Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003): Breakdown by Kain424
Judgment Day wasn’t stopped, an even newer terminator assassin is sent back in time, and a T-800 is also sent back to escort John Connor to a safe location. That’s it. Whole movie. It’s a god damn escort mission.
After thirty years in the industry, it is perhaps fitting that Arnold’s last starring role would also be one of his most recognized. It’s just a shame it had to be in such a lame movie. Over a decade had passed since the previous Terminator film had been released and the film’s ending seemed to wrap every thing up pretty conclusively. The only logical sequel would have to technically also be a prequel, taking place in the future before time traveling came into the picture.
Despite this being the best course of action, and also despite this being what the fans had always hoped for, a new sequel was made as a sad retread of the last two. In order to pull this off, the film needed either to ignore the ending of the last movie, or go in an inane new direction. Amazingly, it does the latter.
T3 misses the “No fate but what we make” point of T2 and charges forward, with Schwarzenegger literally saying “Judgment Day is inevitable.” Ignoring the fact that both the T-800 and T-1000 models of the previous film were the “new” terminators, yet another terminator is brought forth as the new one. Sarah Connor, despite teaching John to survive after Judgment Day as described in the other two films, has died off sometime in the backstory. John Connor himself is now a frightened, hiding pussy who seems to have lost his rebellious ways. All of this, of course, punctuated with plenty of in-jokes and unnecessary attempts at humor.
For his part, Schwarzenegger shows up in amazing shape for a man in his mid-fifties. Still, hack director Jonathan Mostow (U-571) wastes no time in poking holes in the Terminator’s tough image. Using the cyborg as a device for comedy even more than exposition, the Terminator never feels like a strong character. Without Schwarzenegger to lean on, the film becomes an unbalanced mockery of what it wants to be.
Perhaps most surprising is the lack of Action featured. For a Terminator film, it is odd to see there are only two or three true action sequences, one being the epic car chase and another a one-on-one fight between the T-800 and the T-X, reminiscent of the T-800 vs. T-1000 fights in the second film. Unfortunately, this remains a problem throughout. With every other moment being tongue-in-cheek referential to the previous films, it only serves to remind us that we could be watching either one of these vastly superior movies instead.
The special effects are decent enough, but there are far too much emphasis upon them. While the first two Terminator films had some interesting ideas put into use with eye-popping visuals, T3 simply mixes the ideas used in those films without adding anything new. And while the idea of a female terminator stalking the protagonists is an inevitable choice for the series, the filmmakers once again resort to jokes and sight gags instead of doing anything great with the concept.
And yet with so much humor taking away from the action, they somehow manage to end the film on an unexpectedly dark note. In a way, I guess I could give it kudos for daring to go there, but if it was already meant to happen it sort of feels like everything we’ve witnessed is a waste of time. The Terminator doesn’t bother laying waste to every person he comes across, even though he knows it won’t matter, which steals from us the possibility of there being some sort of grand shootout to at least distract us from the horribleness of every new plot contrivance that blatantly contradicts the established canon of the originals. James Cameron’s touch is sorely missed here, but not nearly as much as real action (now replaced almost entirely with CGI) is lacking from this mess.
Terminator 3: The Rise Of The Machines is a waste of time. The truth be told, the movie is sort of on the mid-range of mediocrity; certainly not in the same league as its predecessors, but not the worst film Arnie’s ever done. It goes from being somewhat okay and watchable, to being completely terrible and cringeworthy. It had the budget, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the effects to make a truly epic film all its own. But instead of making the action movie the fans wanted, they made a comedy version of a film everyone had already seen.
[HOW BAD-ASS ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERS?]
Arnold Schwarzenegger is The Terminator
The Terminator, this time, is sort of a mix between the T-800 from the previous film and an Arnold Schwarzenegger caricature. There is a sort of regression in bad-assness, going from “Fuck you, asshole!” to “Talk to the hand!” The T-800 keeps from killing anyone, once again, until the very end of the film. Despite no one telling him not to. Still, the old Model 101 looks ripped and features some good work from Arnie, particularly the “I am a machine!” sequence.
Nick Stahl is John Connor, apparently…
Something odd happened to John between this film and the last. I don’t mean to go too far into specifics, but I don’t see him and Catherine Brewster having children since he seems to have completely lost his balls. The guy should be MacGuyver resourceful and Jason Bourne fight-tastic, but all we get is a whiny wuss. What the hell happened?
Claire Danes is Catherine Brewster
Danes’s character exists so the new audience won’t feel so lost. She basically runs about looking confused and scared. Fortunately, she shoots an AK-47 at a flying pre-terminator thing to prove she isn’t completely worthless. Oh wait, that didn’t prove a damn thing.
Kristanna Lokken is the T-X
Ah yes, the new terminator. A sad, unoriginal mix of the previous terminators but female, Lokken performs the role pretty well. Unfortunately, aside from giving her a flamethrower for an arm (which, like everything else in this picture, is under-utilized) she doesn’t have much to do but stalk about with an empty stare. I’ll give her the bad-ass points for the film though, because she comes closest to earning them.
[THE BODY COUNT:]
In addition to the lack of action, T3 also contains far less gore in its violence. And while there are kills and the ending features a nuclear holocaust, almost all of the deaths in the movie occur offscreen.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING]
T-800 vs. T-X
This is easily the best (and only?) fight in the film. Remember, in Terminator 2, when the two terminators got into that fight in the mall hallway? Imagine that, but with a chick in tight red leather instead of the T-1000 and instead of just drywall and glass breaking, we get bathroom stalls, floors and toilets being shattered. The effects are probably at their worst in these scene, but it’s still pretty enjoyable.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Well, giving Schwarzenegger Elton John glasses is pretty gay, but also having him wearing the clothes of a gay male stripper queers things up for us as well. Shit, this whole movie’s pretty gay.
“Talk To The Hand!”
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Although the thought of a female terminator seems pretty empowering, having almost all her kills offscreen lessens her menace. Plus, Arnold drives her head through a toilet bowl.
And then there’s Claire Danes, who plays the ever-useless Catherine Brewster. Her sole role in the film is to play as John Connor’s future fucktoy. She spends the duration of the movie either crying, screaming, or complaining. Terminator 3 hates women.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
John Connor, having left the T-800 shut down back at a military base overrun by SkyNet’s lackey T-100s, is trying to open a blast shield with Catherine Brewster. Suddenly, the T-X crashes a helicopter in the hanger and begins approaching them. Bullets from Connor’s machine gun have no effect on his oncoming foe. Then, just as suddenly, another helicopter comes crashing down into the hanger. The T-X tries to run (why she/it didn’t do that in the first place is another question I won’t bother trying to answer) but is crushed beneath the burning wreckage.
The T-800 smashes out of the destroyed vehicle and stomps up to Connor, his human tissue torn and burned away in over a dozen places, and exclaims:
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
There’s no point in trying to make a better world for ourselves, we’re all gonna die anyway. And it doesn’t matter who makes a Terminator film because if it isn’t James Cameron, it’s going to suck.
[THE SIGNS OF SCHWARZENEGGER: 5 outta 5]
[X] Performs A Ridiculous Feat(s) of Strength
[X] Says, “I’ll be back.”
[X] Shows Off Buffness
[X] Unnecessarily Violent Opponent Dispatch
[X] Wields A Big Gun or Sword With One Arm
[THE CHECKLIST: 17 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Terminator Salvation]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice