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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines order
Jonathan Mostow

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Kristanna Loken
Nick Stahl


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Twelve years after the last attempt on his life, John Connor (Stahl) must face another assassin from the future. This time, a female Terminator (Loken), the most lethal of them all travels back in time to kill the would-be savior of humans and once again, an obsolete T-800 model (Schwarzenegger) tags along to save John and to wreck the town into the ground.
Your enjoyment of this movie really depends on what you like. If your idea of a good time is to watch two powerhouse cyborgs beat each other savagely while pretty much destroying everything around them, then you're in for a mighty good time because the Terminator franchise is back with a vengeance this third time around and the hot new Terminatrix has no intentions of letting up. While this installment may not be as deep as was JUDGMENT DAY, it does preserve a lot of the themes and even some of the story. Let's not kid ourselves, you can only make so many movies about this topic without reprising plenty of elements, but Mostow still injects a little bit of fresh air into the whole thing through some awesome action sequences, some kick-ass effects and a good dose of apocalyptic Terminator philosophy.

Schwarzenegger saddles up again as his most famous character with great success, but seems to be having a lot more fun this time around. Delivering his usual blend of toughness and humor, Arnie dishes out almost as many one-line zingers as he does devastating right hands and while it may not work for many action heroes, he always seems to get the laughs. He's also got a great villain to work with as Kristanna Loken follows in the footsteps of Robert Patrick to deliver a great rendition of a killing machine that seemingly can't be stopped. As the new model T-X, Loken proves as powerful as she is beautiful and does a great job of giving her character a totally terrifying mechanical set of movements. Surprisingly, she also manages to keep it totally believable when she trades punches with Mr. Universe. Another guy who does a good job in taking up a character from T2 is Nick Stahl who takes over from Eddie Furlong in the pivotal role of John Connor. While Stahl doesn't have the presence Furlong had a few years back, he's more suited to play a wiser, more experienced and hard-lived character.

The best part of the film though is the series of action scenes that will blow your head (and speakers) away. There's a romp through L.A. with a giant crane that's sure to become a classic as far as car chases and mayhem are concerned, a huge fight in a public washroom that will assure that you keep your head out of the newspaper the next time you need to do a "number two", a vicious gunfight sequence and many more. Mostow keeps everything tight and quick - the flick clocks in at a lean 109 minutes - and his cast all do what they're supposed to. The only drawback is the number of plot similarities T3 had to T2, but this latest installment added to the second instead of just copying it. To sum it up, TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES is a rip-roarin' fun time that'll butter you up just fine for an eventual T4!
There's lots of stuff on both discs, some good and some less. The first disc begins with two full length audio commentary tracks. The first one features director Jonathan Mostow and cast members Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl and Claire Danes while the second one only has Jonathan Mostow. The cast documentary is decent although unfortunately, all the stars were in separate locations save for Mostow and Danes and were later edited in together, so it's basically a collection of short monologues. One particularly hilarious sequence is early on when Arnold discusses breasts. You can't go wrong with an Austrian bodybuilder talking about breasts...good for laughs anytime. The rest basically go through what you would expect like discussing how Loken had to get a mime coach to prepare for the movie for the ten thousandth time. The commentary with Mostow only goes into a bit more depth about the actual making of the film. This disc also contains the trailers for the film and its associated video game.

DISC TWO begins with an introduction by the Guv'nor himself who says "I'll be back" before leaving you with this:

HBO First Look: The Making of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (15 mins.): This has a lot of on-set footage and cast interviews, all played to the tunes of some heavy metal. It's surprisingly entertaining considering the usual debris which is an HBO First Look documentary. It touches briefly on many aspects of the making, which is to say casting, effects, storyline and so on.

Sgt. Candy Scene (2 mins.): I'm not sure in what context this was filmed, but it's a hilarious sequence in which the top military brass is examining Sgt. Candy, the man (played by Arnie, of course) whose face and body are used for the creation of the T-800. If you've ever wondered what Arnold would sound like if he had a southern hick accent, here's your chance to find out.

Terminal Flaws Gag Reel (3 mins.): This is your usual collection of flubbed lines and physical miscues, but I must admit it takes on a different feel when an icon like Schwarzenegger is involved. He has a couple of the bloopers to himself and all of the others do as well.

Visual Effects Lab (30 mins.): This film is jam-packed with special effects and a few of the most dazzling sequences are dissected pretty deeply here. The sequences are the crane chase, TX's transformation from a dude into Loken, future war sequences and a light show at Crystal Peak. Everyone interested in the technical stuff gets their fill, but another cool part is that you can create your own effects sequence by clicking some options on and off for a couple of quick scenes. It's not particularly spectacular since your choices are pretty limited, but it's also one of those things you won't be able to go around.

Skynet Database: Skynet is the supercomputer that controls all the nukes and who become sentient enough to launch his own war against humans. Through this feature, you can access files on characters past and present and get all their vital details. The one funny thing is that since Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn weren't involved in this movie, they only have "fake" footage of them which means Sarah Connor's little clips consist of a woman with a rocket launcher covering her face while Kyle Reese's consists of a dude in sneakers running around like he's about to rob a liquor store. My biggest laugh of the day!

Terminator Timeline: With a click of your remote control, you'll be able to access different dates on the Terminator calendar. It's not really that detailed, but it does pinpoint the exact year, day and time where James Cameron became the world's biggest asshole and while that position has since been taken over by Bill Gates, it does remain a good reference.

Storyboard Sequence: This is a not-so-great display of the storyboards used to map out the final sequence at Crystal Peak. It's not so great because you have no control over the display at all. At times, you see the boards and the actual scene in split screen, then they go away, come back and the like. You end up not paying attention to the drawings, but rather just watching the movie clips.

Dressed to Kill (2 min.): I'm up for anything in which I can increase my dosage of Kristanna Loken and this is a neat, albeit little, vignette about her and Arnold's costumes. There's also a cool shot of Arnold in full Terminator garb with a huge stogie in his mouth.

Toys in Action (6 mins.): Hosted by über-geek Todd MacFarlane, this clip shows how his company proceeded to make all of the super cool statuettes of the characters. I have a couple of these from other movies and they're admittedly really well made.
Although it's not a very big stretch from JUDGMENT DAY, RISE OF THE MACHINES is nonetheless a kick-ass action film where things blow up, guns go off and punches get thrown. All the more so, all of the above comes courtesy of a foxy lady and one of Hollywood's biggest (and most entertaining) stars. Pick this up and I guarantee you'll watch it more than enough times to get into your money's worth and what's more...you'll have plenty of fun doing it.
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