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A grown John Connor roams around,
Still fearing Judgment Day,
The deaths of billions by machines
He thought he’d kept away.
But soon a female Terminator
Travels back through time
To kill still young resistance members
Ere they reach their prime.
This T-X hunts for Katherine Brewster,
A lovely local vet,
Who’s caged the drug-addicted John
Because he was a threat.
Meanwhile, another Terminator,
Like the one John knew,
Arrives just in the nick of time
To save her right on cue.
He locks up Katherine, then saves John,
Who flees with her inside.
The T-X shoots her counterpart
And steals a massive ride.
An epic chase ensues, which leaves
A trail of vast destruction.
The good cyborg slows down the bad,
Then gives his introduction.
He tells John he has been sent back
To guard Katherine, of course,
But John is now in danger from
A much more deadly force.
They try to tell the girl the truth,
But she is none too pleased.
They drive to Sarah Connor’s grave,
With Katherine feeling seized.
They pick up weapons just in time
For cops to cause delay.
And Katherine’s met by that T-X,
Who’s killed her fiancé.
The good cyborg saves them again
And tells what will occur.
He killed John in the future
And was reprogrammed by her.
For Katherine will be Connor’s wife
And second-in-command.
As Judgment Day looms very close,
She gives him a command.
They go where Katherine’s father works.
He’s just released Skynet.
The T-X comes to shoot him down
So he can’t stop the threat.
The good and villainous machines
Face off, and she prevails.
She tries to turn him bad as well
But ultimately fails.
Katherine and John are told to fly
To distant Crystal Peak,
Where they believe they’ll find the way
To stop this that they seek.
The T-X follows them again,
But their ally arrives
To mow her down and blow her up,
And neither one survives.
They think that they’ve found Skynet’s core
To blow it up as well,
But Crystal Peak’s a bunker that
Will shield them for a spell.
They realize Judgment Day could not
Be stopped; it never could.
They simply had to live through it
And fight for what is good.

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