Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

So the premise of T3 is that an experimental prototype Terminator is sent from the future to try and kill John Connor, and an Arnold-model Terminator is sent back to be his protector.  If that sounds exactly like the same as it was T2 - which was in itself on a small twist on that of the first film - well, it is.

This film's "innovation"?  The experimental Terminator looks like a woman.  Well; that and the fact that she has been sent to target John Connor's chief lieutenants in the future war, not just John himself.  But the advertising at the time of the release emphasised "LADY ROBOT!", not the other thing.

And oh dear but the whole gynoid thing goes wrong pretty much straight away.  The T-X (as it is known) gets pulled over by a cop.  Why she'd bother listening to him is not explained - the Terminators from the first two films sure wouldn't- but then while waiting for him to approach the car, she inflates her breasts.

Inflates.  Her.  Breasts.

Now this does tie into the later plot point that (much like last movie's T-1000) the T-X can change her form.  But you'll note that the last film didn't decide to demonstrate the T-1000's ability by having it inflate the size of its man-parts.

As a corollary to this, the film makes a couple of attempts, mostly in the early sections, to portray the T-X in a sultry/sexual way, either through dialogue or action (worst offender: the scene where she licks blood off her finger).  Thankfully they mostly stop doing this after the first act and let her be a badass killing machine, but it's not a good start.

Sexism issues aside (and that's what those are, let's not pretend otherwise) the film has three other main weaknesses.  The first is John Connor himself.  I don't know whether Nick Stahl's performance or the script itself deserve most of the blame for the wishy-washiness of the character in this film, but I'm leaning toward the latter because it's at the root of the other two issues.  One of these is the downer ending.  There's some voice-over that tries to pretend otherwise, but (spoiler!) the good guys only success in this film is to not die.  The other, more prevalent issue, is that the 'spectacle over substance' problem of T2 is magnified many times here, to the point where it becomes 'spectacle over sense'.  For instance, John Connor is fleeing the T-X in a van, so she leaps into a massive crane lorry to pursue.  She does this because the script has all these nifty ideas for stunts involving the crane - ignoring the fact that this slow, ungainly machine is pretty much the worst of several options available to her as a pursuit vehicle.

If you can completely turn off your brain, you might find this one tolerable for the extravagant action sequences, but otherwise it can safely be skipped.

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