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"Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines"

Directed by Jonathan Mostow ("U-571").
Written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes.
Release Year:  2003 

Review Date:  7/9/03 


The trailer sucked, but I still had some faith that Arnold Schwarzenegger came back to do another “Terminator” film because he liked the script...and, maybe, just MAYBE, the third film in the franchise might actually turn out okay.

Like the other 100 or so folks in attendance, I think all of us left pretty satisfied from my viewing on Monday night.  By no means is “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” on the same planet as the rock-solid “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”, but as an action film for the summertime “T3” brings home the goods.  You get a very predictable storyline that only briefly strays from what we are already familiar with--a robot assassin (Schwarzenegger) comes back in time to protect a future rebel leader named John Connor (Nick Stahl, from “In The Bedroom”) from another robot assassin, the TX (Kristanna Loken).  The TX has the ability to manipulate machinery, kill people, and shape-change to resemble people she has already killed.  The TX is sent back in time by the Machines to take out Connor and a bunch of high-ranking lieutenants in the Connor army, including Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), so the TX starts out killing high school students on its way to taking out Connor.

Plot--just a vehicle to put the action sequences into; in “T3”, the main set pieces are very well done, and the highlight for me was clearly the first car chase sequence; man, it looked like just to shoot that one sequence it took the filmmakers a month.  So much destruction!  So many explosions!  So many LA city blocks demolished!  I was loving it.  “T3” really does do the things it SHOULD do well by giving you some action, some great special effects (by more FX houses than there are Apostles, judging from the credits), and some corny one-liners by the King of the One-Liner, Schwarzenegger.  It moves along briskly, never allowing more than a couple of minutes to go by before someone else is maimed, killed, impaled, beaten or shredded by chain gun fire.  And we get a couple of ridiculous, over-the-top Terminator fights where two robots slug it out while not making any facial expressions.

Schwarzenegger, of course, is in familiar territory here and does ably in the 15 minutes of screen time he has in “T3.”  (Seriously, is Schwarzenegger even IN this film?  Take away his stunt double for three-fourths of his scenes, and really, the guy made $30 million to essentially be a stand-in.  If only all of us could be so lucky.)  Loken is great in the film; she does the emotionless bit quite effectively.  Stahl is pretty solid, too.  Unfortunately, Danes is the square peg trying to fit into the round hole here; she just doesn’t seem to belong, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was the whole film.  “T3” obviously is hurting without Linda Hamilton, who is written out of this film because apparently she thought two “Terminator” films were enough for her.  (Note to Hamilton:  who ELSE is sending you paychecks right now to star in films?)  But, Danes doesn’t do enough to kill “T3”, but she does do enough to annoy you for short stretches of film.

And, there were small other things that logistically just don’t make sense to me with these films; Connor seems to be on the run from the Machines when the film starts, for example.  Why does he keep hangin’ around LA?  LA has been nothing but trouble for the guy for his whole life, but instead of leaving, he just runs AROUND LA.  I think he would have a much easier time dodging the bad guys by leaving town, don’t you?  Plus, the TX’s ability to manipulate machines leads her to be able to remote control four cars at once during the initial car chase; she is made so freakin’ powerful but she doesn’t seem to know how to best use her skills to find Connor and Company quickly.

But, I must say--Bravo, “Terminator 3”, bravo.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed myself.  I even liked the ending, which is a bit of a twist.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09