Film Flashback: “Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines” (2003)

Terminator 3 - Kristina Loken and Arnold Schwarzenegger poster zoomFollowing the amazing “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” wasn’t going to be easy for anyone. James Cameron departed the franchise that helped propel him to A-list director status and series regular Linda Hamilton also opted not to return leaving Arnold Schwarzenegger alone to keep the Terminator machine rolling with director Jonathan Mostow (“Surrogates”) for a different, yet very familiar direction for the franchise with “Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines.” 

While the summer movie season began as early as May (for some odd reason) action fans don’t get their first big summer movie until now with the release of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nicholas Stahl and Claire Danes in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines shootoutJohn Connor (Nick Stahl) prevented Judgment Day a decade ago with the help of his mother and the T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), but he’s still leery of a “regular life” and moves from place to place like a gypsy — with terrible hair.

But since it’d be a boring movie following Connor working at the Quik-E-Mart, some excitement comes as he meets his future wife, Kate (Claire Danes), just in time as a new Terminator arrives to kill him. Stahl never seems comfortable in the role and hardly makes Connor seem like the guy that’s going to save mankind from an army of machines, but his predecessor, Edward Furlong, wasn’t too great either. I kept feeling like this role was beneath Danes, but she makes Kate a much more likable character than the “generic female in distress” role it could have been in other hands.Kristanna Loken in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines arrival

The new Terminatrix (Kristanna Loken) looks like a model, which is pretty smart thinking for the machines as most guys would be happy to get close to a hot blonde. Still, it seemed silly for TX to bother accessorizing.

Just as TX finds Connor and Kate, the good Terminator (Schwarzenegger) arrives, but the outdated model is no match for the super advanced TX. Loken is wooden, even for a robot, and she never comes across like the threat of the original Terminator or T2’s Robert Patrick’s T-1000.

Claire Danes, Nicholas Stahl, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines car chaseOnce all the main characters converge, the film picks up while Director Jonathan Mostow (“U-571”) appears to be using Cameron’s cliff notes version on how to stage a Terminator film complete with motorcycle chase and big shootouts.

But after one installment of Rock Em Sock Em robots, it dulls a lot of suspense since any damage T-800 or TX sustain doesn’t actually hurt them. The action scenes are far more effective when Connor or Kate is involved.PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION

Mostow incorporates a bit more humor into the franchise while thankfully reduces Schwarzenegger’s corny one-liners to a minimum.

Another nagging problem with the franchise has been that whole “Back to the Future” time effect question.

So if Connor keeps sending a Terminator to save himself in the past how does that change his future? Finally that question is addressed in a manner that makes sense and actually is open-ended enough to pave the way for another follow-up.

“Terminator 3” doesn’t have the gritty feel of “Terminator” or the sleek cutting edge of technology look of “Judgment Day,” but it’s a decent addition to the Terminator mythos.Terminator 3 - Kristina Loken and Arnold Schwarzenegger in T3

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

5 thoughts on “Film Flashback: “Terminator 3 – Rise of the Machines” (2003)”

  1. Well I think all three of movies were great and equally fascinating. The special effects were just out of out of sight. But most of all they had good story lines and although the actual plots are unbelievable in reality I found myself drawn into the point of being concerned about the characters.

    In TERMINATOR 3 it was the cyborg beautiful woman that added a new twist and made it a fresh movie to me even it was a the third time we had seen this idea portrayed. Lets face it these series of movies made Arnold a star. “I’ll be back” made him famous all over the world.

  2. I can’t believe this movie is ten years old…(I had to go to IMDB just to doublecheck…). While the T-x was a bit corny, there were som chilling scenes when she was terminating Connor’s future confederates. I think in hindsight, plain evil like the T-1000 would have worked fine, without her needing a snazzy leather outfit(Although it does beg the question as to whether Terminators with Endoskeletons are somehow “drawn” to wearing leather clothing…).
    I think i shall give this one a watch today if i have time.

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