Terminator 3


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Terminator 3:

Rise of the Machines
The Masked Reviewer

Unstoppable killing machines.  Time travel.  Explosions. 

That's the synopsis of Terminator 3.  If that's enough for you, go see it now. 

Unlike the first two Terminator films, James Cameron had nothing to do with this film.  Some people may see this as a blessing.  The film was directed by Jonathan Mostow, who previously directed U-571 and Breakdown.  The Masked Reviewer couldn't remember U-571; he did remember it was a submarine movie, but got it confused with K-19, a Harrison Ford (underwater) vehicle.  K-19 shouldn't be confused with K-9 (a cop/dog buddy movie with Jim Belushi (not to be confused with Turner and Hooch or Top Dog)) or K-2, about climbing the tallest mountain in the world (not to be confused with Mt. Everest -- and if there's a K-2, where's K-1?).  K-2 starred Michael Biehn, who was also in Terminator.  Whoa.

No Michael Biehn in T-3.  No Linda Hamilton.  No James Cameron.  But, we do have Arnold, and that's what it's all about.  We also have Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, and Kristanna Loken.  It also features the return of Earl Boen as Dr. Silberman -- the only cast member besides Arnold to be in all three films.

The acting is...well...let's just say that if Arnold left acting to enter politics, we wouldn't have to worry that there'd be no one left to give the Oscars(tm) to.  Claire Danes, who often has to act scared, frightened, or terrified doesn't do it particularly well.  "Oh my god!"  "Y-y-you just...I-I-I-I can't believe it..."  If you can't stammer convincingly, stick with Shakespeare. 

Nick Stahl is okay, but rather boring.  He plays John Connor.  Edward Furlong, who played John Connor in T-2: Judgment Day wasn't the strong link in that film.  They could've had him reprise his role, but instead went with Nick Stahl, who is two years younger. 

Kristanna Loken plays the new evil robot.  She's attractive.  Somehow her robot character isn't the same unstoppable force that Robert Patrick's was in T2 or Arnold Schwarzenegger's was in the original T.  Instead of being a big tank with human flesh, or a liquid metal killing machine, Loken's terminator is a big tank with liquid metal skin.  She also has a big super-powerful blasto gun built in.  But, she's not as menacing as other terminators.  Mean, but not as scary.  Sexy, but not as scary. 

The film is filled with big budget stunts and lots of explosions.  It even uses a healthy dose of computer graphics.  The CG representing the terminators is perhaps better done than the CG in the Matrix...they cover the fact that it doesn't look quite right by using it only in the midst of big explosions and other effects.  But, it still doesn't look quite right.  Arguably, the effects in T-2 are better.  While the liquid morphing effect was new then, it wasn't special effect for special effect's sake.  Then again, they probably wrote the screenplay around that effect.

The big problem that some people will have, including the Masked Reviewer, is that it's too...cutesy.  Terminator was low budget, fun, different, edgy.  Terminator 2 went more mainstream, and there were lots of little jokes.  It wasn't about an unstoppable killing machine, it was also about a "robot fish out of water", learning how to fit in with its adolescent buddy.  Terminator 3 is more of the same...too much, in fact.  In terms of plot, it's just T-2.  Good robot sent back in time to stop bad robot.  There are more lame jokes, but they get big laughs.  Having Arnold say trendy expressions from 8 years ago will make some people laugh, because he's a robot, and robots wouldn't do things like "snap a z".  He didn't "snap a z" but he probably will if they do a 4th terminator film. 

They also did a couple of twists on his famous line, "I'll be back."  You knew that would be in there.  Sadly, they didn't do any twists on his other famous line from Terminator, "fuck you asshole".  Here are some lines you can expect from the next terminator film, if they make it: 

bulletArnold will ride a horse, and will fall off.  "I'll be back...in ze saddle again."
bulletArnold will be sitting in a Chili's restaurant (good product placement.  "I'll be having ze baby back ribs."
bullet"Get off my back."
bullet"Baby got back."
bullet"Carry me back to ol' Virginny."

The possibilities are endless. 

By the way, has anyone else noticed that in the original Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger had no eyebrows?  Well, he didn't.  They didn't explain why he has eyebrows in the other two movies.  Wasn't he an older model?  Did the machines sit around and say "Right, the reason the T-101 didn't succeed the first time we sent him back in time was because he didn't have eyebrows."  If that's the way the machines think, how come it took us so long to beat them?

The other thing that some picky viewers will notice is that the "message" of the film seems to go against the "message" of the first two Terminator films.  The first two films dealt with the "issue" (if you could call it that) of determinism.  Can you escape fate?  Is life what you make it, or is everything already written?  The first two films suggested that the future hasn't yet been written.  T-3 says it has been.  Which, in the Masked Reviewer's opinion, is not only kind of lame but also doesn't hold up with what happens in the film. 

This must be the summer of the evil-artificial-intelligence-trying-to-destroy-humanity movie. 

If you like mindless action, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is T-riffic.  You'll be back to see it again and again.  It's much more similar to T-2 than Terminator.  It's kind of like T-2 II.  And T-2 for TT-2 for you, and T-3 for me. 

It's nothing special, it's kind of silly, and it seems little more than cashing in on a valuable franchise.  It doesn't add anything, but it does have a certain nostalgic appeal.  And what better way to kill a couple of hours than with time traveling robotic assassins?  Still, the Masked Reviewer had hoped for more.


Expectation from the Title: The story of Bobby "Pink Slip" McFireman, the third guy to be in charge of Human Resources Dismissals at the Mega Corporation.   But, one day, everything changed for Bobby when he himself got two weeks notice....

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Arnold Schwarzenegger obviously eats his vegetables.

The Pros: Stuff blows up.  Kristanna Loken looks great. 

The Cons: Nothing new or really funny.  No new effects, no groundbreaking stunts, no new story. 

Box Office Prediction: This film had a sneak preview on July 1.  It opens wide July 2.  That gives it a six day "opening weekend".  The Masked Reviewer thinks it'll open at $40 million the first few days, maybe hitting $60 million by Sunday.  It's got a lot to compete with.  The Masked Reviewer guesses it'll bring in about $150 million for it's US run, if it's lucky. 


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