Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best sci-fi action movies ever made. It was a perfect blend of all the right ingredients: a gripping story; spectacular action scenes; bleeding-edge special effects; and it managed to spin on its head the age-old adage that a sequel cannot, by definition, outdo the original. James Cameron made a masterpiece, and I doubt you would disagree. So when Terminator 3 was announced – and that James Cameron would not be directing – alarm bells started ringing.
James Cameron had already proven with Aliens that a sequel to a great film by a different director can actually work. So it’s not like Terminator 3 had to be bad – but unfortunately, it is. Sarah Connor, the 2nd most important character in the series next to the Terminator, doesn’t appear in the film. T3’s excuse for Linda Hamilton’s non-participation is that Sarah died of cancer a few years before the events of T3. If this is true, who is going to train John to become the leader of the resistance?
The John we see in T3 isn’t Edward Furlong (who wisely passed on the role), it’s Nick Stahl, and he doesn’t seem prepared to lead a revolution against Skynet at all. He’s a total loser who basically “lives off grid” to protect his anonymity in the event another terminator comes back to kill him. And it’s made clear from his complete lack of reflexes, let alone military skills, that he hasn’t spent his time on the edge of society wisely if there’s an apocalypse coming.
Schwarzenegger reprises his role of the T-800, and who can blame him? Well, I do. I blame him because if he hadn’t signed on to this trainwreck it probably wouldn’t have gotten financed to begin with. Arnie’s return for one more milking at the cash cow was a disgrace. His adversary is a female dominatrix terminator called the T-X, played by Kristanna Loken.
She’s sexy, but her athleticism is a bit too obvious for the part – ironically, Claire Danes would have made a more interesting casting choice. Besides the fact that the T-1000 was a much better (and seemingly more advanced) villain, the idea of a female terminator is wasted on this film. She isn’t even liquid metal, which would lend itself nicely to the sanguine female form (as evidenced by Dural from SEGA’s Virtua Fighter), and would lend weight to the idea that a smaller, more agile model could tango with the lumbering lugnuts T-800 model.
Instead, Claire Danes gets caught in T3’s web of fail as John’s would-be girlfriend, Kate Brewster. In an unbelievable coincidence, Kate happens to be the daughter of the military commander of Skynet. And the guy who penned that has the audacity to call himself a writer!
Terminator 3 also delights in taking a giant dump all over the hopeful optimism of the first two films. A recurring idea in the first two stories is that the future is not set. No fate but what we make. This concept is destroyed in T3 when we are shown that regardless of the characters’ actions Judgment Day is inevitable.
If this was just some throw-away action movie I wouldn’t care that much, but as a kid who saw T2: Judgment Day at around the same age as John Connor in that film, it left a lasting impression on me. T3 has no excuse to suck. It could have been a bullseye but it completely misses its target, shooting itself in the head. Do yourself a favor and forget this film ever existed.
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