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TERMINATOR III - The rise of the machines

(Sounds almost like a sex movie doesn't it?)

I saw this movie at the Drive-In ($9.95 a car load!). This means of watching the film in no way reduced the awesome spectacle that it was. What a movie!!! Swartzenegger is back (he said he would be) as the man-killing-turned-mankind-aiding machine that is out to save us all from our own stoopidity. He is great! He's all buffed up and his age just makes him look tired and concerned which plays well with the character (although it is a stretch to call it a "character").

The High Ground: This movie reflects the basic distrust that the public has in science in the twentieth century and the underlying fear that technology will somehow get away from us:  that the boundary between the controller and the controlled will become less clear due to our own myopia regarding where the line is and how the machines "or system" actually works.

As a metaphor for the fear of the unknown, this movie deals with that unknown that we believe we have created rather than, as with monsters and ghosts for example, the unknown as yet undiscovered. Our system of government, the world wide web, the human genome project. Science and Society has gotten so large and complicated that no one can truly understand how it operates. In fact, things begin to appear as if they operate on their own, quite apart from the system designers that put them in place. This fear of reprisal from our own creations (like Adam and Eve's reprisal of God) is the underlying theme of "Terminator III". What if the web became truly intelligent and conscious? How would it view us? Do we control technology or does technology really control us?

Don't worry, this movie raises these questions briefly (in hindsight) and then throws them all away to create a thrill ride of entertainment. Who cares about the bigger picture? If you want a movie about the human condition, you are reading about the wrong one. This movie (ironically enough) is what we can do with machines to create a veritable whirlwind of sci-fi fun and excitement.

Which all raises the question: Did we use machines to make this movie or did the machines use us to make it?

Special Effects: Simply incredible. There was so much going on in many scenes that I just could not take it all in. All of it appeared seamless and, unlike some movies (the Hulk for instance) the computerized effects (I sure hope that they were computerized) rarely (if ever) were poor enough to be distracting.

The Plot: How much plot are you expecting, it's a terminator movie?!? Arnold is back to save John Connor from a terrifically hot killing machine played by some girl who will soon be in Maxim (if she hasn't been all ready). The twist is that this hot-bot is also out to kill those people who will become John Connors "Lieutenants" following the destruction of mankind. Actually, this is hardly a twist as these other people do not seem important and mostly just provide fodder upon whom the new bot's abilities can be demonstrated.

The Problems: It is a damn good thing that this was such a damn good movie because the list of problems is immense. The story is edited for more speed (which works here) which leaves you wondering such things as how some derelict (John Connor), some babe (the love interest) and some huge guy dressed in gay motorcycle garb (Arnold) could possibly, all of a sudden, gain entry to the high security area, deep underground, where the computers of the world are monitored and controlled.

Other issues include a huge magnet that can stop a terminator and attract guns but has no effect at all on such things as zippers and buttons. A dying father who, without a private consult, essentially conspires with Arnold to throw the hero and his babe in the wrong direction - to safety.

Science geeks will be painfully disapointed with the creative fidgeting with the "time line". Let's face two or three facts though: First, who cares, the movie blew me away; Second, no one can do to time what "Back to the Future" did to time and; third, we don't REALLY know what time is anyway so we may as well suspend our disbelief and just go with it. So they already saved the world in Part II! So what? So part three gets around this simply by saying that they really just "put off" saving the world and now it is in jeopardy again. Who cares about the paradoxes? This movie is about killing and explosions and speed and it does everything well except plot and science. Give it a break.

Moreover, who really cares that John Connor grew up to be a whiney dweeb despite the rigorous training his mom put him through? I don't and I think that the actor playing the 20 something (yet strangely adolescent) saviour did a good job of acting like he might, some day, given just the right circumstances, be able to lead us back from the horror we created.

My favourites: My favourite thing about this movie is that there are no flash backs. Oh, there are some flash forwards that allow the computer design freaks to play with their stuff and justify the HUGE cost of making the movie (these flash forwards add not a thing to the plot by the way).

Overall: The machines do rise (but we hardly see it), the effects are grandiose and the best I have ever seen. The pace is fast (plot sacrifice was necessary) and the acting is inconsequential. This is a movie that let nothing get in the way of it being damn good entertainment and I would highly suggest it to anyone (anyone who likes this sort of thing, that is).

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