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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Originally Reviewed
  Sunday April 6, 2008

Die hard fans of the first two Terminator films seem to always have something negative to say about Rise of the Machines, but honestly if you take the film at face value it's a non-stop roller coaster of action. The Terminator series has always been about two things, blowing things up and Arnold, so to criticize a film that basically blows the crap out of everything and has Arnold throwing out some of the most hilarious one-liners ever, doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Rise of the Machines takes place many years after T2: Judgment Day. Sara Connor is dead and her son John Connor wanders the country staying off the grid. Since nothing has occurred following the proceedings of the last film Connor assumes they successfully prevented Judgment Day from occurring, or at least so he hopes. But the war is far from over. It seems they still failed in destroying Skynet and now their newest and most sophisticated cyborg the T-X, is sent from the future to murder all those who will become leaders of Connor's resistance. In a chance of fate Connor runs into Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) his future second in command, Brewster is unsuspectingly thrown into a bizarre twist of events when the T-X discovers Connor while looking for her. As it turns out Brewster is closely related to Skynet, and the two spend a majority of the film attempting to escape the clutches of the T-X and discover a way to shut down Skynet once and for all, with the help of an old friend.

Rise of the Machines may not surpass Judgment Day in terms of plot and execution, but it's a great addition to the series. It adds a little more humor and does a descent job of progressing a story that has been in continuation for now three films, plus it contains a well cast group of actors. A female terminator was bound to happen, and I think Kristanna Loken was excellent in the role.  Nick Stahl and Claire Danes play well to Schwarzenegger's deadpan terminator, and most importantly the film marks Arnold Schwarzenegger's farewell to movies and what more fitting an exit than the series that truly made his career.

Overall, the script maybe average and the plot maybe thin but you're watching these films for pure action and entertainment, and this delivers both. Schwarzenegger makes this film great, and without him I don't see how it would have gone anywhere. I'm skeptical how any future installments of the series will manage, the newly produced television series (and now canceled) the Sara Connor Chronicles was enough proof to me that a Terminator series or film without Arnold isn't the same. I don't see that show staying afloat very long (it didn't), and unless Christian Bale can make us all forget Arnold with his portrayal of an older John Connor in the upcoming installment, I don't have much hope for that either. 



  1. I'm a big fan of the Terminator series (not so much Salvation), and I wasn't so much disappointed with this one, as much as indifferent. I enjoyed it for its action qualities, but I felt like it didn't really add anything to the series. More like a third installment for money's sake, than story's sake. No big surprise that it happened, but I really enjoy the balance of plot and action the prior two installments had.

    If I reviewed it today I'd prob give it about a 6.5-7ish.

  2. I must admit this is the only TERMINATOR I haven't seen yet, but since I wasn't overly amazed by the latest in the franchise, I'm not sure I have enough will and strength to watch this one, so I'll wait until somebody shows it on TV :)

  3. @Dezmond - it's easily better than Salvation. At least this one sticks with the franchise. Salvation barely looks like a Terminator film, and more like War of the Worlds or some other apocalyptic film.

  4. I agree with you. Very concise review my friend.

    But honestly, I thought Salvation was the best Terminator that I have ever seen! It is so absolutely amazing. Do you agree?

  5. @Dain - no I would say Salvation is the worst. Still I gave it a 7, you can check out my review on that if you're interested on exactly what I thought about it. I think I gave the original Terminator a 7 as well, but I still would take that one over Salvation because of Arnold. It's been a while since I've sat down and watched Judgment Day, and I've never reviewed that one so I can't really comment much on that, although I know it's the preferred Terminator film of most people.

  6. On the Salvation vs ROTM debate: I definitely think this is the superior film. I really liked its sense of humour and I think you're right - Arnold coming back really helped it. I enjoyed this massively for what it was whilst I rather endured Salvation.

  7. Excellent review The Answer. This movie got so much bad rep for some reason but I very much enjoyed it and totally agree that it's a worthy part of the franchise.


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