The Terminator

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Unpretentious and fast-moving science fiction, not at all swelled up or slowed down by the Biblical overtones of its plot. A half-human, half-robot assassin (Arnold Schwarzenegger, well within his acting range) has been sent back through time from 2029 A.D. to the present day, under Herod-like orders to kill the woman destined to give birth to a "deliverer" who will lead the rebellion against the genocidal mechanocracy, so to call it, that acceded to power after nuclear holocaust. Fortunately, one of the rebel soldiers has got through on the time machine, too, just before it was destroyed; and he is ahead of the police on the trail of this new sort of serial killer, targeting everyone in the L.A. phone book with the name of Sarah Connor. The future, more than ever, is now. What could have been a repetitive situation (you can't keep a good cyborg down) has been worked out with some clever variations; and the paradoxes that come with all time-travel stories are, in this one, squarely faced up to. Or as the problem is succinctly expressed for us: "God, a person could go crazy thinking about this." Within the precepts of such stories, this one is as neatly tied up — and in that unexpected epilogue in a desert gas station, as touchingly so — as one could ask. And in the turn of events whereby the soldier from the future becomes retroactively much more than just a loyal disciple of humanity's savior, it is also as romantic a use of this sci-fi staple as anywhere outside of Somewhere in Time. With Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn; directed by James Cameron. (1984) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R | 1 hour, 48 minutes
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