Cyberpunk Review » Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

March 13, 2006

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Year: 2003

Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

Written by: John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris (story & screenplay), Tedi Sarafian (story)

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

Key Cast Members:

  • Terminator: Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • T-X: Kristanna Loken
  • John Connor: Nick Stahl
  • Kate Brewster: Claire Danes
  • Rating: 6 out of 10



    Overview: What happens if you take the original Terminator idea, morph it with T2, get rid of any semblance of a coherent, cool story, but add a really hot chick in leathers kicking butt to it? Answer: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines! Director Jonathan Mostow really kicks the FX up a notch, but unfortunately, the story fades into more of a prop than the centerpiece it was in the first two movies. While the key cast members are all fine (terrific in the case of Lokken), they can only work with what they’re given.




    The Story: In Terminator 3, 10 years have passed since John and Sarah Conner destroyed Cyberdyne Systems and stopped the Skynet apocalypse. Unfortunately, it seems that the future is not what we make of it (As Desirina reminds us in the T2 comments), instead, fate is now predetermined. Why? Who knows…roll with it, buddy. You’ll get no well thought philosophical time travel notions here. Instead, the Terminator mystique is just that – a façade to get us to the juicy action sequences!




    Over the years, John Conner (Nick Stahl) has turned into a drifter – he never really believed that the end of the world was abated, so he has spent his life leaving no clues as to his existence (no phones, bank accounts, and FORGET that damn phonebook!). He wrecks on his motorcycle, and due to his fear of hospital records, decides instead to break into a local veterinarian’s office and take some random medicine in the hopes that it’s a pain reliever (apparently, in the future time of 2003 the west has forgone local clinics that treat illegal aliens without recording their names and addresses). It just so has it that Conner has broken into a vet where Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), a former junior high fling of Conner’s, works.




    While this is going on, The TX (Kristanna Loken), or Terminatrix as Conner refers to her, arrives from the future. The new Terminatrix is nanotechnology enabled, and can control all computer networks and most electrically powered machines - in short, she’s a badass. Because Conner has all but disappeared, her mission is to bump off his lieutenants, and if possible, to then locate and terminate Conner. Arnold Schwarzenegger as the obselete CYberdyne Systems 101 model is once again captured in the future and dispatched in an attempt to save John Conner, and his future wife from the nuclear holocaust, and if possible, protect them from the Terminatrix.




    Philosophical Problems: I understand the desire to “go to the well” once more in the Terminator series, but it seems like they could have been a little more sophisticated in how they went about it. For instance, why, if Skynet is going to keep sending Terminators from the future, doesn’t it send them all back to 1984? Even a little throwaway line, similar to Star Trek’s magical matter-anti-matter converter, telling us that this isn’t possible would have helped this. Also, there’s the problem that Skynet’s grid was smashed in T1 – which was the whole purpose for the last ditched desparate attempt at a retroactive abortion. If the grid has been smashed (which if Skynet is an AI, what does this even mean?), how is it that Skynet can keep on producing newer Terminator models? Clearly, things are going all that badly for Skynet. I almost envision Skynet being in it’s “last throes” as similar to another conflict in today’s time. 



    In T3, we get to see the first model Terminator.


    More harmful than the problems above is the issue of fate being predetermined. Um, OK, sure, I suppose it could be, but couldn’t they have tried to justify this a bit more? The Original Terminator provided us a wonderfully nuanced time loop; Terminator 2 at least still kept a pretty solid story with the idea that the future is what we make of it. Terminator 3 basically says, “Fuck it. You’ll all screwed anyways, so lets just throw down!” And throw down they do.




    The FX: Although the story takes a significant hit in T3, the special effects do indeed rock in an over-the-top sort of fashion. I thought the truck-car race was a bit too over-done, but I LOVED the Terminatrix’s FX. And truly, Kristanna Lokken played her wonderfully. I loved her facial expressions and demeanor. She knew what the part was supposed to deliver (a hot android terminator chick kicking ass) and did it wonderfully. The FX surrounding her from beginning to end are reason enough to watch this movie.




    The Bottom Line: While this movie rates highly as a “hot chick kicking butt” flick, it suffers in comparison to its two predecessors as the ending to a trilogy. Terminator 3 certainly was enjoyable, but not in the sophisticated sense that the first or second one was. The sliding scale I see with this series is as follows: Terminator had an awesome story and pretty great visuals for its time; Terminator 2 delivered a very good story, and provided awesome visuals – the type that raise the bar on future movies; The third does away with the cool story but at least still delivers the visuals. In short, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a bubble-gum chewing summer blockbuster, pure and simple. But on that level it works fine. However, based on the downward quality trend, if Abbot & Costello were still alive, I’d say that the next movie should be titled “Abbot and Costello Meet the Terminator.” Regardless, 5-6 stars is a reasonable place for a movie that delivers extremely well on the visuals but falls off on the story. In this case, 6 stars seems appropriate. Watch it for the FX and Kristanna Loken-Arnold battles, not for a continuation of the story.


    ~See movies similar to this one~


    March 14, 2006

    SFAM said:

    BTW, while most of the time I take my own screencaps, I just across and decided to use theirs this time. I may still replace one or two, but in general, they have some pretty good screencaps.

    March 21, 2006

    spikethebloody said:

    I actually enjoyed T-3 and think it deserves a 7 at least. The fact that Arnie killed John is interesting and I love the idea that fate will find a way. No matter how much they try and stop it judgment day was inevitable. I like that because I think man will find new and exciting ways to kill themselves and machines in the story’s reality anyway were destined to become self aware.

    I also loved seeing the first terminators and the overall humor of the film was refreshing.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Spike, I kind of hated the idea that fate would find a way. This seemed to go in stark contrast from the message of the first two movies. In those, we find humans struggling to change history by smart means. Here, we find that regardless what happens, the outcome will be the same. If so, why worry? Doesn’t this imply that even if the machines bring 6000 Terminators through the infinitely reproduceable time machine, that John Conner will still win and crush them in the end?

    Case said:

    The biggest problem I had with this movie, aside from the fact that the story was infinitely weaker than the first two (and I’m gonna turn into a real geek here for a moment, forgive me) was the fact that The Terminator kept referring to himself as a “T-101.” The Arnold Terminator is a “T-800.” The MODEL number was “101.” Geez (*end geek rant*).

    I also thought they could have worked in a few elements from the Universal Studios Tour attraction, “T2: BATTLE ACROSS TIME” (i.e. the T-1,000,000, etc.). This one completely lacked the sense of dread from the first two and didn’t really take off until the climax at Skynet. Too bad.

    SFAM said:

    Case - I too was wondering about this as I’ve always referred to the Terminator as the T-800. But in watching the three films in a row, they CONTINUALLY refer to him as “Cyberdyne systems model 101.” Reece does this during the car chase scene in the first movie, for instance. Do you remember where he’s referred to as the T-800?

    March 22, 2006

    Case said:

    I don’t know…perhaps I’m being overly analytic, but…I can’t help it, I was a bit of a Terminator geek in my mid teens. I read all the novels and graphic novels, etc. As far as I know, T3 was the first time “T-101″ was ever used. Until then, as far as I know, it had always been “T-800, Cyberdyne Systems MODEL 101.” Like I stated, 101 was the model number, but he WAS a T-800. I remembered this mostly because I always imagined what the model that came in between (T-900) might have looked like. If he actually WAS a T-101, imagine how much more of an uneven match it would have been for him to go up against the T-1000 in T2! But I digress…

    SFAM said:

    Again, I just watched the original Terminator last week (or whenever I did the review) - I was listening for this and never heard the T-800 line. Maybe I missed it in T2 though (I skipped around a bit to do screencaps…didn’t watch it from front to back again). In the original, they definitely referred to him only as the 101 though. I do have a really cool replica of the “T-800″ so it has to be mentioned somewhere.

    March 23, 2006

    spikethebloody said:

    I for one enjoyed the “doomsday will find a way” mentality of T-3. For one thing I think “fate is what we make” was a bit too optimistic. I remember at the end of T-2 that they close on the future not being know. Sara is happy that their is hope but that doesn’t mean the danger is completely gone. With the rapid progression of machines and a cyberpunk theme how can you not get to a dystopia eventually? I don’t think you can stop Skynet unless we stop advancing technology. So in that aspect I liked T-3 and respected the David Hume/Merovingian Cause/Effect determinism.

    It isn’t as good as T-1 or 2 by any means obviously. I would rank both of those as 10/10 and T-3 is at a distinct disadvantage because of the greatness of 1 and 2.

    SFAM said:

    I think if they had provided a little more rationale for the inevitability of the machine takeover, I would have been able to swallow it better (like providing something along the lines of the David Hume/Merovingian cause/effect arguement). But really, they basically said, “Trust me, it’s inevitable. Why? Because we needed to make a 3rd movie and have ran out of cool time travel ideas, so stop asking questions and enjoy the FX.”

    July 30, 2006

    DannyV said:

    While the movie was weaker than the earlier ones, it was still pretty fun, and it actually had some interesting ideas. For example, the Terminatrix was a very logical upgrade over both previous Terminator models. Endoskeleton for built in weaponry, T-1000-like liquid metal skin for adaptability and disguise, genius. And making her a HOT chick is ALWAYS a smart move :p

    SFAM said:

    Making the Terminatrix a hawt chick saved the movie I think. :)

    The plot just wasn’t strong enough on its own to keep it enjoyable.

    July 31, 2006

    Muad'Dib said:

    Regarding the T-101 discussion:

    In T1 we see a disturbing scene in the future, where another Terminator infiltrates a bunker. He is referred to as a model 102 or 103 or whatever, so it is pretty obvious that “model 101″ means, the “Arnold face”.

    The T-800 refers to the endoskeleton beneath the human (or rubber) flesh. And in Terminator 3 we actually have an updated version of the T-800, the T-850 (those two fusion cells, for example, were new.)

    So even a Terminator that does not look like Arnold (like that infiltration unit in T1) can be a T-800.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Muad’Dib, That explanation makes sense. I don’t remember the 102 or 103 comment but I could have easily missed it.

    November 29, 2006

    ColdFusion650 said:

    T-800 is never mentioned in any of the three movies. T-101 is never mentioned in any of the three movies. And the future Terminator from T1 is never named. Several sites call Arnold a T-800, with others calling him a T-101. And I’ve read at least one site calling the future Terminator a Model 108.

    T1 refers to Arnold as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. T2 refers to Arnold as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101. T3 refers to Arnold as a T-101. So, the terms T-800 and T-850 are never mentioned a single time in any Terminator movie. Where they came from, I have no idea.

    Any logic surrounding the T-800 Model 101 thing is made up. Saying the 800 meaning machine parts and 101 means outer covering, is not in the movies. So, if we can make up some stuff, I’ll give it my try. So far, in the movies, we have seen the T-1, the Model 101, the T-1000, the T-1000000 (Battle Across Time), and the T-X. Notice any pattern to the numbering?

    It would make since that the terminators have designations that descend from 1, 100, 1000, 1000000. Since all of the T-1s look a like, any addition info is irrelevant. The T-1000 was an advanced prototype, so perhaps only one was made. And since the T-1000000 protected Skynet’s core, it is possible that only one was made.

    But the additional 1 in 101 could designate the physical appearance. Perhaps all of the one hundred and somethings have the same endoskeleton, but the additional numbers mean the appearance. So the 1 would mean the Arnold look. A T-102 would be the same on the inside, but different on the outside.

    As I said, I’m making this up based on how I can logical view the info. But the terms T-800 and T-850 do not appear in any Terminator movie. And T-101 only appears in the third. Other than that, he is only identified as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101.

    December 2, 2006

    Terminator fan said:

    The term T-800 isn’t used in the first film but, the 800 series is refered to, as is the earlier series which had rubber skin.

    January 30, 2007


    NOVEMBER 27, 2006 IN NEW MEXICO: production started for a television series called: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES which is all about the life of Sarah & John Connor after the events of T2 & before the events in T3.

    January 31, 2007

    SFAM said:

    Hi Carlos, wow, that’s definitely interesting news. I’ll look at tracking that down.

    February 11, 2007

    tully said:

    coldfusion is wrong and Muaddib got it right.

    there are model numbers to refer to the type of terminator, namely the T-600 series, T-800 series, T-1000 prototype, T-X, T-1000000 and T-850.

    then there are codes which refer to the skin type covering the terminator model underneath.
    Arnold skin is CSM-101, Robert Patrick could be then say CSM-102, Kristanna Loken could be CSM-103 etc. (CSM = Cyberdyne Systems Model), Franco Columbu could be CSM-104.

    And while never spoken in the films, it is IN the films, such as in T2 on Arnolds Heads up display it says CSM-101 T-800, and in the script of T1 it says T-800, and in all the mechandise and video games and comics the series and skins types are referred to as such.

    February 24, 2007

    FaTe said:

    Muad’Dib’s name gave me a hint about the film. You speak of the case of people struggling for freedom and other futures, but obviously, this gets really confusing if somehow you are made aware of the future. Even more if someone of the future is going to tell you how’s it gonna be.

    Very Known Paradox: If someone gets from the future and helps you change it, how’s he going back from the newly created future if it has changed? Therefore he’s not going back, and you won’t get your help to change the future…

    Paul Muad’Dib in Dune’s novel explains much better this paradox: if you somehow know the future, you are somehow stuck to it. It seems like fate. But it is the only physical possible situation. Like 12 monkeys. It becomes inevitable. T3 could have taken this perspective, but I guess it was too much to ask from a chewing gum movie!

    March 15, 2007

    Dr.Dea said:

    im creating a living t-100 model this is my 5th try to complete a robot im fixing.

    March 31, 2007

    Peter said:

    Ok, i am obessed with the future war segment of the movie. I love in the beginning of T3 after John Connor drops the beer bottle into the river and it shows the skulls underwater. The camera then comes up from the bottom where all the skulls are and shows some variant of the Aerial HK flying around. I wish to know what it is called. I havent been able to locate its name anywhere or any photos. Does anybody know what it is? if you do email me with an answer. Thanks

    April 3, 2007

    James NIGDEF said:

    Terrible movie.

    April 10, 2007

    Anonymous said:

    good movie!! =)

    terminatrix killa said:

    for some odd reason i had never heard of the terminator movies and t3 was the first id seen so naturally the storyline made no sense at all to me but i found it brilliant anyways.
    going to some earlier comments i think people call the terminator t-800 because of something reese had said.i vaugley remember it being mentioned but i dont remember where.
    i think the reason everyone called the terminator t-800 is because thats what its reffered to in games and in notices and books etc..

    May 6, 2007

    ketan said:

    plz make the t4 as fast as u can
    i m dieing to c it……

    June 4, 2007

    casawiya4ever said:

    wooooooooooooooooow, c vraiment un super hyper cooool filme, j l’ai bien aimer.

    June 16, 2007

    Why T3 made more sense than T2... said:

    As much as I loved T2, I’ve always hated its ending. If they were successful in averting the future, then the time loop would stop, and John Connor would not exist because there’s no reason to send Kyle back into the future.

    That’s why I was happy that T3 was made, so we’ll have the machine apocalypse take place.

    In some ways, the future is not set, they did alter the timeline a bit. But they cannot prevent judgment day at all, because of John Connor’s very existence. His existence means that judgment day HAS to happen.

    September 23, 2007

    Dj Bomba said:

    This movie was a tiny bit better than the first two due it having more up to date computer animatronics which allowed the movie to have a rwalistic and beleivable effect!!!!

    signed: Dj- Bomba >:P

    September 24, 2007

    shawn said:

    that move is really good

    October 10, 2007

    CARLOS OLIVERA, RE:Extinction said:

    the sequel: Terminator 4 has been fast-tracked at Halycon. targeted for a 2009 release, Joseph McGinty Nichol a.k.a. McG is in-talks as director. the script for Terminator was said to be approved late September 2007.

    the plot is something like this: “After Apocalypse. John Connor Along With Other Human Survivors Continue Their Battle Against Skynet.” - it would be more of an origin story. might deal with the very first time Skynet used its human-looking machines to infiltrate the ranks of John Connor and the other survivors. a backstory.

    the people behind Terminator 4 have also been talking to actor, VIN DIESEL about the latter becoming a Terminator. others say that they would love it if VIN DIESEL would play the role of a resistance fighter.

    November 17, 2007

    vassilis said:

    is there any solution for amputees to have an advanced and powerfull cybernetic arm that works as real

    November 18, 2007

    Anjinsan said:

    For me T3 was the best in the series because it felt very here and now, the SFX were mind-blowing (the crane and fire truck chase was out of this world) and most of all the ending was a DOWNER. How many Hollywood blockbusters end with armageddon?? Kristanna Loken was beautiful and perfectly cast, Arnold was fine, but the two young leads gave very believable, solid performances. I would rate this movie as SF 4/5 stars, as Terminator 4.5/5 and for action movies 5/5. I watch it a couple of times a year. I’m sure the new TV series will suck. How much of an SFX budget can it get? SF on TV has gone the STARGATE/BATTLESTAR GALACTICA route: simplistic, unoriginal stories with great heaping gobs of SF in-jokes. Can’t wait.

    February 1, 2008

    Anonymous said:


    February 3, 2008

    precursur said:

    The only thing I disliked about T3 is that the damn TX was too strong to suffer any damage. sure why the hell not. but even the t-1000 in T2 was stronger, yet was overpowered at some stage, even though for a short time.

    on the whole it’s a sad fate…kinda made me think that the goddamn machines may really bomb us all with hydrogen bombs…immune to radiation and poisonous gases-they’ll survive it no prob

    February 13, 2008

    Kyle Hyde said:

    Geniuses ? The Geniuses of DESTROYING EARTH and raising HELL on IT and pollutating it To DEATH ?

    I’m worrying for animals the most, they’re the only ones “sane” and for nothing in the destruction of this beautiful planet called “earth”…..

    February 15, 2008

    Anonymous said:

    I like the terminator

    April 10, 2008

    gh said:

    Hated this one, as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist as part of the canon. Kinda like Alien; Resurrection. And would someone explain to me how at the end arnold was able to hold up the bulkhead door with one arm, grab onto TX with another, and yet use another arm to extract one of his power cells and shove it her mouth? This trick baffles me to this day.

    April 11, 2008

    Sabbatized said:

    He props the blast door with his mighty robo……well you know what I mean.

    April 13, 2008

    fightthefuture said:

    I think T-800 refers to the artificial “skin” that is grafted on the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101, which is the actual Terminator (endoskeleton, microprocessor, etc). Check out this quote from Reese, claiming the “600 series” had rubber SKIN. He is trying to explain Terminators to Sarah while being pursued by Arnold. If you think about it it makes sense: Reese implies that the fault with the older models was the rubber skin gave them away. You can keep the same model and improve on just the skin, no need to make a separate robot model. Also, I imagine that Systems Model 101 is used for other purposes (Hunter Killers, general purpose infantry, etc). Only the assassins need skin.

    So to recap, Arnold would be a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 endoskeleton, T-800 series. T-800 is just a more specific branding of Systems Model 101. It thus makes more sense to refer to him as a T-800 as 101 could mean a number of things, including rubber skin, or none at all.



    Reese: Not a man. A Terminator. Cyber Dynamics Model 101.

    Reese: Pay attention. The 600 series had rubber skin. We spotted them easy. But these are new. They look human. Sweat, bad breath, everything. Very hard to spot. I had to wait ’til he moved on you before…

    September 15, 2008

    renato said:

    rwell done!!! you are great…

    September 17, 2008

    Jonathan Burnett said:

    Okay, just to clarify once and for all *cause people are still confused*

    Arnold has a T-800 endoskeleton. He is a T-800, model 101. the 101 refers to the skin used on the T-800, in this case, arnold’s appearence.

    T-600’s were earlier infiltrators with rubber skin, easy to spot, and were replaced by the 800 series.


    it is simply a mistake in script of Terminator 3. The reason the ‘cyberdyne systems model’ tag was not used in the third movie, is because the timeline was altered when cyberdyne was destroyed in Terminator 2. The arnold in T3 was a T-850, model 101 (an upgrade of the T-800)

    to round up, the terms ‘T-800′, ‘T-1000′ etc refer to the SERIES, and each series has its own model numbers (the model being the outer skin) its also interesting to note that the model numbers are based on actual humans from the past (according to one of the terminator novels) so a character who looks like arnold, possibly military background would be choses by skynet as a mould ^_~

    October 25, 2008

    عمار بوتاكي said:

    بلاوي الفلم ماليه جل

    November 11, 2008

    gabrijel said:

    oooooooooooooohhh man i love the movie terminator 2 but i wanter see terminator 3

    November 30, 2008

    claudio said:

    is a excellent film, with much action .

    January 6, 2009

    Uncle Fester said:

    Johnathan’s spot-on!

    Arnie’s character in the first film is a T-800 (Model 101). All 800 series share the same endoskeleton, but can be covered in different living tissue (reflected in the model number - all Model 101 units look like Arnold.)

    Franco Columbu’s character in the first movie is evidently a T-800 (only the bunker watchdogs spot that it is a terminator, and the 600 series have rubber skins) credited only as “Future Terminator” - the model number is never quoted…

    In T2, the Terminator is a “Cyberdyne Systems Series 800, Model 101, Version 2.4″ (Presumably an identical chassis/covering with an upgraded CPU)

    In T3, Arnold plays a T-850 Model 101 - an upgrade of the original 800 series designed to combat reprogrammed Terminators as well as human fighters, and having a more powerful, heavier armoured endoskeleton, (unsurprisingly) an older physical appearance, and with dual hydrogen power cells instead of the single iridium cell of the T-800. Again the Model 101 refers to the “Arnie” tissue covering. (Some of the “expanded universe” material introduces Model 101A…)

    The endoskeletons may be deployed as combat units (uncovered) or infiltrators (covered with rubber skin or living tissue).

    According to the special features on the T3 DVD, the covering of the Model 101 is based on the likeness of USAF Chief Master Sergeant William Candy.

    In short, 800 is the Series designation (hyperalloy combat chassis), 101 is the Model number (looks like Arnie)

    March 2, 2009

    Anonymous said:


    March 19, 2009

    kobra said:

    I don’t care what you say, I LOVE THIS MOVIE

    April 20, 2009

    Feyhra said:

    This film is an insult to the Terminator franchise. Hopefully it will be buried and forgotten.

    T1 is all kinds of awesome. Kyle Reese is my favourite character in that. He gives the movie real heart.

    T2 was a very cool even in spite of the Governator playing a ‘good’ guy(ugh!) - He was ok in T1 because he was playing a gross evil character, which works well because he is gross in real life too. Sarah Connor was by far the best thing in T2 and the film itself is good enough that I can ignore Arnold.

    The only way to watch T3 as far as I’m concerned is to find one of the many fan edits that remove all the stupid jokes and weak dialogue. Even then it’s like trying to polish a turd. John Connor just comes across as a complete jackass. The only way to fix this film is to remove him and Schwarznegger, but of course that doesn’t really leave very much film.

    I’ve been loving Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles and I can only hope T4 does the franchise justice. Christian Bale is a superb actor, so I’m hopeful..

    Do yourself a favour - Forget this crap and go watch T1, T2, T$ or TSCC instead!

    April 26, 2009

    lord_muad_dib said:

    December 12, 2009

    Anonymous said:


    December 13, 2009

    El Phantasmo said:

    The only thing this movie needed was T1000. It would’ve been a really great Terminator movie if the more iconic rival had been included.

    December 26, 2010

    deadmovie said:

    the 3rd movie fucked up

    February 19, 2011

    terminated22 said:

    love terminater 3rd film shite!

    September 3, 2011

    Hellscion said:

    I thought the casting in this was like a TV-show cast.. as well as the quality of acting & dialogue..

    Also, in the beginning of the movie John Conner whines like a bitch, wrecks his motorcycle, breaks into a vet clinic, takes a bunch of pills & passes out on the floor, then gets locked in a cage. If the fate of the human race were up to some dipshit like this, i would say we’re doomed! Besides.. how the hell did he go from the punk kid in T2 to this emo douchbag?

    Terrible movie..

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