Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003)

Director: Jonathan Mostow
Arnold SchwarzeneggerNick Stahl, Kristanna Loken

Plot: John Connor is now in his 20's, and a female terminator, called T-X, is after him. Another T-101 is sent back through time to protect John once again on the verge of the rise of the machines.

Awards: -

Runtime: 109min
Rating: NC16
for strong sci-fi violence and action, and for language and brief nudity. 




James Cameron rejected the opportunity to direct this because he has finished telling the story in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). The directorial role was eventually given to Jonathan Mostow (U-571, 2000) after failed attempts to persuade Ridley Scott and Ang Lee, both working on Black Hawk Down (2001) and Hulk (2003) respectively. The result is in plain view for all to see: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines pales in comparison to Cameron’s two sci-fi masterpieces at every level. 

The iconic character is thankfully played again by Arnold Schwarzenegger after refusing to do the part if Cameron is not involved. He reprises the role of the Terminator with that steely presence but without that human connection which Cameron so skillfully developed in Terminator 2. John Connor is played by Nick Stahl who looks out of sorts in the picture. Kate Brewster is played by Claire Danes in a relatively better performance whose father is in charge of Skynet (a machine-controlled national defense and security system) which becomes self-aware after attacking supercomputers with a lethal virus. 

The judgment day in Terminator 2 was stopped. Here, the screenwriters insist that it was postponed. In this film, humanity faces total annihilation as Skynet readies itself to attack Earth with nuclear bombs. From the future, Skynet sends a T-X to terminate John Conner and Kate Brewster (leaders of the human resistance against the machines decades later). In response, Schwarzenegger’s character is sent back to protect them. Fundamentally, Rise of the Machines is a reboot of Judgment Day, which is a bad idea because it stifles originality and forces viewers to compare the film unfairly to its predecessor. 

As a ‘Terminator’ film, Rise of the Machines does not feel like one, and to a certain extent, feels like a parody of Cameron’s ingenuity. First, T-X is not a convincing villain and is less fearsome, creating little suspense in the proceedings. Second, Mostow’s film fails to capture the grim and desolate mood of Cameron’s films with more emphasis on gimmicky visual effects than the patient building of atmosphere, character development and human story. Last, the absence of composer Brad Fiedel’s cold, metallic and electronic score is felt; Marco Beltrami’s orchestral score unfortunately sticks out like a sore thumb. 

On its own, Rise of the Machines works as a brain-dead Hollywood actioner with its fair share of spectacular action sequences, including a crane chase scene early on that wreaks incredible destruction. But just like David Fincher’s Alien 3 (1993), Rise of the Machines should never have been made. Ironically, the final images of Mostow’s film bring some anticipation to Terminator Salvation (2009). Yes, the battle has just begun. But it ended a long time ago.  

GRADE: C- (5.5/10 or 2.5 stars)

Click here to go back to Central Station.


Popular Posts