Kristanna Loken and Arnold Schwarzenegger in T3: Rise of the Machines.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is perfect lightweight popcorn summer fare. There's not much to think about and the action comes fast and furious. While not the equal of either of the first two installments in the series, it none the less manages to entertain in the blockbuster manner that you'd expect.
With the destruction of the Skynet system at the end of Terminator 2 and the changing of the future, it would have seemed that there wouldn't be a need for a sequel. But then most time travel stories are a bit murky in this respect. If Sarah and John Connor stopped the terminators from being created, then how could one have come back in time to help them stop them from being created? Best not to think about it too much.
And as we discover in this, the third Terminator movie all that was accomplished in the second was the postponement of the inevitable. The machines will still rise; it's just taken them a little longer than expected.
When the movie opens Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in the first two films) is dead and her son, a twenty-something John Connor, ever distrustful of machines, is living 'off the grid' as he calls it, no phone, no permanent home, no records of his whereabouts. He's still paranoid that someday, someone or something will come looking for him again.
Of course he turns out to be correct as we see when the next model of Terminator comes back in time to kill him. And it really could be a model this time, as this Terminator is a woman, although apart from her outward appearance and a few new built-in weapons, she's very similar to Robert Patrick's Terminator from T2, although somehow less intimidating and threatening, but then his Terminator was somehow less intimidating and threatening than Schwarzenegger's Terminator in the original, so fair is fair.
Following closely on the heel's of the bad Terminator comes Arnold's 'Good' Terminator, sent back in time in the usual manner and for the usual reason, to protect John Connor's life. This is one reason why I think the two sequels are weaker films than the first. In the first you had two ordinary people fighting a seemingly unstoppable machine, where as in the second two films you have two seemingly unstoppable killing machines fighting each other.
This time around the evil Terminator's mission isn't just to kill John Connor, but also to kill many of the people who will become his most trusted lieutenants when it comes time for him to lead the rebellion against the machines. Included in that group is his future wife played by Claire Danes with her usual charm.
The rest of the movie is pretty much non-stop action as John Connor and his soon to be wife, Kate Brewster, aided by Arnold's Terminator try once again to stop the machines from taking over the world.
Fan of the originals or not, there's a lot to like in this movie. Sure there's nothing to think about or any real human drama, but for non-stop action and a perfect escape from the Summer heat, you could do worse than to slip into your local multi-plex and gulp this movie down like a big bucket of popcorn.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in T3: Rise of the Machines.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a great ending to an amazing trilogy. It answers all the time travel questions and even wowed me with its ending. It is not surprising that, considering today's world climate, this movie didn't do better at the box office. It has a good ending, but not a happy one.
Like Scott, I enjoyed this movie. In fact, I think I liked it even more than him. Everything fit into place. Schwarzenegger, in his mid 50s, is still able to convincingly play the part. The action is literally nonstop.
Having a new director take over for James Cameron had me a bit skeptical. The most noticeable aspect that Cameron did not direct this movie is the way the ending plays out. Cameron probably would have had scenes showing the machines all over the world taking over. If you look at Cameron's work, you see a director who likes to go all out. Johnathan Mostow goes in a different direction. He centers the movie around the three main characters, keeping it at a more personal level.
My one and only complaint is that John Connor is weak. In one scene, his future wife saves him. She grabs a gun and fires. He was next to her. He is supposed to become some great leader. Why didn't he do it? At the end of the movie when we find out how he actually becomes the future leader, he does so a bit nervously. I would have like to have seen some stronger backbone on him before the movie ended.
Arnold Schwarzenegger in T3: Rise of the Machines.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is enjoyable popcorn fare, even for very casual fans of the franchise such as myself. It repeats the basic plot of the first two installments while adding several updates to the ever changing “future” in the series. Here we learn that Judgment Day (the day the computer system Skynet becomes self-aware) has been postponed but not eliminated. It is, in fact, inevitable.
But let's be honest. The reason it's inevitable is because these movies bring in boat loads of money not because it makes sense story-wise, which, as Scott pointed out, is very convoluted and cylindrical. Like 90% of all sequels the scripts are just rehashed versions of the original movie. A terminator is sent back in time to kill people in order to change the future in what is really just one long chase/action sequence.
But the very familiarity of the story and these characters also works to the film's advantage. It is a known commodity and these characters are old friends. And as convoluted as the whole time travel aspect of the story is, the actual plots are simple in the extreme. You can appreciate the movie on a surface level without thinking about the big picture, or even without having seen either of the first two Terminator movies for that matter. Just as I am sure there are hardcore fans of the franchise who notice every little detail and inside joke. Like the fact that the same gas station was used in each of the first three movies for example.
This was Schwarzenegger's last starring role before taking office as Governor of California and he demanded, and got, one hell of a deal. His contract was 33 pages long and it gave him an upfront salary of -a then record- $29.25 million, plus a sweet back-end that guaranteed him 20% of sales from every market in the world. And not just from movie tickets. This included videos, DVDs, television licensing, in-flight entertainment, and game licensing. In the end he was worth it though since T3: Rise of the Machines took in $433 million at the worldwide box office.
The relentless action interspersed with a few lighthearted jokes makes for a fun time at the movies. Arnold is great in his signature role. He lacks irony and says things like, “No, I am not shitting you.” with a literal inflection in his voice. Or when an exasperated Kate Brewster tells him, “Drop dead, you asshole!” He replies with all seriousness, “I am unable to comply.” Arnold worked out for three months to get in shape. He was 54 at the time and wanted to make sure he didn't embarrass himself in the opening nude scene.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is certainly a better movie than the dreary Terminator Salvation (2009). But the Terminator saga isn't done yet. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the role for next year's Terminator: Genisys, where he will be joined by yet another group of actors playing Sarah Connor, John Connor and Kyle Reese. Now the question is, will Schwarzenegger try to pull off another nude scene at the ripe old age of 67?
Photos © Copyright Warner Brothers (2003)