Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

I can freely admit that I have little-to-no interest in seeing “Terminator: Salvation,” the fourth Terminator film set to hit theaters this summer, but I did have a perverse desire to watch “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” the ugly stepchild of the pack (so far).

The film totally, completely deserves that reputation. But, even though T3 is not on par with its predecessors, it’s not awful. Shocker.

The human race made it through 1997 without going nuclear, Sarah Connor has died from cancer, and John Connor (Nick Stahl) is living “off the grid,” (homeless, uncontactable) fearful of the future that should not come to pass. Of course, if that was true, there would no movie; once again, two terminators (one ridiculously overpowered, the other an obsolete model) travel back in time to 1) kill John Connor’s future lieutenants and 2) protect John Conner’s future lieutenants.

Yeah, we’ve been here before, except this time, our intrepid heroes drag an innocent woman into their cat-and-mouse run for life; Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) initially gets the drop on John when he’s in hiding, but ends up getting snatched by the good terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger, my governator), because this trip, he’s programmed to keep her safe along with the surly future leader.

The trio runs around (and away) a lot, wanton destruction reins over Los Angeles, and somehow or another, they keep on surviving. The main problem with this scenario (and the film) is just too much action; the plot is recycled from the previous films (stop Skynet because machines are bad) and to compensate for the lack of originality, the writers introduce the Mary Sue terminator, who is completely badass and totally un-killable, but the machine still can’t complete the mission. Yawn.

But, and this is a big but, the ending redeems the CGI abuse of the 100 prior minutes. It was a genuine surprise in a movie that offered nothing new in the cycle. Nice job there, although I would probably recommend “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” an alternate version of the cycle. It may always be the ugly stepchild, but “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” sure went down swinging.

“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” (2003)

Directed by Jonathan Mostow

Written by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator)

 Nick Stahl (John Connor)

Claire Danes (Kate Brewster)