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Review of T3: Rise of the Machines 731

The Terminator movie series offers explosions and cyborgs galore, but you knew that already. Guns too, and cool special effects involving R-rated nude people in electrified spheres, but you probably guessed that too. So you've seen the trailer and are wondering whether "T3: Rise of the Machines" is worth seeing. Short answer: eh, whatever, it's big and dumb. For the long answer, keep reading. (No real spoilers.)

Let me first draw your attention to CNN's review. The CNN reviewer tells you this "darker and slicker" sequel is "worth the wait," gives you the long-form plot setup, shows you the sexy look of the "babe-a-licious" babe, and promises you "emotional weight" with "wit" and a "stunning and thought-provoking" climax. What he doesn't mention is that CNN and the movie's producer/distributor are both owned by AOL Time Warner.

It's been ten years since I watched the first Terminator and maybe I'm remembering it better than it was. But it had an emotional depth, a heart that neither of its sequels matched. T3 is slicker, yes, but darker!? It's light fluff. The nightmare of nuclear destruction in the original was rendered without CG effects, but I'll remember the skeleton clutching the chain-link fence long after I've forgotten this week's pixel-perfect explosions. And the "storm is coming" ending of the original was genuinely thought-provoking, with a chilling resolve that just embarrasses this week's Hollywood ending. Claire Danes is no Linda Hamilton.

The effects are what you'd expect from a modern zillion-dollar action movie, but not groundbreaking the way that T2's were at the time.

I found nothing about it witty. I chuckled through the chase scenes -- it's mostly chase scenes -- because they were so over-the-top and the plot holes were so glaring. Apart from that, there was only one funny line. (I assume everyone else is as bored as I am with the "dry cool wit like that" dialogue.)

Best unintentionally funny line: "I've got enough C-4 to blow up ten supercomputers!"

Best unintentionally funny visual: tie between fumble for the car keys, and offscreen killing sprays blood across photo.

Dumbest joke: gratuitous mocking of effeminate guy.

Best absurd effect: missile blows apart the wall in a small office ten feet from our heroes, they avoid injury by diving to floor. Duck and cover!

Best plot hole: Terminatrix's chronic failure to remember that she can run fast.

Heavy on the exposition, light on brains and heart, forgettable. See it if you really jones for big trucks smashing stuff. If you just have to see a movie, see "28 Days Later" instead. Rated R, not recommended for anyone whose mental age matches their valid ID.

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Review of T3: Rise of the Machines

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  • Ruined (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:02AM (#6366827)
    Any more, it seems they ruin perfectly good movies with excessive bad content. I mean, does nudity enhance the movie at all? It could be just as good of a movie and be rated PG.
  • Re:28 Days Later? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mashx ( 106208 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:08AM (#6366870)
    Agreed, I was really disappointed by the ending as well, and much preferred 12 monkeys.

    Having said that, if you watch the extras on the DVD, you'll understand that they chose the better ending....

  • Is this a review? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:10AM (#6366886)
    It just seems like a bashing of action scenes to me?
  • by DuckWing ( 19575 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:11AM (#6366899)
    The one thing I really dislike about the idea of T3 is the complete disregard for the basic premise set up in T2 (or even T1 for that matter). In T2 we see the Terminator and the T-1000 completely melt away. All research work into the project from recovered parts of the original terminator, have been destroyed, so there should be no skynet, no rise of the machines. If sky-net had this kind of advanced Terminator (T-X), why didn't it send that one back for T1 and it probably would have succeeded. There are almost 2 timelines to worry about here and they seem to be going in parallel.

    The same sort of thing happened with the Highlander series. The 2 sequels completely disregarded the premise and plot/story lines set forth in the original (which was awesome). Very disappointed.
  • by Loco3KGT ( 141999 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:13AM (#6366910)
    Just as good as the others. Everyone should see it. Fit in well with the others, had some good jokes, the big truck chase scenes were great and brought back memories. The TX was hot. Arnie is still the man. Connor still has personality problems.
  • by Dr Tall ( 685787 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:17AM (#6366932) Journal
    There are, of course, some frustrating sequences in the movie. That's the problem with having such an overpowered villian: they show off all their powerful weapons to make you afraid, but then they can never use them against the heroes.
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:20AM (#6366956) Homepage
    "The nightmare of nuclear destruction in the original was rendered without CG effects, but I'll remember the skeleton clutching the chain-link fence long after I've forgotten this week's pixel-perfect explosions."

    If only more people thought like that. And if only some of the people that did think like that were film directors.

    I've posted before to this board that I dislike the increasing reliance on CGI in films. A fair point to make is that once upon a time The Last Starfighter was considered pixel-perfect, but now look. CGI dates a film really fast, because graphics improve all the time.


  • by PhuCknuT ( 1703 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:21AM (#6366963) Homepage
    Also, for this wierd time loop of t1 and t2 to have begun in the first place, skynet would have to have been created without the leftover terminator parts at least once. My theory is that the first terminator to come back mearly accelerated the creation of skynet, and when they destroyed the research they mearly pushed it back to the original date. Either that, or offsite backups... I mean, they did only destroy 1 building.
  • alternate review (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KaizerWill ( 240074 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:38AM (#6367052)
    T3 had too many gratuitous arnold-lines. "Ill be back" "She'll be back" "Get off." "I like this car."

    i mean damn. But other than that, and a few other quibbles, it was a GREAT movie. I mean, it was a Terminator movie at heart. It was about the inevitablity of a horrific event that everyone was trying to stop, but couldnt. It even had a touch of the unwilling messiah theme going.

    Really for me it all hinged on the end. The end of Terminator 1 was bleak but hopefull. Judgement Day was coming, but Sarah would have a son who would save the human race.
    The end of Terminator 2 was bleak but hopeful. They thought theyd stopped judgement day, but they couldnt be quite sure.
    If T3 had ended with a happy, for-sure avoidance of judgement day, i wouldve hated the movie, because it wouldve abandoned the theme. but no. Thankfully, the end of Terminator 3 was bleak but hopeful. Judgement day was fucking inevitable, and the best you could do was to do your best afterwards.

    so i thought it was great, and i consider myself a fair if not good judge of movies. make your own choice of course.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:41AM (#6367069)
    Actually they did clearly state in T2 that the humans were about to win the war. The machines sent terminators as an act of deseration.

    The thing that has always bugged me was why all the t-800's looked like Arnold. Does the book explain this?

    It seems very illogical to me. The only excuse I've managed to come up with is that Arnold was the very first (or possibly beta) release of the T-800's. The first working models (maybe a release of 100 of them) all looked the same until the machines were convinced that the T-800 was a viable upgrade to the T-600. This is supported by the fact that:
    * The T-800's shown in the future flashback of Terminator 1 don't look at all like Arnold.
    * The humans manage to get their hands on an Arnold T-800 in T2, presumably discarded as the 2nd wave of t-800s with a variety of human appearances are accepted by the machines as their standard.
    * This would adhere to the machines pattern of behavior. Terminator 1: In their rush to send back their best, they sent the beta-release T-800. Terminator 2: Again rushed, they send back their latest and greatest, the T-1000, although this to is likely to be it's first release since their is no footage of the T-1000 in use in any "future memories" throughout the series.

    As for the case of the causality loop, I don't know much about time travel, but I'm guessing you don't either. The way I see it nobody has figured out what will happen in the case of a causality loop. After all, almost any sort of time traveling to the past causes a causality loop if you look into it at a microscopic level. I don't think one can hold the causality loop established in T-1 & T-2 against them. This was the only significant plot hole and since it requires an understanding of how the timeline restructures itself after being artificially altered, or the effective temporal value of an object that moves opposite to the direction of time I wouldn't sweat it.
    Neither of these points address T3 but I really don't intend on watching that crap. I'm just gonna pretend it never happened.
  • suitable audience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:43AM (#6367077)
    "it's big and dumb"
    Just like its American audience

    that old Austrian bodybuilder is still taking the piss out of you and you smile and hand him your dollars, the guy even wants to speak for you (his wallet) and be a politician, god bless you indeed.

    T3 is pure crap, Take the plot, for instance. In the first "Terminator" movie, a man from the future is sent back to the present to protect Sarah Connor from a cyborg out to kill her. In "Terminator 2" a cyborg from the future is sent back to the present to protect Connor's son John from a cyborg out to kill him.

    So it comes as no surprise that in "Terminator 3" a cyborg from the future is again sent back to the present to protect John Connor from a cyborg out to kill him.

    For those counting, it took a team of three screenwriters to pound out this new synopsis, whoo inovation there.

    wake up people and demand more for your $, we/you deserve better than this crap, these people are taking the piss out of you to your face and you continue to smile and let them.

    Luckily i guess, DivX will shake them up more as time goes on to innovate or die, just like mp3 and the music biz, the customer is now in the driving seat (unfortunatly he's driving too slow)
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:47AM (#6367092) Homepage
    Space films normally date very well. Star Wars has aged gracefully, even allowing for Lucas' tweaks in 1997. The space scenes in Kubrick's "2001", which is *ancient*, still look good.

    That's precisely my point - they're both model-based, not CGI.


  • by HungWeiLo ( 250320 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @10:49AM (#6367101)
    Even though it didn't take too much to do it, I doubt Edward Furlong would have the right mix of pathos and maturity in his delivery to pull off what is needed here - John Connor is now washed up, having given up his supposed "destiny," sort of like a spiraling downwards alcoholic.

    Although he did show much promise in American History X alongisde Edward Norton. But I heard he was too much of a cokehead to do anything worthwhile anymore.
  • by Alereon ( 660683 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:01AM (#6367164)

    While I will most certainly agree that tossing some random naked chicks into a movie can't make up for a bad movie overall, it's not like said random naked chick can actually turn a good movie into a bad movie (unless, I suppose, it was a kids movie). If they're not replacing good content with nudity, then who cares? When it's a question of breasts vs. another ten seconds of a car chase, I'll take the breasts, thank you very much.

    Now let's play "guess my age and gender!"

  • by misleb ( 129952 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:07AM (#6367196)
    Is it just me or are special effects in movies getting worse? Maybe I am just getting older and too attached to the "good ol' days" or something like that, but I sincerely feel that the original Star Wars series was far more moving and "believable" than the latest 2 movies. Same with Terminator, as this reviewer notes. There is just something really not right about all the over blown CG effects. The Matrix suffered from this too. For as much as I might have liked the plot in these movies (well, Star Wars I an II were just plain stupid), the effects ultimately turned me off.

    Besides LoTR and animated films like Shrek, almost all action/sci-fi/fantasy films lately have totally over done it with the CG effects. Way over the top. Its like directors and producers have this new toy and can't wait to exploit it every chance they get.

    All I can say is give me animatronics. Give me real stunt people. Give me true artists. Not some kids out of college who just learned out to operate a 3D rendering application.


  • by SpaceRook ( 630389 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:08AM (#6367207)
    Uh...the whole of Dracula is a metaphor for sex, dude. You must have sexiness in a proper Dracula or you haven't done it right.

    I'm not a scholar on Dracula, but in that story's case, the plot is dependant on sex (i.e., the horror of being seduced by some monster). That doesn't bother me. What I don't like is when some hot babe is put into a potentially thoughtful sci-fi or horror movie just to reel in the 13-year-old boys. It's not that I'm a prude, it's just that sometimes I'm more interested in seeing actual ideas explored rather than some scantily-clad blonde who looks like every other billboard-queen out there.
  • Re:Ruined (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EvilAlien ( 133134 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:10AM (#6367218) Journal
    Why does everyone get so uptight about nudity? Its not a big deal. In case you've been living in a bubble, people get naked every day. Golly, some of them even have sex... I bet there are people who are naked and/or having sex right now! Its 2003, isn't it time we grew up as a society and stopped being such prudes?

    As far as plot justification goes (I haven't seen the movie yet) there is an existing explanation for why the time travellers need to go sans-clothing. As far as I'm concerned, a movie that gets rated PG means the director/script-writer pulled punches and sacrificed content so the uptight censorship idiots won't get their chastity belts in a knot. The real world features violence, nudity, sex, offensive language and concepts. Deal with it... there is no reason to sanitize and dumb down a story so that the over-sensitive can handle it.

  • by minion ( 162631 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:26AM (#6367313)
    I will wait for the video to come out. I can't see paying money to see this movie. Before this review it was just a maybe I'll see it, and now I won't waste my money.

    Ah, the American Way - let someone else make up your mind for you.
  • Re:Ruined (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hhnerkopfabbeisser ( 645832 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:36AM (#6367369)
    I haven't seen T3 yet, but Arnie had nudes in both T1 and T2, I don't see why a female Terminator should arrive with chastity belt, spiky bra and veil.

    Actually, in my expierience, movies that rely on their babe-factor (like, hm, Tomb Raider?) don't have nudes, because they are aimed at twelve year olds.

    I don't remember having seen a movie that used nudes to attract horny male viewers in the mainstream. Near-nudes, yes, but nudes? If I just forgot about them, because seing someone nude in a movie isn't something I remember for the rest of my life, please enlighten me.
  • Reminder (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:37AM (#6367386) Homepage

    The majority of Americans believe that Saddam Hussien was behind the WTC attacks, that there are WMDs in Iraq, and 80% of Americans questioned said they are actively proud of America's military, i.e. capacity to kill people.

    Given all that, I'm frequently surprised that movies make even a token attempt at dialogue, wit, acting or plot. I guess we can blame a few die hard script writers and directors for that. When digital effects become so cheap that it's not financially necessary to insert talky bits as filler, we can look forward to movies that are just 90 minute chase sequences.

    Meanwhile, we're spending a quarter of a million bucks a minute to keep American troops and Iraqis killing each other, Osama bin Laden is sniggering in his cave, opium is flooding out of Afghanistan, we are building death chambers in Guantanemo Bay in preparation for executing political prisoners on the basis of confessions tortured out of them, and we sit here discussing whether there might be too much action and not enough plot in Terminator 3.

    It must be summer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:44AM (#6367434)
    Before aol merged with time warner, terminator 2 and the matrix were both great movies...after the aol merger, their sequals were produced, and they were both sub par...is this only a coincidence?
  • Re:It was T2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @11:58AM (#6367491)
    Too bad no one had a permonition in 1970 to go assassinate a certain geek that was about to ruin the tech industry.

    That's not funny, it's sick. Besides, I'm not particularly worried about Microsoft products becoming self-aware anytime soon.
  • Not really nudity (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:13PM (#6367597)
    Showing a gal's ass-crack and arnold's ass crack for under 2 seconds hardly counts as nudity.

    If anything, the movie held back; the female terminator was very very attractive, and they made sure she was completely covered for the entire movie save a brief 3 second view of her ass-crack.

    If that bothers you, I suggest you have some self-image problems. You're seriously screwed up.
  • Offended. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grendel Drago ( 41496 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:36PM (#6367739) Homepage
    I always thought that the series, especially the second, had an underlying moral that was offensive to me. That moral is that technology, beyond a certain point, should not be researched, that there are sanctimoniously-pronounced Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. The morality is over a hundred years old (except Frankenstein's monster had much better dialogue), but the presentation has the advantage of technological wizardry. Oh, sweet irony.

    I can imagine the offscreen dialogue at the end of "T2":

    World-Saving Heroes: Well, we've saved your asses.
    Unwittingly Evil Scientists: Thanks!
    WSH: Now, remember, no more robotics or artificial intelligence; it'll destroy humanity, and there's no way we can ensure that it doesn't.
    UES: Umm. Right. So, guys, you want to... uh, take up pottery?
    [rumble of sanctimonious approval]

    And did I mention that Linda Hamilton's speech about the wonders of childbirth was possibly the most disgusting thing committed to celluloid in the last ten years? I think "T2" probably did as much for a shortage of kids becoming scientists as anything else.

    --grendel drago
  • getting naked (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stephen Samuel ( 106962 ) <samuel AT bcgreen DOT com> on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:44PM (#6367789) Homepage Journal
    You're living proof that your mother likes sex.

    So is every lawmaker who ever tried to outlaw nudity.

    Nuff said.

  • by e_pluribus_funk ( 648835 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @12:53PM (#6367856)
    Lets limit this to a scenario between the United States and Russia. No other scenario offers the all the actors in question the options that this scenario does.

    Lets further limit to a general nuclear war scenario, ie, 'the big balloon'.

    The highest priority targets would be C3I, command, control, communications, and intelligence targets:
    - the National Command Authority (the President and his successors)
    - NORAD
    - Offut Air Force Base, Nebraska (HQ for Strategic Command),
    - early warning radar stations in Greenland, Alaska, and Canada.
    - emergency relocation centers

    #2 priority targets would be nuclear forces themselves:
    - ICBM HQs
    - SAC Airbases
    - Port facilities where nuclear weapons are stationed (ie, SSBN's - ballistic missile submarines
    - ICBM silos
    - nuclear weapon storage sites

    Most of the above would be hit within the first two hours of hostilities.

    #3 priority targets would be conventional warfighting targets:
    - Army HQ
    - Military unit locations
    - military airfields/airbases
    - military ports

    #4 priority targets would be dual use targets:
    - civilian ports
    - civilian airfields

    The following targets can be attacked at leisure (because they are not going to go anywhere). At leisure here means probably within 24 hours of hostilities.

    #5 priority targets would be industrial and economic infrastructure necessary for warfighting:
    - key factories (aircraft, tanks, ammunition, etc)
    - electrical power generation facilities
    - petroleum refineries

    #6 priority targets would be other industrial and economic targets:
    - transportation grid (rail and road hubs)
    - food processing plants
    - electrical power substations
    - petroleum pipelines and storage areas
    - computing centers
    - ball bearing factories

    Somewhere near the bottom of the list are urban centers in an of themselves (although they may be hit earlier for any of the above reasons).
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:00PM (#6367902)
    Why would the Terminator be molded after an old man?

    Why wouldn't it? He talks about the reason for his appearance in T3. Infiltration.
  • by iTron ( 686874 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:03PM (#6367925)
    They did infact say that the humans had won, i rewatched the scene just to be sure i remembered it correctly. When reese is in custody and is being interrogated, the doctor asks why didn't they just kill connor then, he says 'it had no choice their defense grid was smashed, we'd won, taking out connor then would make no difference.'
  • Re:Ruined (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hhnerkopfabbeisser ( 645832 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:15PM (#6367997)
    I'm white with you on the pandering. Although I am way less offended by it, it tends to be used mainly in movies that have no substance or anything else that I could enjoy, thereby making watching these movies a waste of time (unless you do it with friends so you can make jokes about it, which works for most bad flicks).

    I don't think the nude scene of the Terminatrix differs that much from Arnie's nudes. Sure, I guess we get to see her breasts, but neither her vagina nor his penis. Breasts are just too difficult to hide without making the scene look really awkward.

    And if the Terminatrix walks into a pub naked, I doubt people will laugh at her and use her as an ashtray like they did with Arnie. She will of course be an object of desire for all men who see her. But what would you expect if a woman like this enters a room naked? It is just realistic, so I have no problem with it.
  • Not sure I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mathonwy ( 160184 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @01:35PM (#6368110)
    That sort of depends on how you classify "free will" then, doesn't it? I mean, if from one view point, it's inevitable that you will choose path A over path B, then... even though you have to go through the trouble of actually "choosing" path A at the time, anyone who had the external view point would have know that your choosing path A was inevitable. And so you weren't really "choosing" at all. (Or at least, you may have seen it as a choice, but from the external view point, your choosing path A was a certainty.) (Things that are inevitable probably don't really count as choices, even if they seem like choices at the time.)

    So... Does that really leave "free will"? Or just the illusion of it, since we can't see the predetermined timeline in its entirety?
  • by Edgewize ( 262271 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @03:28PM (#6368669)
    This is a mind-bender to think about, because the premise is wrong. You are talking about an external viewpoint as if it exists "next to" time, as if you can still watch things unfold. Time is not like a flowing river that you can just step away from. If the timeline is predetermined, then the only way to examine all of it is to be at the end of it. From that point of view, everything is history. It has already happened.

    Today, if you know about JFK's assassination, does that mean that the shooter did not have any choice and that he was fated to kill the president? No, it just means that that's how it happened in history. Likewise for if you examine the timeline from an external viewpoint.

    Of course, time travel makes things very complicated. If going back in time is impossible, and thus round-trips are impossible, then it's not too bad - there's no such thing as foreknowledge, and besides being a little weird for people when you pop up out of nowhere in the future, nothing is fundamentally wrong. But if you can go back in time, all bets are off.

    Here's where the "free will" paradox really gets weird. If you can go back in time, and you "change" something (ie, interact with the world around you), there are two possibilities. You can end up with a causal loop (being your own grandfather, or from the Matrix, "What's really going to bake your noodle is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?") or else you can end up with a paradox (you kill your ancestor).

    One intepretation of the one-timeline approach is that paradoxes cannot occur; ie, something will happen and you can't kill your father. That is a blatent violation of "free will", no matter how you classify it. I have my own interpretation...

    [I suppose that some will consider this as a venture into parellel universes. It's not quite the same, however.]

    I believe that you can kill your grandfather. And that you always killed your grandfather, and that you always will kill your grandfather. So the question becomes, where did you come from? And the answer is, a detached loop on the timeline.

    It's eaisest use the [poor and misleading] analogy of time as a ribbon. In a traditional causal loop, the ribbon doubles back on itself and repeats a portion of its length. Events from the future influence the past and cause it to repeat future history as you know it. But what if you changed history? Now the ribbon doubles back, but doesn't repeat that portion ... it goes in a new direction. So there is a portion of the timeline that exists in an entirely different direction, and then doubles back at the point of time travel, and then goes on with its course. A detached loop, if you will.

    Now here's the real trick. If you try to go forward in time again to return to your "present", what happens?

    I believe that you cannot. Whatever mechanism you use for time travel is permenantly stuck on that detached loop. If you activate it, even just to go forward by five seconds, you will end up on that detached loop and it will seem as though you never killed your grandfather. And if you try to go beyind the point where you went back in time to change things, you will be unable to get there. At that point, where time loops back and begins a different path, everything along that branch of time simply ceases to exist.

    The many-universes approach would say that you simultaneously did and did not kill your grandfather and that both universes continue from there to infinity. I say that you always killed your grandfather, except for that little detached part of the timeline, which loops back at the point of time travel and does not continue.

    I told you it was a mind-bender. :)
  • External = After? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Friday July 04, 2003 @03:57PM (#6368787) Homepage
    An example of an 'external' view of the choice is the view of it from later in time. From my vantage point of this moment in time, I know that you chose to write the post I'm replying to here. Seen from here, it is a certainty.

    But does that mean that you didn't have a free choice when you did this? I personally don't think so.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!