On the verge of Judgement Day, the most advanced Terminator unit ever, the T-X, arrives from the future to ensure the rise of the machines. The only hope against it is a new upgraded T-800 unit, the T-850, that is sent back by the human resistance. Together with John Connor, it must stop the rise of the machines or all humanity will fall.
Directed by: Jonathan Mostow
. Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger
, Nick Stahl
, Claire Danes
, Kristanna Loken
, David Andrews
, Mark Famiglietti
, Earl Boen
, Moira Sinise
, Chopper Bernet
, Christopher Lawford
, Carolyn Hennesy
, Jay Acovone
, M.C. Gainey
. Music by: Marco Beltrami
I am a big fan of the first two Terminator movies and when I first heard that there is going to be another Terminator movie I was sceptical if it's a good idea. It had nothing to do with the fact that James Cameron wasn't part of the project, it just seemed to me that a) the story had to be bend too much to give a reasonable explanation why there are still Terminators who travel through time and b) Terminator 2 has already reached a cult status, it is a masterpiece of sci-fi action cinema and so outstanding in many ways that I thought it cannot be topped and therefore another sequel will be a disappointment. Now Terminator 3 (T3) is in cinemas and I've already seen it twice and my first sceptical thoughts were completely right. I'm not going to rip T3 apart - actually there were some parts I really enjoyed - but I clearly have to say that it is the worst of the three and doesn't reach the quality I expect from a movie wearing this name. Following I will point out exactly what annoyed me most in the new installment of the series:
- The jokes: Doesn't anyone dare to make an action movie where the characters are serious? The worst mistake was turning Arnold into a joke machine. While it definitely is a trend in modern Hollywood cinema and I also expect some funny lines in movies like Bad Boys 2, Rush Hour and Lethal Weapon, I hate to see such lines and situations in a Terminator movie. It wasn't part of the first two movies (at least not to this extent) and it completely killed the mood of the movie. I often had the feeling of watching a cheap parody rather than the serious attempt to produce a new part of one of the most successful sci-fi stories in movie history.
- The villain: A big part of the movies success in trying to be better than it's predecessors was bound to the question: "How do I top the coolest villain ever created?" And apparently the creators failed to answer this question. I actually liked the T-X and also the way Loken acted, it's just that the endoskeleton design seems inferior to the T-1000 and was defeated too easy. The T-X just seems like an intermediate model between the T-800 and the T-1000. Still having the disadvantages of the endoskeleton but already having the liquid metal skin. And in my opinion the movie answers the question of her inferiority itself with the weak final battle. Compared to the over half an hour long final chase and fighting in the end of Terminator 2, destroying the T-X seemed like a piece of cake! When sitting in the cinema for the first time watching Arnie just holding back the T-X in the final battle scene I actually said out loud:"That wouldn't have happened to the T-1000!" - I guess this sentence pretty much sums up what my complaints about the T-X are.
- the violence (or the lack of it): Just as it seems that nobody can make an action movie without jokes in it anymore, it seems nobody dares to show some explicit violence on the screen. I'm not at all a blood-thirsty guy who's only happy when seeing a massacre on screen, but I'm getting tired of the directors cutting everything out of the movie. I think the violence of the T-1000 shown in Terminator 2 served the purpose of drawing an image of a really mean and scary machine. One of the lamest scenes in T3 was when the T-X killed Kate Brewster boyfriend and the camera just turns away and you see some blood squirting onto the picture frame. Once again, this killed the atmosphere of the movie ans sets it apart form the first two parts. The reason for this kind of directing is obvious - money. If getting a lower rating, more and younger people are able to watch the movie which results in more money for the production companies (even though T3 was still rated R! Why?). Here also lies my major complaint about director Jonathan Mostow. Whereas Cameron makes movies the way he envisioned them and wants them to be, Mostow clearly made the movie the way the producers wanted it to be.
- The music score: Last but not least the music was a complete mess. I knew it was going to suck from the moment I heard they won't use the Terminator theme of the first movies. It's like producing a Star Wars movie without the opening theme - there's just something missing. And even the version played at the credits was poorly produced and didn't have the hard sound of the version in T2. But also aside from the title theme, the music was only average.Compared to the monotonic bass whenever the T-1000 appeared and the great hectic score in the chasing scenes in T2, the music in T3 seemed like some unconnected pieces of sound shuffled together and was missing in some parts completely (first half of the chase scene).
I think all the points mentioned above combined to a picture of the Terminators, that simply wasn't cold and relentless enough. The feeling of the unstoppable killing machine, only focused on the completion of it's mission without paying attention to anything else just didn't come through the way it did in the first two parts.
Also the story seems very far fetched at times and there is almost no character development shown. Somehow it doesn't manage to make you really care about the fate of the main characters. And mentioning the word "fate": That's where the writers made the illogical bend I mentioned in the first lines of this review. In the first two parts two times the words of John Connor are cited: "The future is not yet set. There is no fate but what we make ourselves!" Even in T3 the sentence is engraved into Sarah Connors tomb. But in T3 John cannot prevent the Judgement Day because it is his fate and he cannot change it! Ups, something somewhere went terribly wrong!!!
Finally some positive comments:
I really have no complaints about the acting. Especially I liked Loken as the T-X. She did a good job in showing an emotionless face throughout the movie and also walked and moved appropriate. Also Claire Danes did a good job, I liked her part more than I thought I would. There was nothing remarkable about Nick Stahls performance, but he didn't seem miscast as well. Arnie just seemed a little bit worse than in the first two movies, but I guess that's mainly because of the script. The visual effects also were great, but regarding that the first two movies set new standards at their time, there was nothing special about the effects in this movie. But I think that's a problem of the genre in general nowadays. It has become extremely difficult to create this jaw-dropping moments. Because it's become relatively easy to produce special effects many movies make use of them and so the audience gets used to it more and more. You simply need the money and hire the right people (e.g. ILM) and you can put them into your movie. So while T2 was ahead of it's time and it took at least 2 years to find something of comparable quality in another movie. T3 doesn't have this kind of quality or never seen before moments.
Conclusion: This review is heavily based on a comparison of Terminator 3 to its predecessors. Taken on its own I would say it's a well made, above average action movie. However, considering the first two parts it has to be judged by other, more demanding measurements. And that's where it fails. It is simply not able to reach the quality and atmosphere of the first two movies and thus didn't live up to the expectations.
Review by DocFun from the Internet Movie Database.