Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Year: 2003

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Written by: John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris

Threat: Robot

Weapon of Choice: Arm

Based upon: none

IMDb page: IMDb link

Terminator 3

Other movies in this series:
The Terminator
Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Rish Outfield's reviews
After many years and failed attempts, Arnold returns in his most famous role. But I didn't want to see this movie. To me, the Terminator films were not about Arnold Schwartzenegger, they were about James Cameron. When I heard they were making a third film without involving him, I proclaimed, "This movie, my friends, is going to suck." When I saw the teaser trailer, about a hundred years ago, I proclaimed, "This movie is going to suck." When I saw the first trailer and heard Arnold say, "She'll be back," I proclaimed, "Going to suck." It wasn't until the film actually came out and I started hearing positive word-of-mouth and good reviews, did I think, "Hey, maybe it won't suck." So I went to it.
And it didn't suck.
T3 tells the story of John Connor, the future savior of humanity, a decade after escaping death at the hands of the machines. His mother is dead, the end of the world has not come, and he is safe, choosing to be homeless and alone rather than risk detection. From some point in the now-paradoxical future, the machines send another killing machine back through time, an advanced "female" Terminator, with the mission to wipe out Connor's lieutenants, one of whom is Kate Brewster (Clare Danes), who happens to run into John right before the Terminator does. Luckily, another Terminator has been sent back to protect him--the same (now obsolete) model that befriended him as a boy. And other stuff happens too.
The movie is entertaining. It's well-acted. The special effects, though not particularly revolutionary (like the last one's were), are good. There's a cool action sequence where the Terminator is used as a sort of wrecking ball. Stuff blows up a lot. A couple of nods to the previous films work well, and there are quite a few laughs included because of it. Also, the ending is somewhat surprising, and pretty brave for the cookie-cutter Hollywood mentality of today. Arnold looks great, probably having aged five years in the twelve years since the last one.
But it was not a perfect film. It's largely forgettable. Instead of story logic or inevitability, a lot of things seem to happen due to coincidence or contrivance. The characters aren't all that likeable most of the time. The human connection that was so great in the previous two films (the love story in T1 and the parent-child relationships in T2) was pretty much absent here. Even when they set up a perfectly good romance, it never went anywhere.
Much like Alien3, T3 suffers in comparison with the awesome Cameron film that preceded it, but on its own, it's pretty good. And the film works really well if you don't think about it too much (which totally sucks for me because I feel my nine dollar investment requires a discussion group afterward), and don't ask "Well, how come . . . ?" too much.
Some of the logic just doesn't work. The time travel rules set up in the first film may have been bent in the sequel, but they're disregarded altogether in this one. I'm no math whiz, but this flick seems to have some year problems. Does it take place now? In 2004? In 2007? I know it was hard to believe that Edward Furlong's character in the second one was only ten, but according to this, he was thirteen, which seems to make sense until you consider that that means T2 took place in 1997 instead of 1994, and that Judgment Day would have been that same year . . . I don't know. Wait, in T2 they SAY that the first film took place in 1984 and that it's ten years later . . .
Okay, okay, I'll let it go.
I also felt the TX (or "Terminatrix") was a weaker villain and less menacing threat than the previous two (you know, I don't think she could squeeze through cracks or turn into the floor or blow apart and come back together or look like someone else or any of that stuff). By giving her slight emotions ("I like your car," and the occasional smile), and a supermodel body, I bounced between hating her and wanting to do her. But I was never afraid of her, nor did I fear the characters might really get killed by her.
Also, there were a couple of really great details that never went anywhere (the most disappointing was a mind-blowing revelation the Terminator made about what it had done in the future, which was never mentioned again). The film felt short, as if they were barrelling through to the end, with no time to spare on human interaction and thoughtful subplots. Why not get Brad Fiedel back to do the score? While we're at it, why not get James Cameron and Linda Hamilton, you bastards?
But there I go again.
In a way, it's mostly just a remake of the second film. Which had the same basic premise as the original. Still, it didn't suck, and I guess that's saying a lot. Plus, I'm much harder on this film than I would have been if it had just been your typical action film.
I've had a lot of conversations about this movie, and was shocked to hear how much others loved it. I had one friend who said it wasn't as good as the first, but better than the second. And a coworker told me it was better than the original, but not as good as the sequel. They're both wrong, plain and simple. But of course, I am admittedly biased, and maybe a little smarter than they are.
Posted: July 21st, 2003

The tyranist's thoughts
How do you follow up to legendary, nearly perfect movies? They failed to live up to their predecessors in the Alien series. And that franchise hadn't even been under as tight a control as this one. When I heard that Jimmy Cameron and Linda Hamilton weren't coming back, I started really dreading this one. Dreading it enough that I didn't see it in the theatre and have only just now managed to watch it on DVD.
I probably shouldn't have waited and I definitely shouldn't have feared.
This isn't the movie that the first two were, but it is still definitely a worthy entry in the franchise and holds its own when compared. The plot isn't perfect and I find Nich Stahl pretty annoying. But the "Terminatrix" didn't bother me as much as I'd imagined it would, in fact, it surpassed my expectations. Add to that Arnold and Claire, both of whom I really like, and the movie was a pleasant surprise for me.
While I'm still left thinking it is the third best entry in the franchise, at least, I don't have the feeling I had after watching Alien³ that I needed to disassociate it from its franchise to talk about enjoying it. The story is continued well from the other movies and it is largely consistent with the mythology. The movie is shorter than Terminator 2 but runs just as long as Terminator. That compactness, I think, drives it back to the relentless killing machine that drove the first film. Much more horror than part 2, but at the same time it tries to be philosophical and that is where it mostly fails and the others didn't.
Alas, I am babbling. I really enjoyed the movie and I'm terribly likely to add it to my private collection now. You shouldn't fear as I did. The movie is definitely worth seeing.
Posted: January 19th, 2004

Total Skulls: 16

Sequel skull
Sequel setup skull
Rips off earlier film
Horror film showing on TV/in theater in movie
Future celebrity appears
Former celebrity appears
Bad title
Bad premise
Bad acting
Bad dialogue
Bad execution
MTV Editing
OTS skull
Girl unnecessarily gets naked
Wanton sex
Death associated with sex
Unfulfilled promise of nudity
Characters forget about threat
Secluded location
Power is cut
Phone lines are cut skull
Someone investigates a strange noise
Someone runs up stairs instead of going out front door
Camera is the killer skull
Victims cower in front of a window/door
Victim locks self in with killer
Victim running from killer inexplicably falls
Toilet stall scene skull
Shower/bath scene
Car stalls or won't start skull
Cat jumps out
Fake scare
Laughable scare
Stupid discovery of corpse
Dream sequence skull
No one believes only witness
Crazy, drunk, old man knows the truth
Warning goes unheeded skull
Music detracts from scene
Death in first five minutes skull
x years before/later
Flashback sequence
Dark and stormy night
Killer doesn't stay dead skullskull
Killer wears a mask
Killer is in closet
Killer is in car with victim skull
Villain is more sympathetic than heroes
Unscary villain/monster
Beheading skull
Blood fountain
Blood spatters - camera, wall, etc. skull
Poor death effect
Excessive gore
No one dies at all
Virgin survives
Geek/Nerd survives
Little kid lamely survives
Dog/Pet miraculously survives
Unresolved subplots skull
"It was all a dream" ending
Unbelievably happy ending
Unbelievably crappy ending
What the hell?