How do you make a sequel to Terminator? It seems like the perfect movie to create a franchise with, featuring the possibilities for labyrinthine time-travel plotting, self referencing paradoxes and a villain who can be killed, but can also always return, but therein lays the biggest stumbling block. The villain from the original, Schwarzenegger’s unstoppable mechanical monster, the main draw of the first film, surely must return for the second, especially seeing as, in 1991, he was one of the biggest stars in the world. But how could the same robot come back as the villain? The sequel must somehow build upon the original, develop it further, else why bother? Having the same villain, with essentially the same plot, would seem a waste of time. So, proving that necessity is indeed the mother of invention, director James Cameron pulled a full character flip on not just Arnie’s T-800, now here as protector rather than foe, but also of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor, discarding the ditzy 80s hairdo for some badass fighting skills, tank tops and a permanent ticket to the gun show. The introduction of John Connor (Edward Furlong) as a ridiculously irritating teenager spouting laughable phrases (Asta-la-vista, baby? Seriously?) is also a diversion from the expected, as he’s the so-called saviour of mankind, but he’s so goddamn annoying that whenever he was onscreen I found myself rooting for the bad guy.
Film night strikes again with the Terminator. This is a film that is so deeply ingrained within popular culture that I cannot remember the first time that I saw it, and probably did not even realise it was my first time then, as the character is so well known, from the way he moves to his handful of lines of dialogue, but I tried to watch it afresh, as though it was 1984 and I’d wandered blindly into a cinema and sat down. The most surprising thing I found was that there is no indication that Schwarzenegger is a cyborg until about 45 minutes into the films, though it is now the most famous aspect of the film. Up until Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) tells Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) that he is a robot sent from the future to kill her, preventing the birth of her son and therefore the revolution against the cyborgs that he will eventually cause, we only assume that Schwarzenegger is just a specially trained, seemingly unstoppable killer, possibly a soldier or hitman of some kind. Yes there are some hints; his stiff-legged walking and even stiffer speech mannerisms, but at the time no-one would have been expecting anything more acting-wise from the former bodybuilder.