Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator3

NOTE: This film was the last of the “first” trilogy with the most recent Terminator film, the fifth in the film series, Terminator Genisys, is the first of a planned second trilogy…it seems neither trilogy wants to include the fourth installment Terminator Salvation.

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“There is no fate, but what we make for ourselves…I wish I could believe that.”

Can you postpone the inevitable?

These questions and concepts have haunted John Connor for years. Connor, well played by Nick Stahl (Man Without a Face, In the Bedroom) lives “off the grid” in the beginning of this solid continuation of the Terminator film series. An older wiser John also has grown a slighted view of his purpose in life and his premonition about “Judgment Day” especially because of its’ impending date.

Model Kristanna Loken plays the T-X, the “anti-terminator terminator”, with great presence and minimal dialogue. Her movements and facial expressions keep the audiences’ attention throughout the film – her aesthetic looks make her an ideal casting choice.

Arnold Schwarzenegger headlines again as the Terminator (T-800) complete with an amusing introduction complete with the signature sunglasses and some interesting variations. His stoic performance also includes some priceless dead pan responses that have great dramatic and comedic effect, especially when driving around to avoid the T-X. Along with Arnold’s quips, the comedic moments of the film relieve tension but also add a lot to the overall experience.

The T-800 has a lot of memorable dialogue for many important purposes like to help John keep things in perspective by saying, “Anger more useful than despair” so pay attention how event relate to Terminator’s dialogue. Besides, existing properties about the Terminator already known to the audience, this T-800 has unique psychological capabilities which plays an interesting role when characters try to “reason with a robot.”

Claire Danes takes another crack at action films (remember The Mod Squad?) as Kate Brewster a veterinarian who plays a very important role. Mark Famiglietti plays her fiancé Scott Petersen and David Andrews (Apollo 13, Hannibal) plays her father Robert Brewster who’s also an important military officer involved in, you guessed it, SkyNet.

The well constructed plot includes a more in-depth look of the military’s involvement in SkyNet, an impending marriage, a mysterious computer virus and striking events that might make you ask – coincidence and fate? You also wonder how two special characters are going to find each other, and then the plot surprises you with an expedient connection to them. Screenwriters deserve great credit for little things the little things too, such as putting the hair back tight on the T-X so she can have an optimum performance, a.k.a. killing, level once she begins her missions (that’s right –missions plural) Terminatrix so it doesn’t get in her way and other special properties of the Terminatrix including alternate weapons. The film also has two great genuine surprises, one by sound (specifically the left side) and one by sight of a character.

The use of past plotlines also blends into this current mix of Judgment Day mayhem. The most touching homage for Sara Connor including John’s talk of a memorable line said after she and John completed their mission in T2, but filmmakers refrain from showing any visuals of her which might have increased the audience’s sympathy for her and John’s current situation.

Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown) takes over the directing reins from the director of the first two Terminator films, James Cameron (who still gets a character writing credit with Gale Anne Hurd). Cinematographer Don Burgess (Spider-Man, Bourne Identity) and the film’s crew blend the actual location with the special effects shots very well. A noticeable improvement from T2 (remember the scene where the Terminator pulled John of his motorcycle while the semi-truck was behind them?). The music by composer Marco Beltrami (Blade 2, Resident Evil) wasn’t anything above average. The fantastic music composed by Brad Fiedel from T2 was being replayed repeatedly in this reviewer’s head before, during and after watching this film.

Recommended (**1/2 out of four stars) and rated R for intense violence, language and brief nudity. Look for an amusing cameo from the only one other cast member besides Arnold who’s appeared in all three Terminator films.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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