Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines – How Much Did Xenadrine Pay for that Product Placement?

Written by John Brancato, Michael Ferris, Tedi Sarafin
Directed by Jonathan Mostow

Picking up ten years after Terminator 2: Judgment Day the twenty-something John Connor (Nick Stahl) is living a life in obscurity, afraid to show his face or have his name anywhere that can be traced. This is even though the audience was led to believe at the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day that John and his mother Sarah had thwarted the destruction of mankind by the machines.

It’s an interesting paradox – how could a machine from the future come back and stop the machines from taking over, essentially changing his own history. Without Judgment Day, the machines do not take over, and the Terminator never is built and can’t be sent back.

The simple answer, is, that it couldn’t be done. The complex answer is Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

From the future comes the newest model – an improvement on the old T-1000 which was destroyed in the previous film. The T-X takes on a female form (Kristanna Loken) and is off not after John Connor, but the people who are integral parts of his resistance forces. Meanwhile, back comes our old T800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), incorrectly identified as a T-101. Someone check script continuity – please!

There are tremendous action scenes as the two Terminators clash – one trying to protect John and Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), the other trying to kill them. In the first chase scene, the Los Angeles police and fire departments seemed to lose every single vehicle they had. It gets to the point where I was feeling that with the beating they were taking, there was no way these vehicles still could be running, yet they were. Was it overkill? Probably. Was it entertaining? Most definitely, yes.

Judgment Day has arrived, and it’s time to own up. Who will win? Who will lose? Are there really any winners in the end?

John is still convinced that Skynet – the computer that will let loose nuclear weapons on the human race – can be stopped. In this respect, the story feels much like the one from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, over the past years there have been such terrific advances in special effects technology that the film now dazzled me with the effects in a spectacular way.

The problem is that the story in between the special effects is somewhat weak. It’s not horrible by any means, but I felt as if the same story from Terminator 2: Judgment Day was essentially dusted off and put out there with all new effects.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is in incredible shape for a man 56 years old. It’s hard to believe that twenty years have gone by since the first film. The Arnold-Terminator doesn’t look any different. What’s missing here, though, is the bit of character the T800 has in the second film. If machines could have personalities, I’d say this one lacked one. He had a few humorous lines (Tell it to the hand!), but there was just something missing from the script for him.

Kristanna Loken does a great job as the T-X Terminatrix. Not quite as good as Robert Patrick was in the second film, she does manage to incorporate the same type of mannerisms and stoic expressions into her screen-time as he did.

I liked Nick Stahl as John Connor. He seemed believable as a man on the edge, not sure of his future, but in a much bigger way than many twenty-somethings aren’t sure of their future. He had some terrific humor in the film, as well as moments of unsteadiness about his role as the future leader of the human resistance. Where the 13-year-old John Connor accepted it fairly easily, this one is more troubled. His doubts are a natural part of maturity and realizing he has limitations, and he conveys it well.

Claire Danes is in a role that could have been played by just about anyone. What I mean by that is she infuses the role of Kate Brewster with nothing special, and I can’t say she’s the one and only person I could see in the role.

One thing I noticed was missing was a decent soundtrack. Where Terminator 2: Judgment Day had the heavy-metal sounds of Guns -n- Roses and the ripping guitars to go along with it, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was missing the heavy-metal accompaniment to all of that destruction.

In my opinion, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was much better for story, effects, and action combined. The first Terminator had the best story, though. This one will be a summertime blockbuster for sure. If you enjoy the action, adventure and effects and don’t think too much about the story, the film is wonderful. Even if you do, find a friend to pick apart the story with and you’ll have a terrific time as well.

3 replies »

  1. As with so many franchises, the Terminator series tends to get less and less compelling with each movie beyond the two films written (or co-written) and directed by James Cameron. This one is decent, but the next two get stranger and stranger. Have not bought the latest one, either.

    • I remember starting to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles and it seemed good. I tend to get bored when I binge series as opposed to watching them one episode at a time a few days apart (at least). I never know whether it’s them or me.

      I liked this movie but it definitely wasn’t as good as the first two, which were fantastic. After this, nothing really grabbed me. It seems more like stringing together CGI & action scenes than a real story.