Rush To Judgment: Our Terminator Double Feature
4 June 2021
By Sean Chrysanthou
On Saturday 5th June we launch our Double Features with a Terminator double: the 1984 classic on 35mm followed by the 1991 sequel for its 30th Anniversary.
A movie about a cyborg... sent back in time... to kill the mother of mankind’s last hope in a future war against machines.. all inspired by the fever dream of a miniature model maker working for Roger Corman Studios.
James Cameron’s The Terminator wasn’t expected to be the biggest of hits back in 1984. And you can perhaps see why. But… it was huge.
Built on the dystopian foundations of Soylent Green (1973) and Blade Runner (1982), The Terminator is a pulse-pounding race-for-life against a relentless, implacable, inhuman enemy. This headlong rush of terror and adrenaline topped the US box office for two weeks, establishing James Cameron as the ‘event’ director of his generation, while catapulting the career of former Mr Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger into the stratosphere.
The Terminator was an instant genre classic. Arguably surpassed only by its sequel: Terminator 2: Judgment Day – or “T2” as it quickly became better known. Interestingly, while T2 seems – and seemed - inevitable, it was actually a long time coming. Legal rights caused some of that delay, but the principle factor was the technology, which needed to catch up with Cameron’s vision.
With our MCU-era screens long-saturated by computer generated visual effects, it’s hard to imagine the sledgehammer impact T2’s ground-breaking CGI had on cinema audiences back in 1991. Using CGI to digitally remove cables for a seemingly-impossible motorcycle stunt might seem pedestrian today. Thirty years ago, it was staggering!
For T2, the plot is familiar. A terminator is again sent back from the past, this time to kill the leader of the future rebellion as a young man. Plot-twist: the new terminator can shape-shift. But, our saviour-in-waiting now has a non-human guardian… a reprogrammed, previous-generation terminator. In one simple move, the stakes are higher, the set-pieces are bigger, and Schwarzenegger gets to return… as the good guy!
Just as he raised the stakes – and scale – of 1979’s Alien with his 1986 sequel Aliens, so Cameron amped up the visual ambitions of his Terminator sequel, scaling hitherto unseen heights and establishing himself as the industry’s go-to director for technical spectacle. A reputation he would later reinforce with True Lies in 1994, Titanic in 1997, and Avatar in 2009.
The Terminator broke new ground in 1984, opening the door to science-fiction action movies on a new scale. In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day blew that door off its hinges, setting the bar for every action movie of the last thirty years.
Book tickets for the Double Feature HERE.