Classic Intel: Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines - Blu-ray Review

'The script resourcefully finds a way to make recycling essentially the same narrative structure for a third time not only permissible but actually innovative'.

The first film of the franchise to be made without the involvement of James Cameron, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines was released well over a decade after Terminator 2: Judgment Day following an extended stretch in development hell for much of the 1990s. With Cameron's departure, it was down to Jonathan Mostow to pick up the mantle of the franchise, a task he takes on admirably if not always successfully.

Looking at its constituent parts, Rise Of The Machines contains plenty of good ideas. The T-X, or "Terminatrix" (Kristanna Loken), is a brilliant fresh villainous concept to face off against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s somewhat clapped-out original Terminator, who now describes himself as an "obsolete design". The script resourcefully finds a way to make recycling essentially the same narrative structure for a third time not only permissible but actually innovative. There are also numerous references to the established mythology of the series for veteran Terminator fans to enjoy, even if Mostow never allows Rise Of The Machines to shout them nearly as loudly as he should.

But whilst the ideas are there, the problems regularly come from Mostow's execution. It's difficult to take the T-X seriously in the same way as the original film's T-800 or Judgment Day's T-1000 when amongst the first things we see her do are enhance her bosom to get out of a speeding ticket, and nonsensically impersonate the noise of a modem with her mouth whilst connecting to a mobile phone network. Her mission to eliminate future key members of the Resistance after Skynet's fruitless attempts to locate John Connor (Nick Stahl) works well for the brief amount of time Rise Of The Machines runs with it, before reverting back to a basic plot disappointingly similar to that of Judgment Day that too often invites unflattering comparison with the superior first sequel.

Mostow seems unsure of exactly what type of film he wants to make. The director switches between over-the-top action that pleasingly delivers the requisite thrills, with extra explosions thrown in for good measure; and out-and-out comedy that regularly parodies the series' previous instalments. Schwarzenegger's entrance here, for example, directly references that seen in Judgment Day, but trades the iconic cool of the previous film for ludicrous lampoonery.

Rise Of The Machines is not a bad film by any means; Mostow consistently delivers an enjoyable but flawed Hollywood action experience. That the director never manages to make his film anything more than this is perhaps his biggest failing, presenting as he is the continuation of a story initiated and developed through two consistently outstanding pieces of cinema. Rise Of The Machines never comes close to the level of Cameron's films, but there's still enough here to make this an entertaining if unremarkable way to spend a hundred odd minutes of your time.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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