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Terminator 3

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Knock me over with a feather. It rocks.

The writing is smart and funny without verging into parody, the action is genuinely exciting (remember that?), the big vehicular chase scene beats out Matrix Reloaded's ballyhooed freeway scene, the mythology of the first two films is cleverly developed and advanced, and it's got a slam-bang climax. This is a strong sequel, a strong film. I'm looking forward to reviewing it.

(Side note: Calling my wife via cellphone coming out of the theater, I learned that at bedtime prayers the kids were praying that the movie Papa was seeing would be good, since he was sick of all the bad ones he had to see all the time. :) )

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Woo hoo!!

I knew it! I knew that the big movies were going to disappoint, and the underdogs would take the summer. I just came back from "Pirates of the Caribbean", and it's a hoot and a holler as well.

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YES!!!! Being a fan of the first two movies, you don't know how happy I am to hear this. I was afraid to hope too much.

Exactly. And contrary to what Ebert seems to think, I thought "She'll be back" was a clever line.

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SDG, what did you think of Nick Stahl's performance in the movie? I'm still can't get over my disappointment about how Edward Furlong couldn't pull out of his drug haze and do a decent movie for once.

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While I would have liked to see Furlong in the film for continuity's sake, I wasn't exactly wowed by his performance in T2, and found Stahl a perfectly respectable replacement. He feels like the same character to me.

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I have to disagree. While T3 wasn't a disappointment, it did not live up to it's predecesors. For me, the biggest disappointment was the inadequate explanation as to how the machines survived after all traces of technology from the future were melted down in T2. I thought T2 was the perfect ending to the Terminator series - particularly the "I cannot self-terminate, you must lower me down" bit, what a great twist - so I thought a rock-solid explanation was in order. I didn't get it. I almost would have preferred blunt honesty - "dah film com-pah-nees decided dat two movies was not enough for dis frahn-chise."

Besides not explaining this important detail, I thought this female terminator was no where near as cool or creepy as either of the first two. Ahnold's Terminator was brute force and macho cool. The mighty, morphing T-1000 had a more subtle, serial-killer-next-door vibe to him. The T-X? she had no discernable personality whatsoever. It would have been nice to see the film use her feminine charms to some kind of advantage. There is a bit at the beginning where she inflates her breasts to get out of paying a traffic ticket but she presumably ends up killing to cop to get his gun. Also, the film never explains why the machines designed a female terminator.

AHOY! SPOILERS AHEAD.

And the ending. :roll: I felt cheated - just another way to keep the franchise going. At least next time they won't have to explain why they're back. If Kate Brewster's (Danes) father knew that Skynet was unstoppable (since it's distributed on the internet) he should have told them that before sending them to the bunker for safety and survival. That way, when John and Kate make it to the bunker they (and the audience) don't wonder why this "hardened facility" is unguarded when they arrive. Also, Kate and John fly to this bunker on a single engine plane, out of an area with flying terminator machines. How did they make it out? And why is there a particle accelerator at a military complex? That's somthing you find at universities studying subatomic particles. And surely John and Kate had some metal on them - zippers, spare change, jewelry. They should have been stuck as well.

As for the best car sequence of the summer, I still think that nod goes to The Italian Job.

This was an okay movie but not good enough to justify resurrecting the series. They should have left it at T2 but Hollywood will milk a cash cow until it's dry. There may yet be something left in the Terminator series but it's getting sour by the squeeze.

God bless,

randall

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LoneTomato wrote:

: I have to disagree. While T3 wasn't a disappointment, it did not live up to

: it's predecesors.

Agreed. The original Terminator was an ultra-cool (and basically unsequelizable) film on many, many levels, and T2 was, while somewhat lame and incoherent from a narrative point of view, at least a cutting-edge film from a technical point of view. T3, on the other hand, has no new FX to impart and it makes mincemeat of the storyline from the first two films. I agree that the chase scene in this film is better than the one in Matrix Reloaded, and T3 has other pleasures besides, but it's little more than a decent overpriced B-movie.

And before I get to the rest of your post, I will now go through the obligatory continuity gripes.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

First, this movie flatly contradicts T2, in which John Connor is explicitly declared to be 10 years old, by saying that John Connor was 13 when the previous movie took place; not only that, but it flatly contradicts T2, which took place in 1995, by saying that the previous movie took place some time before 1994. And since the new movie appears to be taking place more-or-less today (note that one shot of Arnold's internal chronometer counting back through the years), and since the publicity materials I have seen for this film indicate that John Connor is now 25 years old, it would seem that the makers of T3 want us to believe that the original Terminator took place, not in 1984 as the first two films assert, but in 1977. I DON'T THINK SO.

Second, note how this new film reveals that the war with the machines is STILL going on in 2032, and the machines even seem to be winning, despite Kyle's declaration in the first film that the war had ended, with humanity victorious, in 2029. (T3 also contradicts the titles at the beginning of the original Terminator, which say that the "final battle" for the fate of humanity would take place not in the future, but in the present.)

Third, this new film makes even LESS sense in terms of temporal mechanics than the last film did. The first film followed a very tight closed-loop model of time travel -- if you go back in time, you do not change the future, you only fulfill it. (Sure, Kyle and the machines THOUGHT they could change the past, but the joke was on them -- and John Connor, by sending Kyle back in time to become his father, pretty much knew that the loop was closed.) The second film was obliged to stick to the closed-loop model at first, but then, half-way through, it veered into an open-loop model of time travel -- if you go back in time, you can change the future, and by doing so, you create an entirely different timeline from the timeline that you came back from. So IF the world does get overrun by machines on Timeline #2, after the events of T2, they will NOT be the same machines as the ones that took over the planet on Timeline #1.

T3, however, tries to have it both ways, on a number of fronts. First of all, the T-X is operating on BOTH a closed-loop premise (she plants the computer virus that sets "Judgment Day" in motion and makes her future possible) AND an open-looped premise (she successfully kills several children who, in her future, had grown up to become John Connor's lieutenants). That just makes no sense. But more importantly, she's coming from a future where John Connor has apparently turned out to be the saviour of the world all over again, DESPITE the fact that Timeline #2 turned out very differently from Timeline #1 and he has spent 12 years of his life NOT surviving in a machine-dominated world and NOT fighting back against the machines and NOT building up his military skill and NOT making the personal contacts that will enable him to lead the resistance. To put this very simply, there is absolutely no reason the machines should even CARE about John Connor now. John Connor turned out to be a big hero on Timeline #1, and it was AFTER he had won that the machines realized their only hope was to go back in time and stop him before he had even been born; there was no "destiny" about it, not in the sense that the word is invoked in this film. But now that John Connor lives on Timeline #2, there is very little guarantee that he will become humanity's saviour again, and in fact, there is a very high probability that he WON'T become humanity's saviour; indeed, the new film reveals that, even after the alleged victory of 2029, John Connor has been assassinated and humanity STILL hasn't been saved from the machines.

And this is before we turn to more trivial matters, like how on Earth can the John Connor of Timeline #2 STILL be sending Cyberdyne Systems Model 101s back in time to protect himself, when he and his mom blew up the Cyberdyne lab and melted the Terminator's CPU in the second film. (On the positive side, considering that the Model 101 was supposed to be the "new" model of Terminator when John Connor supposedly won the war in 2029, perhaps the three years between 2029 and John Connor's assassination in 2032 might help to explain where the machines found the time to develop those even newer models, the T-1000 and T-X, both of which are HUGE leaps forward in technology from the Model 101.)

Quite simply, the script for this film is a mess. The only reason I am able to enjoy the film at all, on the level of pure dumb action, is because I already regard T2 as apocryphal, so anything that comes after it is equally apocryphal.

: For me, the biggest disappointment was the inadequate explanation as to

: how the machines survived after all traces of technology from the future

: were melted down in T2.

Yup.

: I thought T2 was the perfect ending to the Terminator series . . .

I thought the original Terminator was the perfect ending to the Terminator series. Seriously, back in the '80s, I used to enjoy pointing out to people how impossible it was to sequelize that film. It was just such a tight, tight bit of storytelling, no loose ends whatsoever.

: Besides not explaining this important detail, I thought this female

: terminator was no where near as cool or creepy as either of the first two.

Agreed. I am also disappointed that we actually see her arrive in her time bubble, with no explanation as to whether she actually has flesh, or what. (You will recall that only living things can come back in time.) Did you ever notice that we never actually see how the T-1000 came back in time? He might have had an initial layer of flesh, he might not have ... for all we know, he came back in time smuggled inside a living being of some sort, and his apparent nudity was just a default position until he had a better sense of the fashions of the era he was travelling to.

: As for the best car sequence of the summer, I still think that nod goes to

: The Italian Job.

A film which, incidentally, is proving to have remarkably strong legs at the box office.

: There may yet be something left in the Terminator series but it's getting

: sour by the squeeze.

And it's getting progressively campier, too. 'Bad to the Bone' in T2 was a tolerably bad joke, but 'Macho Man' and the Elton John sunglasses? Makes me miss the days when Arnold used to rip punks' hearts out.

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Continuity gripes aren't my bag, so I'm much more free to enjoy these films as sheer spectacle. And this film delivers -- big time.

Although I haven't read SDG's full review of the film, I second everything he's written up to this point in the thread. I also think this film's characters and relationships are stronger than those in T-2, which is the prime example of James Cameron's affinity for special effects over dialogue and characterization. Now, I'm not saying the T-3 characters are deep. They aren't. But I'll take the half-baked romance and silly quips of T-3 over the whiny Edward Furlong and the sappy father-figure stuff of T-2 any day.

Also, as someone whose eyes glaze over whenever there's an onscreen car chase, I must say that the crane sequence in T-3, while a disgusting waste of money, is amazing to behold.

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Christian wrote:

: Continuity gripes aren't my bag, so I'm much more free to enjoy these

: films as sheer spectacle. And this film delivers -- big time.

True, if all you are interested in is sheer spectacle.

: I also think this film's characters and relationships are stronger than

: those in T-2, which is the prime example of James Cameron's affinity for

: special effects over dialogue and characterization.

These sound like the words of someone who didn't discover James Cameron until T2. For those of us who thrived on his films in the 1980s, James Cameron films such as Aliens, The Abyss and the original Terminator were wonderful examples of how dialogue and characterization could drive the special effects, rather than vice versa.

The 1990s, alas, WERE another story. T2 was an ill-advised sequel from the get-go, and True Lies was an embarrassment. I did like Titanic, though I readily acknowledge its various weaknesses, plus the fact that the basic storyline is basically just a rehash of the original Terminator, with walls of water filling in for cyborgs.

: Also, as someone whose eyes glaze over whenever there's an onscreen

: car chase, I must say that the crane sequence in T-3, while a disgusting

: waste of money, is amazing to behold.

Yup.

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More *** SPOILER *** laden thoughts on the new film.

It seems to me that John Connor gets less impressive with every film. We never saw him in the first film, so there was an air of mystery about him -- all we knew was that he had saved the world. In the second film, we see him as a whiney kid, but we also get a glimpse of him as an imposing, battle-scarred adult in the future. In the third film, the glimpse of the future just makes him look old and weary, and what we see of him in the present isn't very impressive ... and he gets his thunder stolen by Claire Danes (not just in the present, but in the future, too, apparently).

It also seems to me that the new film undermines the maleness, the butchness of the previous two films in some ways. (Not saying that that's a good or bad thing, just observing.) First, the gay male stripper; in the first film, Arnold got his clothes from a punk; in the second film, Arnold got his clothes from a bearded, cigar-smoking biker, and for a bit of cheesy humour, the film played 'Bad to the Bone' on the soundtrack; now, in the third film, Arnold gets his clothes from a gay male stripper while 'Macho Man' plays in the background. Note also the change in catchphrase over the course of the films: the punk played by Bill Paxton in the first film teaches Arnold to say "F--- you, asshole"; in the second film, John Connor teaches Arnold to say "Hasta la vista, baby" (an expression by which Arnold arguably feminizes his opponent); and in the third film, the gay male stripper teaches Arnold to say "Talk to the hand" (an expression by which Arnold himself becomes somewhat feminized).

Second, the new film's terminator assumes a female form, and while Arnold does get to beat her up pretty good, she also has the privilege of grabbing him by the crotch and hoisting him off the ground, whereas he never bothers to grab any of her, um, more private regions. Third, the Claire Danes character herself. (I did mention there would be SPOILERS here, yes?) Apparently, despite Kyle's assertion that John Connor had won the war against the humans in 2029, the new film tells us that John is assassinated on July 4, 2032 ... and it tells us that his wife, the Danes character, is the one who sent this Terminator back in time. So it appears the war in the future never ends, and at the latest point in the future for which we have any information, all the male characters are dead and the only character still standing is a woman. Again, I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing; I'm just observing -- and this IS a marked difference from the first two films, in which the main female character, Sarah Connor, exists primarily to make John Connor's future possible.

Speaking of July 4 and the ending of this film, etc., I must say I find it strange that Arnold said last week that he was planning to take this movie to Iraq, to entertain the troops there on July 4. Think about it. The SECOND film played on the notion that a pre-emptive strike could prevent a war from ever happening. But the NEW film says, no, the war will happen, and it will drag on for decades and decades with no end in sight, and the hero who you THOUGHT was victorious will instead end up being assassinated a shortly after his "victory" ... and on July 4, to boot. How did the troops in Iraq respond to that aspect of the film, I wonder.

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True, if all you are interested in is sheer spectacle.

Well, it is a big ol' dumb summer movie. Perhaps it benefits from my low expectations.

These sound like the words of someone who didn't discover James Cameron until T2. For those of us who thrived on his films in the 1980s, James Cameron films such as Aliens, The Abyss and the original Terminator were wonderful examples of how dialogue and characterization could drive the special effects, rather than vice versa.

Yeah, I guess you have a point there. I do like those films, although I can't remember a lick of dialogue from "Aliens." "The Abyss" was one of my favorite films for a few years after its release, but now the whole alien-ending thing underwhelms me. Still, the central relationship between Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was affecting.

The 1990s, alas, WERE another story. T2 was an ill-advised sequel from the get-go, and True Lies was an embarrassment. I did like Titanic, though I readily acknowledge its various weaknesses, plus the fact that the basic storyline is basically just a rehash of the original Terminator, with walls of water filling in for cyborgs.

So you disagree with my assessment of the man's output, except for his work the past 13 years. OK. I can buy that. smile.gif

And I'm glad to see someone else -- PTC, no less -- step up and admit his admiration for "Titanic," a film that I thought was fabulous (as sheer spectacle, of course). But oy!, that dialogue.

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Christian wrote:

: Well, it is a big ol' dumb summer movie. Perhaps it benefits from my low

: expectations.

Hmmm, and T2 was a big ol' dumb summer movie, too. But the original Terminator was released in October. That must be why it's so much better than the others. smile.gif

: Yeah, I guess you have a point there. I do like those films, although I

: can't remember a lick of dialogue from "Aliens."

Really? Not even the creepy way the girl says "They mostly come at night ... mostly" or the way Sigourney Weaver tells the Queen Alien "You move away from her, you BITCH!" or the way Bill Paxton spazzes out?

: "The Abyss" was one of my favorite films for a few years after its

: release, but now the whole alien-ending thing underwhelms me.

Ah, well, I always thought the final five minutes were a little dopey. But if it's CHARACTER you want, that film sure had it!

: And I'm glad to see someone else -- PTC, no less -- step up and admit

: his admiration for "Titanic," a film that I thought was fabulous (as sheer

: spectacle, of course). But oy!, that dialogue.

Heck, I actually got choked up near the end. But yeah, the dialogue does clunk in some places.

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Third, the Claire Danes character herself.

Oh, but she's so lovely. Along with Igby Goes Down (which I didn't understand...my friend said it's because I'm from Hawaii) it looks like she's back! I'm sure most people in T3 were gaa gaa over the T-X but my eyes were on Danes. To each his own.

Beautiful women are proof of a good and loving God.

God bless,

randall

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Sorry, but until you recited those lines, I hadn't remembered them. Brings back memories now, though. smile.gif

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Ah, good ol' Aliens. smile.gif

I'm gonna check out T-3: Rise of the Machines this afternoon. I'll get back with my thoughts later.

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LoneTomato wrote:

: Along with Igby Goes Down (which I didn't understand...my friend said

: it's because I'm from Hawaii) it looks like she's back! I'm sure most

: people in T3 were gaa gaa over the T-X but my eyes were on Danes.

And don't forget The Hours.

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Ok, just got back from the movie and read all the spoilerish comments that Peter wrote.

Regardless, I think this film is probably one of the best pure-action films I've seen in a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed the film on a viceral, action-loving, popcorn movie level. The characters weren't annoying, there was lots of humor, and call me weird but I liked the ending. ohmy.gif

None-the-less, many of Peter's continuity gripes do exist. They are not figments of the imagination. But on the other hand, do I really care that much? Probably not.

I did like it better than that other man vs. machine movie I saw this summer. :roll:

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Finally caught up with this. Warning: Overstreet-rant-mode ahead.

It has a great truck chase/demolition derby... and that is ALL. The performances are okay in that the actors are all trying hard with what they're given, but they're not given much.

I think Danes is miscast. She and Stahl have zero chemistry. All of her shrieking and OMG!s became tiresome very quickly.

Stahl and Schwarzenegger have zero chemistry as well.

The guy who plays Danes' dad is such a cliche... he overacts, he never once convinces me that he is at all intelligent... Man, all of those scenes about national defense were just awful. They looked like they came from a cheap television series.

And the revelations were so lame: SPOILERS!! Okay, fine, so she's going to be his wife. Of course. We knew it had to be some family-connection surprise. It always is.

The dialogue covers so much of the same territory from previous films. The plot is frail. The Terminatrix has some nice tricks, but they should have given her a unique personality instead of just making her the female version of T2's villain. And what's with these robots who are so incredibly powerful and yet they lack the simplest scanning devices... How can you hide from a Terminator by ducking behind a door and being very quiet? Come on.

The big scene in which the Terminator is wrestling with himself was melodramatic but unconvincing. The head-pulled-off effects were nice. But all of those cheesy computer screens we're shown that represent what the Teminator is thinking... they just get harder and harder to accept.

The comedy was funnier when people described it than it was actually seeing it.

The conclusion is surprisingly bleak and cliffhangerish, but I don't really look forward to seeing these two again.

And while T2 gave us some food for thought, this just gives us time-travel convolutions. What do we have to discuss? "Judgment day is inevitable." Not enough.

C/C-

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Hey, Jeffrey, don't hold back. Come on, tell us what you really think. :wink:

Actually, thanks for the rant. I'm not spending $8 bucks to see this one in the theater. Thanks for the tips, everyone. Ten bucks says it's available on DVD by Halloween.

-s.

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I'm not a big fan of the way Anthony Lane shows off with wordplay and wanders off the subject of the film, but once in a while his semantic antics still provoke a laugh:

The strangest spectacle comes toward the end, as the Terminator

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No, no, no. You guys are all wrong. smile.gif

SDG wrote:

The writing is smart and funny without verging into parody

It does too! I thought this film was full of nods and winks to the initiated audience. The keys-above-the-visor shot, the entire chase scene, and the multiple shots of Arnold searching for an acceptable sunglasses solution were all in-jokes, playable for Terminator newbies and humorous for veterans. These were humorous references to the earlier films; what isn't self-parodying about that?

And I don't think the keys-above-the-visor thing is a problem. There's no particular reason that this terminator, who's had a different set of experiences than the previous one, would _not_ have learned at some point, somehow, to look for keys above the visor.

PTC wrote:

T3, however, tries to have it both ways, on a number of fronts. First of all, the T-X is operating on BOTH a closed-loop premise (she plants the computer virus that sets "Judgment Day" in motion and makes her future possible) AND an open-looped premise (she successfully kills several children who, in her future, had grown up to become John Connor's lieutenants). That just makes no sense.

Sure it does - it isn't a closed-loop model at all. In an open-loop model, it makes sense that some things could happen similarly to the ways they happend...last time. But even if some things *do* appear to happen similarly in this narrative, we don't actually know how they happened the "first" time, and as long as circumstances arise so that enough of the future happens that the time-travel can happen, then we're all set. Really, your only problem is trying to find a closed-loop model in these films. It's not necessarily there; I don't know that you can ever "prove" that a time-travel model is closed-loop unless you see the entire loop (as in 12 Monkeys). (As an aside, with any open-loop model you presumeably bifurcate your timeline every time you travel.)

Also, I think there has been a consistent theme throughout these films that some aspects of the future are effectively predetermined, time-travel mechanics aside, because of whom we are. "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves", as the oft-repeated saying goes, and these three films are all about fate and us making it. I took the assertion that "Judgement Day is inevitable" to mean that because of human nature, mankind will, for protection, build machines that turn against him and overpower him.

But even if it meant something else or more, I don't particularly have a problem with the films relying on some external sort of Fate. I realize this is a deux ex machina explanation, but maybe that's what the films are using, too.

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