The machines have been rising for quite some time. The plots of the three Terminators are the same, with variations. Terminator 2 had Mr Schwarzenegger as the goody robot, rather than the baddy, as in T-1, being chased by Mr Robert Patrick, playing an advanced model of mechanical intelligence, who was virtually indestructible. Now, in T-3, the big guy is being chased by a girl (Kristanna Loken), who is called The Terminatrix. She makes Mr P look like a sissy.

As before, they're searching for the boy, John Connor (Nick Stahl), who is destined to lead the survivors of Judgment Day in the great battle against The Machines. The Terminator has been sent back from the future to protect him. The Terminatrix has come the same way, with a separate mission. She must kill Connor, so that he can lead no one and The Machines will inherit the Earth.

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You know this, because that's what T-1 and T-2 were about. The difference this time is that the boy's mother is dead and the boy has grown up. He drifts from place to place, leaving no trace. He knows who he is. His mother told him enough times. He doesn't feel like a leader; he feels alive and that's how he intends to stay, until THEY turn up to spoil things.

This is a chase movie, with knobs on. The knobs are sensational special effects and stunts. T-2 was an adrenaline rush. T-3 is mainline action, injected straight into the brain. Somewhere a still small story squeezes through the debris of crashed cars, destroyed buildings and concrete ripped from its foundations.

There is another girl and she is important. She brings humanity into this artificial place and her name is Kate Brewster (Claire Danes). She will have Connor's children, but doesn't know that yet, like she doesn't know what will befall her fiancé, or her life, or the world at large. She's a vet, for heaven's sake, whose father happens to be high up in the American Air Force, involved in national defence.

The Terminator franchise cannot be criticised for being same-old, because it doesn't pretend to be anything else. The story moves along. The futuristic machines want to find that damnable boy and put an end to it. When that happens, the franchise is finished. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger has never been so metallic. He is pure machine. When invited to "drop dead, you asshole," he replies abruptly, "I cannot comply". Later, when Connor tells him what to do in a moment of extreme danger, his answer is practical, "I am not programmed to accept your orders".

The Terminatrix has an extraordinary ability to resurrect herself from meltdown or smithereens, so much so that she becomes like a magic thing, which is less interesting than mortality. Their fierce confrontations question the ability of a 12A certificate to bear the weight of such violence in the name of entertainment.

In the end, it is Miss Danes's tears that stain the memory, not the screeching howl of Armageddon.

Reviewed on: 31 Jul 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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Read more Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines reviews:

Gator MacReady ****
Tony Sullivan ****
Jennie Kermode ***
Stephen Carty ***
Scott Macdonald **

Director: Jonathan Mostow

Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews, Mark Famiglietti, Earl Boen, Moira Harris, Chopper Bernet, Christopher Lawford, Carolyn Hennesy

Year: 2003

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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