Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines seemed like an unnecessary add-on when it first came out. The filmmakers could have left well enough alone after the huge success of T2, but they had to keep milking this franchise for all it was worth, with or without James Cameron. Yet T3 is one of those sequels that is surprisingly good once you give it a try. It follows the second film’s precedent, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as a reprogrammed Terminator to save John Connor once again from a more advanced cyborg. While this plotline is familiar, the filmmakers take it in some unexpected directions with well-spaced revelations throughout the movie.
Kristanna Loken is appropriately laconic and lethal as the T-X, as is Ahh-nold, who gets some great one-liners and self-referential moments along the way. The main drawback for the second film was the human protagonists. Sarah Connor had gone nuts and her son was quite frankly a punk, but in T3, Nick Stahl fills the role of John nicely, even if he’s now a haunted drug addict on the run, and Claire Danes as Kate is my favorite of the new cast. Since no one in the film’s universe has seen the Terminator films, her reactions are priceless, from her initial shock and anger to her transformation into a robot-slaying Rambina. Her relationship with John isn’t really developed into a romance, but it’s at least set in motion with a clearly defined end.
The action and effects are outstanding, with the epic central chase being one of the best and most destructive car chases ever. The clever ways that Ahh-nold gets rid of the T-X and the myriad of explosions make it an excellent popcorn blockbuster.
Of course, there’s a good amount of unnecessary language and violence, especially when the T-X suddenly jams its arm through someone’s chest to drive a car from the back seat (bleh). The movie has its worst stumble, though, at the very end. While the first Terminator ended with tension and a looming threat and the second film had somewhat of a happy bittersweet climax, this film’s final scenes are just plain depressing. Almost the entire world is nuked by Skynet, and now the characters have nothing to look forward to except a long, painful war, plus John’s foretold demise. It’s an okay setup for another sequel (Terminator: Salvation, which I have not yet seen), but, by itself, it’s a weak end to an otherwise awesome action flick.
Best line: (John, after Kate zealously shoots down a drone) “You remind me of my mother.”Artistry: 4 Characters/Actors: 6 Entertainment: 9 Visual Effects: 9 Originality: 5 Watchability: 7 Other (language, violence, and poor ending): -8 TOTAL: 32 out of 60
Next: #286: Crocodile Dundee
© 2014 S. G. Liput