Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews, Mark Famiglietti directed by Jonathan Mostow Movie Review

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Claire Danes, Nick Stahl and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Rise of the Fembot

When "Terminator" hit the big screen it had a rawness about it but delivered that feeling of unrelenting fear and wowed audiences with an intriguing storyline. Then came "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" which still had that unrelenting fear but built upon the storyline and delivered a more glossy big budget production. So along rolls "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and sadly it's not a patch on the previous two and with a new director at the helm it shows. "Terminator 3" is sadly a weak third movie, often parodying itself and features what could have been a good storyline except it's wasted because of so many poor choices.

Having reached adulthood John Connor (Nick Stahl) still lives in fear of the future and has dropped off of the map to protect himself. But his fears are proved real when a new Terminator the T-X (Kristanna Loken) is sent back in time to not kill him, but those who would become critical to his army in the future. Thankfully a T-101 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger - The 6th Day) is sent back to not only protect him but also his future generals and together they must try and bring Skynet down once and for all.

Kristanna Loken as T-X in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

The basic idea for "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" is actually not a bad one, it's not that detached from what we've had before so we see two terminators sent back from the future one on the mission to protect the other to kill. It also throws a few revelations at us, giving an insight into the future and introducing new characters which are pivotal to the war against the machines. But then it's all spoilt because it lacks that focus which had been so strong in the previous "Terminator" movies and for some reason seems intent on injecting more humour than is needed. It gets to the point where it feels like it's parodying itself such as when Arnie's T-101 goes through the now expected scene of finding some clothes to wear which ends with him putting on a pair of camp sunglasses, it's absolutely cringe worthy. It carries on and the "I'll be back" is overdone so it becomes a complete joke as well as other seriously corny moments.

But that's not the only problem which spoils "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and it feels at times like it lacked the big budget to deliver the big glossy, CGI action sequences which help to ramp up the adrenalin. Strange because it's not short of action it just lacks that wow factor which was so prevalent in "Terminator 2". Many of the problems come from the occasionally tacky CGI effects which ruin any moments where it gets close to adrenalin pumping. Car chase scenes start of impressively but a cheap effect ruins them completely. It's just not that exciting this time around. Maybe it's partly because after two "Terminator" movies all the third one does is draw on elements of those previous ones, or that this time round James Cameron is not on board as director so lacks his passion for the movie and the spectacular.

The misery goes on and many of the in jokes, those moments which should show inspired ingenuity to link "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" back to the other movies fail and also cause the storyline to be riddled with plot holes. In an early scene the T-101 breaks into a vehicle and flips the visor to find the keys, a nod back to a scene in "Terminator 2", yet later on it goes to great lengths to explain that this T-101 is not the same one from the previous movie, making a mockery of that earlier moment. It's just one of many moments which feel like they've been included purely to provide a link but not having been thought about properly in the context of the storyline.

Going to great lengths is something which seems to have been favoured this time round, it goes to great lengths to explain how John Connor has dropped off the map, how the new T-X Terminator is the ultimate killing machine with many super powers, how other characters tie in to the on going storyline. It goes to such great lengths to explain things it leaves little for you to discover for yourself, it just dishes too much information up on a plate and turns it into a dumb movie.

But finally and what really is the nail in the coffin is the casting. So yes Schwarzenegger returns to take on his iconic role but with out the strong direction and with the strange injection of humour it almost feels like a cameo, it doesn't have that over powering presence which was so prevalent before. But that's not my major gripe, no that is the casting of Nick Stahl as John Connor because he's just too nice, or at least comes across that way and lacks that feisty fighting spirit which Edward Furlong gave the character in the previous movie. It seriously doesn't work making him too weak when he should have been such a more powerful character. The misery continues with Kristanna Loken cast as the new T-X Terminator, as whilst clad in a leather body suit I am sure the intention was to make her a sexy killer just fails and even fails in delivering that cold calculated killing machine which Robert Patrick achieved in the last "Terminator" movie.

But thankfully there is one good thing, and that is Claire Danes as Kate Brewster. Not only is the storyline surrounding her character interesting but Danes manages to inject her character with the sense of emotion, panic and bewilderment that you would expect whilst also making it a strong character in fitting with the story. Simply it works and is the only one which does.

What this all boils down to is that "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" was an overall disappointment because it lacks pretty much everything which made the previous movies so entertaining. It lacks the excitement, the adrenalin, the big glossy action sequences and the sense of impending doom when the hunt is on. But worse than all that is that the storyline is not that bad, it just ruins it with the injection of humour which makes it feel all too corny. What a shame that James Cameron didn't come back to take this one on as it could have been stunning.