Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Everyone calls him Arnold. And the word "iconic" is banded about. Somewhere between Mr Universe and the Governor of California, an Austrian policeman's son has picked up the baton thrown down by the founding fathers and is proving something uniquely true about America's belief in the equality thing.

Of course, this has nothing to do with T3, except "it was difficult to accept that Arnold was an actual human being; he is so iconic." (Claire Danes) He was paws on from the start and the most important ingredient in the mix. Now that the creator of T1 and T2, James Cameron, has moved on, the Terminator is Arnold and his opinions matter.

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$10million over budget, the producers were losing liquid. They wanted to axe the expensive crane-through-the-building sequence. Schwarzenegger, openly abusive to clean air campaigners with his flagrant Havana, put his hoof down - crane stay, you pay!

The crane chase is the most spectacular sequence in the movie. Learning about it in the commentaries and subsequent extras, you begin to lose control of your lower face. Making a movie of this size means bypassing logic into areas where the rule of sense and sensibility has no sway, and yet technicians with skills that embarrass normality spend nine months creating an effect that is seen on screen for less half a minute.

These extras have been put together by people who give a damn. They are some of the best, because they do not patronise the audience with meandering Behind The Scenes footage, or interviews that creak with rust. They are well thought out, designed as a package, understanding of what a DVD is about. Congratulations are in order.

The better of the two commentaries is the one with the director on his own. He talks like he has three minutes to live and there isn't time to waste. He is not a name many people will know and he has never been in charge of a big action picture before, but he made Breakdown with Kurt Russell and, for those who saw it, Mostow proved himself to be someone to take seriously. Above all, he loves movies and thinks every scene out over and over and doesn't appear to have any of the arrogance that comes with the job.

He has nothing but praise for his actors. "People asked me, what special effects did you use to make Arnold look so good? I said, working out." Admiration of his star goes beyond the determination required to trim his body down to what it was 12 years earlier. They were thinking of making T3 in Canada, because it's cheaper, but Schwarzenegger persuaded them out of it. The roots of the legend are in Los Angeles and that's where they should be.

They built entire streets, in order to destroy them. They paid one and a half million dollars for the crane, which was badly smashed up twice after doing wheelies and toppling over. They couldn't afford to buy another and so brought in an army of fitters to repair it. Editing on the crane chase alone took six months. The commitment is awesome.

Danes was hired two days before shooting started. She's an important person in the script and is terrific in the film, but neither Mostow, nor Claire herself in the other commentary, explains why this was. Obviously, another actress was sacked, or walked out, at the very last minute, but who and why?

The second commentary, with Mostow, Danes, Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken, was recorded seperately and sliced together later. It doesn't feel as organic as Mostow's solo for obvious reasons. Danes is the most articulate and genuine, which is not to criticise the others, who sound more polished and PR savvy.

There is a mutual admiration society in operation here, which feels unscripted. "I regarded him like the Empire State Building, but he's actually a live person and a very funny person and surprisingly sensitive at times" - Claire on Arnold. She and Stahl started acting aged 12 and 13. They have a bond there and both grew up through teen parts to proper adult roles in the face of fierce competition. It's a journey that requires a degree of toughness, but these two couldn't stop laughing. In one scene they got the giggles so badly, Mostow thought he would never complete.

T3 is an effects fest and a stuntarama, which is why the most fascinating featurettes are those involving the techies. They talk constantly about attempting something completly new, never been tried before and probably impossible. They do it and tell you how. You can't ask for more. These men and women are the true artists of the 21st century. Watching how certain scenes were achieved makes this DVD an essential addition to your collection. There are other reasons, too, such as Arnold's strange charm and Claire's obvious intelligence and Mostow saying, "The Terminator is the most famous character in the history of the movies."

Well, after this, you believe him.

Reviewed on: 19 Dec 2003
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Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines packshot
Third installment in the Terminator franchise has robot Arnie fighting a metallic woman.
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Product Code: CDR34144

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.40 Widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Cast and crew commentary with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jonathan Mostow, Nick Stahl, Kristanna Lopen, Claire Danes; commentary with Jonathan Mostow; deleted scenes; outtakes; introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger; Dressed To Kill featurette; making of video game featurette; storyboards; Toys In Action featurette; visual effects featurette; photo galleries; Terminator timeline; 7 Easter eggs; Skynet database.


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