Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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If you're Mike Meyers, you can get away with recycling all the best jokes from your earlier movie, packing in some new filler, and passing it off as a new film. I'm not sure how he gets away with it, mind you, but he does. If you're Arnold Schwarzenegger... you don't. Despite the fact that you could crush Mike Meyers between your butt cheeks.

Warning, some spoilers follow. Nothing huge, but you've been warned. And when talking about this movie, "warn" is definitely the operative word.

Terminator 3 is a film that shamelessly lacks any shred of originality. The basic plot of the vastly superior T2-- obsolete Terminator goes back in time to protect John Connor from more advanced Terminator-- is exactly what we've got this time around. The T-X is ultimately dispatched using ideas lifted wholesale from the first Terminator film: detached from its body, its upper torso pursues its target beneath an enormous, crushing weight. It's not even content to just steal from itself! When Arnold's programming gets coopted by the T-X, John shuts him down using the old "What is your primary mission? You're about to fail that mission!" canard which, along with the "omnipotent alien race", was the favorite rabbit in Gene Roddenberry's bag of tricks. I literally threw up my hands at that point.

T3 suffers from a fundamental cloning dilemma-- you can copy the body, but not the soul. Although it references the past films, it lacks all of their charm. The humanization of Arnold's Terminator in T2 was central to the story's theme of changing one's destiny. T3 doesn't just eschew such touches, it makes no pretense of having themes or subtext at all. The movie is essentially one long chase scene-- and not even a particularly compelling one.

When the action stops long enough for a conversation, you suddenly appreciate the simple joys of things exploding. The exposition is painfully ham-fisted. When Kate Brewster-- destined to be Connor's future wife-- picks up an automatic weapon and destroys a flying attack drone, Nick Stahl's John Connor looks at her slack-jawed. Why? "You remind me of my mother." Ewww.

What bothered me the most about the film was its underlying premise-- that Judgment Day is inevitable, and they only succeeded in delaying it in T2. It simply makes no sense. Granted, the whole notion of "sense" in a film whose entire foundation rests on a time paradox is questionable, but you pretty much get one freebie for suspension of disbelief-- and that's the notion that Connor's father was sent back in time to save his mother and conceive John. Beyond that, you've got to play by the rules. And in T2, the self-creation paradox was foiled. The CPU and arm of the original Terminator were destroyed, as was all the research data that led to the creation of Skynet. You can't just turn around and say that Skynet comes about from an entirely different quarter-- that's dirty pool. You can't render the sacrifices and triumphs of the characters in T2 meaningless-- that's insulting to the audience, and the same problem I had with killing off Newt and Hicks before the opening credits of Alien 3.

And don't even get me started on logical and technical flaws. Controlling a police car's circuitry does not enable you to cause the accelator pedal to depress. You'll never convince me that a liquid-encased metal endoskeleton is a superior design to a machine composed entirely of liquid metal. The T-X must transform her digit into a specialized tool to reprogram electronics, but can identify DNA simply by licking it?

The ending-- arguably the most provocative part of the film-- leaves the door wide open for more sequels. But as far as I'm concerned, the franchise is terminated.

62 Comments

Right on! My reaction was much the same. I just wanted to mention that the self-creation paradox was not foiled in T2. Much as the first Terminator's arm was preserved from the end of the first film, the second Terminator's arm was pried off his body in T2, and only partially crushed in the gears. I always presumed that if a third film were made, it would use that arm to preserve the storyline, just like T2 did. Ultimately that didn't happen, but it's just as well; that would have been one more instance of T3 stealing an idea from T2.

And the accelerator pedals could have been pressed down by cruise control, not that that would have affected the cars' steering wheels.

Being able to take over the programming of a machine does not change the basic functionality of the machine. Even if you can affect acceleration (and who knows, maybe through an incredible complex set of braking and accelerating affect steering), a car has no means of receiving feedback about it's environment. . . . but once we start down the road of logical inconsistencies there is no stopping it. Got to agree with you, Peter (as a side note, when was the last time you saw this many films in a short period of time?), as someone who knows and has written extensively about this series T3 just doesn't work. Neither does the Hulk or Charlie's Angels. Save yourself the trouble.

I'd have had no problem if the cars accelerated through cruise control. But when you use cruise control, the accelerator pedal does not depress. Showing the pedal tells the audience that the car is speeding up, and it's a nice visual effect to see it happen "on its own". But they could just as easily have shown the car's speedometer and empty driver's seat. I don't know enough about the steering system to say whether or not the steering wheel would turn as a result of electronic operation of the tires or axle, and in the face of that ignorance I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until I learn otherwise. Dave, I don't see why the cars would need feedback about their environment. My impression was that T-X was controlling all the cars remotely.

I can't remember the last time I saw so many movies so quickly. There are many I haven't seen that I want to-- Finding Nemo and The Hulk, for example-- but I seem to only get to the theater when Kim & Nate basically drag me there with the bait of a free midnight showing.

The cruise control in my car does depress the accelerator when I use it, and I drive a Ford similar to the cop cars used in the movie. But details aside, I think we all agree on the important thing, that the remote-control cars are ridiculous.

The various police and emergency vehicles the TX takes over (wandering around a crime scene and poking into all those official cars unchallenged) take off first. a little while later the TX rumbles out in the crane. The cars were ot in her sight for much of the chase. If it was just a matter of getting to a specific road, intersection, etc. perhaps I could buy them having more autonomy (with the GPS and the like), but acting like a pack of hunting dogs . . . hell, not running into telephone poles or some such while the TX is distracted by Arnold is a clever trick.

As for films to see, I would recommend seeing Finding Nemo on the big screen. It's worth the effort. The Hulk, as I tried to indicate above, can wait for cable or video.

See Finding Nemo. Skip Hulk (I fell asleep in it). The depressed pedal may be explained by cruise control, but there is no way to explain the steering. There is just no mechanism in a car to do that - none that the T-chick could take over. But my biggest problem with the movie was the audience reaction to it. They were enraptured with the sight shit blowing up, shit being run over, and shit being beating up. I heard someone yell "knock that bitch out" when Arnie was giving the terminatrix hell. Nothing inherently wrong with that I suppose, since she is a killing machine. But it made me come to the conclusion that T-3 is nothing more than one giant firecracker tied to one giant G.I. Joe doll in one giant back yard.

Car steering systems, I think, are either mechanically or hydraulically controlled, depending on the car. If the electrical circuitry is hijacked, that shouldn't affect the steering, except insofar as a power steering systems pumps are electrical.

As much as I would like to contribute to the car chase discussion, I really don't have anything new to add. I do, however, have a paradox question about the film which I've been pondering. I guess it's a bit of a self-creation paradox as well. Could TX, with the ability to take over machines, have caused Skynet to become self aware? We see her at one point taking over the first terminators, and when Connor sees them all running around later, he says that the machines are taking over, and it is implies that this is because of Skynet, but could it possibly be because they've been commandeered by TX? Also, the appearance of the "virus" coincides with the appearance of TX, so is it possible that the TX created the "virus" by taking over machines, or possibly as a way to connect to Skynet? Also, a discrepancy between T2 and T3: In T2, we are told that Skynet took over because it was threatened with being shut down by the humans, but in T3, there was no threat at all! As soon as it was online it took over! (Or even before, if you consider the "virus" taking over) This also lends support to my theory that TX had already infiltrated Skynet and taken over the system, since it seemed to just be waiting to be booted up before completely taking over. None of this is specifically mentioned in the movie, but I think it could definitely be implied. Or maybe I'm just trying to lend more depth to a movie that is sorely lacking in that aspect, since I love the franchise so much and don't want to see it die.

Sarah did'nt deserve to die of some disease.

And what happened to t-800 not learning anything Like: "talk to the hand" without his chip being reset. Also terminators can't be reasoned with so how did it decide to agree to go and save Kate Bruster's Dad

Arnie went to save Kate's Dad because he was programmed by Kate (in the future) to obey her commands.

As for the steering and the time paradox I think they may all be actors in a movie. Mind you, I might be wrong.

T4 should be the story of John Connors fighting against the machines right up to the point where he finds out that a Terminator has been sent back to kill Sarah. He summons a member of his staff, a guy called Rees and there you have it. Arnie could even have a cameo role in it.

Arnie went to save Kate's Dad because he was programmed by Kate (in the future) to obey her commands.

As for the steering and the time paradox I think they may all be actors in a movie. Mind you, I might be wrong.

T4 should be the story of John Connors fighting against the machines right up to the point where he finds out that a Terminator has been sent back to kill Sarah. He summons a member of his staff, a guy called Rees and there you have it. Arnie could even have a cameo role in it.

As a cyborg myself, for I am BALNAB THE MECHANICAL WARRIOR PRINCE, I would just like to note that vehicles can indeed be controlled by an outside force. I didn't even see T3 but according to the above description we have at hand, consider this. Cruise control would not need to be a feature to be exploited. If there is an electronically controlled mechanical throttle (as like in C.C.) The gas pedal would move with the throttle mechanism. That explains that. as far as the steering goes, there are multiple ways to force a car to steer, without actually touching the wheel. a delicate balance between braking and heavy acceleration can affect a vehicle slightly and cause it to turn. If you've ever driven a car with a failing power steering pump or pump control unit, you can see that the wheel can jerk erratically. So under the control of anotheer computer the wheel could be manipulated. Last possibility: TRACTION CONTROL -- the transferring of power amongst wheels to create traction in slippery or hard driving conditions where it is needed. Overdo it and you've got excess power going to the opposite wheel and none to the other, forcing the car to turn in the direction of the powerless wheel. How does the remote control of the car's system happen? through the antenna on top of the vehicle! then radio then would be manipulated to -send- a current to the vehicles onboard computer through the rest of the electrical system, and boo yeah! you've got yourself one hell of a remotely controlled cyborg car! Now that I have opened your eyes to the beauty of the machine. I demand your devotion! Come pay homage to me!

Love,
Balnab...

Sorry guys, I've got to disagree on the subject of the time travel. I'm quite the enthusiast in time travel, which means I've studied it extensively. There's a fundamental flaw in what you guys say about the arm and chip causing Skynet to start. Skynet had to exist before it could send the first machine back, thus, Skynet may not have been a Cyberdine project in the very most original timeline (as evidenced by this movie and Reese: "New Defense computers", not just new computers, but computers specifically for defense, meaning most likely gov't funded, if not wholly goverment-based) Beyond all that, I think the movie was mostly made to be a closing to the series...Look around! The war's started, there's a definite end to Conner's life, and Skynet can't be un-invented; the series has no logical way to go, unless they are going to make a whole series of movies showing us the war against Skynet (cool concept, but nobody would pay to see it). Beyond the overall plot setting, there were all sorts of subtle hints that it's the end. "I'm back" was the one that hit me...the ending with the door, Sarah finally being dead (I thought they handled that well, too...and I'm now planning to have my "prized possessions" stored that way ;P) and not least of all, the friggin' war! Honestly, Skynet's got to fight John now, in the now...there's no point sending your army to somewhere you've already got plenty of troops! I thought it was a fun movie, and a nice way to end out the series (and though I agree about TX controlling cars, it's stupid; but her arsenal of built-in weapons was huge and formidible, whereas T1000 only had present-day weapons and blades. She had a plasma rifle!) As for the idea of TX causing Judgement Day, I find it unlikely, as it has to happen for her to arrive in the first place. If Skynet didn't take over as seen in the movie, then TX has no master, no reason to kill Conner, and frankly she wouldn't exist. There might be some slight prodding from her with the cell-phone, but from the news reports I got the distinct impression that the "super-virus" had been a problem for at least a few weeks. As for motive on Skynet's part, I would assume it was designed to learn (eventually so that it could control everything for Man), and so it plugged into other computers...As it learned, it saw some problems with Man that would threaten it, and became Self-Aware (Arnie says "Skynet has become self-aware", not is about to, or will...has, past tense) after Skynet becomes self-aware, it's all the same as Terminator #1. I control, you try to disconnect me, I kill. Plot-line, series, and comment post...Terminated (God, I couldn't resist!)

http://www.mjyoung.net/time/terminat.html

I think everyone should read this. takes a while but I think it's a very good explination of what happened - warrented doesn't tell you about what happened in T3 but it gives u a basis on what it is trying.

Interesting if anything.

Hahaha guys, guys, guys... When you spend $160 million on a film that only exists in the name of extortion... you don't have to worry about such inconveniences like physics... This isn't Mr. Wizard... it's a sci-fi movie (and a rather poor one at that). Now granted more attention was paid to the intricasies of the ship in Star Trek.... but that was integral to the development of the whole series... If that wasn't believable, no one would have watched it. The success of T3 was solely dependent on its two predecessors, not its adherence to the laws of nature and science.

PS. Some cruise control systems DO pull the gas pedal down; not all are designed to just turn the butterfly valving in the throttle body... I had a particularly old aftermarket cruise control that pulled on the entire throttle assembly (to include the pedal) in my 1978 Chevy Impala. Just depends on the engineering of the system. "THE MORE YOU KNOWWWWWW"

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