In the year 2029, the machines have acquired intelligence and are fighting against humans in a dystopian world. Among the humans, John Connor, in the future leads a strong resistance that puts the humans at an advantage. The machines send a cyborg, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenneger), to travel back in time to 1984 to kill the mother of John Connor, Sarah (Linda Hamilton), before he is born. To counteract this, the humans send Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) to protect her from the cyborg.
When I first saw the movie, I was awed by the concept and the effects. The imagery of the future seemed very chilling and Schwarzenneger was perfect as a cold remorseless cyborg. Seeing it again, I still think some of the effects are spectacular and it's heartening to see that in some ways, Schwarzenneger hasn't changed very much since playing his breakthrough role (the difference being that these days he plays the hero instead of the villain). The dialogue is terribly bad as is the acting by the supporting cast. The score is excellent.
Terminator is a great sci-fi flick that I definitely recommend putting on your must-see list.
The only "twist" to this Terminator flick is the presence of a female Terminator, Terminatrix or TX for short, who is out of destroy John Connor (Nick Stahl). Connor is the one responsible for saving the saving human race from a world taken over by machines in the future. It is up to our re-programmed original Terminator model (Arnold Schwarzenneger) to protect Connor and his future from TX. Lots of excellent action scenes, in-jokes and puns, and general destruction and mayhem follow.
The movie's ending is quite bleak in that it does indeed do what the title promise: showcase the rise of the machines. Even though John Connor and his love interest survive, it is at a cost that ends up destroying most of humanity. This is colinear with the premise of the Terminator movies where the future is ruled by machines with the human renegades winning, and each movie features the machines trying to change the past to kill the human renegade leader.
In this sense, it cleverly avoids the paradox of past manipulations that result in a future time line that is inconsistent with the past manipulations (i.e., if there was no takeover by Skynet, why would the Terminator be created in the first place?). Not bad as far as movies go.