He is baack!
Arnold Swarzenegger reprises his most famous role this summer in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, but without his collaborator, action director James Cameron. In some ways, TERMINATOR 3 is better made than THE MATRIX RELOADED, which borrows heavily from the TERMINATOR series, but in other ways, it isn’t. Both movies leave a bit to be desired.
The new sequel opens in 2007. Ten years ago, in 1997, John Connor and his mother, Sarah, helped prevent Judgment Day – the day when Skynet’s highly developed network of computerized machines was scheduled to become self-aware and destroy mankind. Now 22, Connor still lives “off the grid,” with no home, no credit cards, no phone, and no job, so that Skynet can’t trace him.
Connor’s worst fears come true. He has not stopped the future; he has only postponed it. From the future, Skynet sends another sophisticated “Terminator” robot to kill Connor, but Connor isn’t the only target on the hit list. Unsuspecting veterinarian Kate Brewster, a former classmate of Connor’s in junior high, is also targeted. Her only hope for survival is to team up with Connor and a replica of the Terminator machine that saved Connor in the second movie.
The first half of TERMINATOR 3 is very well done and exciting, despite a couple overly violent scenes. It contains an elaborate chase scene with a huge truck and police cars that is much better than the over-computerized chase scene at the end of MATRIX RELOADED. The second half of TERMINATOR 3 loses steam, however, despite Arnold Swarzenegger’s commanding presence. It shows viewers nothing really new and has a depressing, unimaginative ending that fails to milk the heroic possibilities in the story. A rewrite of the script’s third act could have fixed this problem, as well as some apparently significant plot holes.
TERMINATOR 3 also contains plenty of foul language, including some “f” words and some strong profanities. Some of the violence is over the top. For instance, in one scene the two human-looking Terminators slam one another into walls and floors, but with little or no effect. In another scene, the female Terminator shockingly sticks her hands through a plainclothes policeman’s chest so that she can use her hands to take over the driving of his car. There is no reason why the filmmakers couldn’t have toned down the language and violence in these movies to get a PG-13 rating.
Furthermore, the humanist worldview in TERMINATOR 3 results in a depressing ending lacking a truly positive, uplifting tone. At the end of the first two movies, the heroes manage to defeat the evil machines. In fact, at the end of the second one, they stop the nuclear destruction of human civilization. The ending of TERMINATOR 3 is not so clear, and the characters of John Connor and Kate Brewster are not heroic and moral enough to overcome this deficiency or to satisfy the typical moviegoers desire for positive role models. Even Arnold Swarzenegger’s enjoyable mechanical swagger as the cyborg with a heart cannot overcome these plot and character problems.