Film: Terminator 3

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Distributor: Warner Home Video

A decade has passed since John Connor (nick Stahl) helped prevent Judgment Day and save mankind from mass destruction. Now 25, Connor lives “off the grid”—no home, no credit cards, no cell phone and no job. No record of his existence. No way he can be traced by Skynet—the highly developed network of machines that once tried to kill him and wage war on humanity. Until…out of the shadows of the future steps the T-X (Kristanna Loken), Skynet’s most sophisticated cyborg killing machine yet. Sent back through time to complete the job left unfinished by her predecessor, the T-1000, this machine is as relentless as her human guise is beautiful. Now Connor’s only hope for survival is the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), his mysterious former assassin. Together, they must triumph over the technologically superior T-X and forestall the looming threat of Judgment Day…or face the apocalypse and the fall of civilization as we know it.


With a reported budget of $172 million, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines starts in high gear and never slows down. The apocalyptic “Judgment Day” of T2 was never prevented, only postponed: John Connor (Nick Stahl, replacing T2’s Edward Furlong), now 22 and disconnected from society, is being pursued yet again, this time by the advanced T-X, a sleek “Terminatrix” (coldly expressionless Kristanna Loken) programmed to stop Connor from becoming the savior of humankind. Originally programmed as an assassin, a disadvantaged T-101 cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger, bidding fond farewell to his signature role) arrives from the future to join Connor and his old acquaintance Kate (Claire Danes) in thwarting the T-X’s relentless pursuit. The plot presents a logical fulfillment of T2 prophesy, disposing of Connor’s mother (Linda Hamilton is sorely missed) while computer-driven machines assume control, launching a nuclear nightmare that Connor must survive. With Breakdown and U-571 serving as worthy rehearsals for this cautionary epic of mass destruction, director Jonathan Mostow wisely avoids any stylistic connection to James Cameron’s Terminator classics; instead he’s crafted a fun, exciting popcorn thriller, humorous and yet still effectively nihilistic, and comparable to Jurassic Park III in returning the Terminator franchise to its potent B-movie roots. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

The Terminator trilogy comes to an immensely satisfying finish with this apocalyptic, action-crammed adventure, which finds a clueless mankind moving inexorably toward its subjugation by machines. Humanity’s last best hope, John Connor (Nick Stahl), lives quietly “off the grid,” eschewing anything that might leave computerized clues to his whereabouts. After being targeted for assassination years ago (or years hence, actually) by a time-traveling “Terminator,” he leaves little to chance. But unbeknownst to John, a smarter, more fearsome terminator, the TX (Kristanna Loken), has been dispatched to the early 21st century to prevent him from leading the Resistance. Timing is everything, because the SkyNet computer network is about to go on line. To protect him, allies in the future send a new bodyguard, the upgraded T-850 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), back in time to find the young man before TX does. The result of all this, as you might imagine, is action aplenty. Director Jonathan Mostow, who demonstrated a flair for efficient cinematic thrills in U-571, knows what Terminator fans want and he delivers it in spades. The series’ fans also have come to expect top-of-the-line special effects, and in that respect the production team has outdone itself. The “evil” terminator played by Robert Patrick in T2 remains one of sci-fi’s most memorable villains, but the gorgeous Loken makes an equally strong impression, even if her potent right hand invites unfortunate comparisons to Inspector Gadget. Claire Danes, making a welcome return to the screen, brings striking credibility to her role as the feisty young woman unsuspectingly caught up in John Connor’s date with destiny. And then, of course, there’s Arnold…need we say more? The governor of California is in fine fettle as the relentless T-850, a walking demolition team programmed to save his youthful charge, even if it means blowing up half the state—which is just about what it takes. We’d hardly call T3 cerebral, but it takes its fanciful premise seriously and arrives at its conclusion with nary a groan. The breathtaking rush of eye-popping action set pieces, together with the satisfying approach to continuing the Terminator story line, makes this a fitting finale to one of moviedom’s most amazing trilogies. That is, if it remains a trilogy. Ed Hulse

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