I know there are those that feel otherwise, but I like Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and appreciate the kind of story director Jonathan Mostow and screenwriters John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris set out to tell.
Whereas the first Terminator had no higher goal than that of straight-forward monster movie (still the best Hollywood has produced in the last 30 years), and Judgement Day was more concerned with action that developing the themes presented in the first film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is the only movie of the three that is actually a sci-fi film at its core. That fourth film starring Christian Bale? Yeah… we don’t talk about that one.
Along for the ride this time are Arnold Schwarzenegger as an out-dated T-850 sent back to keep John safe, Claire Danes as the woman the future version of John will marry, and Kristanna Loken as the advanced T-X. No Loken isn’t as impressive as the T-1000 prototype from the previous film, but her programming to hunt down and kill members who will grow into John Connor’s most trusted allies (while bringing forth the creation of SkyNet) hearkens back to the themes of the original film, and with a healthy dose of CGI the “Terminatrix” holds her to as the film’s strong female figure in the absence of Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton).
Relying on impressive effects and the well-chosen recasting of John Connor, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines delivers a strong story and enjoyable action flick while also filling in the gaps to explain why Terminators were sent at the various important points in John’s life. Although the film’s ending rubbed some fans the wrong way, it’s the necessary closure to the logical problem of time travel which neither the first nor second film adequately addresses. As John states, Judgement Day could be postponed but never avoided. Without Skynet or time travel Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) is never sent back into the past and John is never born.
The Blu-ray includes a DVD copy and an Ultraviolet digital copy of the movie along with previously released extras including four separate audio commentaries (including an in-picture video commentary with cast and crew), a behind-the-scenes featurette, a gag reel, storyboards, and a look at the toys and video game inspired by the movie.
[Warner Home Video, $14.97]