Terminator 3: Rise of the... (2003)
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Review Date: June 30, 2003
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writer: John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Producers: Mario Kassar, Hal Lieberman
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Kristanna Loken
Nick Stahl
The world is set to be taken over by computers (aka the machines) and the only person who can lead the human resistance is a kid who goes by the name of John Connor. Knowing this, the futuristic machines send a gorgeous, all-powerful robot back in time to kill Johnny boy, before he can champion said revolution. Another machine, the Terminator, is also sent back to protect him and needless to say, several "altercations" with the leggier model ensue.
Now that's what I'm talking about!! I've been pretty ho-hum and downright disappointed with most of this summer's "popcorn" flicks so far (other than X-MEN 2), and was basically expecting the worst going into the third installment of a series in which neither the original writer/director, nor two of its lead actors were returning, but color me fuckin' pumped as T3 gave me everything I wanted in a summer movie...and more!! What do I mean by "more"? Well, let's start with what I would expect from a great summer flick: action, fun, exhilaration, thrills, chills, humor, explosions, big-ass fights, cool-ass chases...and heck, even a little T&A for the kids. This film packs all of that into its tight 100-minute frame and kicks everything up a notch by doing something that we generally forgive summer movies in exchange for gung-ho entertainment: it tells an engaging story, it establishes characters for whom we care and...it even manages to slap some emotion and a message into the mix? Wow...Jonathan Mostow...you are a great man! Arnold Schwarzenegger, you are back and I for one am glad to see you clad in leather again and cracking me up with all of your one-liners. BTW, that was a very cool homage to the original as well as a cute intro to your character in this film. Nick Stahl...I always liked you as an actor and you've painlessly slipped right into Edward Furlong's skin here and left an impression. Claire Danes, I've never been a fan and I truly believed that your character would only be used as a throwaway "girlfriend" with little substance and even less believability, but you proved me wrong. I love how they wrote you into the story and how they actually managed to have me give a shit about you as well. Kudos to the screenwriters for that.

And last, but definitely not least: Kristanna Loken! Awesome casting! Some people have said that this third installment is essentially a "rehash" of part two, and despite a little "surface" truth to that, the addition of a female Terminatrix, the T-X, the addition of a machine that is plenty times superior to Arnold's "old school" build, takes this film to a whole other level and further allowed the special effects to do what they've always been intended to do: inconspicuously make us believe in the unbelievable. This film is as entertaining as any film that I've seen so far this year. Am I overcompensating because the rest of this summer's pack has been so goddamn dismal? No, this film is just rock solid and if you're a big fan of the original two movies, you will appreciate this one all the more because it doesn't pretend that they don't exist, in fact, it integrates pretty much everything from its predecessors to make the narrative that much more interesting, taking what we've learned from the characters, graduating them into the present and allowing the familiarity of the piece to involve us deeper in its outcome...which incidentally, also blindsided me. But back to the Kristanna Loken...did I mention that she rocks?!? The film's got plenty of humor too. Pretty much every word out of Arnold's mouth had our audience in stitches and congratulations to the 55-year old man for having a build that could pummel my supposedly youthful figure into deserved oblivion. And how about them super-neato action sequences? One features Arnold smashing the shit out of a truck with his bare hands and it's aaaaaaaaall good. Hulk smash!!

The CGI in the film is also used to complement the characters' fantastic attributes, not to become the characters, and if you're gonna bitch about how neither of the cybernetic organisms could take all of that punishment, please note that they're supposed to be...fuckin' indestructible futuristic robots, man!!! If they can't survive the ultimate of beatings in a Hollywood motion picture...who the hell can?!? And the mayhem that each one propagates onto the other is...unbelieveabl-y...wicked! The massive chase scene featuring a crane truck monstering through the streets of L.A. also rivals THE MATRIX RELOADED's highway pursuit as the most invigorating screen minutes of the year. In fact, all of the action sequences rocked and I especially loved how each one had its own twist and originality. This is one movie that really showcased its budget on the screen! But even with all that, even with all of its potent thrills, its three-dimensional characters and its solid screenplay moving the entire Terminator mythos to the next level, even I was surprised to see some emotion slip into the mix. Props go out to the filmmakers for making me care, for making me proud to have invested my time in a "summer sequel blockbuster" and most importantly, for creating a third part worthy of its two previous uber-successful installments. And how about that ending? Wow. And now it's time for me to download some more Loken pics, pretend that I'm the one dressed in burgundy leather and hope to God that she might consider my sorry ass worthy of swinging into a cement wall one day. Mmmmmmm...a man can dream...
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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