Rise of the Machines
Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, et al.
Warner Home Video
Date: November 11, 2003
November 18, 2003
The T-101 Terminator
(Schwarzenegger) returns for one more mission to protect John
Conner (Stahl) from a new threat. This time a female Terminator
(Kristanna Loken) is bent on terminating everyone of Connor's
future resistance cell in the war, including Kate Brewster, a
young woman (Claire Danes) whose father (David Andrews) is
listening to Brad Fiedel's Terminator 2 score right now.
It reminds me of watching a smart, action-packed sci-fi
adventure. James Cameron directed T2 a little over ten
years ago. The film is a masterpiece in its own right. Now, star
Arnold Schwarzenegger is ten years older, not to mention
California's new governor. In any case, Arnold is back in
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. It is directed by
Jonathan Mostow, the man
who brought us the suspenseful Breakdown and exciting
U-571. In a sense Mostow follows well into the footsteps of
Cameron. However, he adds his own spin to the visual style and
play of the film. Mostow proves to be the right choice for this
On the other hand,
3 lacks the
kinetics and punches of the second film, yet that is mostly due
to the script. John Brancato and Michael Ferris come up with a
decent idea to bring back the Terminator. The idea is only
decent because it's more of the same like we saw in T2.
Still, both these guys script some good action pieces. Dialogue
interactions with the Terminator and John Connor are fun to
watch. Most notably they bring a new character into the story,
namely Kate Brewster, daughter of Skynet's director and future
ally to John. They also come up with an interesting premise that
concerns a new future as well as the introduction of some good
themes and ideas, but at 109 minutes the film is a bit too
short. Fleshing out the ideas and possible scenarios, as well as
adding a few more defining scenes, are aspects that would've
improved the film. Additionally, Brancato and Ferris ignore some of
the plot threads from T2 by changing the impact and meaning of
the famous line, "Fate is what you make of it." Well, as it
turns out that is not the case in T3. It's not the smartest
thing, but I didn't mind that much.
As it stands,
3 is an enjoyable
sequel with incredible action. On the other hand, it's also an
average sequel when compared to T2. The dynamics of T3
are not as original as in the former. In other words, it's more
of a popcorn flick than a true sci-fi action film. The mass
audience might not care much about that factor, but it keeps the
film from reaching a level of originality. It's a little
disappointing, but I still find many things enjoyable about the
film. As mentioned earlier, the introduction of Kate Brewster is
a good idea as it adds a new female figure to the story,
especially because of how the film addresses the absence of Sara
Connor. The spin on her character makes sense and sets up a
potentially good premise for a proposed fourth Terminator
film. The ultimate set-up, however, occurs at the end of T3.
It is then that the war begins. Some viewers will feel
excitement like I did. Others will criticize the open-ended
nature of the film. Personally, I can't wait for Terminator 4.
The acting in T3 is pretty solid.
Schwarzenegger returns to the role with a good physique. He
plays the same Terminator model, and even though he looks a bit
older and his accent is a bit too loose, he is still our
favorite cyber-organetic killing machine. Sounds odd during
these times, doesn't it? Truthfully, his presence isn't really
required in the film, but it probably gives fans of the franchise a
greater incentive to watch the film. Aside from John Connor he
is still the central figure.
Moreover, Nick Stahl does a very
good job taking over the role of John Connor. Seeing Edward
Furlong return would've been kind of strange, not to mention
inappropriate considering his personal problems. Stahl has a
good presence, especially opposite Claire Danes. Danes is good
for the part of Kate and it should be interesting where these
two characters end up. Much can be said about the Terminatrix,
played by hottie Kristanna Loken. She's a good transition after
Robert Patrick's T-1000 model. Called the T-X, she is much more
advanced at terminating.
Aside from the overall decent
storyline, T3 lacks a determined and powerful score. Brad Fiedel
is not back in the composer's chair. Instead, Scream
composer Marco Beltrami takes over, but he does a crappy job.
Only a few tracks in the soundtrack show promise while the rest
are quiet and too short. There is no identifiable "theme", which
is a pretty big setback for music enthusiasts and fans. Come
back for the fourth one, Brad. You're needed. Anyway, rambling
about a fourth film is too premature. I wish I wouldn't have mentioned
it as often as I did. Perhaps we'll never see one, but
indications are the project is moving ahead. Good.
So, despite some minor ramblings
and setbacks in the film, I am recommending
3 as a whole for its
entertainment value. It's not T2, but it's damn fun. I
had a good time with it and I think fans can enjoy this one,
presents Terminator 3 in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Colors are sharp and well-saturated. Color detail is well
defined. Grain is not really a big issue here, which is good. I
also didn't notice any compression artifacts. Blacks are deep
while dark tones are pretty consistent. The overall image
quality is quite good. Definition is sharp while the image
itself is clean and very fresh. This is a very good
presents Terminator 3 in English 5.1 Dolby Digital
Surround Sound. I'll say it right off the bat, this soundtrack
is packing some good punch and heavy dynamic range. Surrounds
are clearly active, distributing all sorts of sound effects into
the soundfield for a nice surround experience. Dialog is nicely
reproduced across the two front channels. It is also clear and
easy to understand. My subwoofer also made some noise. On the
other hand, the soundtrack fails to successfully incorporate
Marco Beltrami's score into the mix. However, most of his
score is weak to begin with. Only a few good tones exist. The
absence of Brad Fiedel's signature score is sorely missed. In
any case, this presentation is strong and to the point.
It should be noted that this DVD
is not a special edition. It's simply a 2-disc edition. In
widescreen! Wow! Jonathan Mostow has been quoted as saying
several DVD editions are planned for the future. Well, that's
kind of unfair, but for business it's gold. Anyway, the DVD
features a few good extras, but the rest are lame.
On disc 1 there is a commentary
with Jonathan Mostow that's pretty good. He goes into detail
about the production and story, as well as a few other things.
His comments are well-spoken; he's good talker. It's an
informative track. Next is a second commentary by Mostow
joined by Claire Danes, and Nick Stahl, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Kristanna Loken chipping in comments from separate recording
sessions. They all have good things to say. Some of Arnold's
comments are a bit strange, but he's usually a pretty
free-thinking kind of guy. Mostow repeats a few things from his
solo track, but brings up new topics also.
The film's theatrical trailer
and a video game trailer round out the extras on the
first disc. Pop in disc 2 and you can navigate through four
pages of special features stuff. These extras don't need that
many pages. The appearance of a large selection of extras is
deceiving. But whatever.
Schwarzenegger starts off disc 2
with a 30-second introduction that's kind of pointless.
We get a funny deleted scene that plays like an
infomercial and explains the origin of the T-101 model and the
reason for the Austrian accent. It wouldn't have worked in the
film, but it's fun to have it here. The DVD also offers a
13-minute HBO First Look making-of featurette, which is
all standard promo stuff. It's not very exciting and doesn't go
into detail about the film. A 3-minute gag reel is not
that funny, plus the song that plays over it is pretty lame and
But the next item proves to be
much more informative and entertaining. The Visual FX Lab
is made up of several sections detailing four major effects
sequences in the film. It shows the progression of each scene in
terms of the background plate, effects animation, composition,
etc. A pretty good demonstration of the special effects. Also,
you can build you own action sequence by changing around
elements of the respective scene. It's kind of fun, but not as
interactive as one might think. No major modifications occur.
Rounding out the extras is a very
brief costume design featurette, a decent but unwarranted
featurette on T3 toys with Todd MacFarlane, a lame
making of the video game that's not really a making of
the video game (it's mostly interviews and game footage), a
Terminator timeline, storyboards and a Skynet
text database containing all sorts of notes.
Most of these extras are filler
material, like those on the
2-disc edition. A special edition with in-depth
featurettes or documentaries is sure to follow within the next
year or two. Boo-hoo! It's not like I can't wait.
select to view the film with optional English and Spanish
subtitles. The 109-minute feature is organized into
3: Rise of the Machines is an enjoyable sequel filled with
cool action sequences. The story is not totally original, but
nicely continues the plot of the franchise even by omitting a
few threads from the previous two films. Jonathan Mostow directs
the film well. The cast looks good, too.
Video/audio quality is
pretty damn good. Most of the extras are filler material, except
and the visual effects demonstrations that are the highlights.
The DVD is worth a purchase. A special edition could be at least
a year away. Why wait. Highly recommended.
(not an average)
VERDICT: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED