QUOTE: “I’ll Be Back.”
—One of the Terminator machine’s few but most memorable conversational utterances.
Before The Terminator, movie robots, while almost always our enemy, had distinct limitations. They could always disguise themselves as humans and avoid detection, but they were often clumsy, cumbersome and slow-moving constructs — not all that unlike the slow-moving bloodthirsty zombies of horror films.
But in The Terminator, with the awesome body-building barbarian Arnold Schwarzenegger, director and co-writer James Cameron gave us something we’d never seen before. As an indestructible machine sent back from the future, the Terminator did not need to eat or sleep but existed only to fulfill one solitary mission: to kill you.
In 1991, Cameron took that concept even further in Terminator 2, where another robot with the exact same mission was not built out of steel but of liquid metal, capable of shifting shapes and almost impossible to destroy with conventional weapons.
In the process, Cameron, Schwarzenegger and co. gave us a new way of seeing robots, as machines that would one day overrun humanity, and travel back to the past with a relentless and unstoppable quest of destroying their masters. Unlike puny humans, who must sleep and eat and feel fear and exhaustion, these Terminators have no needs, no wants, no remorse — only an objective. For millions of moviegoers, the idea of the robot was brought into the modern realm, into the computer age, with a vengeance.
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