STARRING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews

2003, 109 Minutes, Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

At a certain point in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines I just grew weary of the whole affair.

The plot will seem depressingly familiar to those who have seen the previous two movies. In the near future, machines will revolt and try to wipe out humanity. Unlike the more pragmatic machines of The Matrix who decided that humanity would make excellent life-sized Duracell replacements, these machines are pure misanthropes – they want humanity wiped out. Period. 

However, a resistance movement is in danger of defeating them. The machines decide to deal with this problem by sending back in time a killing machine (or “terminator”) to assassinate the leader of the resistance – before the war has even started! For the third time too! Haven’t they realized the futility of doing this by now? (Apply some logic to it and you will see why.)

Anyhow, this time around they send a terminator that is (a) disguised as a woman and (b) capable of controlling other machines. (Finally! Someone who can stop my Windows from crashing all the time!)

The resistance responds by sending yet another reprogrammed, inferior terminator to protect the future resistance leader. This terminator bears an uncanny resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who looks so good for someone in his 50’s that you’d excused for suspecting that he might just not be human in the first place!

"Has nothing new or interesting to add."

Not only does Terminator 3 rehash the previous movie’s plot, but it also plunders entire scenes whole sale from both previous installments.

Ultimately its unremitting cynicism wore me down and I grew simply resentful towards it. Here is a movie that exists for no other purpose than to be number three in a brand name franchise that would guarantee healthy box office returns.

Sure, practically all Hollywood movies exist to make money, so don’t go calling me naïve or anything. But in Terminator 3 there doesn't even seem to be any secondary motives involved. One never even gets the sense of the film-makers going “let’s try and do something new and fresh this time around.”

No, instead Terminator 3 prefers to rehash sequences verbatim from the previous movies. I think I came to this realization in a scene in which the “good” terminator got into a firefight with police in a graveyard and proceeds to shoot up all the police vehicles without killing a single human. Just like in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. However, why it would want to do this in this movie is unclear because (a) it isn’t the same terminator and (b) I can’t remember anyone ordering him (it?) to do this.

But this is nitpicking. The point remains that Terminator 3 has nothing new or interesting to add to the franchise to which it belongs. It only trumps the previous movies when it comes to the scale of sheer wanton property destruction in an impressive chase involving a giant crane, some police and emergency vehicles and a truck.

However, this is early on in the movie. All the action sequences after this seem anticlimactic and a letdown in comparison. Oh, and Terminator 3 is definitely dumberer. It strips away some of the original films' more cerebral conceits and characterizations.

The action in this movie is more relentless and non-stop – a bit like the terminators themselves – but the problem is that as the movie’s ending comes grinding along, one finds it difficult to care about what is going on because the characters are such non-entities. (A mistake never made in the previous film, which went to some effort to invest time in making one care for its characters.) Here the characters are uninvolving and unmemorable, especially when compared with the original films.

Also problematic is the nature of the new female terminator. She (it?) isn’t anywhere as threatening or awe inspiring as Terminator 2’s liquid metal man. Paradoxically, the special effects this time around look even more fake. Maybe it was because they used real trucks last time around. Who knows?

Sure, action movie junkies will love this installment, but fans of the original films and cinemagoers with higher expectations will be disappointed. Sometimes one would just like to deal with new plots at the multiplexes you know . . .

Say what you will about original director James (Terminator, Aliens) Cameron being an egomaniac, but this movie proves that he knows his stuff. New director Jonathan (U-751, Breakdown) Mostow does a workman-like job, serving up the bland cinematic equivalent of a McDonald’s burger. It’ll do, but it’s not particularly tasty or filling and you’ll soon be wishing you had something else instead.



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