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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Warning: this page contains spoilers!

In brief, I thought that this was a good film. However, I've found lately that I'm more interested in plot/characterisation than I am in fight scenes. I still like action, but I prefer rescues.

I thought this film had a good plot, that built strongly on the events of the first two films. And (for once) I can say that the female nudity wasn't gratuitous, given that the three male actors portraying time-travellers took their turn in the previous films. However, there was a shift towards comedy here, and while I found those scenes funny, I'm not sure that this is the best direction to take.

It was an interesting idea to look at the implications of the T-101 (Arnie) having a metal body, i.e. that it's very heavy. That's not something they addressed in previous films, but it makes sense. Unfortunately, it does cause problems when you see him travelling at high speed on a motorbike. On my old bike (125cc), I could never get up to 70mph, because of my weight (probably about 95kg at the time). I can easily on my current bike (500cc). But I'd assume that if you double the weight, that's equivalent to halving the engine capacity, and so on.

It was interesting to actually see a Terminator achieve its goals for a change - the T-X was quite efficient at dealing with the first few lieutenants she encountered. And the new abilities were impressive. As soon as they mentioned the ability to control other robots, I immediately thought "Does that include the T-101?", so I saw that plot twist coming. However, after the reboot, I was wondering whether that would erase all modifications (i.e. Kate's as well as the T-X's), putting the T-101 back in it's original "Kill John Connor" configuration. So, we would then have a situation like Angel going bad in Buffy, where the T-101 turns out to be the main villain of the film. Particularly after John's comment that Kate reminds him of his mother, this would give him a major Oedipus complex (i.e. marrying someone who reminds him of his mother, and killing someone who is identical to his father-figure). But that turned out not to be the case, which is fair enough.

Speaking of Sarah Connor, while it was a shame not to see her, I think it was necessary - her narration at the start of Terminator 2 says that two Terminators were sent back, so killing her off before the third one arrives satisfies continuity.

When Terminator 2 came out, I saw an interview with either Arnie or James Cameron (I don't recall which) saying that the first film was crying out for a sequel. That surprised me, since I thought that the first film had ended quite conclusively. Similarly, I was wondering how they'd do T-3, after T-2. Well, it was a bit of a downbeat ending, but it has actually resulted in a shift in the status quo. It would get a bit futile if every film ended with "That's this Terminator destroyed, now we just have to wait for the next one to turn up". And they've definitely laid groundwork for Terminator 4. Although I don't think that would actually need to have the same structure as the first three films (one assassin, one protector) - they could take a wider scope, looking at how the resistance is formed. Maybe even show the "other side" of the first three films, when robots are sent back in time (although getting Arnie involved as an actor may be tricky, now that he's the governor of California).

I liked the idea that this film is now effectively back on course for how events would have turned out without future intervention. I've read a couple of comics that were set after T-2, which involved more future technology being responsible for Skynet, which is something of a paradox, whereas this film said "We screwed up all by ourselves". Actually, considering that these films have a lot of violence in them, they all seem to be quite anti-war (T-2 compared Dyson to the people who created the nuclear bomb).

One other minor quibble - why do the skinless robots have teeth? It seems like they'd only be useful as part of the organic disguise...

This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk

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