Rise of the Machines
The MPAA rated Terminator 3: Rise Of
The Machines (2003) R for strong sci-fi violence and action,
and for language and brief nudity.
Usually our policy at Grading the Movies for Families is
to concentrate our resources on reviewing G, PG, and PG-13
rated movies. However, because of the anticipated popularity
of this movie for both adults and younger viewers, we are
offering a review of this R-rated title.
After more than a decade, Hes back. And
if you have children, you probably should care.
I admit to not being a Terminator junkie. In an attempt to
cram for this review of the third movie in the
series, I searched the video rental shops for a copy of the
original and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The popularity of
these movies left me able to only get my hands on the latter,
which I finished watching just hours before my screening of
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
For those as unfamiliar with Terminatorology as I was, Ill
attempt to share my limited knowledge: In 1997 an automated
system called Sky-Net takes over the US militarys operations,
and plans to destroy the Earth. Besides deploying nuclear
weapons, the computerized force also unleashes self-directing
killing machines called Terminators, the first model being
After most of the human race is annihilated, the robots evolve
and hunt what few people are left. But the tenacity of the
human spirit is rekindled by a resistance leader named John
Conner. Fortunately time travel exists in the near future
and (from my understanding) the machines decide to fix this
glitch by sending a terminator (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger)
into the past to kill Conners mother prior to his birth.
Unfortunately for them, the mission fails.
At some point, the T-101 (or T-800 even hardcore Terminator
fans seem to quote two different models for Arnies character)
is reprogrammed by the Resistance to be sent back in time
to protect Connor. Thus, in the second movie Schwarzenegger
is the good guy who is defending the teenaged Connor against
the would-be assassin (and technologically superior) T-1000.
Now in T3, the most famous screen robot of all time will
rise again to shield a young adult Connor from an even more
powerful machine not an easy task considering the last
outing ended in a tightly wrapped package with no easy-to-pull
But amazingly this team of writers manages to compress enough
backstory and open a few loopholes to allow a reasonably logical
explanation for the destructive androids third outing.
From a purely entertainment perspective, this latest Terminator
is nearly as compelling as the second movie, and boasts one
of the most destructive road-mayhem sequences Ive seen
in recent memory.
The mixture of peril and humor (usually generated from Schwarzeneggers
deadpan delivery), combined with a relevant science fiction
plot explains the enormous appeal of this series. But like
its predecessors, this R-rated movie also packs the explosive
combo of kid-appeal and high-octane violence a chemical
formula that should give parents a clear answer to the question
of, Should I take the kids?
Like The Matrix, I am shocked at how many eight-year-olds
can identify with Schwarzeneggers character because
they have seen the movies. Im even more disappointed
in other media aimed at children (for instance, the educational
Magic School Bus) using Terminator spoofs. Through the eyes
of a child (like the ten-year-old sitting next to me at the
promotional screening), The Terminators heroics may
provide justification for resolving conflicts with violence.
Quoting T3 producer Mario F. Kassar: The Terminator
is not bound by any moral inhibitions
If he needs a
car, he gets in the car, he rips out the cables and he takes
it. The freedom of that is exhilarating, and people can live
vicariously through the Terminator, fantasizing about what
it would be like if they didnt have to live by the laws
and moral codes that restrict our behavior.
Somehow I think there are better things for that boy next
to me to be dreaming about.