‘Terminator,’ one for the ages

Jan. 03, 2009 | 12:14 a.m.

TerminatorThe Library of Congress has added 25 more films to the National Film Registry, bringing the 20-year-old preservation list up to 500 films. Instead of being picked solely on the basis of lofty cinematic virtue, the movies on this list have been placed in the archive for their time-capsule value, which is why the sometimes jarring list can start with "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" and finish with the Zapruder footage of the JFK  assassination on that infamous November day in Dallas.

This year’s 25 new entries include some classics — "The Pawnbroker," "Sergeant York," "The Invisible Man" and, one of my personal favorites, "A Face in the Crowd," Elia Kazan’s startling media fable from 1957. But the movie that is getting the most press coverage (including a tongue-in-cheek editorial published prominently in today’s Los Angeles Times) is director James Cameron’s killer-robot movie "The Terminator" from 1984. The main reasons are the fact that it is the only mainstream film on the list released after the Nixon administration and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career-defining monotone performance as a machine man. "I’ll be back."  A short and simple line in the script but, wow, it certainly took the future governor to the top of the film industry.

You could argue that there are other sci-fi/genre films that deserved to be on the list ahead of "The Terminator" ("Forbidden Planet," "Superman" and "The Matrix" spring to mind) but it’s certainly worthy by the parameters and precedents of the list. More than that, this is the silver anniversary of the movie, and the year of its revival, with "Terminator Salvation" hitting theaters this summer. And how much outrage can you muster when you’re talking about a list that has "Porky in Wackyland" on it? (It’s a 1938 Porky Pig short, not an Eli Roth movie, in case you were wondering.) If you did criticize the Registry for a blatant crime of omission, it would have to be for "Pulp Fiction." How could they leave that one out?

Anyway, congrats to Cameron, Schwarzenegger, the family of the late Stan Winston (the special effects pioneer who did some of his finest work in service of the "Terminator" franchise) and all the other people who gave us the great time-travel chase movie. To celebrate, let’s revisit the trailer to the original "Terminator" film … but first…

A QUICK TRIVIA QUESTION: What actor has the singular distinction of having been killed in the "Terminator" franchise, the "Alien" franchise and the "Predator" franchise? Answer at the bottom of this post …   


Here’s the trailer…

And here’s the trailer for "Terminator Salvation," one of the most promising fanboy movies of 2009…

So how many "I’ll be back" headlines will we be reading this summer?

— Geoff Boucher


T4_3 Exclusive: Arnold Schwarzenegger underwhelmed by "Terminator" revival

The lowdown: 13 upcoming remakes of Hollywood sci-fi classics

The late Stan Winston and the tricky business of Legacy

"Terminator Salvation" director McG says: "I need to do less talking"

First look exclusive: Christian Bale in "Terminator Salvation"

CREDITS: Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first "Terminator" film, image courtesy of Orion Pictures and from the Los Angeles Times archive.



9 Responses to ‘Terminator,’ one for the ages

  1. I'da swore it was Michael Biehn. What role did Paxton play in Predator?

  2. John Matrix says:

    We all know it's Bill Paxton. 'Nice night for a walk.'

  3. Joe B. says:

    Hey, Geoff, where's your Doctor Who post?
    New Doctor is 26 years old. Young enough to be my kid. That's not what I was looking for in a new Doctor. http://iamatvjunkie.typepad.com/i_am_a_tv_junkie_

  4. I'm just getting back from vacation but tomorrow I will return to my secret identity as geek blogger; in meantime sorry for the silence on Dr. Who and thanks to Jevon Phillips for pinchhitting on that Hingle post

  5. bill goss says:

    Question asked "franchise." Bill Paxton wasn't in Predator with Arnold, he was killed in the LA subway in Predator 2.

  6. Andrew says:

    Matrix in before Terminator? Please.

  7. GleasLightning says:

    Wasn't Lance Henrikson killed in all 3 franchises?? (If you count Alien vs. Predator)

  8. Scott says:

    Terminator was leagues ahead of "Forbidden Planet", "Superman" and "The Matrix". Well maybe not leagues ahead of the Matrix but it is a better overall film to me.

  9. lake titicaca says:

    WEll bill paxton may have died in those movies, but we all know it's the black guy who suffers in all of the movies. Poor shame, like in Predator, did they really have to put Carl Weathers death scene in slow motion, I mean, Jesse Ventura's death was quick and clean, but ohhh no, we have to feel sorry for BILL PAXTON. dumb poop dix.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

E-mail It
Powered by ShareThis