Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Killer androids from the future

He's bahk.

In the third installment of the Terminator series, Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the leather-wearing bad-ass android Terminator, tearing up Los Angeles and the surrounding desert in various enormous battles.

Moving away from the dark mood of the original two movies, much of the action takes place in the daytime and director Jonathan Mostow even manages to insert some elements of self-referential humor.

Surprisingly, in a radical departure from the norms for the genre, the film actually hangs together and reflects a rather high degree of forethougt and planning by the writers. The lack of plot, though it may bother movie purists, does not detract at all from the film.

The movie opens with a rather sappy voiceover by a 20-year-old John Connor (Nick Stahl) in which he blathers on about the responsibility he feels to the human race knowing that he is destined to lead humans to victory. While it did somewhat help explain what happened over the past decade, the speech sounds like a cheap rip-off of the "with great power comes great responsibility" speech in "Spider-Man" and seems out of place in the movie as a fairly obvious attempt to add emotion to the storyline.

As in the other films in the series, the bad Terminator, this time the advanced T-X model played by the very female Kristanna Loken, arrives in a hail of lightning and immediately starts butchering people, specifically those who will play a role in the human "resistance" in the future. In a break with the previous films, however, the camera does not dwell on gore and -- with a few notable exceptions -- even cuts away from gruesome killings.

Ah-nold's Terminator, predictably, shows up soon afterward and, through some sort of futuristic divination, always manages to track the shape-shifting T-X and do something horrible to her with a vehicle, a big gun or other projectile.

Funnily enough, his iconic black leather clothing comes this time from a male stripper, though he discards his large pink sunglasses in favor of a more traditional pair.

Mandated with saving the lives of Connor and his love interest Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) ten years after saving Connor the last time around, the Terminator goes blindly about his business, refusing even for a minute to deviate from the mission.

The movie advances rather slowly despite the constant action, but it picks up at the end as the heroes struggle to defeat the T-X and stave off the end of the world.

Throughout the film there is an underlying romance between Connor and his future spouse, Brewster, whose father -- conveniently -- heads the top secret military project known as Skynet which if left to its own devices will destroy mankind. Mostow was wise not to ham up the relationship any more than it was, since to do so would distract from the movie's actual draw, action.

The fighting really gets going during a chase scene involving a truck, a half-dozen driver-less police cars, a fire truck and a crane. While drawn out, the scene is exciting as vehicles plow through cars and buildings. At the most impressive moment, the crane, turning to avoid a building, pulls a wheelie as Ah-nold hangs onto the back.

The standard gun battles between the Terminator and various SWAT teams were all there too, though their bloodiness was considerably diminished. During a battle scene in a cemetery, in fact, the view from inside the Terminator shows him scanning the battlefield after shooting up a few dozen police cars to ensure there were no human casualties.

The few emotionally-charged moments are -- thankfully -- given little or no attention. Ironically, the scene with the best expression of emotion was the one in which the Terminator's electronic brain fights against the body over which the T-X has taken control.

This is not a movie, though, in which one expects much acting. Mostow chose well to avoid scenes in which any of the key players -- none of whom are renowned for their abilities to portray emotions -- need to pretend to act.

While the plot of "T3" may not be much to speak of -- like in most movies of the action genre, it serves largely to explain the transition between fight scenes -- it reflects a fair amount of thought and effort put into the backstory.

The first two Terminator movies, directed by James Cameron, introduced a future storyline in which humans and robots fight for control over the planet. The key to this future, though, was premised on a 1997 nuclear war -- started by the machines -- which wipes out most of humanity. Since this movie acknowledges that the war did not occur, in theory preventing the creation of the Terminators in the first place, the new movie needed to justify the presence of two more robots in this changed world.

Schwarzenegger's Terminators summed up this explanation in a typically emotionless fashion: "It was inevitable." According to the new movie, the 1997 war was delayed but not prevented by the destruction wreaked on the Skynet project in the second film. This time, Skynet has been recussitated as a top-secret military artificial-intelligence project designed to overcome computer viruses and control other computers -- including those running nuclear weapons silos -- remotely. It is when this computer becomes "self-aware" that the predicted nuclear holocaust begins.

Perhaps one of the most interesting scenes for fans of the series came when the first test versions of Terminators were shown in a secret military warehouse. These T-1 models -- Ah-nold is a T-101 -- are believable as something today's technology could produce and easy to see as the ancestors of the deadlier humanoid versions that will apparently come later.

Some may see "T3" as overkill and a rehashing of the first two movies, but it adds a needed sense of humor and even intelligence to the series while preserving the explosive action of the others.

Unfortunately, it seems as if the producers want to add yet another movie to the series. The ending -- which itself catches the audience somewhat by surprise -- rather obviously sets up a sequel involving the battle between man and machine.