ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Jonathan Mostow

Starring:
Arnold Schwarzenegger/Terminator
Nick Stahl/John
Claire Danes/Kate
Kristanna Loken /Terminatrix
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Ten years after having stopped Judgment Day and surviving the liquid metal menace known as the T-1000, John Connor (Stahl) is now riding solo and living on the move. That’s until two Terminators, once more, drop in from the future to complicate his life. One of them is the classic “We Love You Arnie” model and the other is an unstoppable female slaughter machine (Loken). A Cyborg on the rag! John Connor...you be screwed!
THE LOWDOWN

"She'll be back"-- The Terminator

Being a huge fan of both "The Terminator" and "T2", I had some serious trepidations when it came to T3. On paper, it didn’t look too promising: James Cameron--MIA, Linda Hamilton--MIA, Edward Furlong--MIA, the original writers (Cameron, Hurd and Fisher)--MIA, composer Brad Fiedel’s awesome score--mostly MIA. I didn’t want this awesome series to be tarnished by a lackluster sequel, that would’ve ruined my summer and maybe even my year!

Well, I’m overjoyed to report that all of my concerns were quickly “terminated” as the flick smashed through the screen to give my lowly existence a much needed hard dose of “smart” summer blockbuster fun. Was it simply a rehash of T2? AT ALL COMPADRES! Admittedly, some elements were similar, but T3 brought in enough pizzazz of its own to stand tall and yell proudly: “I am T3...hear me roar!” Having Jonathan Mostow at the helm definitely gave this ride an individual aura and made it all come across as more than just another sequel. I knew I was in for something fresh early in the film when I witnessed the Terminatrix cruising in a slick car through gorgeous Beverly Hills, going from place to place popping people. It didn’t fully feel like a “Terminator” movie and that scared me, but excited me at the same time.

The film went on to be true to its roots by displaying competent writing that not only cleverly continued the storyline established by the previous two classics (I said it), but that also expanded upon it intelligently. Props to the screenwriters (John Brancato, Michael Ferris and Tedi Sarafian) on this one. They wrote a brave, surprise-laden and fanboy-friendly “wink-wink” script. I relished the sly nods to the original two films (nice Dr. Silberman cameo) and the witty plays on the more familiar “Terminator” elements (gotta love those sunglasses). NICE! Much like T2, humor was also abounding with Arnie’s one liners hitting the mark 99 percent of the time. He had some gnarly ones here! Thankfully, the laughs still played within a fairly dark scenario and never watered down the intensity of the situation at hand. Great show of balance!

The movie also excelled on a human level when it came to its layered characters, their relationships and the engaging twists that came with them. John’s tie with the Terminator didn’t wind up being a repeat of their back and forth in T2. It was sweeter than a one minute old “Big Mac” with quite an endearing dark spin to it. Sarah Connor's replacement Kate (played by Claire Danes) also took me aback. I was sure that Danes would stick out like a sore nose and that her character would be useless filler. But once more, I was proven dead wrong. She worked very well and her role’s depth-filled courtship with John kept me hooked on them throughout.

As for the cherry on top, a character who had a lot to live up to...The Terminatrix! Let's face it, Arnold mucho owned with his performance in Part 1 and Robert Patrick commanded the screen with his brilliant display in T2. But the Terminatrix beat the odds and rocked the house. I adored what they did with the female angle, the multitude of skills and weapons she sported and more importantly, Kristanna Loken’s physical approach to it all. I hear that Kris took some “mime” classes as preparation for this and let me tell you, it showed on screen. Her feline, uber-feminine and unique display gave the character a hypnotizing, eerie and yes...scary disposition. Think: a Revlon model mixed in with 3 psychotic ex-girlfriends of mine, a pinch of "Species", a tinge of PMS and you get the Terminatrix…a woman to be feared. Yowser...I think I’m in love!

While it was coming through on every single freaking level like Ali in the ring, T3 also made sure to rocket-launch my melon to “holy shite land” via INSANE action set pieces that rivaled T2 in terms of scope and ambition. The extended crane truck demolition derby chase sequence kicked so much ham! Now that’s a damn original and "out there" action scene! WOW! The film went on to deliver all kinds of yummy physical shenanigans (those first Terminator models ruled!) with the exhilarating fisticuffs between the two Terminators being one of my favorites. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Congrats to the effects team for making everything look so realistic. There’s CGI here, but it’s mostly present to complement “real life” stunt pieces...not to BE the stunt pieces! Having the physical happenings be so grounded definitely upped their impact as I repeatedly rammed my head into the seat before me (in joy) while experiencing them.

On a computer virus downside, T3 did have a couple of minor plot holes, but I easily let them go. My main beef was that for an R-rated movie, it felt too PG-13 for my violent tastes with one too many kills happening off-screen. I know some might not give a rat’s ass about that, but being the violence junkie that I am...I was let down a few times. They should have gone "all out" with that delicious R-rating. I wanted to see that kid get the bullets in the head! COME ON! I know…I need help. My last pet peeve is that despite so much going on in the film, within its short 1:50 minute time, I occasionally felt that the Terminatrix was left in the dust for too long. I missed her…sniff, sniff…

Overall, I was happier than Richard Grieco getting his welfare check while coming out of the theater. T3 was a crowd-pleaser with a brain to boot! It had it all, in quality and quantity! It even put out a ballsy ending that deliciously set up a potential Part 4. Having said that, I hope they stop at 3...the trilogy is now perfect. Let's not pull an "Alien: Resurrection" on this one and muck it all up! Who’s the king of the world now, Cameron? VIVA ARNIE!

GORE
Although lots of the “offing” was off-screen, we still got a few keepers with a hand through a chest being the highlight. We also get mucho robot damage and some bullet hits.
ACTING
Arnold Schwarzenegger proved that he's still got what it takes to play The Terminator. The pecks were ample, the delivery bang-on and the man’s age worked since he was playing an “older” model! I’ve been following Nick Stahl’s (John) career since "Disturbing Behavior" and I've always found him to be an exceptional actor with a wide range. Here, he was no different. The man carried himself like a champ and displayed a mix of vulnerability and strength that I found quite appealing. I never thought I’d say this, but Claire Danes (Kate) rocked! Wow, I said it…miracles do happen. Kristanna Loken (Terminatrix) came in and conquered with her creepy, sexy and very physical approach to the part. Great piece of casting and yes...great piece of ass! I know, I know, such a macho statement…SUE ME!
T & A
Men rejoice! Kristanna Loken revealed her heart shaped bootie! Ladies rejoice! Arnold still had the rock hard pecks and buttocks to make you swoon. Everybody’s happy! Aaaaaahhh, the world can be such a beautiful place.
DIRECTING
Mostow gave the film its own stamp as opposed to emulating Cameron’s jazz. The atmosphere was bleak and the slow-motion moments were effective, yet handled differently than Cameron's. Tag to that, well executed action sequences, some tension and an at times, "Alien 3"-like orangey motif that worked and you get a Mostow that should go out and party all night long to celebrate this accomplishment.
SOUNDTRACK
Marco Beltrami’s score was not as prominent as Brad Fiedel’s aggressive tracks were in the first two films. Although I enjoyed what I heard, I didn’t get enough of it. The score should’ve been more frequent and in your face. NOTE: They should’ve played Fiedel’s awesome “Terminator” theme song during the opening credits as opposed to the end credits...but that’s just me being a fanboy.
DVD FEATURES
BOTTOM LINE
T3 was a pleasant upset for me. I expected to be let down, but was surprised to find it far exceeding my expectations. This nuclear head was tight and had all of its bases covered: chuckles, a strong script, expert acting, exhilarating action set pieces and one sexyliscious robo-babe in the guise of the Terminatrix. What else do you want? Forget “2 Crappy 2 B Furious”, “X- overlong - Men 2” or “Charlie’s Tramps: Part 2- Full Slutdom”, "Terminator 3" IS the action stampede to catch this summer and yes, I’m going to hit it like an Eveready bunny! I’ll be back…to see it AGAIN!
BULL'S EYE
This flick had a budget of $170 million.

WWF Wrestler Chyna was considered to play the part of the Terminatrix (thank god, that didn’t happen).

Shane West ("A Walk to Remember") was considered for the part of John Connor (it could’ve worked...where is that guy anyways?)

Arnold Schwarzenegger gave $1.4 million of his own salary to back up the crane truck sequence. Class act. Now send me 3 Million in the mail Arnie! I need to buy a “Tank” like yours! (see Danes' interview below, for more on that)
Strikeback
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4:55PM on 04/03/2012

Dig it.

Fans really hate this one, and I honestly think the hate is way too harsh. To be fair the movie is just T2 all over again structure wise, but the script offered just enough character and plot to feel like it had its own story to tell in the end. Stahl and Danes were both very good. I bought John's plight just as much as his mothers. Danes character is the biggest surprise here. She could have easily been the films Jar Jar but she was written smartly and actually given something to do. The
Fans really hate this one, and I honestly think the hate is way too harsh. To be fair the movie is just T2 all over again structure wise, but the script offered just enough character and plot to feel like it had its own story to tell in the end. Stahl and Danes were both very good. I bought John's plight just as much as his mothers. Danes character is the biggest surprise here. She could have easily been the films Jar Jar but she was written smartly and actually given something to do. The action is insane, and like The Arrow says it rivals T2 in the "fuck YA" department. I'd even go so far as to say T3 is one of the best action movies of the last decade. The comic relief was eye rolling though. The T-800 was the butt of too many jokes, but it wasn't enough to undermine his badass-ness. The T-X was effectively menacing as well. And lets not forget the bleak as all shit ending.
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