By Bernie and Sand Pilarski
Having found a clean, spacious movie theater in the nearby town of Riverbank, Bernie and Sand have re-discovered the fun of cinema, especially this summer, when interesting films are lined up for release one after another.
Bernie: Okay, I am a sucker for Sci-Fi movies. I will confess that I have even chosen to sit through Red Mars (Carrie Moss and Val Kilmer) on several occasions. (In my defense, I only paid to see it once, and I'll never do that again.) I have also been an Arnold fan since the Conan the Barbarian days. So it should come as no surprise that I was eagerly anticipating Terminator 3 and was in the theater as soon as I could get there. Even though I may have been favorably disposed to begin with, I have to admit that T-3 was much better and more fun than I anticipated.
This was an action movie with a huge dose of testosterone. Perhaps because everybody already knows the basic plot -- Arnold is an emotionless android with a big heart who blows things...everything...up -- there was not a lot of wasted time spent in tedious plot details, a flaw that was not avoided in the recently released The Hulk which ended up being more the story of David Banner, Bruce's dad, than Bruce "The Hulk Himself" Banner. Nor is there any ambiguity on the part of the director Jonathan Mostow about how many things should blow up. The first thirty minutes or so of the movie is one non-stop chase scene in which the vehicles and the effects just get bigger and bigger and bigger. Pure, mindless, "mine is bigger than yours" movie magic.
And funny! I read a review in one of the Bay Area papers that said the first half of the film was dark, and the violence bordered on excessive. I suppose that if you thought that this was real, if you could not allow yourself to grasp for the sake of the story that the T-101 unit (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the TX unit (Kristanna Loken) were machines and did not feel pain, or that you could not bring yourself to believe that no machines were actually hurt in the making of this movie, then perhaps it might have been a bit much. On the other hand, I thought it was a hoot, a sci-fi, CGI version of the Keystone Cops.
And Arnold's role was vintage Schwarzenegger. The newly arrived T-101 unit, which as you may recall can only travel through time in the buff, finds its way to a red-neck roadside bar that just happens to be having "Ladies' night," a stroke of luck for the naked android, allowing him to wander about unhindered, but not unappreciated by the gals at the bar, and to secure for himself some clothing, clothes that were about to be conveniently discarded by the male stripper entertaining the crowd. Newly clothed, the T-101 unit leaves the bar. At this point, true to the character, the Terminator is supposed to menacingly don a pair of sunglasses. Arnold plays the scene wonderfully, as he turns to stare directly at the audience and puts on a pair of rhinestone, star shaped, stage glasses that had been part of the stripper's act. Maybe you had to be there, but believe me, Arnold got my vote for governor right then and there.
To top it all off, it was actually a pretty good story. No Pulitzer here, but the story hung together, and for the most part avoided any real gaffs. (There was a small one, as the principals of the story manage to simply show up inside a super secret government facility in which resides the computer that controls every aspect of the national defense. That may seem unlikely, but then again this was a government installation.)
If you ask me, Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines is the blockbuster that the summer has been waiting for, and the best start for a gubernatorial campaign I've ever seen.
Sand:I was really pleased to see that Arnold Schwarzenegger is still looking good for his role as the T-101 unit Terminator. I love Arnold. I love his accent, his expressions, the way he carries wahonking-sized automatic weapons. And expecially, I admire the way he plays -- himself. There is a certain panache in the way he carries himself in this movie, a confidence, an attitude that proclaims that only Arnold could ever play this role, and acknowledges that his fans wouldn't ever want anyone else to play the Terminator. And he does it with a tongue-in-cheek arrogance that makes his fans cheer and then roar with laughter.
The humor of the movie was what really surprised me. Of course I went to the movie to see Arnold blow things up, that's what action Arnold is all about. But this film had the theater crowd in stitches. Deadpan and monotone, Schwarzenegger delivers his terse lines without a flicker or wink; nevertheless, he is a very funny man. I loved the explosions, I was wide-eyed at the chases, but my favorite scene was that of Arnold the Terminator shopping in a convenience store, a basket draped over his left arm while the right pounced upon foodstuffs and then slammed them into the basket. Grocery-shopping from now on is going to have a whole new set of moves.
In spite of the rather gruesome plot, that of a sleek new T-X Terminator (quite the blonde hottie, this babe) sent back through time to kill John Connor so that he can't save the world at a later date, the movie was overall not too graphically violent as regards human body parts. No one barfs on screen in this movie, for which I am profoundly grateful. And though both the T-X and Arnold show up naked when they are transported to this time, there are no sweaty sex scenes.
But blow things up? You betcha! Smash the living crap out of all kinds of vehicles? Oh, yeah! Want to see what happens when you drive a hearse underneath a semi? Mm-hmm, this is the film to see. And by the way, no kung-fu slow-motion fight scenes (that have peppered films since The Matrix first was released) were used. Think concrete, metal, and bullets the size of beer cans. Oh, and the complete destruction of a large men's restroom. Okay, that part was unrealistic. The restroom was clean. But then, as I said, this was a wholesome blow-em-up film.
Thumbs up, as they say. 'Way up. And if you do hit the cinema to see it, don't be surprised when you hear people clapping their hands in applause when Arnold does what Arnold does best.