Welcome to my 31 Days of Halloween! Each day in October I will be watching a Halloween(ish) movie which includes anything that helps get me into the spooktacular mood of the season. While watching each movie, I’ll record my inner ramblings for everyone to view. This is a true baring of my soul people! Just kidding, it’s not – but it will be a true honest-to-god reaction to everything I’m seeing. So if “inner monologue” articles are not your thing – maybe you pass this up. For those of you sticking with me, the genre I’ll be watching will revolve around Halloween themes, including (but not limited to): Thrillers, Horror, Suspense, and of course Disney Classics! So buckle up campers, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
TERMINATOR 1 & 2:
I did it again! Watched two days of movies at one time – and boy am I glad I did!
Yes, hello. As in “Nice to meet you.” Like the last few movies I reviewed (They whom shall not be named), I have also not seen these classics. I am starting to like the pattern of finding 80’s scary movies to watch and review for the first time. It’s not only helping me catch up after all these years, but it’s giving me a new sense of “I used my time wisely back then.”
Terminator, terminator, terminator.
Why did I go so long without watching you? I don’t have a logical or real answer for this, other than I never took the time. And now that I have, I’m completely enthralled with this idea of machines taking over the universe.
Now, I understand that watching these moves some…. 30 years later comes with assumptions that I had to overcome. Like the assumption that the graphics and special effects were going to be good – or the assumption that the old tropes of the 80’s were going to die. But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised.
Let’s talk special effects first – not that I’m an expert. But mainly because I can tell you right now, that I have no qualms with the story. It was excellent! Let’s get that out of the way. What I was waiting for, and watching throughout the two movies, was “is this going to feel fake?” since it had been made so long ago. And not counting the scene where the terminator is in the bathroom cutting up his face in the first movie, I was highly impressed with how well everything looked, felt, and ultimately worked for both 1 and 2. It wasn’t distracting – and ultimately helped me believe the story MORE due to the effects being more practical than CGI. And isn’t that part of the problem these days with big blockbuster movies? Everything is added post principle photography…and very little is left for reality. Well, not with Terminator 1 & 2. The stop motion was great (for what Cameron could do). The 2nd alloy Terminator still holds up, some of those liquid metal visuals were impressive (to say the least). And when it came to explosions, well these movies put Michael Bay to shame. But, it was fun. And it entertained me – and that deserves 10 Points to Gryffindor!
Now, on to old 80’s tropes. Specifically – damsel in distress. A big reason people have suggested these movies to me over the years was due to one character: Sarah Connor. For YEARS people asked how I could be a feminist without watching Terminator 2. And honestly, it was easy – I was doing my own female-badassery at the time. But coming into Terminator 1 and expecting a strong female hero was a little misleading. At first, when watching what was going on with Sarah – I didn’t think much about her character, or her strength. It wasn’t until some much needed consideration, and discussion with one of my friends that I realized that I LOVED Sarah in the first movie…even more than Sara in T2. Yes. This may shock some of my male friends, but hear me out. Actually – let me show you a conversation I had with one of my friends:
“Friend: Okay – I want to talk Terminator with you. RE: Sarah Conner. The first movie, for me, is much more impressive because it’s the kind of female strength that’s familiar, in an abstract way, because I see it every damn day – a woman is faced with shit, and she realizes that the shit is going to happen, and she rises to the occasion and deals with it! That part at the end where she’s dragging Reese through the warehouse and she’s yells “ON YOUR FEET SOLDIER” at him? SHIT YES! YES QUEEN YASSSS! She starts the movie and she’s nothing, just this nobody with a dead end demeaning job and at the end of the movie she’s a general! I find that transformation much more impressive and relateable than the “I’m a hardened badass fanatic” of the second film. I am not overly fond of James Cameron and for me T2 is the epitome of a dude-bro being all self-congratulatory and making a “Strong Female Character” in the most obvious heavy-handed unsubtle way possible.
Me: OMG – I couldn’t agree more! Taking into account that the guys (Gabbing Geek Crew) said that T1 was throw away and T2 was better – I know I was influenced to think so. But there was something very off-putting about Sarah in the 2nd one. By the end of the 1st one, I was like – YES BITCH – SQUISH THAT MACHINE! Then to see her go crazy and in a loony bin, only to then be a psycho about wanting to hurt and kill people? I mean – obviously she’s smarter than that! It looked and felt sloppy. I think though, that you hit the nail on the head. Her image in the 2nd one is the “perceived” image of strength. Muscles. Guns. Cigarettes. Screaming. And her actual strength came from her being fucking smart, and dealing with this shit in a balanced way.
Friend: In the first movie, for me it felt really realistic for how a smart woman would react. She does everything right, she realizes she might be a target because of her name, she calls the police! She’s situationally aware and tries to put herself in places where she wouldn’t normally be a target like the crowded club. She’s understandably freaked out but trying to hold it together. She tries to fight off Reese when he first grabs her even though she’s clearly visibly terrified. And then, by the end of the film she’s realized that no one’s going to save her so she has to save herself.
Me: PREACH! If I think about Sarah Conner as a character – the Sara from T1 and the Sarah from T2 feel very different to me. When we finally get to T2 and she’s a rabid dog of sorts, I was like….wait a second. This doesn’t feel right. Though – if I’m being honest for T1…I’m not okay with the Florence Nightingale effect – you saved me – so now I sleep with you. I was like – okay – time loop, I get it. Why is it always “let me fuck you as a thank you for ‘saving’ me” (in 80’s movies)? I hate that.
Friend: I can give it a pass if I think about it not as a thank you, but as like a “holy fuck i could die and all this is fucked up and i just need to turn my brain off for a while.”
Me: Good point. I like your interpretation better. Because it was weird, probably because my mind would NOT be thinking of having sex at the moment. It would be “HOW THE FUCK DO I HIDE AND SURVIVE?”
Friend: Haha – same.”
So there you go – Sarah Conner in T1 is just a badass, if not more than the Sarah Conner of T2. All in all – she’s still a badass strong female character – so for that ALONE this movie gets an A+++! I’m just sad that I waited all this time to know who/what everyone was talking about when it came to Sarah – GOD – THINK OF ALL THE COSPLAY YEARS I MISSED!? Oh well. Another day, another Doug.
Anyway – in conclusion: I give T1& T2, 9 Molten Metal Thumbs-Up out of 10. I loved it. These movies were a blast to watch, even when you consider how old the they were, and also taking into consideration some of the weird things they did with Sarah Connor. I loved seeing the action, I loved seeing Sarah kick ass, I loved seeing the bad guys lose and the good guys win. That may be a trope in-and-of-itself. But that’s okay. I make the rules around here.
Hasta la vista, baby.