|The Terminator (James Cameron, 1984)|
Back before McG was driving the franchise into the ground, The Terminator was a cultural touchstone. My experience when I was young was of watching Terminator 2 first and preferring it to The Terminator when I eventually caught up with it. And watching The Terminator again a decade or some such later, it still rather pales in comparison. T2 has a lot of really memorable action set pieces that The Terminator lacks, though you also realize how many T2 scenes are rather uncreative adaptations of scenes from the first one.
The Terminator seems a rather sparse movie. It has long bits with rather little dialogue and sticks to a fairly simple plot arc of the Terminator chasing and Sarah Connor and Reese evading. There are only a few points where it tries to break this simple progression of set pieces to actually deal with the philosophical aspects. Whereas T2 is ambitious, The Terminator seems to be just an action film. It is capable but unspectacular aside from its cultural impact.
I do want to comment on one final thing. The effects here are really dated. There are various points where The Terminator fails to seem like Arnold as they either have a dummy or heavy makeup that does not look authentic. There are other points where the movement involved has a jerkiness reminiscent of Harryhausen. In this way The Terminator hasn't aged all that well.
|The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1982)|
When I first heard about this film I thought it odd that Robert DeNiro would be playing a stand-up comic. Fockers aside, he hasn't really been considered a comedic actor. Then I dove further into the premise. His character starts out seeming a bit pathetic but quickly the character segues into crazy, a bit reminiscent of Travis Bickle as he keeps upping the ante to get the host of a late-night show to let him do his routine. This starts to sound very much like a Scorsese/DeNiro film. Sad to say, it did not change my opinion that I like Scorsese best without DeNiro. I think when the character shifts from pathetic to delusional, it makes it less interesting. I much preferred my time with Sandra Bernhard to that with DeNiro.
While I was watching this I kind of pictured a modern remake where instead of a terrible comic kidnapping Jerry Lewis' Johnny Carson type character to get on his show, it would be a terrible singer kidnapping Simon Cowell to get on American Idol. Only American Idol's celebration of the terrible in its opening weeks would render that plot utterly unnecessary. This made me very sad about the current state of entertainment.
Frankly, if I had the power, I'd move for a double elimination here and use it to save something else (like the above Secret of NIHM). While I do actually enjoy The Terminator, I still find it ultimately unnecessary to this bracket. But I didn't quite enjoy The King of Comedy so given that The Terminator wins due to soft competition.
Verdict: The Terminator moves on