T3: 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
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
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 numerated T-1.
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 sequel strings.
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
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
Somehow I think there are better things for that boy next to
me to be dreaming about.