Terminator 3:
Rise of the Machines

Release Date: July 2, 2003

I dare you to make a joke about women drivers here.

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"If you don't want to see the same gimmick again, then you stay away from it. You don't just look at it and say, 'This made money, so let's go for the same cheap shot again.' That's what studios normally do. The studio executives are the most uncreative, low-foreheaded (sic) characters, copycats, you know. No one wants to be out on a limb." --Arnold Schwarzenegger's view of movie sequels

That's bold talk for an aging cyborg, especially in light of the fact that Schwarzenegger is committed to at least two sequels set to release sometime in 2002, including True Lies 2 and Terminator 3.

In the realm that is cinematic sci-fi, the paradoxical nature of time travel itself can naturally allow for a sequel "prequel", so that in going "back to the future," we are actually transported to a period of a storyline that finds itself conveying future events that may or may not eventually transpire in that part of "future history." Confused? Good. It gets better.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a project still in development, with a script undergoing rewrite, a cast with few commitments beyond Arnie himself (once again as the "good" T-800 cyborg sidekick), T2: Judgment Day actor Edward Furlong (reprising his role as John Connor, leader of the human resistance against the malevolent machines), and director Jonathan Mostow (U-571), who assumes the deferred duties of the first two Terminator films from James Cameron. Rumors abound regarding prospective casting, including Vin Diesel (The Fast and the Furious, Pitch Black) as a possible evil cyborg adversary for Arnie, and Famke Janssen (X-Men) as a new femme fatale fembot.

Plot details are sketchy at best, especially with a rewrite in the works, but the film's title alludes to the storyline's inevitable rise of the self-aware, intelligent machines that decide mankind is just no damn good, and worthy of extinction with extreme prejudice.

Despite the ironically feeble protestations of the penetratingly profound Mr. Schwarzenegger, the inevitability of a sequel to the Terminator series (even after nearly 11 years) is bolstered by some sobering box-office realities. In 2001 alone, five of the top six opening weekend box-office films were either sequels or remakes, all of which amassed no less than $50 million in their respective debuts. The February 2001 release of Hannibal (itself a ten-year-old sequel-in-the-making) demonstrated that even an R-rated film, when effectively marketed, highly anticipated, and bearing a built-in audience, can open to $58 million, on its way to a $165 million theatrical run. Now consider that T2: Judgment Day managed over $50 million during its Fourth of July weekend debut (unadjusted 1991 dollars), on its way to an adjusted total theatrical run gross of $262 million. And few franchise sequel hopefuls could ask for a better built-in audience, with an additional $112 million in video rentals, and a solid all-time top 20 ranking within that very same category.

Whether or not Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines will soon find itself with a completed script, full cast, and a pre-/post-production schedule that meets its optimistically slated 2002 summer release is as unsure as any unforeseeable future event, but the promise of yet another sequel box-office bonanza makes its robotic renaissance an inexorable inevitability. Stay tuned. (Cal Hubbard/BOP)

July 25, 2003

So obviously, that rumored Vin Diesel casting didn't pan out, since La Diesel is (in his mind at least) way beyond the stage in his career where he needs to play second banana to Arnold Schwarzenegger. And although Edward Furlong was originally supposed to reprise his role as John Connor, unspecified "personal problems" led to his role being reassigned to Nick Stahl. (We'd normally be tempted to say something snarky here, but many of us are still pretty heartbroken after losing similarly troubled actor Glenn Quinn this last year.)

Taking a cue from the X-Men/Matrix playbook, the filmmakers have ditched Robert Patrick and made this movie's version of the "bad terminator" a hot, leather clad, ass-kicking chick played by Norwegian actress/model Kristianna Loken. It's rumored that this new "T-X", aka "Terminatrix", model can not only cause major carnage on her own account, but can control other machines, including our old pal the T-800 (Arnold's character, for those of you not nerdy enough to have the Terminator order catalog numbers memorized). Presumably this will give Arnold the opportunity to showcase his "range" by playing identical good and evil characters in the same movie, although it's possible that Jean Claude Van Damme's lawyer has already filed an injunction preventing him from swiping the Belgian's favorite little trick.

Rounding out the cast, Claire Danes plays Kate Miller, a innocent veterinarian who gets caught up in the action. 19-year-old Sophia Bush originally had this role for about a week, but was abruptly recast, reportedly because she looked "too young." (What's that loud clanging noise, you ask? That would be BOP's bullshit detector blowing a gasket.) In any event, the Kate character looks to be filling a similar damsel in distress function as Sarah Connor did in the first movie, so here's hoping that T4 brings us a wacked out, buffed up Claire Danes doing pull ups in the psychiatric hospital.

The early advertising for T3 was screamingly unimpressive (and someone seriously needs to be shot for that appallingly bad "She'll be back" tagline). However, it appears as if the studio heads had a some kind of Come-to-Jesus meeting with the marketing department, because their recent efforts have been a marked improvement. Still, there's only so many times you can go to that "Send a machine back through time to kill John Connor" well, and at this point, Arnold's proclamations that T4 is in the works strikes us as more of a threat than an enticing promise. (Calvin Trager/BOP).

Vital statistics for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Main Cast Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken
Supporting Cast Nick Stahl, Claire Danes
Director Jonathan Mostow
Screenwriter John Brancato, Michael Ferris III
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/t3/
Official Site http://www.terminator3.com
Rating R
Running Time 109 minutes
Screen Count 3,504
Also see Kim Hollis reviews Terminator 3
David Mumpower reviews Terminator 3
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

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Batman and Robin 6/20/9742.87 56.31 2934 14611.00 18462.7 107.33 140.99 2.50
Terminator 2 7/5/9131.77 45.50 2274 13971.00 19247.5 204.84 293.39 5.80
True Lies 7/15/9425.87 38.23 2368 10925.00 15530.6 146.28 216.18 5.59
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