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Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

There is no fate but what we make for ourselves

Directed by:

Jonathan Mostow

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 108 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States

It’s about time travel, it’s about war, it’s about bravery, and it’s about saving the human race. But, more than any of that, ‘Terminator 3’ is about blowing stuff up. This is the grunting, snorting, metal-clanking, car-crashing explosion-fest that action movie fanatics have been starved of for years. So it’s only fitting that Arnold Schwarzenegger should be the man in the middle of it all.

It’s a decade since the young John Connor (here played by Nick Stahl, a vast improvement on Edward Furlong from ‘T2’) was assisted by his mum in preventing Skynet from developing the technology that would inadvertently lead to Judgement Day. At least, that’s what they thought.

With the rise of the machines only postponed rather than avoided, it’s once again time for a cyborg to be sent back in time to get down to some serious terminating. This time, it’s the T-X – or ‘Terminatrix’ – that’s here to do the deed and, more importantly, it’s a lady (Kristinna Loken). Thankfully, help is once again at hand in the shape of Mr ‘I’ll be back’ himself, Arnie. Let the action commence.

‘T3’ doesn’t quite live up to its legendary predecessors. The level of character development insisted on by James Cameron is deemed surplus to requirements by new kid Jonathan Mostow. Some of the attempts at comic relief don’t sit particularly comfortably with the overall tone, and Brad Fiedel’s heart-pumping theme tune is for some inexplicable reason left out until the very end credits (an absolute crime).

Despite all of that, this is as good a blockbuster as you’ll see this year, and will keep you enthralled until the very end. Mostow deserves a huge amount of credit for shunning the modern trend for showering us with bland CGI, instead providing us with some tremendous stunts and the best ‘real’ action sequences I’ve seen in a long, long time. What’s more, the present-day heightened awareness of those ever-elusive weapons of mass destruction makes this movie’s timing spot-on rather than overly-belated. There’s a real fear of war on show here, and that’s something audiences will instantly be able to relate to.

So, will The Terminator ‘be back’ again? Will we be seeing a ‘T4’? If I were a betting man I’d say almost definitely. Of course, whether or not that’s a good thing is another matter entirely.

It's Got: Explosions. Lots of them.

It Needs: To make better use of one of the most memorable musical scores in movie history.

Alternatives:

Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Terminator

Summary

At last, a proper action movie that isn’t bogged down by CGI effects. Though not as good as the first two, this is a chapter worthy of carrying the Terminator name. Don’t miss this one.

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