Megan’s review published on Letterboxd:
I wish I could have seen Terminator on its initial release because while the effects don't hold up now, the film is so original, so intense, so action packed, that this had to have been one of its kind in 1984. The biggest downside now is all the sequels and serializing that happened to squander the righteous Terminator name. Even though it's first sequel was superior to the original, following films and television shows ranged from mediocre to just plain bad. Partially because it's hard to live up to the high standards the first two films set but also how complicated a series can get when there's timelines to juggle.
The original Terminator is pure and simple. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) must protect Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) from being killed by the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger). The reasons while this first film isn't as amazing as Judgement Day is because a) the aforementioned dated special effects. There are many scenes where Arnold is clearly being played by an animatronic or just a dummy. And b) Sarah Conner. The reason why this series became so iconic is because Sarah Conner is a badass. She knew how to fight, how to survive and she could kick some terminator ass. But it is sometimes forgotten that that Sarah Conner doesn't show up till Judgement Day. In 1984 she's just a waitress trying to make ends meet with her pet iguana. This movie is her origin story. How she became the amazingly strong character we love and respect.
There's still so much to love about this film. It's still a relentless action movie that is extremely violent and unapologetic. It is a great blend of science fiction into action and is obviously worth seeing if Hollywood still wants to make sequels 30 years later.
Highlight: The shoot out in the police station is a fantastic action scene because it's a statement of a film that's not afraid to kill characters. It brings in character actors like Paul Winfield and Lance Henriksen and promptly slaughters them. Terminator takes no prisoners!
Lowlight: As great it is to see Sarah Conner drive into the sunset ready to face a machine uprising, she needs a lot of saving in this movie. Reese is pretty bland, Hamilton is who we want to see.