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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, NickStahl, Claire Danes, David Andrews and Kristanna Loken
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Scriptwriter: John Brancato andMichael Ferris
Music: Marco Beltrami
Warner Brothers
Running Time: 86 minutes
Rating: R

With a flash of light and a large burst of energy, a visitor from another time has arrived in Beverly Hills, and death and destruction will follow in her wake. Such is the premise for the new Arnold Schwarzenegger epic Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines by director Jonathan Mostow, who takes over the big shoes left by the series creator James Cameron.

The visitor is the deadly T-X (Kristanna Loken), a cyborg killer sent from the future to accomplish what the cyborgs in the previous two films could not--kill John Connor and ensure that machines rule the world. To accomplish this objective, she must first locate the elusive John Connor (Nick Stahl), who lives as a blip on society with no home, records, or attachments to track him. John is haunted by the visions of what his late mother Sarah told him about pending nuclear devastation and his destiny to lead the surviving humans to victory over the machines that would eradicate them.

With their very future at stake, the humans from the future have dispatched a second Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to locate and protect John from the T-X. The issue with this is that the second Terminator, the T-800, is an obsolete model and is no match for the vastly superior T-X, who, aside from being a killer, has the ability to mimic other forms and control all manner of machinery.

Eventually John meets a vet named Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), a lady he knew as a child who has wondered where he vanished to ten years earlier when  his foster parents were found dead and his mother escaped from the institute where she was incarcerated. Kate has been planning a wedding when John comes back into her life, and their reunion is hampered by the arrival of the T-X and the T-800, who turn the small vet clinic where John had been hiding into a war zone. Kate, who is convinced she is being kidnapped, is taken from the scene by John and the Terminator. As they attempt to leave the city and reach safety, it seems the T-X is not the only pending threat to humanity, but Kate's father may hold a key to survival. It seems that the elder Brewster is a general in charge of a computer network know as "Skynet," and with a virus on the lose in the nation's systems, Skynet may have to be activated to control vital defense systems. It is at this point that the film shifts into overdrive as a series of action and chase sequences ensue, including a spectacular car chase involving a gigantic crane when John and Kate attempt to save the world and themselves from death and total devastation.

To say the film is action-packed would be an understatement. Schwarzenegger is at the top of his game and once again shows that he is the top action star in the world. Despite some recent setbacks, at 54 he is still king of the hill. His Terminator blends action and humor without ever losing a sense of brutal efficiency and determination to complete the mission, no matter the cost.

Stahl and Danes have good chemistry and are elevated beyond the typical characters in distress roles. Stahl plays Connors as a lonely man who is unsure of his destiny and is haunted by the notion that he is to be the savior of humanity, as he feels he can barely take care of himself. However, when the chips are down, Connors, like Brewster, find an inner fire and strength that will ensure their place in history when their destinies arrive.

One of the biggest surprises in the film is that of Loken, as she plays the T-X with a mix of brutality and sensuality. Unlike Robert Patrick's chilling turn as the T-1000 in the last film, Loken plays the T-X as a deadly and brutal killer who takes satisfaction in her tasks, but is not above a dry sense of humor and a sense of style and fashion. She is beauty and the beast in one and is easily a match for Arnold's Terminator. Loken mixes a quiet intensity with a steel gaze; she dispatches those in her way like a predatory cat toying with her prey, not showing any hint of emotion when she is killing .

The effects in the film are solid, and Stan Winston once again shows off his skills, as the designs of the machines are first-rate. The action is relentless and it is nice to see that real stunts were used for many sequences instead of being created by CGI, thus giving a sense of reality and unforced spectacle to the action that recent films such as The Matrix Reloaded and Hulk seem to lack.

This is not to say that T3 is not without issues. The film does not have the depth of story and the emotional attachment of the previous two films, and character development is given a mere nod, as much of the premise was established in the previous films. Some viewers may take the lack of depth in the script to task. T3 may be a hard one to judge since to many people it will be different things. I can see how some will take it one way and others will find issue with it, differing from the originals and perhaps the ending of the film. I prefer to look at the film as an enjoyable summer film that is entertaining, continues a great series, and is easily the most satisfying and entertaining of the summer blockbusters. I do not think I am going out on a limb by saying that the Terminator will be back.

Gareth Von Kallenbach 

"Iíll be back," was a Terminator catch phrase of several years ago and true to form, here comes Arnold Schwarzenegger in the third Terminator film. With the plot about a computer virus, killer female robot (Terminatrix) and shuffling back and forth in time, The Terminator could continue infinitum. James Cameron is not on board as director, but Jonathan Mostow (U-571) keeps the action switch on through motorcycle and truck chases. The rise of machines is explained for first-time viewers. This is really a great story concept about going back in time to try to change the future. 

Linda Hamilton and the brooding Edward Furlong are not in this film. Instead, Hamiltonís character has died and John Connor (Nick Stahl) roams the country purposely keeping from electronic surveillance of any type. Enter Claire Danes as an animal doctor who finds John in the back room of her clinic, trying to find bandages after he is wounded in a motorcycle accident. At this time, the Terminatrix (Kristanna Loken) makes an appearance and starts out for her targets. Her hands are lethal weapons and humans are disposable. Arnie is sent back in time for John Connor (again), but Arnieís robot is vintage compared to Terminatrix. The one thing I didnít like about this film is the throwaway lines. Action comes to a brief stall to pop those few words out and then back to chase and kill. Danes father (David Andrews) keeps trying to direct her to a specific location and all in all the 86 minutes of this film actually went by too fast. It wouldnít be a film without a secret base somewhere or a helicopter at that crucial moment or a low bridge. The stunts are great, but donít expect either of the robots to fly into space. 

Acting? Well, we ARE dealing with robots here, remember? Arnold Schwarzenegger has not been noted as being of Oscar caliber, and here finds his niche. He is playing a machine and doesnít have to apologize for no clothes, not wasting time, or missing surface covering from time to time. Kristanna Loken gives robotic acting new meaning, however, in her portrayal of the killer from the future who is styled as a female. Robert Patrick, as the killer robot in the second Terminator film, really gave one the creeps as he went from solid to liquid, but Loken just keeps plodding along. Itís up to Claire Danes, no slouch in the acting department, and Nick Stahl to give us acting chops.

All in all, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, does well enough and actually could have been longer. We have had the evil robot killer as a man (Patrick), a woman (Loken) and possibly if there is another Terminator flick, a canine? I bet someone is auditioning Air Bud already.

Copyright 2003 Marie Asner
Submitted 7/13/03


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