the picture. He says:

“You seemed just a little sad. I used to always wonder what you were thinking at that moment. I memorized every line, every curve. I came across time for you Sarah. I love you; I always have.”

Panties melting.

He STALKED her through time!

We find out at the end of the movie that in the picture, she was thinking about him, and their one night of [unprotected] love-making together.

Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in Terminator

Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) in The Terminator

It is touching later when Sarah has to yell at a badly wounded Reese using terminology from his world to get him moving out of the path of the now nakid Terminator.

“On your feet, soldier!”

It is heartbreaking when he parishes trying to save her. Now we know. She was not just a military mission, but a mission of the heart.

[Did that make you throw up in your mouth a little? Good. Am I getting my point across?]

Terminator 2 has no romance at all. It is all action and scary melting cops. I don’t like that one and almost never watch it.

Terminator 3 I think of as romantic, but I don’t think that it actually is. I think I just like Nick Stahl and Clair Danes in it, but they don’t really have much chemistry. I like Claire Danes in My So-Called Life, but I don’t think she was the right person to cast opposite Nick Stahl. Her strength of personality overpowers his wounded rebellion against his future.

T3 sets it up, that John Conner (Stahl) and Kate Brewster (Danes) once made out at a party together, and she has never quite gotten over it. Her father is a general in the Air Force, who has first hand access to Skynet, a dangerous factor leading to Judgement Day. That is how the script reads, but most of the time on screen she is giving John the unfriendly stink face. Imagine her surprise when John shows up in the vet clinic where she works. Kate locks him in a cage. This makes for one of the cutest Nick Stahl scenes ever. I love the scene where Kate looks down on John in the dog kennel.

Conner in a cage

Conner in a cage

Stahl has mastered the wounded look. That is what made him so good as a child in “The Man Without A Face.” He just looks so pathetic (-ally hot) trapped in that cage. Maybe they hired him so that his wounded look would remind us of his father, Reese. The difference is that I believe Reese could be a kick-butt soldier when he needed to be. I don’t really believe that Stahl’s John Conner could ever lead a revolt. But, I like him in this movie well enough. I have read that Shane West was up for the role.  After my recent Nikita-fest, I have to say that maybe he would have been better.  No matter, there needs to be more sex in this movie.

I realize that almost no one saw Terminator 3. But I saw it in the theater. Twice. And for not having James Cameron involved with it, it had kick ass action sequences. The best one is between Arnold’s outdated Terminator in a firetruck, and the slutty T-X in a mobile crane. And I don’t just mean it is the best action sequence in T3, or all the Terminators. I think it is the best action sequence of any movie ever. (Transformers? Lord of the Rings? There is so much happening at once that I have to look away from those movies, or I will not get a headache. And, well, I don’t really care about any of those characters.)

Terminator: Salvation was just ick. All action, and no character development. It is how Terminator will be when they reboot it someday. Or maybe that is what this movie was supposed to be. I can’t even tell. That is how bad it is. And I don’t like Christian Bale. In anything. Not even Newsies or Swing Kids (although both of them are decent movies).

I liked how in the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, they gave Kyle Reese a brother, Derek. It made me feel better, that Kyle was not all alone in the horrible, nasty future being chased by robots. He had a brother’s support, someone to lean on. I liked that the brother was played by Brian Austin Green. I was very happy that he had gotten much hotter in the years since Beverly Hills 90210.

Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese

Brian Austin Green as Derek Reese

Kyle Reese is a bad-ass soldier, but he isn’t all muscled up like a football player. That is the villain. I like that Reese is vulnerable. Cameron shows us Reese’s past scars the first time he appears on camera. Each time he is hit or shot, it weakens him more. Not only do we see that he is physically vulnerable, but then we learn that his heart is vulnerable as well. This is true toward Sarah, but also when he talks about fighting alongside John Conner, John’s trust, his strength. We get the idea that Reese loved him like a brother. When really, well, John was Reese’s son. And John Conner would have always known that.  It is too bad that Reese would never know John as his son.

I have seen mentioned where they are making a 5th Terminator movie. I peeked at the cast. Kyle will not longer be vulnerable everyman. He will be Mr. Muscles Macho Man. Sigh. Where can a girl watch a nice wimpy guy get it on in a movie anymore these days? My demographic is under-serviced.

A Terminator movie today is just not as impressive as it was in 1984, or even 1991. The Terminator was one of the first moves to introduce us to this idea of the computers as our enemies. The effects were cutting edge for their time. Now, giant CG machines are trying to save us or kill us or both every week in the theaters. I think the only way anyone could stand to attempt to recapture the magic of the original story is to make the humans and their love story just as important as the machines again.

That is how I would do it, anyway.

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6 responses »

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  3. Wow, you took the words out of my mouth about the Terminator – what makes it so great is that Cameron managed to inject real human connections into what otherwise would have been just a great action movie.

    T2 in my opinion though was equally great because it still explored human relationships in the midst of some fantastic action scenes. John and Arnie’s budding father-son connection was captured so well in the film, and it’s interesting to draw parallels between the tragic end to both Sarah and John’s relationships.

    Reply
    • Thanks! I am glad someone else sees the movie as I do. I guess I just prefer to watch movies such as “Field of Dreams” and “Frequency” for father-son relationships.

      Reply
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