Transformers, Terminator blockbuster fun
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Transformers, Terminator blockbuster fun
by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Midnight Madness
May 1-2
Egyptian Theater


It's May in Seattle and that means the rhododendrons will soon be showing off. It also means the season of the blockbuster movie is upon us. Fall, with its romantic comedies and holiday fare, is little more than a wisp of memory. December and its accompanying Oscar bait is film history, now. And the deep winter cinematic purgatory where mediocre films go to die a slow theatrical death is mercifully over. It's all about the big summer movie from here on in.

It's easy to be derisive of the blockbuster. Blockbusters must appeal to the masses and they're often peppered with stock characters, rehashed plots, predictable endings, bad dialogue, marginal acting, and (since 1993) outlandish CGI special effects. And they seem targeted to an audience of adolescent males. I'd make a masturbation joke here, but watching these flicks is a bit like jacking off anyway.

However, it's also easy to forget how much fun these movies can be.

To kick off my cinematic summer I decided to attend the promotional screening of the original Transformers movie with the first ever peek at the trailer for this summer's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at the Cinerama and to revisit The Terminator, playing May 1 and 2 as part of the Egyptian Theater's Midnight Madness series.

I'm a lucky guy. I get to write about many good films here at the SGN. I cover local stuff, retrospective screenings, and decidedly less commercial films. But like anyone who loves the cinema, I still appreciate a good ride and that's precisely what these robots-gone-bad-films, released roughly a quarter century apart, are.

The Terminator is a nonstop juggernaut of action with a surprisingly tight story. Between the moment Schwarzy pulls the punk's heart out to the unforgettable image of the title character dragging its legless torso after Sarah Conner, there isn't much downtime.

Sure, the lighting is ridiculous, the music sucks, the dialogue is often bad, the sight gags are predictable, and much of the acting is lacking. Some of the special effects seemed dated in even back 1984 (yes, I remember 1984), some are surprisingly good. In fact, the stop-motion animation at the end is Schwarzy's best acting.

In spite of these foibles, the story is solid and romantically compelling as handsome warrior/virgin Kyle Reese knowingly goes back in time to protect and impregnate the mother of the future resistance leader. Though the plot rocks along at a furious pace, it never seems to wander.

The villain is scary as hell. The quasi-human is indestructible and lacks any sense of self-preservation and possesses a single-minded focus on his objective. He is the killer of all killers and he is relentless.

The original Transformers is a different beast. The story is an aside. This is all about the action, but the action is awesome. The fight sequences between the Autobots and the Decepticons are fun and fill with thrills.

The special effects are incredible, too. Watching the robots change from cars, trucks, planes, and cell phones is fun and a central reason why seeing this flick on the big screen more than once is perfectly understandable. If the trailer is any indication, the sequel will likewise entertain.

The acting is solid, too. Veteran actors John Turturro, John Voight, Kevin Dunn, and Julie White steal scenes from the younger actors with ease. Megan Fox is lovely and handles her character's arc from pretty girl jock arm candy to clever and resourceful partner to the hero with ease. And Shia LaBeouf is charmingly sweet with a touch of goofy on the side.

So get yourself ready for the summer. The mega-movies are on the way and I am excited. The Terminator plays at midnight Friday and Saturday, May 1 and 2 at the Egyptian Theater. Terminator Salvation opens May 21, no information on theaters or times as yet. And Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opens June 24.