This movie is such a classic that it is difficult to review as if it were a newly released film. This movie was new and fresh when it was released and we loved this movie when we first saw it in the theater - and still enjoy it to this day. Even with the extremely dated music, clothing and hair styles and the special effects which at the time were advanced and now are quaint it is still a good movie.
The sudden, growing invasion into Sarah's life and consciousness of unrelenting danger. Watching as she turns to Kyle to save her, then turns to the police, and finally takes ownership and destroys the thing herself, this was and is a joy.
There are a couple of themes in the movie, some obvious and others not so much. Obviously there is the human vs machine theme. This permeates the movies in both small and large ways and there is no need to discuss this.
Then there is the love story between Sarah and Kyle. This is well handled and believable. It is interesting to watch Sarah slowly move into Kyle's world as Kyle slowly moves into Sarah's. In the deleted scene at the Tiki Motel Sarah tells Kyle "I'm in your world now". Kyle, on the other hand, is actually able to relax a bit - watch he and Sarah goofing around just before the T-800 arrives at the motel.
The dynamic between the two is also well done. Sarah initially strongly opposed to Kyle - even to biting him - while Kyle seems a bit bewildered that Sarah needs to be convinced that the Terminator is there and is evil. Kyle is forceful enough to be convincing - and a little scary.
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.
This dynamic slowly changes. The first indication is at the end of the car chase, when the police arrive, Kyle grabs his gun and is going to get out of the car. Sarah orders him not to and he obeys.
The next day as they are traveling north, Sarah argues that rather than run and hide they should try to destroy Cyberdyne so there will be no war, no Terminators and no need to run. This takes place in a deleted scene, which is unfortunate as it is a crucial step in their relationship. (We have to admit, it was the correct decision to delete this scene as it includes a "break-down" on Kyle's part that does not quite fit into the arc of his story).
In another deleted scene we see that the building in which Sarah crushes the Terminator is Cyberdyne and as they are building bombs at the Tiki we realize that Sarah was successful in convincing Kyle to follow her lead - destroying Cyberdyne - rather than his plan which is simply to run and hide.
This change in their relationship reaches its climax when Kyle collapses in the factory unable to go on and Sarah orders him to get up. "Move it, Reese! On your feet, soldier! On your feet! "
The arc of Sarah's change continues as, after Kyle dies, she confronts the T-800 on her own and crushes it.
The next theme is the ability to accurately assess relative dangers. Sarah locks up her motor bike, because other people might steal it. Most people would have been very afraid of the punks that the Terminator encounters and from whom it steals clothes. When Sarah leaves to go to the movies, she gets very creeped out in the parking lot, because bad people might be around. Finally, when she realizes that Kyle is following her, she gets very frightened. Imagined dangers regarding her fellow humans.
However, during the arc of her transformation she comes to realize true and actual danger, the unthinking and unstoppable kind. The 'a meteor is going to crash into the Earth' kind. The imagined danger from your fellow humans is nothing, in fact, your fellow humans are on your side, they are our strength not our weakness.
Watching this transformation of Sarah is still wonderful. Starting out meek, taken advantage of and powerless - think of the ice cream scene and getting stood up on Friday night - she becomes strong, dedicated, committed and in the final scene she is armed and serious and headed into the future to save mankind. And we believe she will succeed, not because we believe in her son's abilities - we've never met him - but because we believe in her.