Picks and Pans Review: The Terminator

updated 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/19/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

The title character of this film speaks English with a terrible accent, never says more than one sentence at a time, is as expressive as a rhino and moves as gracefully as an anvil with legs. In other words, he was born to be played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. His role is that of a murderous robot who looks like a human, or at least as much like a human as Arnold does. A nuclear war has been started by computers to rid the world of human beings; during ensuing mop-up operations a man leads a human uprising, and the irritated computers send Arnold back through time to 1984 to wipe out the leader's mother before he's even born. A human soldier, Michael (The Fan) Biehn, makes the time trip too, to try to save the woman. It was foolish to wait until halfway through the movie to explain all of this. But the plot device seems logical in context, and things move so fast there's no time to analyze anything too closely. Linda (Children of the Corn) Hamilton, who plays the mother-to-be, is appealing, and Biehn is a fresh face. The most impressive credit of director/co-screenwriter James Cameron is that he has seen 2001 (more recently he directed Piranha II). He keeps things under control nicely, though, right through the final confrontation. It wouldn't be fair to give too many details. Suffice it to say that Arnold has a run-in with a hydraulic press, and if there's a sequel, he'll have to be playing a waffle iron. (R)

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