Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

directed by Jonathan Mostow

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines poster  
Milking the franchise for all it's worth, Arnie's back for a third round of destruction before going into politics and doing it all for real. Terminator 2 left us with Judgement Day averted, and the future saved. But according to Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator in this film, "Judgement Day is inevitable".

Plenty of other things about this film are also inevitable. A new model of the Terminator, the T-X played by Kristanna Loken, is sent back in time to destroy John Connor yet again. There's a distinct sense of dejá-vu as all the old catchphrases and scenes are rolled out once more.

Nick Stahl plays John Connor, who has not exactly grown up to become your typical action hero. He's a bit of a hobo, moving from place to place without leaving records, and failing to shave. It's an interesting piece of casting.

Connor happens on the veterinary surgery of Sarah Brewster (Claire Danes) in search of painkillers, and she likes him so much she locks him in a cage. But the new Terminator has arrived and is out to kill them both. Fortunately the earlier model of the Terminator has arrived, with a mission to protect them.

A lot of chase scenes and narrow escapes ensue as Connor and Brewster try to stay alive and save the world once more.

This film has its moments, but they are too few because too much has been cribbed from the first two movies. It also ends abruptly, at least twenty minutes before it should. The ending leaves so much yet to happen that it makes the whole film more like the start of something than the conclusion of a trilogy. But who knows if a fourth Terminator film is likely to be made?

Stahl plays a likeable John Connor, and Sarah Brewster is full of fire and hidden strengths. But their relationship moves too quickly, it isn't given enough time to develop so the way they behave doesn't ring true. More could have been done to flesh out most of the human characters. We barely get to meet them before most are sliced and diced in various ways. The Terminator machines are robotic and terrifying, as they should be, although Schwarzenegger's Terminator has one dire scene of humanlike indecision. Nevertheless he looks good, considering it's been 12 years since the previous movie in the series. The effects are competent, although audiences may well expect more from such a high-profile film.

If you enjoyed the previous Terminator movies, this is more of the same. It's repetitive, and some of the jokes are not as funny the second time around, although there are some good ones, like this line from Schwarzenegger's Terminator:

"Your levity is good. It relieves tension and the fear of death."

Usually though the dialogue tends towards the pathetic and the plot is quite predictable. Nick Stahl, as the reluctant leader John Connor, is this movie's saving grace. But he's not nearly enough to save this film from its scriptwriters.

Film Details

Year: 2003

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 12

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2 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about Jonathan Mostow

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