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Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machine (Mark's Take)

01/08/2004. Contributed by Mark R Leeper

Buy Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machine in the USA - or Buy Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machine in the UK

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The new Terminator film has fewer ideas to slow the action. The film is in more ways than one just a machine demolition derby. The future sends back what is supposed to be the most advanced Terminator robot of the series but budget constraints and poor writing make it less intelligent and less capable than its predecessor was.

There is a new Terminator film and once again the machines of the future are jockeying for a better position in their present by sending back in time a robotic agent. It is T-X (played by impassive blond Kristanna Loken), with a mission to eliminate the chief thorn in their side, John Connor (played this time by Nick Stahl).

And once again future humanity is trying to check them by sending their own Terminator robot back to defend Connor. The Terminator is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who surprisingly does not look too old in the part. He seems to be keeping his youthful good (?) looks.

Terminator 3 Movie Review

John Connor, his life torn apart by the need to hide from Skynet and by the events of the previous film, has become a drug addict. While he is robbing an animal hospital, chance brings him together with veterinarian Kate Brewster (Claire Danes).

The machines from the future know these humans' fates are linked, but the two do not. One machine wants to protect them, one to destroy them. And in the traditions of the series, that is what each tries to do in one action scene after another.

There are no new ideas in this film; there just isn't time for them in the pacing. Instead there are only revelations about the old ideas.

The centerpiece of the film is a chase early on using unusual vehicles and calculated to do the greatest possible collateral damage without killing any bystanders. John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris, who wrote the script, and director Jonathan Mostow of BREAKDOWN and U-571 seem to go out of their way to make sure the good guys are not responsible for any deaths, in spite of all the action.

Our heroes do, however, steal a lot of motor vehicles. That seems to be more acceptable.

The filmmakers feel the need to rub our noses in at least one product placement. Mostow manages to get the ad painted on the side of a truck across most of the screen for several seconds. The product, incidentally, is a diet drug. I would guess it couldn't be a very effective one if it has to be shipped in such huge quantities.

This large and annoying product placement - the largest I remember seeing in any film - is some producer's statement that he is willing to mortgage the artistic quality of his film and distract the audience in return for cold hard cash.

TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINE reminds me of sequels like REVENGE OF THE CREATURE and RETURN OF THE FLY. It uses a previous film, extends the story, but adds nothing new of value.

I rate it a 5 on the 0 to 10 scale and a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Spoiler... Spoiler... Spoiler... Spoiler...

I should note what I thought were problems with the script.

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY was not a favorite with me, but the writing was more intelligent than in this film. In this film the technology is inconsistent. I notice that both future factions know how to send back in time whatever sort of ticky-tacky these robots are made of, but they cannot get the hang of sending back cloth so both robots arrive looking just like naked humans.

At least guys get equal time since this is the first time a female robot is sent.

We are told that the T-X is more advanced technically and much smarter than the previous model, but we are expected to take it on faith. Words are cheap. The problem is that the T-X appears to be a giant step backward from the shape-shifting robot of the previous film.

Where the last robot could morph into a silent sword, this one unimaginatively pulls out a gun and starts blasting. She can morph to look like another human, but just when it is about to do her some good, she stupidly morphs back to give herself away.

This is just poor writing. By the way, who is doing all the computer science so that there are more advanced Terminators coming off the assembly line?

Late in the film good guys suddenly turn up inside a highly secure military area. How did they get past the security? A shape-shifter might, but none of the others could.

The film cannot make up its mind what is fated and what isn't. Supposedly August 29, 1997, was to be the nuclear war and it was inescapable. Now the war is still inevitable but it just will be a later date.

This film has the feel of a quick knockoff intended to do little more than capitalize on the Terminator franchise.

Mark R Leeper

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