A Look Back At The Terminator #1 (1990)

Way back in 1984, a low-budget movie titled The Terminator became a hit with moviegoers which greatly helped the careers of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and writer-director James Cameron. Terminator 2: Judgment Day became a massive hit worldwide in 1991 establishing the Terminator franchise as an important one leading to more movies (released in 2003, 2009 and 2015), video games and even a TV series. Oh yes, the upcoming film Terminator: Dark Fate will be released very soon and it now involves James Cameron.

Way back in 1990, a follow-up to the 1984 classic was released that did NOT involve Schwarzenegger, Cameron and Hamilton at all. The follow-up was a 4-issue mini-series titled The Terminator and was published by Dark Horse Comics which back then was licensed to do comic books of the Terminator franchise.

This is my review of The Terminator #1, written by John Arcudi and drawn by Chris Warner with ink work by Paul Guinan.

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Early story

The comic book opens in the year 2029. In the ruins of Los Angeles, a band armed humans struggle against the machines of Skynet during the night. They infiltrate a facility to find one of Skynet’s time displacement chambers which they learned previously from their leader John Connor. Thanks to Connor’s intervention, Skynet’s attempt to change history failed but the big catch is that only a prototype of the time displacement chamber was discovered. The final model of the chamber remains.

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As the armed guys make their way through, a Terminator watches them secretly….

Quality

When it comes to the writing, I can clearly see that John Arcudi (best known for The Mask) exerted effort to make this comic book relevant to the 1984 movie using key details such as the humans operating on the field only at night time (because Skynet will easily detect them during the day). Arcudi, however, expanded a bit on the franchise’s cinematic elements by emphasizing the use specific machines (steel-and-chrome wombs or tissue-generating chambers) to cover Terminator units with flesh and blood, and most notably, the use electronic communication between Terminator units which resemble telepathy among humans.

Cyberdyne, the fictional corporation heavily emphasized in Terminator 2, made an appearance in this comic book. With regards to Skynet, Arcudi emphasized that the living network was a lot more resourceful than what the movies suggested. The comic book has a nice build-up and along the way, the use of expository dialogue was pretty efficient and they are quite helpful for readers to grasp the story and key details.

With regards to the art work, Warner’s art style has that somewhat cartoony aesthetic on not just the humans but even on the machines. There were several Terminator units displayed without the flesh and from the way they were drawn, I could not even tell if those units were the T-800 type. Warner’s drawings on the physical environments carry a good amount of detail.

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Terminator stealthy approach captured nicely.

While Warner’s drawing has a cartoony aesthetic, the illustrated action is pretty violent and has quite an impact in some shots. There are some bloody images and implied nude shots as well.

Conclusion

What can I say? I bought The Terminator #1 at the Hobby Con this past weekend out of pure curiosity. After reading it thrice, I should say that I found this comic book proving to be better than what I expected. It is a surprisingly good read and the fact that this was published roughly a year BEFORE the release of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, I found this to be a worthy follow-up to the 1984 movie. In fact, it’s so good a follow-up I’d rather read it than waste my time watching Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation and the very awful Terminator: Genisys.

As such, I declare that The Terminator #1 is recommended.


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My Observations: Terminator: Dark Fate Official Teaser Trailer

Have you guys seen the first official trailer of the upcoming movie Terminator: Dark Fate yet? If you have not, it’s been embedded below for your viewing pleasure.

You must be wondering what I think of it. Here’s my answer: the trailer is satisfactory and it does not excite me very much. I just find it interesting but I should say that Linda Hamilton‘s return as Sarah Connor (James Cameron‘s symbol of the strong, fighting woman) is intriguing.

In fairness, I like the confirmation that the story of this new movie takes place decades after the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day and completely ignores Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (which did not involve James Cameron), the disappointing Terminator Salvation and the laughable Terminator: Genisys. Cameron returns to the franchise as producer and directing it is Tim Miller (Deadpool). This film is Miller’s 2nd full-length movie as director!

Who are the two young ladies in the trailer? They are Dani (played by Natalia Ramos) and Grace (Mackenzie Davis). According to available information about the movie, the two are being hunted by a new Terminator (Gabriel Luna) that resembles somewhat the T-800 terminator but has some abilities similar to that of the T-1000. Sarah Connor comes in to protect them both which parallels the events of 1984’s The Terminator and 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

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The hunted.
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An older Sarah Connor.

What this movie showed is that it has a new concept to keep things fresh. One of the hunted came from the future and was shown to have superhuman abilities, daring to fight the new Terminator that’s been going after them.

While it is a fact that the Terminator film franchise has always been closely linked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous star appeared for only a few seconds in the trailer. I guess the marketing people are saving their Schwarzenegger footage for later.

Schwarzenegger’s listed in the film as The Terminator but still there are questions about his role. Is Schwarzenegger playing another T-800 terminator living in secret as an old man or could it be he is also playing a man who eventually becomes the flesh template Model 101 for the T-800 terminators?

What I find intriguing is that Schwarzenegger’s body double in Terminator Genisys, Brett Azar, was rehired for a still undisclosed role in this new movie. In Genisys, he played the young T-800 terminator (with a digital copy of Schwarzenegger’s face pasted over his) and it is likely that he will be playing a very similar role here. This uncertainty keeps me interested in Terminator: Dark Fate.

As for the computer-generated imagery (CGI) used for the new, evil Terminator played by Gabriel Luna, they sure look fake! Definitely not photo-realistic! Could someone please push the CGI people to improve their work?!

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CGI so fake looking, this one took me out of the trailer’s concept.

Soon enough we will see what the filmmakers have to offer in the next trailer. Here is hoping that with James Cameron involved, Terminator: Dark Fate will truly reinvent the Terminator concept and deliver something fun and memorable.

Terminator: Dark Fate will be released in cinemas worldwide this October.

A Look Back at Starman

When it comes to science fiction movies of Hollywood, the 1980s was quite an interesting decade. Released during the decade were these epic sci-fi flicks like The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Dune. Not to be outdone were the low-budget sci-fi movies that made an impact on pop culture like The Terminator and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

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Within the big mix of these kinds of films during the 1980s was Starman which was overlooked.

Released in 1984 to positive reviews (and later an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for Jeff Bridges), Starman was directed by John Carpenter who established himself nicely in Hollywood with 1978’s Halloween. Between Halloween and Starman, Carpenter also directed genre classics Escape from New York and The Thing.

Starman follows an alien creature whose ship (a UFO) was shot down by fighter jets that acted in defense. The alien finds its way into the house of Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen) who is grieving over the sudden death of her husband Scott (Jeff Bridges) watching a personal video of their past and drinking lots of liquor. Inside the house was an album which contained a lock of hair which the alien used to create a clone of Scott instantly from infant to full adult which is the titular Starman (also played by Bridges).

This of course shocks Jenny. She sees her husband return yet it’s not really him. Starman – the alien – clearly is not used to occupying a human body but does his best to communicate with her in English. He also carries with him seven silver spheres that allow him to do special things (specifically manipulating matter) that would appear as miracles to others. Starman wants Jenny to bring him to the Barringer Crater in Arizona within three days in order to be picked up by his fellow aliens. Otherwise he would die.

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Although frightened and hostile towards him, Jenny still was considerate enough to drive him far away.

If there is anything significant about this movie, it is the sheer depth of character development of both Jenny and Starman. Equally significant is the chemistry between Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges who made their characters believable.

Jeff Bridges is excellent in his portrayal of Starman. He’s clearly an alien who is not only struggling on being in a human body but also struggles to learn about the many ways of life and expression around him on his time on Earth. This includes learning gestures, saying words and doing things that people already find normal to do.

Karen Allen delivered a fine performance as Jenny Hayden. In fact when it comes to character development, I see Jenny a more significant character than her counterpart from outer space. While Starman adapts to life on Earth, Jenny’s character is gradually and convincingly transformed from one who is stuck with the past and being bitter into a person who gets renewed by understanding that life does have more to offer, that hope exists, that miracles do happen and finding new love and inspiration to live on.

As a Born Again Christian who went through personal transformation, who gained renewed faith in the Lord, and who left the old life behind to live on with a new purpose in life, I strongly relate with Jenny’s character development a lot. The concept of renewal and personal transformation portrayed by Karen Allen is much clearer to me than ever. Not to be outdone is the element of the healing of the soul of Jenny as a result of learning and understanding Starman.

The movie also has a solid supporting character in scientist Mark Shermin nicely played by Charles Martin Smith. Shermin is the typical sympathetic and willing-to-understand scientist who strives to discover first-hand an actual living alien which puts him into conflict the National Security Agency’s plan to capture Starman dead or alive. His talk with Starman reminds us viewers that humanity is always flawed and has many times resorted to violence as a means of accomplishment whenever a challenging situation (read: the visit of Starman to Earth by space ship only to be shot down due to fear of being invaded) happens.

With regards to storytelling, Starman is a nice mix of genre elements that goes beyond science fiction. It is also a road movie and a romance. At the same time director John Carpenter told the story with a controlled pace that gives viewers ample time to understand what’s been going on and a decent amount of spectacles that highlight Starman’s miracles.

Speaking of which, the film has elements of Christianity and the miracles of Starman are just the start of it. I could emphasize further here what the other elements are but that would mean spoiling the story and that is something I won’t do. You just will have to watch the movie to realize it.

Is Starman a wonderful movie? Absolutely! Is it one of the best works of John Carpenter? Truly it is and it deserves any moviegoer’s attention. How does it compare with other friendly alien movies like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Compared to those two flicks, Starman has the best and most mature character development of its protagonists. Its dramatic performances are also better.

Starman is a true sci-fi classic that deserves your attention even if you are not fond of sci-fi or UFO movies. I highly recommend buying this movie on Blu-ray disc or by streaming it.

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Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to your fellow John Carpenter fans and sci-fi movie fans. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your project or business, check out my services.

Author’s Note: This article was originally published at my old Geeks and Villagers blog. What you read on this website was an updated and expanded version. In other words, this newest version you just read is the most definitive version.