Category: Film Reviews

The Terminator (1984)

By Maggie Tan

James Cameron made his debut in 1981 with Piranha II: The Spawning, a B-movie horror sequel that flopped. Little did he know that The Terminator would become part of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. This was the movie that made a name for Cameron and he later went on to make other box office hits, such as Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009).zg3634_terminator I

It is 2029 and earth is at war. The end of humanity is near, as artificially intelligent machines have taken over the world. Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), a human resistance fighter from the post-apocalyptic world, is then sent back to 1984 in Los Angeles to protect Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). The reason being that Sarah Connor is the mother of her yet-unborn son, John Connor, who will lead the human resistance against the machines in the future and may eventually save the human race. However, a cyborg Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is also sent back from the future by the machines in order to kill Sarah, before her son is born. Can the indestructible Terminator be stopped?

The music in the movie, composed by Brad Fiedel, has one of the most memorable rhythmic tones. According to Fiedel, the music is all about “a mechanical man and his heartbeat” and the sound turned out to be very suitable for the movie.

The cinematography is subtle, yet powerful. The lighting in this movie serves to make us tell the difference between the humans and the machines. For example, Sarah Conner’s face is always lit by a soft frontal light, which humanizes her. In contrast, there are often pulses of red light in the scenes with the Terminator when he looks for Sarah and Kyle.  The red light makes the Terminator look artificial, merciless and relentless. The contrast in lighting between the scenes with the Terminator and Sarah is done brilliantly, as it makes the former look more machine-like and the latter more human.

Although not as groundbreaking as in the sequel, the visual effects are still quite good considering its time.  Nevertheless, by today’s standards the special effects may appear a bit dated. For some scenes, the movie relied stop motion, which some people may find awkward looking. In other scenes, the movie used a large stage where all the miniatures would be shot on, with cut outs of ruined cities as the background and more ruined buildings and skulls as the foreground.

The best performance goes to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Although not much acting or lines are required of him, he delivered a solid performance as a ruthless killing machine. His facial expressions which remain stoic throughout the movie, makes him look coldhearted and soulless, like a true machine. His body builder’s physique also makes him seem imposing and threatening. Furthermore, his unforgettable one-liners are, needless to say, one of the best parts of this movie.

The Terminator was never really meant to be something more than a niche movie, yet it has found its way to many people’s hearts. Fast-paced and packed with action, this is definitely an enjoyable movie.


Directed by                 James Cameron
Produced by              Gale Anne Hurd
Screenplay by             James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, William Wisher Jr.
Starring                      Arnold SchwarzeneggerLinda HamiltonMichael Biehn
Music by                     Brad Fiedel
Cinematography by  Adam Greenberg
Editing by                   Mark Goldblatt
Studio                         Hemdale Film Corporation, Pacific Western Productions
Distributed by            Orion Pictures
Release date              26 October 1984
Running time             108 minutes
Parental Guide          Rated R
Country                      United States
Budget                        $6.4 million
Box Office                  $781,371,200


The Day After Tomorrow

By Rhea Holleman

“If you look over behind me, that’s a tornado. Yes! A twister in Los Angeles. It’s one of many tornadoes that are destroying our city. There’s another one! That’s the Los Angeles skyline! It’s unbelievable! It’s huge! I’ve never sMV5BMTU1NTA3NzMwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzEzMTEzMw@@._V1._SX640_SY964_een anything like that!”

In a storm of sudden climate changes, the world is dropping into a new ice age at an alarming rate in The Day After Tomorrow. Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a group of survivors try to stay just that, survivors. In the meantime his father, paleoclimatologist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) is on a desperate and seemingly hopeless quest to rescue his son, and mend the strained father-son relationship. The government is now trying to limit the damage done by failing to listen to Jack Hall’s warnings.

Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow is a man vs. nature drama, the good kind. A dramatic warning of what could happen if global warming continues. This film is a perfect example of how you don’t need explosions or time bombs to keep an audience in suspense; Mother Nature is enough. Despite the serious topic and life-threatening situations, there is still a place for humour; the witty conversations between Jeremy and Elsa, two other survivors, especially lighten the mood.

Some of the scenarios are a little farfetched (Sam and his friends outrun a blast of freezing air and close the doors to keep it out) and, of course, there is the stereotypical government that doesn’t listen at the critical moment, dooming half the population.

The special effects, though, are impressive, especially the ice shelf cracking, the New York City flood, the lifelike wolves, the ship sailing through the streets of New York, and the overall weather effects. The music complements the dramatic moments in the film, full of suspense when the action unfolds, and thoroughly sad when necessary.

Some good acting on the parts of Jake Gyllenhaal, who still manages to be in love while all the drama unfolds, Dennis Quaid, convincing as the father who risks all to rescue his son, and Ian Holm, who knows how to bring bad news. Only Emmy Rossum’s acting as Laura is a bit affected.

Despite some minor flaws, The Day After Tomorrow is an exciting, interesting film, that keeps you hanging on the edge of your seat. Go see!

Movie: The Day After Tomorrow
Release: 2004
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Emmy Rossum
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Studio: Centropolis Entertainment Lions Gate
Script: Roland Emmerich, Jeffrey Nachmanoff
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 124 minutes

World War Z

By Frans Snackers

World War Z provides the viewer with a convincing depiction of a “zombie” apocalypse, which spreads like wildfire around the entire globe. From the moment it starts, it fills its viewers with excitement and horror as the events in the film develop.

In World War Z, we follow Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former United Nations investigator, who has been called out of retirement by his former employer to find a cure for the infection that is reaping death and destruction on a world wide scale. One moment, he is driving to drop off his wife, Karen (Mireille Enos), and children, when the next moment all hell breaks loose. Narrowly escaping the streets of Philadelphia, they are dropped off on a Aircraft Carrier where Gerry is confronted with a choice: accept the mission of finding a cure, or being dropped off on shore somewhere again. To keep his family safe, Gerry accepts and sets out on a investigation which leads him to the ends of the earth, and its former inhabitants…

While the film has some elements that did not seem very logical, for example making a phone call to someone who is in the middle of zombie-infested territory, the overall feel of the film is very realistic. This is not only due to a sound performance of Brad Pitt and his supporting cast, but also because of the manner in which the infected act. They shake, clack their teeth and jerk into motion in a very convincing manner. The way the actors literally throw themselves at their prey, seemingly without regards for their own safety, truly adds to the thrilling feel of the film.

As good as the performances of the actors are, they are evenly matched, or even surpassed, by the stunning special effects and CGI. Never in the film does it seem that the vast hordes of the infected are, in fact, animated, not even when they are jumping off buildings. And even though the film is riddled with CGI and other special effects, never does it seem overused, as we see ever so often in films that are as action packed as this. No redundant explosions of cars that are seemingly filled with some kind of C4, nor blood gushing out of people as if they are carrying round an infinite supply of the sticky red stuff. All in all, it adds to an increased sense of realism in the film.

World War Z had a lot of expectations to live up to. Luckily, for the producers and the viewers alike, it does. The film sets the bar quite a bit higher for similar productions and shows that there is a market for big scale zombie-apocalypse films. After you watch World War Z, you’ll be waiting for the sequel as eagerly as I am.

Release Date: June 21, 2013

Running time: 116 minutes

Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Fana Mokoena, Daniella Kertesz