Movie Review of the Week

--Review by Riposte101 @ 7/09/03 00:01 PST.

Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines

With the foreknowledge that James Cameron would not be at the helm of the franchise and the recent spate of sequels that have fallen well short of their hype, I came into Terminator 3 without high hopes. Still, there was a part of me hoping that the 150 million dollar + flick would rise above my low expectations, but alas, that would not be the case. Most of the fault lies with John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris’ dumbed-down screenplay written for the popcorn munching masses. The plotline is simple, Arnold Schwarzenegger, as a Terminator, is sent back in time to safeguard John Connor, mankind’s only hope in an as-yet-to-happen war of machine versus human, from a more advanced Terminator sent back to kill him. I have seen this film before somewhere…oh yeah, Terminator 2. The experience did feel a lot like sitting through Terminator 2 only that this time it was bad.

That being said, gone is the smart, resourceful and streetwise teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong), to be replaced by a twenty something moronic whiner, who looks like Dr. Julian Bashir from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine television series John Connor (Nick Stahl). What with all the training his mother, Sarah Connor, put him through and lessons gained in the previous installment, wasn’t John Connor supposed to be a bad ass by now? The answer to that question as you have likely already reached would be miraculously, no. He meets his love interest the veterinarian, Kate Brewster, (Claire Danes) early in the film. His ineptitude is painfully obvious as she disarms his paintball gun and locks him in a cage. In another example later in the film, Brewster picks up an automatic rifle that he has dropped and saves them both as he sits there and picks his ass. Rinse and repeat. The screenplay has John Connor doing little else besides standing around waiting to be saved by either Kate Brewster or his Terminator protector. If John Connor is the only hope for mankind, we are all doomed.

The film plods ever onward as we are introduced to the T-X (Kristanna Loken), sometimes referred to as the ‘Terminatrix,’ a hot female Terminator who possesses the ability to remotely control machines, inexplicably including, cars and trucks. All logic aside, this leads to a hugely expensive sequence of our heroes’ escape from the T-X and her menacing assembly of vehicles. The movie doesn’t let up as one chase leads to another as they acquire a coffin full of weapons, thoughtfully left behind by Sarah Connor and ditch their veterinarian truck for a hearse. The film seems to lead to nowhere, but then blindsides the audience with a decent ending. I leave that for you to discover.

The acting on the parts of Claire Danes and especially Nick Stahl were sub par. No chemistry was to be found between the pair. The scenes missing Schwarzenegger’s presence were painful to watch. The filmmakers seemed to sense this and he has a great deal more dialogue than in the previous installments of the series, as the movie will no doubt also serve as a vehicle for Arnie’s gubernatorial bid. Schwarzenegger is in surprising physical form. He admits to having worked out for three months for the film and it shows.

One of the greatest aspects of the previous Terminator films is missing from this sequel, the score. Much of the film lacked any music at all and it felt devoid of life and emotion as a result of it. The key theme of the film wasn’t even used until the end credits.

These guys need to play more video games to build up some reflexes. The editing should have been a great deal tighter, left as is, the characters seem indecisive and slow at key points in the action as we have to wait those extra frames for them to react.

The film was not without a few worthwhile moments. The face-off between the two Terminators in the marble tiled bathroom was pretty entertaining. It isn’t everyday you see Arnold Schwarzenegger take a porcelain urinal over a woman’s head. Coffins filled with weapons are also cool and at the very least, the film does lay the groundwork for what could be some potentially amazing sequels.

Film Grade Formula

Arnold Schwarzenegger: +1*
Eye Candy Quotient (Claire Danes/ Kristanna Loken): +1*
Ending: +1*
Coffin Full of Guns: +1/2*
Urinal Smashing: +1/2*
Chase Scenes: +1/2*
Special Effects: +1/2*
Screenplay: -1*
Dr. Bashir: -1/2*
Acting: -1/2*
Score: -1/2*
Incident of Male Nudity: -1/2*

Final Score: ** out of a scale of ****

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