Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: contains violence & offensive language
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator
Nick Stahl as John Connor
Kristanna Loken as the T-X
Claire Danes as Katherine “Kate” Brewster
Director: Jonathan Mostow
A powerful cyborg from a post-apocalyptic future appears in search of a drifter. Soon, he must protect himself and his companion from a deadly robotic threat.
The first two Terminator movies are widely regarded as action sci-fi classics. However, the following movies in the series has been receiving a rather mixed reception. That being said, I like them all, and that extends to Terminator 3. Made and released over a decade after the excellent Terminator 2, Rise of the Machines is enjoyable despite its many issues.
The biggest problem of Terminator 3 is how similar it is to Terminator 2, to the point where it almost feels like a copy. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from a more advanced Terminator, and there are plenty of one liners and action scenes. It doesn’t help that much of it feels like it is on autopilot. The plot is less interesting, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s not nearly as much emotion or depth to it, despite some of the opportunities presented here. The attempts at comedy are increased, but come across as being more forced, and I think its goofier than it was intending to be; the scene in which the Terminator gets his clothes here is an example of this. While some one liners are memorable, they were more misses than hits. That being said, I was fairly entertained with the movie, helped by a tight pace. It is also elevated by a surprising third act, with the bleak ending being a standout. While I can see why people wouldn’t like it, it is at least admirable. It is a bold move for a franchise movie to end on such a nihilistic note. At the same time, you get the feeling that it could’ve been more impactful had it been handled better.
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as another Terminator sent back in time, and is solid as usual even if he’s feeling a bit tired here. One thing working against him is that he just feels like a copy of his Terminator from Terminator 2, only he’s not as good, almost like an empty shell. His characterisation isn’t as strong and doesn’t feel as human. At the same time, there are plenty of human moments where he acts like his Terminator 2 counterpart, despite not having humanising moments like he did with young John Connor. The rest of the cast aren’t as good. Nick Stahl and Claire Danes are fine as John Connor and his future wife Kate, but are forgettable. Terminator 3 is a logical and accurate continuation of where John Connor would go after stopping Judgment Day, but they don’t do much beyond the first act. Danes is also fine with what she is given but is underdeveloped despite playing a major role in the movie. Then there’s the new villain Terminator, this time it’s the T-X as played by Kristanna Loken. While the idea had potential, the execution has much to be desired. It’s a female Terminator and that’s all that’s going for her. She wasn’t menacing, she was hard to take seriously and was a step back after the Terminator villains.
Jonathan Mostow directs this, overall his work is just okay but unsurprisingly pales in comparison to James Cameron’s work on the previous movies. Much like the writing, a big part of the problem is that it just feels like a copy of Terminator 2, except not as good. It doesn’t have much of a style of its own. Its also feels on autopilot, not helped by the generic score from Marco Beltrami. That being said, the action scenes are quite entertaining. It can be a bit messy and sloppy at times, but at the very least goes all in with the bonkers action. An early chase scene involving a truck in the first act particularly shines. While there is clearly an overreliance on CGI and the effects haven’t aged well, there are still some good practical stunts.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a decent enough sequel, Arnold Schwarzenegger is entertaining as usual, the action is fun, and there’s some aspects that are well done. The problem is that its just pretty much just a copy of Terminator 3, only not done as well. The only purpose of the movie seems to be the direction of its ending, and even that could’ve been handled better. Still, it’s okay if you manage expectations going into it.