I think it's fair to declare that Terminator 3 isn't a patch on its two predecessors. But why?
It's not the lack of an 18 rating. It's not to overused CGI that completely detaches you from the action. It's not the utterly pathetic attempts at humour - who the hell decided this was a good idea?
It's not the painful "She'll be back!" line. It's not Arnold's phone-in performance. It's not everyone else's desperate need to overshadow the Austrian. It's not John Connor's transition from T2's badass, gun-totting teen to T3's paintball-wielding skid. It's not even the two terrible romantic leads who we couldn't care less about.
No, none of those things make T3 quite such the terrible film that it is. They try their damnedest, but can't quite tip the top of the lot. In fact, the gold medal belongs to this:
This isn't any comment on Kristanna Loken's acting chops. But rather on this so-called "villain" of the piece.
The Terminator had this guy:
The huge Austrian Oak. A terrifying, unstoppable robot force. A fucking titan who rips your heart out through your chest, who stands, god-like over the concrete jungle he seeks to destroy.
T2 knew that by having Arnold as the hero of the piece, they needed a tougher villain. The smart move was not trying to top the T-800 on muscle (cos no-one's beating Arnold on that!). So instead we have this fella:
The T-1000 is, in completely different ways, just as terrifying as the T-800 from the first movie. He's deathly quick (and runs like a cheetah!) and disguises himself as a cop (someone we turn to for help). Rather than the T-800's all-out "Hulk Smash" approach, the T-1000 is sly, subversive, cunning, sneaky, crafty, smart. He's a whole different killer. But what makes him brilliant is his personality.
When asked about the T-800's involvement in the hunt for John Connor, the T-1000 smiles arrogantly and simply says "No.....I wouldn't worry about him." At no point is he intimidated by the huge machine that tore L.A apart in the first movie. He's also a sadistic S.O.B - it's not enough for him to kill. He takes pleasure in it. That poor security guard gets a metal spike through his eye. And the T-1000 twists it. Similarly, there's no doubt he takes pleasure in torturing Sarah in the third act - "I know this hurts." The T-1000 takes pride in his work. He enjoys it. And the role is played perfectly by the great Robert Patrick.
Two excellent villains from two great films. But what do we get in T3?
Something that's barely a woman - she has a woman's body but she isn't one. There's absolutely no personality there whatsoever. Her only "skill" is the ability to look hot in red leather and make her boobs bigger. Cos apparently that's all the power this film thinks a woman has - sex appeal. Insulting, to say the least.
But wait, what's this? She can take over other machines and make them do her bidding! Utterly terrifying, right? Remember how scared you were of Transformers as a kid? No, me neither.
If the T-X has one redeeming feature, it's in her final moments when she looks like this:
Here, she's a monster. Which is cool! But she's promptly destroyed. Why? Here, they have a new type of killer. The T-800 is the unstoppable machine. The T-1000 is the snake. The T-X could have been the monster.
But no. Instead we're treated to a dull film with dull characters and an overly dull villain. Hang your head in shame, T3 - you could have been good. You could have been new, fresh, interesting. You could have been great! But, alas, you suck. Bravo!
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