Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

When Arnold Schwarzenegger was a little boy attending elementary school in his native Austria, he was always a little different from the other kids. In the annual Famous Composer's Pageant, all the other kids fought about who was going to be Mozart. Not Arnold. He knew from the beginning what he wanted. "I'll be Bach"

He has now spurred more sequels than Bach himself. T3 is like the Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach of his career, except that so much of the film was created by computers that we'd have to say he's not CPE, but CPU Bach. As the Terminator series has progressed, it has slowly moved away from cerebral apocalyptic fiction to F/X-centered shoot-'em-up because - well, because that's whar' the money is, son. As Deep Throat told Woodstein: "follow the money". T2 was some years ago but remains the state of the art for action scenes and many computer-generated effects. T3 is a worthy and noisy successor. Good gimmicks, good chases, good f/x, good robots. Not much on human feelings. It's like watching a really good episode of Battlebots, if there is such a thing.

Do you like chase scenes? You can forget about your barroom arguments over the best one. The French Connection and its successors have been retired from the argument, because the bar has been raised, and I don't see another film jumping over this one for years. The evil advanced Terminator 3 drives a giant industrial crane at top speed in pursuit of a simple van driven by Ah-nuld and the good guys. The crane turns sideways on the flatbed, so as its cab powers it down a city street at top speed, it simply destroys all the buildings on both sides of the street, killing everyone in its path.


Kristanna Loken appears naked when she arrives in our time. There is a full, clear, unobstructed rear view, and some shots of her breasts which manage to conceal her nipples with hair or camera angles or intervening objects.

Arnold shows his buns from the side/rear.

Warning: implicit spoilers

T3 the cyber-organism and T3 the movie have something in common. They are unflinching. When the new Terminator is sent back from the future with a hit list of some two dozen people from our time, she wastes no time dispatching them and everyone that stands between them and her. She kills efficiently, emotionlessly, without comment, as a machine should. That isn't the only element of the film which progresses to its logical but negative extreme. The previous two films left us with the hope that Armageddon could be avoided, the past re-written for the better, that the circumstances which caused the near destruction of mankind could be altered in our favor, so that John Connor never has to lead mankind's uprising against the machines, because the machines never win. Fuggitaboudit! This film tells it the way it has to be. Neither Connor nor mankind can about-face in their march toward destiny. Of course, we knew that in our hearts, but we didn't want to face it. This film grabs our heads and forces them to face the screen, then props our eyelids open and gives us the complete Ludovico Treatment, the full dose of ugly reality.

As he promised, Ah-nuld is back, and the 55 year old version doesn't really seem any different. He's still as hulking, buff, and stoical as ever. Although the premise of T3 is about as far from comedy as a movie can get, the Big Guy still manages to inject the maximum amount of allowable irony into his situations, and the ol' Original Terminator gets off his usual share of visual gags and one-liners, dominating the competition in the "I don't realize the irony because I'm a robot" category.

You have to love the tough guy wearing the glittery Elton John sunglasses (right). He doesn't know anything about style because he's a freakin' robot. Nonetheless, he does eventually crush the Elton glasses and pick up some cool wrap-arounds. He may be a cyber-man, but he's not a cyber-girly-man. He's here to pump (clap) us up.

DVD info from Amazon
  • Commentary by actors Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken and Director Jonathan Mostow

  • Commentary by director Jonathan Mostow

  • "HBO First Look" Behind-the-scenes feature

  • On location feature

  • Sgt. Candy Scene: new footage

  • Visual Effects Lab: Build your own effect sequence

  • Sky Net Database: profiles of characters, weaponry and vehicles

  • Terminator Timeline

  • Terminal Flaws: Gag reel

  • Storyboard gallery

  • Costume feature

  • Widescreen anamorphic format. I found the transfer to be too dark, or maybe the transfer was fine and the movie was too dark.

T3 isn't as good as T2, but I don't think you'll find it all that disappointing. It was the biggest and baddest boy on the block last summer. The action sequences and F/X are impressive. Ah-nuld does his thing; Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are good. I've never thought of Danes as an action hero, and The Mod Squad reinforced my negative preconceptions, but Danes she managed to bring the right amount of "terrified-but-not-defeated" to this role, giving it punch and credibility. Last and certainly not least, the film manages in the last ten minutes to overcome its previous lack of thoughtfulness by simply presenting the case as it must be, and ending the trilogy as it must end, without compromise.

Hasta la vista, mankind.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: about three stars, maybe slightly less. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.0/10, Yahoo voters 4.1/5
  • Box Office Mojo. It should look good at this price. It was budgeted at $200 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated at another $40 million. It grossed $150 million domestically, down from the $204 million grossed by T-2. (The original terminator grossed only $38 million.)

And ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. Maybe too noisy and brainless for the more thoughtful crowd, but a helluva non-stop shoot-'em-up in the true Schwarzenegger tradition of action and irony, and a movie which resists all temptation to provide a happy, sappy, Hollywood ending to the trilogy.

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