The Weekly Moviegoer - Watching Terminator with Motion Seats

June 10, 2009

D-Box Motion Seats

As much as I enjoyed Terminator Salvation for what it is, I left the movie theater thinking I'd never have reason to watch it again. But I was wrong. Last week, while visiting my grandmother in Arizona, I felt compelled to revisit the relatively disappointing yet sufficiently entertaining sequel when I drove out to the Ultrastar Cinemas Surprise Pointe 14 movie theater in Surprise, AZ, for a first-hand trial of the new D-Box motion seats. I previously wrote about these fun auditorium furnishings a couple months ago in a column about cinema gimmicks, but I just had to experience the seats for myself. And how was the experience?

Even if it wasn't my job to report and comment on the theater industry and moviegoing trends it would have been hard for me to pass up this rare chance - only four theaters offer the D-Box Motion Code experience for Terminator Salvation (in addition to the Surprise Ultrastar location, they include the Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood, CA, the theatres at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, and the Galaxy Highland 10 in Austin, TX). However, D-Box does allow moviegoers to try the seats out in the lobby (of the Surprise location, at least). You can sit in a motion seat and watch the Terminator Salvation trailer. The vibrations and movement you feel during the explosions, machine gun noise and even the film score are pretty much the same as you get in the actual theater. You just get about two more hours worth with the $18 admission price (D-Box seats cost $8 more than regular seats).

So is the experience worth the money? Honestly, when the movie was over, I couldn't quite decide if it added to or subtracted from my enjoyment of Terminator Salvation (here's where the haters comment with "they couldn't make the film any worse anyway"). At times I found the seats to be a little distracting, but that could have been due to my having already seen the film. I also found it a little extraneous to have the seats vibrate with certain sound effects, such as machine gun rattling, and I really could do without the seats shaking in time with the percussion of the Terminator theme. That said, I wish everyone could experience motion seats during the much-lauded "single-shot" first-person POV helicopter crash. The chase sequence with the Terminator motorcycles was pretty fun, too.

All in all I believe the D-Box seats are completely appropriate for and complimentary to a mindless action film like Terminator Salvation, because it is the kind of film already praised by critics for being like a "roller coaster ride." But there is good reason that amusement park rides don't last very long, and it isn't just because of the cost. The thrill of a roller coaster ride would begin to wear thin the longer it went, and likewise the motion seats lose a lot of their innovative and thrilling appeal in the nearly two-hour running time of a feature film. Also, in that length of time the vibrations are likely to make you overheated, akin to what you'd feel after 115 minutes in a massage chair. Recently people were questioning whether moviegoers could tolerate enjoy a three-hour 3D movie, as James Cameron's Avatar is expected to be. Similarly, I have to think most audiences would only enjoy motion seats for a limited amount of time.

A few days after my D-Box experience, I took a trip up to the Grand Canyon, and my visit included a stop at the National Geographic Visitors Center, where I watched the IMAX film Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets. At only 35 minutes, this natural and historical documentary would be the more perfect film to see with motion seats, especially because it's one of those IMAX movies that features a good deal of first-person POV footage. The D-Box seats would be a great accompaniment to sequences where it already feels like you're soaring through the air above the canyon or whitewater rafting along the Colorado River. And in 3D (which it is sometimes shown), it could be one of the greatest gimmicky moviegoing experiences there is. But that sounds a lot more like a theme park attraction than a true moviegoing experience, doesn't it?

Find more posts: Discuss, Editorial, Opinions



they couldn't make the film any worse anyway... just kidding. lol

mr sol on Jun 10, 2009


Hmmm yeah. I loved terminator but I agree that two hours of jerking around and vibrations would get kind of annoying.

a on Jun 10, 2009


$18 definitely not worth it if thats your reaction to it. go to imax instead if you're going to pay that much.

cat on Jun 10, 2009


I liked TS. Better than T3 but not as good as T2 and T1.

AK on Jun 10, 2009


Hemorrhoid victims have another reason to fear the movies. Not worth the cash, I'll have my girlfriend do all the vibrating for me. I liked TS, didn't LOVE it, but regardless, I wouldn't walk out of the theatre, "Man that movie was great, especially when I was shaking for 90 min!"

Nick Sears on Jun 10, 2009


it cost around 14 dollars (average adult)to watch a normal movie here in UK anyways.... dont even wanna mention those overpriced popcorns.

PinkSushi on Jun 10, 2009


Meh, Terminator Salvation didn't give anything intellectually anyway (figured out the entire plot way to soon), might as well enjoy the ride and imagine it's an average virtual ride on Disneyland or something. Alright, it was an action movie, I get it, but a good action movie is one that makes you go WOW! and laugh almost hystericly when someone gets a real punch in the face, or get their limbs cut off, or maybe that's just me? (examples of such movies - Kill Bill, Watchmen, Transformers)

Felix on Jun 10, 2009


Yeah, and bring back the scratch-smell-cards

David Banner on Jun 10, 2009


i don't like this dbox thing...

????? on Jun 10, 2009


I took a girl to the movies once and paid all the way. No fucking way will I allow any films to be made in 3D and D-Box. NO FUCKING WAY. I dont wanna have to take a second mortgage out on my house. Let's see, how much the whole thing would cost. At the AMC by my house a normal film is $10.50, while a 3D film is $12.50. That's 2 extra bucks. Add on the $8 for the D-Box, that's $20.50. Two tickets are $41. Add on $5 for a large popcorn, and another $6 for sodas. Lets just say she wants to throw Buncha Crunch into the popcorn, which I have no problem with because the idea sounds delicious. That's another $3.50. How much will this date cost me? Approximately: $56.50. Thinking about it, that's only $16 more than the last date I went on that was minus the 3D and D-Box... so maybe it would be kinda worth it? Depends how much I get paid that week.

Dr Robotnik on Jun 10, 2009


#10 Dr Robotnik is the sweetest name ever just had to compliment on that

DoomCanoe on Jun 10, 2009


hmm...motion seats the idea is ok...but I don't think I would enjoy it.

d1rEct on Jun 10, 2009


GO to Universal, ride the "ride" and call it a day. This is lame!

LSP on Jun 11, 2009


i think it would lose it's effect after about 30 minutes and then get annoying but who knows! with the right movie it might be a blast! to #7, the plot of the movie has been figured out for around 10 or so years so that comment made no sense what so ever. we ALL know whats going to happen but actually "seeing" it is quite enjoyable. that comment is a kin to saying the plot to star wars ep 3 was easy to figure out too.....DUH!

thejugfather on Jun 11, 2009


I don't get you Alex. You say that you really enjoyed "Terminator Salvation", but you thought you'd never have a reason to watch it again. If you really enjoyed watching a film, like you did with "TS" wouldn't you want to go watch again at some point. I know I would. Your totally confusing me here. I for one f**king hated "TS" as so did a lot of other people ot there. It seems like your joining the bandwagon because you came out before any of us had seen this film and said that you really liked it. When Transformers 2 comes out and if it is great like I think it will be, I will be gladly lining up to go and see it again, and again.

Last Son on Jun 12, 2009


Uh I didn't write this article... The Weekly Moviegoer is a weekly column written by Christopher Campbell who lives in New York. This is all his opinion you're reading...

Alex Billington on Jun 12, 2009


Terminator: Salvation: It has enough pace and excitement to keep action fans switched on, This is Sam Worthington's movie, and he steals it, decent action film, far superior to the awful Terminator 3. Despite some laughably silly plot elements, McG has created an overall entertaining movie experience. Being a rabid fan that grew up on the franchise created by James Cameron, the idea of McG getting behind the camera for this sequel was slightly nauseating, and yet, by some miracle, the fourth film in the franchise is (barely) passable.

George on Aug 22, 2009

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