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"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" – Movie Review

  • Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
  • 2003 3 Jul
"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" – Movie Review

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Rating: R (for strong sci-fi violence and action, language, brief nudity)

Release Date: July 2, 2003

Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Kristanna Loken, Claire Danes, Alana Curry, Timothy Dowling, Mark Famiglietti, Mark Hicks, Jerry Katell, Brian Sites

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Special Notes: The ''Terminator'' franchise may be old, but much like Schwarzenegger's titular cyborg, it's still unstoppable. Fans have been waiting more than 10 years for a follow-up to 1991's ''Terminator 2: Judgment Day.'' And considering that "T3" was made on a $150 million budget, with more than 600 F/X shots, the filmmakers (including 'U-571' director Jonathan Mostow) are pulling out the big guns to give the people what they want. One cause for the long delay is that the company that owned the franchise, Carolco Pictures, went bankrupt shortly after the release of "T2." A long, tortured development followed, culminating in Schwarzenegger signing on for a record $30 mil. Danes was not the original actress picked for her role, but when she got a last minute call before shooting to replace the other actress who was deemed to young Danes accepted and was rushed to join the rest of the crew. Arnold flew to Iraq to show the troops a private screening of "T3."

Plot: A decade after John Connor (Stahl) helped prevent Judgment Day and save mankind from mass destruction, he now spends his days living on the run (so he can't be traced by Skynet), searching for the destiny he was born for. On the night that he wrecks his motorcycle and breaks into a veterinary clinic for medicine, John meets Kate Brewster (Danes) and immediately the two are threatened by a sophisticated android killing machine (that looks like an anatomically correct woman) the T-X (Loken). The highly developed killing machine was sent from Skynet to kill Connor and various other future lieutenants, including veterinarian Brewster. This time around the T-X is relentless and proves to be an unstoppable deadly force – far more powerful than the obsolete Terminator model. She can assume the shape of anyone she touches, control any machine, survive any crash and destroy any weapon that goes against her. The same night T-X comes to Earth, the Terminator (Schwarzenegger) is also sent to search for and protect not only John, but Kate as well. When Connor meets his only hope for survival, their mission is to find Skynet and destroy it before Judgment Day.

Good: I find it rather amusing that in a day and age in Hollywood when (for the most part) the youth dominate the television and movie screens, two famous baby boomers, Demi Moore and Arnold Schwarzenegger, are kicking box office bucks to record numbers. They're proving to the younger movie-going audience that age has no boundaries when it comes to playing heroes or tough guys. In fact, these days, action stars seem to be getting better looking and staying in better shape as they get older (let's not forget Sean Connery as an action hero in the soon to be released "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman"). Most anyone and everyone who enjoys sci-fi and/or action movies has seen or heard of Schwarzenegger's roles in the "Terminator" movies. So it should come as no surprise that this time around, "T3" continues the theme of machines pitted against man in a war for survival and yes … this one is just as intense, violent and filled with action as the other two. I knew the story would be interesting and the special effects amazing, but what I wasn't prepared for was how good Arnold looks and acts in this movie. For a man of 56 (this month is his birthday) Arnold proves that he's popular with his fans and knows what it takes to have longevity in this business … and quite possibly in the political arena as well. In short, his fans love him as much as the camera does. Many fans will recognize (and appreciate) the trademark lines that have become legendary for Schwarzenegger – lines like "I'll be back", "She'll be back", and his new one, "Talk to the hand". Most of his character's familiar mannerisms, dry humor and passion to protect John Connor are likewise back in full force which make the hero even more relatable and likeable. I was amazed at how much Stahl looks and sound like the original adult John Connor and was impressed with the job Danes did as well. Even though much of the special effects and stunts are done for Loken, she still turns in an amazing performance as the machine you love to hate. I have to admit, when I saw the trailer I wondered if a female machine would be as intense or scary as "T2" was … and let me tell you, she is. With a tag line like, "Anything he can do she can do better", you can expect a competitive battle. The stunt work is absolutely amazing and several of the action-packed scenes will leave you scratching your head in disbelief – they're that good! I have to admit I liked the film for the sci-fi story but could have enjoyed it more without all of the language and amount of violence it had in it.

Bad: Aside from the obvious reasons why you might like this movie, there's an abundance of reasons why you might not. Numerous profanities and obscenities are overused in this movie with everything from mild language to religious profanities and exclamations. Violence is in almost every scene of this movie which consists of a tremendous amount of brutal action and sci-fi oriented fighting. The T-X machine kills an army of people, but perhaps the most disturbing deaths are the several high school students she executes because they will become future leaders in John's resistance. Although no bloody hits are shown or bodies seen, it's still implied. I was amazed at how much property is damaged in this movie! I'm talking huge buildings ripped apart, tons of car crashes, lots of explosions and of course, a gazillion rounds of ammunition fired. Then there's the special effects with Skynet killer machines wreaking havoc on a whole building. Several scenes showing bloody characters are unsettling. Loken is the most intense character dishing out her own brand of violence. There's a scene where Conner takes drugs to stop the pain from an accident injury. There are numerous sexual references (the T-X spots a Victoria's Secret billboard and makes her bra get bigger under her clothes). The T-X unit arrives nude at night, (like Arnold does) bent over and briefly shown from the side. There are a couple of shots of the Terminator's bare backside when he arrives (fully nude). We then see his nude backside in the shadows as he walks toward a bar and tells a male stripper to take off his outfit (all in leather) and give it to him for clothing. There are numerous bloody scenes involving people being shot or cut with a blade. Arnold performs surgery on his android chest. The T-X drives her fist and arm through the back seat of a car (also killing the passenger), and sticks her fist through the driver's chest to ultimately steer the car. The T-X kicks the Terminator's head and nearly decapitates him (two times we see the head hanging backwards from his body). A driver is rear-ended by John and threatens his life and much, much more. There are so many scenes of violence (including a scene of nuclear destruction), that I can't possible list them all. I do need to point out that this movie also had excessive violence between a man and woman fighting. Sure they are both supposed to be robots, but there are still several scenes that show a man and woman hitting, punching and smashing each other to bits … literally. There are a couple of memorable scenes with unusual action that people will probably talk about: one takes place in a bathroom that completely gets destroyed by the two androids and another takes place with a large crane truck in pursuit of John who's in a small truck. Both result in a great deal of property being damaged or destroyed. Those scenes are kind of like the ones in "The Matrix Reloaded" – people will talk about them. In truth, the war between man and machine is depicted as brutal and cold – exactly what a war between man and machines would end up being.

Bottom Line: This is clearly an R rated movie for the adult sci-fi fans and in no way should be seen by underage kids or adolescents. Parents, it's up to you to be discerning for what is appropriate even for your teenager. Although I enjoyed this sci-fi fantasy for the storyline, the abundance of profanity was too much, along with the excessive violence. I also had to chuckle at the line, "your fate is what you make it" because as a Christian, aren't we glad that our eternal "fate" is NOT defined by what we "make it"?


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