Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

11 08 2010

Not as bad as everyone says!

by NiceDino

Previously in this series:

Terminator 3 had a hard time right from the beginning. After Terminator 2 the expectations were very high. Furthermore the story of the second movie didn´t really allow a sequel to be made, since the creation of Skynet was stopped back then. At least it wasn´t possible to continue the story without some kind of elaborate explanation. A great amount of creativity was necessary here – or just some audacity.

Plot

Seems like they decided to go with audacity. Perhaps the guy responsible for creativity was on vacation. I don´t know.  For a fact the only explanation, why there was a Judgment Day after all was: „You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable.“ Okay, that´s a little bold right there. But it´s not the end of the world. The question has been asked and answered. I can live with that.

But it is a little sad, that they did not resolve this matter in a more elegant way, especially since there was still a back door open which could have been used. Even though the Connors tried their best to destroy all future technology in T2, they missed something. This something was the arm of the second T-800-unit, which had been teared off during the final fight against the T-1000. This piece wasn’t destroyed. This would have been a perfect reasonable explanation why the Judgment Day has been delayed, but still happened. After all only the arm remained – not the master processor, which of course would have been much more useful. This explanation would definitely have been more sophisticated. But the heck with it!

All in all the plot of the third movie is about the same as the one of the second film. Two terminator travel back in time. One to kill John Connor, the other to protect him. That´s it.

Zeitgeist

What should I say here? This is 2003. The Cold War was ancient history by now. Even though that´s not the fault of the movie, it is kind of a problem since it takes the wind out of it´s sails.

It´s the same with the computers. Everybody knows them, everybody owns them. Nobody is afraid of them any more. The former massive machines, once known to be unstoppable, are now associated with unreliability and error-proneness. Not exactly the perfect foundations to take over the world.

The fact, that the average home computer, which operates under Windows, is not really related to the best high-tech actual available, isn´t of much help in this case.

Cast

Arnold still is the perfect Terminator. There is no one which suits the role better. This time he portrays no T-800, but a T-850, a slightly advanced model. For the actor however, this doesn´t make any difference.

At first Arnold did not want to participate in this movie, since James Cameron did not direct it. But Cameron told Schwarzenegger that he might as well do it, since the terminator was as much his creation as it was Schwarzenegger’s. But he urged Arnold to ask for a fee of 30 million Dollar at least. Arnold asked and received. Thus he got twice as much money as for his part in the second movie, where he had already received twice as much as the first movie had cost entirely.

But to be fair I have to say that he gave something of his salary back to finance a scene of  T3, which would have been to expensive otherwise, even though the film had a budget of 170 million Dollars. So he got a little less than thirty million. 29.25 million to be exact, plus 20 percent of the after-tax profit of the movie to compensate for his financial commitment. Clever guy.

The T-X, portrayed by Kristanna Loken however, is an entirely different story. Of course it was risky to choose a female Terminator, since it is more difficult to make a woman look menacing than a man, and it promptly doesn´t work that well. Which is not the fault of the actress, but of the one who cast her for this role. The level of menace of the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) or the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) is far from being matched. Kristanna Loken´s much too smooth model-face not only doesn´t  have a negative effect on her machine-flair it also leaves no lasting impression on the audience as well.

The Terminator series on the other hand proves in an impressive way that it is indeed possible for a woman to deliver a good portrait of a Terminator. In this case a Terminator is played by the actress Summer Glau and her performance is really magnificent.

Nick Stahl plays John Connor and delivers a performance I would describe as solid. It´s a shame that his character is narrowed down a little by the script, whereby he appears less capable as he was in T2 when he was still a kid. Too bad for him.

Claire Danes plays the role of John´s future wife, Kate Brewster. She is the “strong” woman in this movie and follows in the footsteps of Sarah Connor. Although she doesn´t perform quite as well, she is still pretty good.

AI – Interpretation

The T-850 works just like his role model the T-800. It doesn´t have an ego, is impartial, deeply logical and is not afraid to do anything necessary to accomplish it´s task. For this reason he is still perfect. Arnold IS the machine. The perfect Terminator.

The T-X on the other hand, continues the dubious development which has been started by the T-1000. This means he shows emotional responses and this even more often as the T-1000. Although still extremely efficient and result-oriented, none the less it crosses a border which the T-1000 had touched only slightly. A short time before it´s destruction, it transforms into a screaming fury. Why? Because it is a Terminator designed with female proportions? Or is it because of a bad script? This one everybody has to decide on it´s own.

Director

Like I said before James Cameron refused to direct the third terminator movie. Even though Arnold tried to convince him otherwise. Cameron stated that this was out of the question, since he already had finished the story with T2. A decision which definitely shows some guts. You have to respect that.

Therefore another director was needed. It was decided that Jonathan Mostow should be the one. Although he isn´t as good as Cameron, in my humble opinion anyway, he still is a pretty good and competent director after all. Mostow tried hard to produce T3 in the same fashion and style as T2 was made, to imitate Cameron’s masterpiece the best he could. Even though T3 is commonly referred to as the inferior movie, if compared unemotional, one has to admit that the quality is pretty similar to that of the second film, as far as the production itself is concerned.

Soundtrack

Terminator 3 was the first film of the franchise to have a conventional orchestrated soundtrack. Although very good, it can´t compete with the brutal steeliness of the soundtrack of it´s predecessors, which have been composed by Brad Fiedel. Sadly the soundtrack of T3 doesn´t have any compositions with recognition value. The classical Terminator-theme from the first two movies isn´t present either… wait, there it is – in the end credits. Damn. That´s too late, guys!

The biggest deficits of T3 compared to T2 are, in my opinion:

  • missing emotional theme (T1-despair with a little hope / T2-hope with a little despair / T3-?)
  • much weaker message
  • less sophisticated plot
  • less menacing adversary (T-X)
  • technological far less advanced adversarial terminator (T-X)
  • even further softened AI-interpretation (T-X)

But T3 also manages to do something better than it´s predecessor too:

  • the terminator-dialogues (T-850/Arnold Schwarzenegger), which are the best up till now
  • the chase scenes, which are even more sophisticated than in T2

Conclusion

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, is definitely weaker than T2. But it´s no disaster. Regardless of how you feel about this sequel, nobody can deny that T3 is at least a good action-movie. Thus the film is, by all means, worth seeing, even more so since the special effects are absolutely up to date. Furthermore the ending is good. I won´t reveal anything more right now 😉

Thanks for reading

NiceDino ^^

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7 responses

11 08 2010
AngryPanda

[„You only postponed it. Judgment Day is inevitable.“ Okay, that´s a little bold right there. But it´s not the end of the world.]

You know. Techically …. it is exactly that 😉

11 08 2010
NiceDino

That, my dear friend, I did intentionally! 😉

14 08 2010
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