Terminator 3
Rise of the Machines
3Ω out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
T3

It's taken 12 years to exorcise the spirit of James Cameron from the Terminator franchise (T1 was released in 1984, T2 in 1991), reborn here as a singular action movie, a 108-minute chase scene.

Trying to escape his destiny, John Connor (Stahl) has dropped out of society and lives as a homeless junkie trying to keep out of reach of any machine at all. But a souped-up time-travelling Terminatrix (Loken) is about to reopen those old wounds, as she starts killing anyone who will one day be involved in the human uprising Connor will lead against the machines. Meanwhile, the rebels also send back an older-model Terminator (Arnold) to protect Connor as well as his sidekick-to-be Kate (Danes). Soon the two terminators are locked in a brutal, bombastic attempt to destroy each other, which is nearly impossible, while Connor and Kate must try to prevent Armageddon.

The story covers about 24-hours as the two robots lay waste to much of Los Angeles and the Mojave in their effort to fight a war that hasn't even started yet. Without Cameron, it feels far more simplistic than before--gone are the character subtext, breakthrough special effects and mind-bending time-travel plot twists. Instead we get a lot of rather hilarious throwaway comedy (at least Mostow doesn't take it too seriously) and some of the biggest, most explosive mayhem we've ever seen on screen.

Stahl and Danes are fine actors who make their characters believable and sympathetic. Arnold sinks his teeth back into his best-ever role and shines in it, while Loken has a strong poker-faced presence (lucky for them that the first people they encounter are wearing cool-looking leather outfits they can steal--clothing strong enough to withstand all the brutal stuntwork with barely a scratch!). Although there's a gigantic plot hole: Why didn't the Terminatrix just go back in time 20 years earlier and keep any of this from happening? Anyway, this is a pure adrenaline rush of a movie, efficiently filmed and edited, thoroughly entertaining and only barely hinting at the issues that gurgle under the surface--technology gone mad, reckless military might, family breakdowns. It seems much more interested in setting things up for T4. Fair enough.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 26.Jun.03

dir Jonathan Mostow
scr John Brancato, Michael Ferris
with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews, Mark Famiglietti, Earl Boen, Moira Harris, Chris Lawford, MC Gainey, Brian Sites, Robert Alonzo
release US 2.Jul.03; UK 1.Aug.03
Columbia
03/US 1h48

Rip the roof off: Danes, Stahl, Schwarzenegger ... and Loken, below.



See also:
THE TERMINATOR (1984)
TERMINATOR SALVATION (2009)
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "Gee, they just get better and better. I liked the first 2. This one has a whole lot of action, and it takes nearly the whole movie before you figure out what the plot is. It starts with the same premise: Another super robot comes back from the future - a female this time. Only the targets are 8 previously unheard of people - and you sit there and try to figure out why them? You do get the answer, but only after a whole lot of trucks, cars and buildings get blown up. People also get killed, and some kinda gory - after all machines do not value life at all. Arnold gets beheaded, re-attached, blown up, shot - and still survives to do his mission. A totally fun action-packed ride. If you were fans of the first 2 - and who wasn't? - you definitely gotta see this. And it is definitely preferred on the big screen." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 5.Jul.03

T3 "This is one of the best films I've seen this year. All of the actors are brilliant and the action scenes are mind-blowing all the way through the film. The ending could have been better but it was still good and tense! The humor used was clever and brought extra life to the film. To be honest I thought T3 would be a cheap sequel and never be as good as the high standards set by T2, but I was proved very wrong. This is a must-see film." --Jake Hulse, Stoke 25.Aug.03

arnold "The movie reminds me of what occurred with Crow: One of the sequels was a remake of the previous one, mainly as an effort to erase the memory of a poorly made part. That definitely should happen with T4. T3 resembled very little in terms of writing prose or filming quality that the public enjoyed so much with T2. This script is inexcusably flawed. For instance, the 14-year-old know-it-all John Connor in T2 barely knows how to hold a gun in T3. He reacts to a lot of what he hears from the Terminator in T3 as though he is hearing the story for the first time. And T3 reintroduces the inferior design of the Terminator as that of a superior design--just plain stupid. And what's with the crisis of conscience experienced by the Terminator in T3? Machines do not suffer psychological trauma--it's either a 0 or a 1, or the system halts (hint: an instruction is not a virus). I could go on--really. But unless James Cameron rescues this script by rewriting T4 to include covers for the errors here, people should just shut-up and stop praising the colossal mess that is T3." --Llinet, Connecticut, 25.Aug.03

© 2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

HOME | AWARDS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK