Study Guide

The Terminator Genre

Genre

Science Fiction, Action, Horror

Tech Noir

Time travel is afoot, and it won't take Sherlock Holmes to tell us we're dealing with some science-fiction. We've also got a killer cyborg, sentient artificial intelligence, and more lasers than a rock-and-roll show.

But the film's science-fiction roots run deeper than its choice of shiny toys. This tale tells of a cyborg created to be a cold, efficient killer of people, and it raises a lot of questions and fears about our relationship with technology. By exploring the relationship between technology, society, and humanity, the film's got a sort of philosophical take on its science-fiction trappings.

Things That Go Bang in the Night

Sarah is being chased by an unstoppable cyborg that looks like Death during his punk rocker phase. It's scary stuff, and that's because The Terminator also belongs to the horror genre.

Like any good movie monster, the Terminator is violent and inhuman, and no amount of reasoning will convince it to give up the killing game and take a job at the local cupcake boutique. It hunts people across L.A. and continues unstopped until one woman is left standing. She summons all of her courage and smarts, and in a final battle, she defeats her inhuman foe.

Until the sequel, that is….

Sound familiar? That's because The Terminator liberally borrows from the horror subgenre known as the slasher film: think Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The Terminator follows the path of these famous movie monsters—from being a killing machine to being killed by the Final Girl to returning in sequel after sequel after sequel.

The (Not So) Last Action Hero

Guns, explosions, shoot-outs, car chases, trench coats—yep, The Terminator is definitely an action film.

The film sets up its action conventions right from the start. We have the resourceful hero in Kyle Reese, and he'll be doing battle against incredible odds, in the form of the Terminator. As these two clash, it's action-packed sequence after action-packed sequence. We have a shoot-out in a police station, a final chase through a factory, and Reese's flashbacks to operations in a future war. There's also not one, not two, but three—yes, three—separate high-speed car chases.

Basically, if you're a fan of rom-coms, this probably won't be the flick for you.

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