Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, Earl Boen

Synopsis: John Connor (Stahl) saw Judgement Day pass without the destruction of humanity, but still lives off the grid just in case the worst should occur.   As fate would have it, the worst does occur, with the newest model of Terminator, the T-X (Loken) travelling back in time not only to eliminate Connor, but also his most trusted lieutenants in the war, including Kate Brewster (Danes).   In finding Brewster, the T-X (an upgrade on the T-1000 as it can form projectile weapons) also finds Connor, but a T-101 appears in time to protect, just as it did in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.   In the process of escaping we learn that Judgement day was not averted, just postponed.

A Review by Film Nerd.

For me, this is the point in low point in the entire Terminator saga to date.   Cameron’s original story was complete, and it was actually written to a point where Judgement Day was gone, the future of humanity was safe, and the war against the machines was destined not to occur.   Enter the big studios, not looking for a fresh idea, but for a repeat of what previously worked, and a story is hashed out so that the Terminators can once again rise.   Not that I am cynical about the role of studios in the film making process… *cough*

Given the hole anyone following up the original two films was in, the screen writers I guess did okay, but the biggest problem with this film is the simple fact that the audience is expected to believe that Judgement Day is inevitable.    No explanation beyond this is given, and I feel it is a cheat,   Especially given the fact it entirely breaks the mantra so well established in the message John sends back to his mother through Kyle Reese; “The future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves”.    Now for me, that was always very important to the films.   Despite the threat of what may be in store, there was always that small but bring, shining hope, our own actions may in some small way help prevent disaster.   Using the very word “inevitable” is pretty damn depressing, and quite unfortunate.    I can spend many more lines on this point, I could probably re-write the films from this point as I did the Star Wars prequel trilogy.    It could even be something like Skynet anticipated the actions of the Connors in film two (it is a super-computer) and decided to send a thirf terminator back not only to kill John Connor, but to also upload Skynet’s subroutines onto the web.   It only had to be that simple, and that is all you need for the suspension of disbelief.

This said, the film is not devoid of good points.   The early chase scenes are in fact quite spectacular, with Arnie hanging from a swinging crane arm on the back of the truck the T-X is driving to pursue Connor and Brewster.    There is also some effective use of humour, with a humourous twist on the T-101 finding clothing after his time displacement transport.   It even has an interesting story to tell of the T-101 prior to its reprogramming to protect the future leader of the resistance.   These elements added up for me a quite enjoyable film experience in my recent viewing, which I was able to appreciate more after my initial disappointment of the poor excuse used for restarting the franchise.   Sadly, the film is also let down by the acting.   Nick Stahl is at times absolutely appalling, and way to whiney for someone who grew up bring trained as a soldier.   Danes does better, but only just, her character not having much room for growth.   The final nail in the coffin is a lot of scripting co-incidences that defy the suspension of disbelief.

In the end, the Terminator without James Cameron is like the T-101 with his CPU removed… lifeless.

2 stars (out of a potential 5)

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on IMDB

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHhZK-g7wHo]

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