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Film Review - Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
The great thing about Terminator movies is that Arnold Schwarzenegger dies in every one.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a welcome addition to the Terminator series. It was been almost 12 years to the day between Terminator 2: Judgement Day and this film. Although the second film presented a certain finality, we've all wanted to see another.
In this film, it is twelve years later. John Connor (Nick Stahl) has been laying low. Although he believes he, his mother, and a T-100 altered the future, Connor has been keeping his options open. He's stayed out of computer records, he's a drifter waiting for the war, he hopes will never happen.
Let's face it, there's not much story here. As in T-2, a super Terminator is sent back through time to kill John Connor. Shortly after another T-100 is sent back to protect him. In T-2 the super Terminator was a T-1000, in T-3, it's the T-X. In both films, the T-100 sent to protect Connor is inferior. The shift is to make the T-100 the good-guy under-dog, in response to Arnold Schwarzenegger's requirement that he no longer play bad guys as he did in the original Terminator film.
What's missing is the central motivation of SkyNet who is the real bad guy. We learned in the original film that SkyNet was a Super Computer that took over the world, and killed most of the humans. In the second film, we learned that it was built based on the CPU of the first T-100 sent back to kill John Connor's mother. But why is SkyNet trying to trick the humans into activating it? Why does it want to launch nuclear missiles and wipe out humanity?
Unfortunately, there is not a T-4 sitting in the wings to answer these questions. Perhaps there will be in a few years (assuming Schwarzenegger doesn't become Governor of the State of California.) But the film we really want to see, is the one where Connor becomes the great General we've been told he is. The film where Connor's army defeats the machines. Not having T-4 already in pre-production, or even further along, is a great mistake.
However, as an action movie, this one is almost non-stop. The physical destruction is impressive. The film's a good thirty minutes in before stopping to do any exposition. Then it's more action.
The ending is no surprise. The title of the film demands that SkyNet launch the missiles in the finale. I was very happy with this ending. So many times Hollywood cops out at the end. It doesn't in T-3.
The ending made me wonder how the typical American audience was going to take this. This film reportedly cost two hundred million bucks - as much as Titanic. This means that the film will need to gross four hundred million just to break even. Without the pretty ending I'm wondering if audiences will go back to see the film over and over as is needed to gross so much money.
Hopefully, the film will make enough to justify T-4. Perhaps then, we will get the film we really want to see.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow
Released in 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewed by Mongo