In anticipation of a new Terminator movie coming out at the beginning of November, I’ve decided to binge the first five movies in the series for the first time. Click here for if you missed Day One or Day Two of this binge.
Three movies in three days. At least I’ll be more than halfway after this…
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Okay, I’m just going to start this off by saying, this isn’t a great movie. The first Terminator movie was very good, the second was great. This one is definitely the weakest so far. The plot and characters both felt underdeveloped, and the whole thing felt like it would serve better as the season finale of a TV series.
The special effects continued to improve, which is unsurprising since it was 12 years between movies. Couldn’t really complain about the practical effects either, though there are almost as many explosions as a standard Michael Bay movie. Don’t really have any more to say about that.
This movie is blockbuster adrenaline junkie movie at its peak. The character development of the first two movies was pushed aside here and replaced with action set-piece after action set-piece. There are basically only three quieter moments: at the beginning before any characters are really introduced, and then twice in the middle, when the characters are actually, you know, talking, rather than shooting at something or running from something. I know people don’t go to watch these movies for the quiet character moments, but since the first two movies had some really good character development, I was hoping for more and didn’t get it.
I could talk about the actors and characters up here before the spoiler break, but I really don’t have much to say. Schwarzenegger (I’m getting better at spelling that on the first try) is the same, the new guy playing John Connor is fine, Claire Danes isn’t given much to work with in my opinion, and Kristanna Loken does exactly what she was hired for, which was to walk preditorially toward our heroes wearing skin-tight red leather; I didn’t count, but I’m not sure she said much more than 20 words in the whole movie.
Okay, spoiler time.
The plot for most of the movie is almost nonexistent, other than: One terminator is trying to kill two people who are being protected by another terminator. I actually paused it at one point and was shocked to find out I was more than half-way through the movie and that was literally all that I knew the movie was about. It wasn’t until the three heroes were regrouping — again, more than halfway through the movie — when we got a motivating action from the characters. Only at that point did the movie shift from “run from the TX” (I refuse to call it a “terminatrix”…why are we gendering robot assassins?) to “let’s stop Judgement Day redux.” The result of this is that we don’t understand why these things are happening until that point. At the end of T2, we are led to believe the machines will never take over. However, this movie starts with machines still existing with no explanation until halfway through. The whole thing felt like the studio said “hey, we need a big summer blockbuster [I actually have no idea whether this movie came out in the summer], do we have an IP that we don’t need to put much effort into developing a plot or characters but still make a big budget movie that people will pay to see?” And thus T3 was born.
It’s just disappointing given where the series left off with T2, which was really great.
I will say, the ending is the best part, by far. The discovery that the T-800 tricked John and Kate into the bunker so they would survive was a real gut punch. I was not expecting that. I assumed they would beat Skynet again, and they’d do the same thing in the next one, just constantly delaying the inevitable. Boy I was wrong. That was a very good way to end the movie and transition the main timeline into the post-judgement day world.
Okay, I’m curious, I want to see what this movie got on metacritic. Please hold…
66? Really? Seems a bit high. Not astronomically high, just high. And T2 has a lower score than the first one? Well that’s ridiculous.
Okay, time for some scores for the first three movies. I’m comfortable with Terminator’s 84. I’d give T2 an 88. And for T3, I’ll give a 60. Maybe I’m being harsher on it because of how much I enjoyed the first two. Whatever, I’m never right about these things.
But it’s uphill from here, right?…right?
49 and 38 for the next two?!?!?
Oh the next two days are going to be rough…