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"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!