Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Review

The Film

It’s almost 20 years since Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived onto the big screen as the Terminator. Now twelve years on from when John and Sarah Connor thought they had prevented Judgement Day in T2 we get Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

When we first join the film we find out that John Connor (Nick Stahl) is living “off the grid” which means he has no home, no official record of his existence meaning he can’t be found. But unfortunately for him as the future leader of humanity it looks as if there is someone sent to try and kill him again. That someone is a female Terminator the TX (Kristana Loken), who is more sophisticated and a lot more powerful than the previous Terminators. The TX was built for extreme combat and it can control other machines to use against John Connor, as well as his future resistance leaders one of which is animal clinic vet Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) whose dad General Robert Brewster (David Andrews) happens to be in charge of maintaining US security against the threat of the machines.

At the same time a replica of the original T-101 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent from the future to protect John Connor at all costs. Together with Connor and Brewster they play a game of cat and mouse with the TX in relentless pursuit of her primary targets. Throughout their chase the T-101 gives warnings about the inevitability of Judgement Day, and will eventually lead Connor and Brewster to the birthplace of Skynet, the Artificial Intelligence system that will soon take control of the world’s computer systems to prompt the Rise of the Machines.

As a sequel it has all the right ingredients to make it a success. Arnie’s back on form in a role that he has made his own; the special effects are excellent including a sequence in the film that involves a chase with a truck, a motorbike, a large crane and long trail of destruction and building damage. Whilst the plot is formulaic being little more than a chase movie it, it does have an impending sense of doom along with a decent ending that while downbeat, does manage to leave open a number of hopeful possibilities for the future and I’m sure the inevitable T4. The casting of Stahl, Danes and newcomer Loken proves to be very effective and the script also includes some decent moments of humour.

In a summer where few blockbusters actually delivered, Terminator 3 proved to be an entertaining action film and whilst it doesn’t have the wonder or timelessness of T2 it was a lot better than fans of the previous two could have hoped for.


The Menus: The menus on both discs are animated with either clips or static images from the movie; these are accompanied by music from the film. On the main menu, you have the choice of playing the movie, audio setup where you can choose between Dolby Digital or DTS soundtracks, Subtitles, Scene Selections, Special Features, which houses the two commentaries and finally you, have the Trailers menu.


Columbia Tri Star have reproduced a fantastic 2.40:1 Anamorphic transfer that manages to capture the rich colour used in the film and maintains a solid image particularly in the action scenes where there is a lot happening at the same time like explosions or in the toilet scene where Arnie and the TX are throwing each other about at a frantic pace. Overall it is an image that is sharp and very detailed.


Terminator 3 is presented in both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Anyone looking to give their system a decent workout won’t be disappointed. The mix is confined mostly to the front channels but that’s not to say the surrounds aren’t frequently used, just not as much as they are on other tracks. The crane chase is a particular standout sequence and the surround effects certainly deliver here. Dialogue is crisp and clear and well produced throughout the film. If you have a subwoofer in your system you’re going to be for a treat as the LFE channel is especially active throughout particularly in regards to the DTS track. The Dolby mix is also an excellent backup to the DTS and it’s good that more studios are now including both tracks on their discs.


Easter Eggs

Insert Disc 2 and go to the Skynet Database. This gives you access to information on the Human and Artificial characters from the Terminator films. In the Human section if you click on the profiles of John Connor, Kate Brewster and General Robert Brewster and then click on the clips that are playing in the background you will be treated to extra clips and interviews. This is the same for the Artificial Intelligence section when you click on the profiles for T-101, TX, T-1 and Hunter Killer Units.

Disc 1

The Film kicks off with an introduction from Arnold Schwarzenegger and it is a nice personal touch.

Audio Commentaries featuring Director Jonathan Mostow, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristana Loken
Included are two separate commentaries one with the Director and Cast and the other with just the Director. Both of these commentaries are very informative with Arnold in particularly talkative mood revealing lots of on set anecdotes that are fun as well as being informative. The other stars involved in the commentary also have a chance to share their thoughts on the film. One thing I found out from elsewhere is that Stahl’s, Loken’s and Arnold’s comments were recorded separately then edited in with comments from Danes and Mostow who recorded theirs together.

Trailers – There are teaser and theatrical trailers for Terminator 3 along with two trailers advertising the videogame as well as trailers for S.W.A.T and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.

Disc 2

Inside Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This last for 13 minutes and it is your standard industry look at the making of the film with lots of behind the scenes footage. All the main cast and crew who were involved with making the film are interviewed. They are asked about their roles within the film and what the story is all about. You also get the chance to see the robots used in the film, with one of them looking exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Finally the stunts in the film are also covered in this documentary.

Dressed To Kill Featurette

This a short piece on the costumes in Terminator 3 that last for 2 minutes. It has interviews with the main cast members and also the production staff who designed the outfits.

Toys In Action Featurette

This looks at the toys and the company who created them. The toys are very detailed and in order to recreate them so that they look exactly like the characters in the movie they took over 400 photos from the set of T3. This last for 7 minutes and is really just a plug for other Terminator products.

Making of the Videogame Featurette

This last for 9 minutes and includes footage from the game. It interviews the cast and crew involved with the film and shows their characters which are very lifelike. The plot of the game follows the movie closely and there is footage from the film in the game. It also shows you the stunt people recreating the fight moves from the film which you can use in the game. Whilst this is interesting much like the making of the Matrix Game on the Reloaded DVD this turns out to be little more than a plug to promote other Terminator products.

Visual Effects Lab Featurettes

This is an excellent section that is comprised of seven separate Featurettes that look at the different types of effects used in the movie. Those sections are:

• Introduction (2 mins)
• Crane Chase (7 mins)
• TX Transformation (7 mins)
• Future War (8 mins)
• Crystal Peak (9 mins)
• CRS Lab (10 mins)
• Create Your Own Visual Effects (14 Mins) – This gives you a chance to be visual effects director where you can create your own visual effects from scenes in the movie. This is quite fun and simple to use. You pick from a selection of different effects from the scenes that you are offered and once you have finished doing this you can see how it will play out in the movie. However can only choose from two scenes, either the robots or the underwater scene and you cant really create your own effects you just select what you want from the preset effects that come with this feature which ultimately make it a bit limiting.

Terminal Flaws (Gag Reel)

This last for 3 minutes and it shows the actors messing about on set or simply forgetting their lines. I’m sure it was probably quite funny for the actors involved at the time, but unfortunately it’s not particularly all that funny.

Deleted Scene: Sgt Candy

This is a funny deleted scene with Chief Master Sgt Candy who is being used as a template for the endoskeleton of future T-101 terminators. The funny thing is that he looks exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger except that he has a deep southern American accent which makes him sound totally un-menacing.

Skynet Database

This gives you access to information on the Human and Artificial characters from the Terminator films. In the Human section you have profiles of John Connor, Kyle Reese, Sarah Connor, Kate Brewster and General Robert Brewster. In the Artificial Intelligence section there are profiles of the T-101, T-1000, TX, T-1 and Hunter Killer Units. Both of these sections contain film clips with the individual profiles.

Terminator Timeline - an account of the events leading up to Judgement Day

This gives you information on the Terminator saga from 1984 to 2032 which include specific events that took place in those years. It’s all just static text but it’s a good historical recap if you’ve forgotten what happens in the story.


Presented in Split-Screen mode you get the original artists drawings of how the scene should play out and underneath that you have the final film version. The sequence covered is at the end of the film where John Connor and Kate Brewster are trying to get into Skynets central computer system to try and stop the apocalypse. It also covers the final showdown between Arnie’s T-101 and Kristana Loken’s TX.


Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a good action movie backed up by an interesting and well executed DVD package that I’m sure will be a big seller at Christmas just as it was a big hit in the summer. However some of you may wish to wait to before purchasing it as there are reports that like T2 there may be an Ultimate Edition on the way next year.

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