Terminator 3: Rise of the MachinesCast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Kristina Loken as TX
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Claire Danes as Kathrine Brewster
Mark Famiglietti as Scott Mason
Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman
Mark Hicks as Detective BellDistributed by:
Warner Bros.Directed by:
United States Year of Release:
Also known as simply “Terminator 3”, this movie is the third film in the ongoing Terminator series, following Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and the first that was not directed by James Cameron, who directed the first two films. The plot follows the events of the second film after Skynet failed to kill Sarah Connor before her son John was born, and to kill John himself when he was still a child. The year is now 2005, and it has been several years since the events of the second film. Now a full grown man, John Connor is constantly moving from one location to another to avoid contact with people who could turn out to be robots sent after him by Skynet. But sadly, his attempts to run away from his nightmares are in vain. The renegade computer sends back another killer robot called the TX to kill not only John, but also to wipe out as many future resistance officers as possible, which also includes John’s future wife Katherine Brewster. At the same time, the resistance sends back another reprogrammed T-800 to protect John and Katherine from the TX, who is far more advanced and dangerous than her predecessors. Personal Comments:
It’s been a while now since I reviewed any of the Terminator films. And the last one I reviewed was the second film, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”. So, I thought I’d return to the series once again, and cover the three more recent films in the franchise. Starting with “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”. Originally released, July 2nd, 2003, this movie marked the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular robot. Though for a long time, fans were not expecting there to be a third film in the series, because Terminator 3 was released 12 years after the second film, which to this day is highly regarded by fans and critics alike to be a timeless classic. And needless to say, it is highly regarded to be the best film in the series. Terminator 3 however, has met with a mixed reception. It did pretty well at the box office, but some fans did not welcome it with open arms due to some of its issues, while to others, it is considered to be at least decent. Me personally, Terminator 3 isn’t all that bad a movie. But in my opinion, it’s not the best film in the series. I kind of stand in between when it comes to my opinions on the third film. But in order to do this movie justice, I must go over it in full detail. So buckle your saftey belts, because we're going for a ride.
So anyway, this is a film that I saw in theaters when it first came out. And well, it basically follows the same pattern as the first two films; Skynet sends a killer robot back in time to kill someone who will play an important role in the future, and a good guy is sent back in time to protect the aforementioned person. Once again, Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the big muscular android, who has been reprogrammed to protect not only John Connor, but also his future wife Katherine Brewster. And well, not surprisingly, his introduction scene in this movie is strikingly similar to the scene from Terminator 2, where he arrives to the designated time and place in the United States, and acquires his wardrobe. And we all know that the Terminator is well renown for his signature black leather motorcycle outfit and dark sunglasses. By now, that has become a common trend in the series. Just as him appearing naked in his introduction before actually obtaining his gear and weapons. According to online sources, it was rumored that Linda Hamilton would reprise her role as Sarah Connor in the film, since she was the actress who played as the character in the first two films. But she stated that she would not be returning for the third film, or the ones that followed after it. So, to coincide with Linda Hamilton having no part in this movie whatsoever, the character of Sarah Connor was written off to have died from Leukemia in the film. But her body was nowhere to be found. Admittedly I was a bit disappointed about this. But I guess I can let this slide since the story doesn’t revolve around Sarah anymore. Besides, it was a different time then. So what more could be expected? And also, as of the time this movie was made, it had been almost 20 years since the original movie was released.
So anyway, the story in this movie basically recycles what fans have become familiar with since the first two movies in the franchise. As I said before elsewhere, being a fan of media franchises can lead to some familiarity that you’re used to when you come to know a particular series. And well, depending on how it’s executed in later works, it can be a breath of fresh air, or it can get stale. In this case it falls somewhere in between. While they came up with some new ideas of their own, what was familiar with all three movies is the premise. In fact, the first three films in the series all share the same premise with the concept of time travel and whatnot. And understandably, some audiences were kind of turned off by this. Because by this point in time, we’ve become familiar with the concept, that some people were like “Haven’t we seen this before?” However, some people welcomed this with open arms, which is more or less understandable since it hadn't been touched in 12 years. I guess in the end it’s just a matter of opinion. The story now centers on John Connor, who is now grown up, and is running away from his nightmares about the future war against Skynet. But there is a problem here. A lot of people complained about Nick Stahl’s performance as John Connor. And well, I can plainly see why. I mean I get that Jonathan Mostow wanted to go with a different approach to John’s character and display him as a rather reluctant hero who is hesitant to accept his responsibility as the leader of the human resistance against Skynet. But one of my biggest gripes about this movie is that Mostow made Connor out to be a coward and a whiny bitch. This isn’t the John Connor who fans are familiar with. And in one scene, he even goes as far as to threaten to commit suicide to avoid his responsibilities. I mean hell, even his child self had more balls than his adult self. Seriously, you’d expect a hell of a lot better in the way John is depicted in his adulthood. As for Katherine Brewster, well I don’t have much to say about her except well… She was essential to the plot because let’s face it; with Sarah gone, John has to have someone to man him up and slap sense into him. Especially considering how much of a pussy he acts like in this film. Of course it takes some time for John and Katherine to form a bond given their petty differences they had with each other at the beginning. But you get what I mean; Katherine apparently has more balls than John does. I mean what happened?
But there’s something I haven’t mentioned yet. Remember how the Terminator is identified as a “T-800” according to online sources? Well, although not mentioned anywhere in the film, the robot that Arnold Schwarzenegger plays in the third movie is a slightly more advanced model called the “T-850”. But since the robot looks virtually identical to the previous “T-800” model, it was a bit hard to tell. Although physically similar to the T-800, the T-850 possesses a few noticeable differences; The T-850's appearance is an aged version of the T-800 and lacks the sense of humor exhibited by his predecessor. He almost seems to stand up for himself when he replied that he’s a "cybernetic organism", not a "robot", as John had stated (even though the Terminator is pretty much one and the same). Although originally programmed to follow any and all orders from Kate, the robot could override this default programming and trap her in the back of her truck against her wishes. He states that one of his basic subroutines deals with human psychology, and despite his lack of humor is still able to make an emotional connection with John when he fights the TX's reprogramming of his systems and again later when he says goodbye to John. So in comparison, the T-850 is slightly more willful and rebellious than his predecessor. The Terminator reveals that at an unknown date during the war, Skynet decided to try a new tactic to remove the leader of the resistance. Knowing the familiarity that Connor had with the previous T-800 unit, Skynet sent a T-850 that physically resembled the old model out to the human resistance bases where he eventually found John. His judgment clouded by memories of past experiences, he allowed the Terminator close, and gave him the chance to killed him. This event occurs on July 4, 2032. Hence why he says “I killed you.” However the fact Skynet sent back the T-X implies John's death came too late to alter the course of the war. The Terminator was eventually reprogrammed by Connor's wife to serve as a protector once again. This robot was once more sent back in time to protect John, only this time not under his direct command, but Kate Brewster's. This leads into the events of Terminator 3, during which the T-850 reveals to Connor the date and circumstances of his future death. It is possible that, having learned of his fate, John would be able to avoid his death in the future, capture the T-850 and send him back himself. This leaves the true fate of John Connor open to speculation. Another thing about the T-850 is that he is powered by two hydrogen fuel cells, which explode like an atomic bomb when ruptured.
There are a few things that kind of made me chuckle a little. Even if some of the humor in this movie was basically meant to appeal to the fanservice crowd. Particularly, when the TX made her breasts grow in one scene. Now, there was humor in the previous two films as well. But the big difference here is that the humor in the first two movies was more subtle and wasn’t all over the place. But in Terminator 3, it’s a different story. The humor seems to be abundant, and in some places it just feels unnecessary to the grand scheme of things. And here’s where things get a little awkward. When the Terminator arrives to present day via time travel, he goes into a bar, and acquires his attire from a cocky onstage performer. But when he puts on a pair of fruity looking star-shaped glasses, this is pretty much where we get our first bit of humor. Even though it really isn’t that funny. And I think this is one of the reasons why Terminator 3 has received mixed reviews from fans and critics alike. Contrary to how the first two movies focused more on the intense moments and the dark story, Terminator 3 tends to take things in a slightly different direction. While the movie stays mostly true to the source material it’s based on, the film tends to take a few jabs here and there with the humor, which kind of made things seem a bit unbalanced. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good action scenes, and believe me, this movie is jam packed with action scenes that are guaranteed to get your adrenaline flowing. But some of the humor kind of ruins it. Especially if it’s in places where it’s not needed. Even though the T-850 was mostly cold towards John, he did display the ability to learn human slang and catch phrases. For example, in his first appearance, when he asks the onstage performer for his clothes, the man positions his hand in front of him and says “Talk to the hand!” And in a later scene, where the robot is seen stealing food and snacks for John and Katherine, the clerk at the shop asks “Are you gonna pay for that?” to which the Terminator responds by saying “Talk to the hand.” So technically, he was capable of learning human behavior despite not learning anything from John himself. Another thing the Terminator displayed in the film was human psychology. Because in one scene, where John starts bitching and whining about him not wanting to accept his destiny and that the Terminator was wasting his time, the robot grabs him by the throat. From this, John learns to man up a bit and the Terminator releases him. He replies that “Anger is more useful than despair.”
But the one thing that really left an impression on me is the main villain, the TX, played by Kristina Loken. Now, I am aware that this character has received somewhat of a mixed reception among audiences. Some people love her, while others are totally indifferent of her. But me personally, I thought TX was awesome. I mean seriously, she really gave Arnold a run for his money just as the T-1000 did in Terminator 2. What really made TX so special is that she was not the usual kind of robot. Rather than being a robotic endoskeleton covered in flesh, her robotic endoskeleton was more advanced, and her skin was liquid metal. So she was kind of a combination of a more advanced T-900 series (which is never seen in any of the films), and the T-1000 series. Because of this, she was near invulnerable to physical harm, and she could alter her appearance to resemble anybody she comes in contact with, similar to how T-1000 could alter his appearance. TX’s physical appearance is that of a young woman with blonde hair, and donning red leather clothes. Not a bad fashion sense I’ll say. And I do admit I liked her hairdo. In fact, at first glance, TX looks like the kind of girl who you'd go out on a date with on Saturday nights. But she is a deadly killing machine. And believe me, she lives up to that title. Not only is TX incredibly strong and enduring, but she also has a large arsenal of weapons built into her anatomy, making her far deadlier than any of her predecessors. According to the T-850, TX is faster, more powerful, and more intelligent. In addition to being incredibly strong, fast, agile, and near impervious to harm, she also has a built-in plasma cannon, a flame thrower, a rotary saw, and much more. But one of her more interesting features was her "Nanotechnological Transjectors". By retracting the mimetic polyalloy skin from her index finger of the right hand, a 1.6 mm diameter titanium alloy drill bit can emerge from her fingertip. This is then used to drill into the casing of any electronic system, and a narrow blue aura flows through the needle, transferring a stream of nanobots (tiny microscopic robots) into the system. In a matter of milliseconds TX can connect with the electronic system and reprogram it, controlling it by direct link or ultra-high frequency contact via a downlink. In other words, she has the ability to take control of other machines, sentient or not. She could take control of cars, trucks, construction machines, and other robots. Now I have to admit, this was a pretty cool feature that TX had. This alone showed me how powerful, versatile, and adaptable she was. TX was definitely a more advanced model, and a more sufficient killer. And on top of that, she was as gorgeous as she was deadly. I mean I can’t be the only one who thinks TX was an awesome villain! Seriously! She deserves more love than some fans give her credit for!
Though, what’s also interesting is that although TX managed to subdue and take control of the T-850, his CPU remained intact, but he was unable to control his other functions. Some of TX’s other functions include being able to identify her targets through analyzing biological matter. But as I said earlier, the T-850 was able to reset his programing, and stop himself from killing John. TX is also equipped with advanced sensory capabilities that help her in human identification and termination. These include infrared systems used to pick up heat signatures, facial recognition, and retina scanning systems. And she also has the ability to analyze DNA by sampling a small quantity of her victim’s blood using sensors laced in her tongue. In other words, she has a sense of taste. But in this case, she does this to analyze DNA to see if it matches that of her targeted victim. Early in the film when she identifies a blood sample belonging to her "primary target" John Connor, the TX appears to react with an expression akin to a gasp of excitement. And quite scarily, TX is the only robot in the franchise who utters feral growling noises when angered or frustrated. But she doesn’t display this until near the end of the film before she and the T-850 are destroyed.
Another interesting thing about this movie, though this doesn’t really serve any importance to the story given how brief it is, is that we once again see Dr. Silberman who is once again played by Earl Boen. For those of you who are new to the franchise, you’re probably wondering who the hell Dr. Silberman was. Well, I’ll tell you. He was the psychologist introduced in the first movie, where he interrogated Kyle Reese about what was going on concerning Sarah Connor and the Terminator that was sent after her. In the second film, Silberman had Sarah locked up in an asylum, believing that her story about the killer robot was delusional. And even after the events of both films, he still believed the story was delusional and constructed even after the attack on the police station. And well, he does show up in the third movie, but only as a brief (and I do mean brief) cameo. Other than that, he plays no real big part in this movie. In his one and only appearance in Terminator 3, Dr. Silberman sat down next to Katherine (who attempted to shoot the Terminator and escape), and expressed a measure of denial, possibly stemming from having seen the two robots (the T-800 and T-1000) in the Pescadero Asylum. Although Silberman seemed to partially put it down to stress from his traumatic experiences. But upon seeing the T-850, Silberman instantly recognizes him, and flees the scene. Once again, I don’t really get what the purpose of this scene was. But whatever. If it was basically to coincide with the show’s humor just for the sake of having a cameo appearance from the previous two films then well… I guess I can let that slide.
By the end of the film, the T-850 commits suicide by jamming one of his hydrogen fuel cells into TX’s mouth, killing both himself and TX in the process. Meanwhile, John and Katherine seek shelter in an underground fallout shelter. It was then revealed that the Terminator’s mission was to get them both to safety. John agonizes about this, because earlier in the film, he theorized that Skynet could be stopped, and that Judgment Day could be prevented. But the Terminator told John and Katherine that they could not prevent the war from happening, and that it was inevitable. So wait a minute; if this movie is a direct sequel to the second film, then how in God’s name could Skynet still exist? Because if you were to watch Terminator 2, you might remember that it was stated that if they destroy any evidence of the future, that Judgment Day could have been prevented. But according to the T-850, they only postponed the inevitable. So I guess… I don’t know. I guess I’m thinking too deep into it. Because in many ways, this kind of baffles my mind. But I guess in a way, this kind of does make sense because lets face it, humanity was going to create Skynet anyway whether we liked it or not. And we were doomed from the start. At the very end of the film, when the nuclear missiles were launched and ravaged the Earth’s surface, John Connor narrates the last few lines before the closing credits; “There was no system core. It could not be shut down. The attack began at 6:18PM. Just as he said it would. Judgment Day, the day the human race was nearly destroyed by the weapons they built to protect themselves. I should have realized our destiny was not to stop Judgement Day, but to survive it together. The Terminator knew. He tried to tell us. But I wouldn’t listen. Maybe the future has been written. I don’t know. All I know is what the Terminator taught me. Never stop fighting. And I never will. The battle has just begun.” And well, I’ll give credit where it’s due. They managed to end this movie with a very dramatic end scene just before the closing credits. And it seemed pretty convincing. And from this ending, I just knew that a fourth film would soon be coming in the near future. And well, not long after the release of Terminator 3, there was Terminator Salvation, which is not a direct sequel to the third movie. But was kind of its own separate story. But that’s a story for another day.Overall:
In contrast to the critical acclaim of its two predecessors, Terminator 3 was only moderately well received by critics. And while it was a box office success, it grossed less than the previous films. “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” is often criticized by fans as being not in the same level with its predecessors, and many fans believed that the series should have ended with Terminator 2. While I agree with that statement in many ways, I think Jonathan Mostow made a moderate effort to shed some light on the series’ legacy, which is more that I can say for how Transformers Animated was handled. I don’t really feel that this movie pissed on the franchise, but nor do I believe it was that great of a film. In all honesty, “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” is an okay movie. It’s probably not the best in the series, but it’s far from the worst. Sure, it does have some issues, but it also has its strengths and its highlights as well. For me, the highlight of this movie was the introduction of the TX, who in my opinion was an awesome character. And not only that, but Arnold Schwarzenegger surprisingly managed to play his role as the Terminator quite well despite that it had been 12 years since the release of the second film as of the time when the third film was released. And while this movie still meets with mixed reviews, I believe that it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be. It could have been better, but it also could have been worse. But at least the movie is watchable. And believe me, that’s saying a lot. But just in my opinion, this movie doesn’t come close to the greatness that is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”.
Back to Movie Reviews: MDT Review Series