HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Now Showing Today's Date:

Terminator 3:
Rise of the Machines

To paraphrase T3: Rise of the Machines, sequels to commercially successful movies cannot be stopped, only delayed. And so even though it has been eleven years, and T2: Judgment Day seemed to put a cap on a series that was just fine as a single film, Warner Brothers fought hard to bring us the movie before us today.

But how to continue with a title character synonymous with the aging actor that plays it, and with the absence of a writer/director who, for better or worse, has decided he's above doing another sequel? It sure seems a combination destined for failure.

Perhaps surprisingly, this third movie doesn't drive a nail in the coffin. In fact, it really does give the franchise new life. Though T3 doesn't have the pretensions that bloomed in the second film, it has energy and honesty that propel us through even the elements that we've seen before.

And there are a lot of those. In many ways, this is a retelling of Judgment Day, in a way meant to make you forget about it so that a new trilogy (Hollywood's current magic word) can be launched.

The now-grown John Connor (Nick Stahl) cannot shake the fears of a future in which he leads humanity in a war against machines. Troubled by nightmares (or perhaps just narrative flashforwards), John has managed the near unthinkable in this society: living "off the grid." Nowhere is there a computer record of his existence.

Clever, perhaps, but troublesome when you do something like wipe out on your motorcycle while trying to avoid a deer. As John breaks into a veterinary hospital to do a little self-doctoring, a familiar ball of energy crackles in Beverly Hills.

Enter this year's model of Terminator, affectionately called TX (Kristanna Loken). She appears nude because we expect her to, but, like the T-1000, she can morph her skin into clothing. And though she goes to the trouble of killing a cop for his gun (offscreen), it's clear that Skynet has learned from the videogame software portions of itself, for TX can morph her hand into a variety of weaponry as needed.

Where director Jonathan Mostow (U-571, Breakdown) and his screenwriting team first break from tradition is in the TX's mission. Though she'd love to find John Connor, she finds it just as effective to track down those who will become his lieutenants. Among them, one Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), a young woman about to be married to Scott Petersen (nope, that's not a joke). Kate also happens to work as a veterinarian, so several paths are about to cross.

And oh, yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up, too, slightly flabbier but with remarkably good skin. His introduction is almost completely played for laughs, because by now, his Terminator has passed from cool to self-parody. We know how it goes, as does Mostow, so all he can hope to do is make us smile.

When all four of these characters intersect, though, sparks are sure to fly. Along with pieces of buildings, cars, and trucks.

The ante has been officially upped with the obligatory pursuit. One of the new abilities of the TX (besides looking ridiculously hot, an attribute largely and improbably ignored) is to control other machines remotely, leading to a chase with four empty emergency vehicles and a construction truck. It's as mindless as it sounds, but staged with incredible vigor and, refreshingly, with as little CG as possible without outright killing Arnold.

It's so loud and violent that it edges along cartoonish. I'm not sure when exactly it happens, but The Terminator has become twin brother to Wile E. Coyote. (No, he never wears the ACME batsuit, but it would have fit.)

You might be wondering where Sarah Connor is in all this. Original star Linda Hamilton might as well have said she'd appear in this film over her dead body, because that's literally how it is. Really, she would have slowed things down, and we've got Danes learning to be a strong woman without ever resorting to being a ditz. From the moment she appears, we can believe that Kate Brewster will inevitably be a tough fighter, and that's not a bad thing.

Note to the character John Connor, though: it's usually not a great come-on line to tell a girl that she reminds you of your mother. And yet, in context, we understand.

Taking over the role from Edward Furlong, Stahl has a hollowed edginess that could come from years of fighting the weight of destiny. Both he and Danes represent the "new breed" of action stars, possibly capable, but wiry rather than classically muscled like Hamilton and Schwarzenegger.

Smartly, the whole set-up also allows for Schwarzenegger to bow out. Though writers John Brancato and Michael Ferris have finally provided a reason for every T-800 to look like him, the series has always really been about the human characters. T3 finally acknowledges that, and with Danes and Stahl, they might even be characters we want to see again.

And if all goes well for Warner Brothers, we will see them again. Money has already been set aside. Whether the cybernetic organism pursues politics or not, the machines will continue their rise.

It's not weighty, but T3 is fun, and the trilogy promises a break from what has come before. I say bring it on.

What's It Worth? $7

Derek McCaw

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites