Geeky Parent Guide: Celebrating 35 Years of ‘The Terminator’ as a Parent

Sarah Connor?

Two words. One person’s name. You – ahem, many fellow geeky parents – know exactly what I’m talking about. Watching movies isn’t just a singular event that’s exciting for our kids. It’s a perfect excuse to revisit older films or become immersed in a completely new tale. Celebrating 35 years after its initial release on October 26, 1984, The Terminator is a great reason to watch, send shivers down your spine, and prepare for a future generation of artificial intelligence that will soon come to take over the world. Well, with the latest release in the Terminator franchise, Terminator: Dark Fate, that statement doesn’t sound too crazy, right?

As we’ve gone beyond the Halloween season, it doesn’t take away from the earlier dark skies that lead to more opportune times to watch scary movies. Yes, I classify The Terminator as a horror flick mixed with sci-fi. Much like Alien or Annihilation, this science fiction is produced in such a way that maximizes the awful feeling you get when you think you’re about to jump out of your skin. Just to clarify, I do not jump through hoops for horror films. I used to watch them often as a teen, but I think the latter years have led me to primarily pass on wanting to be scared out of my seat. But, it’s easier to watch films you’ve already seen, so this rewatch was relatively easy.

As a parent, it’s important to have your own TV shows and movies to watch that are separate from what your kids can watch. My wife and I will sometimes watch reality baking shows with the kids or put reruns on for background noise, so we know it’s safe for our kids to watch. But, it’s also okay if parents don’t want to watch Scooby-Doo or LEGO movies on repeat. So, when a big anniversary of a film pops up, or you just want to watch it again so you can prepare for an upcoming sequel, then what better reason to say to your kids, “I’m watching a movie for adults.” Or you can wait until they’re in bed like I did.

The Terminator still holds up today. Yes, there was one particular scene where two characters were avoiding laser beam fire from a massive robotic killing machine, which looked like two people scattering about in front of a green screen of some kind. Other than that, the movie has thrilling chase scenes that still put me on the edge of my seat. The Terminator itself is one of those uniquely terrifying creations that makes films worth revisiting. Its unrelenting pursuit without any obvious way of stopping it lets the fear build and build as you watch it.

“Listen, and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop... ever, until you are dead!”

The Terminator levels you with that notion from the beginning of the film. The dramatic destruction caused by the Terminator makes it seem impossible to stop. Add an incredibly intense musical score to match its movements – its hunt – and the entire film locks itself into a place that’s always watchable. In addition to a chilling, time-spanning cyborg, this film also highlights the transformation of Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton. Sarah Connor is terrified, like most people would be. Then, when her protector, Kyle Reese (played by Michael Biehn), reinforces the magnitude of the situation, she doesn’t fall apart. She tries to understand. She helps to build weapons to try and defeat the hunter-killer.

One of the most fascinating things to see in film is the ability to cope or adapt to awful situations. At what should be a breaking point, Connor finds a way to push forward. In the darkest moments, she also finds love – and this particular scene is another reason why this film is not appropriate for kids. But, in the face of hopelessness, it’s important to recognize that people find a reason to keep fighting. I think that message is quite relevant in today’s world. What is worth fighting for when things seem bleak? Sarah Connor found love and strength from a person she had previously never known, because, well, he was from the future. When you watch the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, you get a better sense of Connor’s strength, but you can clearly see it by the end of this film.

In 35 years, this franchise has seen six films with varying stories, but when you look at its core, you’ll find a Terminator and Sarah Connor. Fortunately, a variable wasn’t in the Terminator’s plan. With the aid of Kyle Reese, the ensuing chaos leads to a seemingly endless game of cat and mouse. If you’ve never seen The Terminator, the storytelling is dramatic, the chases are intense, and the fear felt by the characters translates off-screen to viewers. As a parent, I enjoyed diving back into a classic that is clearly not suitable for my kids. I lost myself within the story and hope for a world that never comes close to the horrors associated with this movie.

If you’re interested in finding out how well The Terminator has done with critics and fans, check out the film’s rating over on Rotten Tomatoes.

Tomatometer Critics’ Score: 100%
Audience Score: 89%

Critics Consensus – “With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks.” –

What are your thoughts of the first movie in the Terminator franchise? Do you classify it as a horror flick? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and if you’ve seen the latest Dark Fate, let us know where it ranks amongst the other films. Don’t forget to share and like this article with all of your geeky friends, and if you haven’t liked the Geeky Parent Guide over on Twitter and Facebook, “Come with me if you want to live.”

Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.

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