Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vernal Viewing: Terminator Four(th time)

Today is coincidentally the first day of Spring aka the vernal equinox aka warming temperatures, equal days and nights and the rebirth of flora and fauna.  What does that mean?  Another night at the Arclight Hollywood, this time for a Dome screening of 1984's The Terminator.  If you'll recall, this is the 2nd week in a row I've seen a Michael Biehn/James Cameron joint on the big screen after Aliens on Wednesday last.  There must have been some kind of writer meet up because I spotted a huge table of folks I recognized from Comic-Con panels.  Basically, they choose a year and go through the awesome genre movies that came out and then present/discuss them.  While it sounds like a neat concept but with so many speakers and topics, it's hard to keep the "mommenemum" going.  A few years ago I corralled a party of 11 to go see a Predator/Predator 2 double feature and it remains one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.  Tonight, we had a group of 8 but hey, for a 30 year old movie, that's still pretty good.

Before the flick, an Arclight staff member welcomed us and let us all know he was a huge fan of The Terminator as well.  To start things off, there were some trivia questions and giveaways of their famous caramel popcorn.  Who won one?  This guy.  With the answer to the question, what was the name of the night club Sarah Connor first encounters the Terminator and saved by Kyle Reese?  Why, that's Tech Noir!  Sadly, the theater wasn't very full but we had great seats and were ready to take a trip back in time and into the future...

As you've read on this online memoir plenty of times, I love James Cameron, Arnold, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, The Terminator, Aliens, etc.  This would be my fourth viewing of The Terminator on the big screen in as many years.  This time around I noticed more of the "heart" of the movie, the scenes between mother of the future resistance, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and her time traveling protector/father of the future, Kyle Reese (Biehn).  These quiet moments are tucked in between shootouts, foot races, car chases, explosions and hyper alloy combat chassis shenanigans.  The Tech Noir sequence, where Reese zeroes in on the Terminator and sends him through a window with shotgun blasts really starts my favorite section of the movie.  The ensuing alley chase then cars screeching around the streets of Los Angeles, Reese's explanation of who he is and what the Terminator is, into another car chase, the police station assault and Reese exclaiming "I didn't build the fucking thing!" ...great stuff.

This time around I also noticed how well rounded the three characters are and how skillfully efficient Cameron's script is.  While Arnold is the title character and "star" of the show, Reese and Connor have equally important weight in the picture.  Reese is the storyteller, letting us know what's happening, what happened and what's going to happen next.  He's there to protect Sarah at all costs and guide her on her journey to becoming a formidable leader that will help mankind defeat the machines in the future.  Meanwhile, instead of just being thrown into the mayhem and screaming along like a damsel in distress, Sarah Connor is never dragged along helplessly, she quickly accepts what's happening and learns to adapt, lead and survive.  Of course Arnold's T-800 is there to wipe out Connor's existence and does so with muscular, silent menace.

People like to give Cameron a hard time that he's more interested in technology than telling a story which is total and utter bullshit.  You don't have screenings of 20-30 year old movies if it was only about the whiz-bang.  The Terminator, like all of Cameron's films, is at heart, a love story.  Kyle Reese travels across time for Sarah with no chance of ever getting home.  He's memorized every curve and nuance of a photo of Sarah and fallen in love with her in the process.  Always wondering what she was thinking about when the photo was taken, we the audience learn that she was thinking of him.  If that's not swoon worthy, I don't know what is...

Come with me if you want to live!

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