August 06, 2003

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

T3 posterArnold Summary: Vagina Dentata Mechanica. Not as dirty as it sounds, but very skeery.

Rise of the Movie Ticket Prices!
$9.25 for a movie ticket in Hartsdale? Good grief!

Yesterday I set out to see "28 Days later 28 days later" but got caught in horrendous traffic and arrived over a half hour late. I didn't think it would be quite fair to judge the new alternative ending without seeing the film from the start, so I checked the schedule for what else was available. American Wedding (No way). Johnny English (maybe later on television). Gigli (no, No, NO!). I ended up in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Arnold, making his entrance naked again, still somehow pulls it off (although one can't help but speculate whether he'd been CG'd, spruced up with some computer-generated pecs). He's plenty thicker around the middle, but maybe he's just carrying some extra fuel cells around his waist.

He returns as the same model robot—sorry, cyborg—struggling to evolve, as usual, beyond his pre-programmed state, albeit it marginally. Along with him comes the same deadpanned dialogue—"I'll/she'll/he'll/whoever'll be back." Who is surprised? Not me. It works, marginally.

live naked cyborgXX
"What's scarier than Robert Patrick? Hey! I know! A broad! Women are skeery! Especially pretty women! They'll rip your head off! And you know what I mean!"

Robert Patrick, as the hyped-up liquidly mutable Terminator T-1000 in T2: Judgement Day, was terrifying in his slightly off-ordinariness. His relentless emotionlessness was an effective contrast to Arnold's cyborg with a few thimblefuls of personality. In fact, it was way more frightening than a muscle-man with a great big gun knocking down police station walls in the middle of the night. (The original Terminator movie never did it for me—not its quippy lines nor its things-go-boom. It was tougher-than-a-cyborg Linda Hamilton doing chin ups that won me over to the series).

But a "female" Terminator T-X (Kristanna Loken) can't be a Sarah Connor or Ripley. She must be a smirking sex-bomb, an adolescent boy's red-leather spiked-heels dream. Which cyborg in the future designed this model? If she was designed specifically to cloud the human mind, where are the Terminators who look like Brendan Fraser?

red leather, red leatherLet's be fair: There is what could be a tired, cheap shot of the female cyborg distracted by looking at herself in a mirror. Chicks and their vanity. Or, that instead could be an indication of an increasingly self-aware individual personality emerging in each new generation of Terminator, as the machines become what we consider human. Even as a dog may eventually look at a mirror and realise (as my first dog did when he reached a ripe old age), Whoa, wait a minute, that's me in there, not a fuzzy blur or another dog with no smell! Woof, man!—the T-X may have become individual enough to think about herself in a non-task-related, non-goal-oriented way. She may simply like herself. I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Oh, but you're probably interested in the plot
I was surprised when I saw a T3 was on the way. I dunno why—it was as inevitable as T4.

John ConnorTime is mutable and the future is not set in metal, but the severed timelines are struggling to braid together. In spite of T2, Judgement Day is still on the way. To live up to Sarah Connor's motto—No Fate But What We Make—how will John Connor (Nick Stahl, replacing T2's Edward Furlong), with the help of spunky female sidekick Katherine Brewster (Claire Danes), defy Inevitability yet again?

John Connor has been living alone, off the grid, plagued by nightmares about a machine-dominated future. Coincidence (or is it?) brings him together with junior-high love interest (grope interest) Katherine. The T-X is after him (Who is surprised?). Cars begin to blow up. People do, too.

Katherine is excited about the film, at leastThe excitement level never really got my adrenalin going, and I felt the ending was telegraphed a good half hour, forty-five minutes ahead. Only one moment, a scene in a mausoleum, made me jump, and it was CG-free (maybe that's appropriate, considering the film's theme). What I think was meant to be The Movie's Big Revelation at the very end—at least, it was a revelation to the characters—simply made me scratch my head and wonder, "Didn't we know that all along? Or was it so obvious, it just feels that way?"

Even the climactic move of the final android fight scene is telegraphed and predictable. I could go into the psychosexual symbolism of the battle-bots scenes: there's a decapitation (get it?) and a guy robot sticking his—no, if I told you that, it'd just ruin the, uhm, surprise.

bow wowScience (ha ha ha)
Don't even try to explain the science, particularly the magnet and the ignored side-effects of big electromagnetic pulses. You'll feel much better if you don't.

The T-1 proto-Terminators were kinda cute, and nicely echoed by a little mechanical dog such as the ones you can currently buy for way too much money. As far as I know, the pet dogs from The Sharper Image aren't armed with machine guns, but who's to say the Arnold-model Terminators aren't followed into battle by a whole pack of the little glowy-eyed scamps?

Was that the same dusty red car in three different scenes? Twice in the initial car chase and once in the cemetery chase? Or did the producers get a cheap deal on little red stunt cars?

Also spotted: Jay Acavone, but only once, barely visible in a cameo.

The Final Judgement
I'm not sure about recommending anyone go see this movie, nor about warning anyone off. It's inoffensively middle of the road. The special effects are not so special you need to see this on the big screen. It'll work well at a Terminator marathon some crazy weekend. At least that way all the references to the first two movies will be fresh in your mind.

This movie is going to make a heckuva drinking game some day.

Running Time: 109 minutes

Rating: R

  1. Endless rounds of commercials for products I cannot recall but am now no doubt subliminally compelled to purchase.
  2. Bruce Willis in a sequel with Friends guy Matthew Perry. I didn't see the first one, although I do dig co-star Natasha Henstridge's goofball series She Spies. This film is called The Whole 10 Yards, leading me to believe the previous movie was called The Whole 9 Yards. (Preview rated R)
  3. Heath Ledger in that Exorcist-y Vatican conspiracy movie The Order. Moody colour palette. Lots of Rain. Rogue priest: lust-inspiring dishy guy but off limits—Hoo Boy! I think this was the preview I forgot I saw at 28 Days Later. (Preview rated R)
  4. Matchstick Men: Nicholas Cage acts up a storm in this preview, a sort of grown-up Catch Me If You Caprio, with responsibility for a daughter who reappears into his life as a teen. So, also kind of Paper Moon. A Ridley Scott film, and with Enrico Colantoni, so I guess I'm going. (Preview rated PG-13)

No easter eggs at the end of the credits. C'mon! Throw us a bone!

Outside Food: Completely inappropriate, as I was expecting to see an entirely different movie. Heath and Skor bars to perform taste comparisons of English toffee survival-shelter energy food and alternate toffee; non-Pepsi product drink; and mini Pepperidge Farms Brussels cookies because I haven't been able to eat Maltesers since I overdosed on 100 of them one day in High School.

Theatre: United Artists Cinemas in Hartsdale, NY. Multiple relatively small screens, but there were only a modest number of seats, so the screen was just the right size from any part of the room. I was distracted every now and then by a fuzzy dark haze at the bottom of the screen and a weird dark dimple off to the right. Please clean off the schmutz, folks.

This was a Coke Products Theatre. Thank goodness. Zombies drink Pepsi.

Postscript: Tried again today to see 28 Days Later. Arrived on time. Theatre has replaced it with extra showings of Tomb Raider. Just can't win.

Images from T3 copyright © 2003 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved

Posted by OutsideFood at August 6, 2003 12:00 PM

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