July 25, 2003


I was warned by a number of people not to see T3: Rise of the Machines. The tomatometer gave it a fresh rating, but I've been burned before. Ebert didn't like it. People I usually agree with didn't like it. I couldn't decide, so I let Margaret decide. I'm not sure what criteria she uses. She decided we ought to go. So we did. And I was glad.

In T3, John Connor is in his 20's. It's a decade or so after the last film, and Judgement Day has come and gone with no armageddon. It seems to support his mother's contention that there is "no fate but what you make." But this wouldn't be a Terminator movie if, early on, the action didn't start. So, it does.

Two Terminators show up, and by now you already know who's the good guy and who isn't. Terminator movies follow a specific patten that cannot be broken. Two "people" come back through time, one to kill and the other to stop the killer. The natural mayhem ensues. This film is no different in that.

What makes this film different than the last two? Why should you go see it rather than just popping the T2 DVD in? Sure, Kristanna Loken is easy on the eyes as the first female terminator, but that's hardly enough to justify the price of admission.

In my humble opinion, it's the humor that makes this film worth seeing. Nearly from the start of the film (when the terminators show up) the film takes a lighthearted approach, with healthy in-jokes for followers of the series. It seems to tell you at the beginning: "Relax; you know why you came to this film. To have fun. Let us entertain you."

And what follows is a lot of explosions, a lot of Arnold and Kristanna being creatively slammed into hard objects. A lot of nifty SPFX.

Nick Stahl does a passable job as John Connor. Nick plays him like a somewhat broken version of yesterday's wiseass. He's mellowed, but hasn't forgotten. Clair Danes doesn't get in the way, and when it's time for her to participate she fits right in. Arnold is Arnold. Kristanna as the T-X plays a terminator more in the mold of the T-1000 than a stiff Arnold-style droid, but she still comes off as a creepy phone company robot voice gone horribly wrong.

Things blow up, you can't believe your eyes, and it's all good because you're relaxing. The plot is paper-thin. There really isn't much room to move with all this time-travel stuff and still stick to the Terminator formula. The surprises are almost nonexistant. But the ending (at the very least) makes some sense. This isn't really a Sci-Fi movie you came to see. It is an Arnold movie, and his best since... well, probably the last Terminator film.

When the movie does try to make a nod to character development, the result is a horrible scene in the back of a truck with Nick Stahl trying to explain to the kidnapped Clair Danes what the heck is going on. I hear words coming out of his mouth, and words coming out of Clair's mouth, but they're certainly nothing I can imagine people saying. Thankfully, this film is short on that sort of thing since the T-X doesn't waste any time catching up with our heroes. And it's back to Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. And that's what you came to see. Wasn't it?

Posted by James at July 25, 2003 11:04 AM
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