Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Terminator 3
Rise of the Machines


Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 25 May 2009

Nearly a decade has passed since Skynet last sent one of its terminators into the past to kill John Connor before he can mature into a leader - a leader which, in the future, brings about the ultimate demise of Skynet. Having survived the last attempt on his life John lives on the fringes, making no imprint, continually moving, afraid that he hasn’t stopped judgement day...

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003 - 1 hr, 49 min, 06 sec) is the third in the series of Terminator films. Taking the helm this time is director Jonathan Mostow (U-571) working from a script by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris. The film won only a single award, from the ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, for composer Marco Beltrami.

Prior to the film’s release it was tempting to wonder just how much more could be squeezed out of the franchise before the studio finally produced the film that everybody wanted to see, the war against the machines. Logically it made sense to film T3 so that we could see the fall of mankind, before we witness his new rebirth, borne of fire.

Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the Terminator, once more sent back in time to protect John (Nick Stahl). John has not had a good time since we last saw him. Having taken on a good dose of his mothers’ paranoia, this older John never feels safe, so he drifts around the country only working cash in hand, so that he cannot be electronically tracked. It seems that his paranoia is justified when Skynet sends back the T-X, its most advanced terminator. This new version is played by Kristanna Loken who combines sexual allure with a large internal arsenal.

The basic plot of the film is almost identical to T2 with Arnie going toe to toe with the new Terminator as John tries to keep ahead of it. The twist this time is that the T-X has not only returned to kill John but also those who have been identified as his lieutenants. Having killed most of them she goes after John who has broken into a veterinarian hospital in order to steal drugs following a motorcycle accident. As luck, and a script which leans too heavily on coincidence, would have it Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), the vet in question not only turns out to be John's future wife but her father, Robert Brewster (David Andrews) is the military commander who has control of a new uber A.I. system christened Skynet - quite handy when you come to think about it. Once we get past the incredulous chain of events, the film plays out pretty much as you would expect, with each set piece of destruction being followed by another.

This time out Arnie plays his part with a little more knowing humour, early on, having acquired another set of leather clothes, he stops purposely, reaches into the jacket and pulls out sunglasses, but not the black shades we were expecting, but a rather glittery set of, Elton John, coloured stars. There are such knowing nods to the audience all the way through the film. Whilst Arnie looks pretty good for a man his age and succeeds in that precarious act of switching between drama and comedy, his nemesis, T-X, as played by Loken, attempts to capture the magic of the first Terminator by presenting us with a machine which will not stop until you are dead. Her portrayal is mostly a success, but where the comedy element sits well with Arnie’s character, it doesn’t always work so well for Loken.

As for the two human leads, Stahl and Danes are able to rise a little above the blockbuster special affects to create a couple of sympathetic characters, which gives the downbeat ending more poignancy.

It was an odd set of coincidences, just to prove they happen outside scripts, that I had the opportunity to compare the Blu-ray with a televised version, it was so different that I dragged out my DVD version. The first thing you notice about the Blu-ray is the film's soundscape which makes the previous versions sound positively mono in their flatness. The film is full of rich bass sounds which will send a chill down your spine and annoy the hell out of the neighbours, especially when the Terminator signature tune is going full throttle. To compliment the sound you get a pretty good picture, which at times even manages a reference shot, though these tend to be the digital special effects.

The disc effectively has three full length commentaries. The first is from the director, Mostow, who takes a realistic view of directing a film from a script; this one is one of the most technical. Up next is the more relaxed and informal commentary from Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl and Kristanna Loken. The last comes in the form of a picture within picture which features the director heavily alongside production art and shots of the film being made.

The rest of the extras are pretty short, though some of them hold interest. First up is the ubiquitous Documentary (13 min, 07 sec) which is the usual fluffy nonsense which is only just better than an extended promo. Next up is a storyboard comparison (3 min, 55 sec) for the scene of John and Kate trying to access a hidden military base and Dressed to Kill (2 min, 11 sec) which looks at the Terminator's iconic black leather outfit, both are interesting but fail to give much depth. Toys in Action (7 min, 04 sec) is a piece about the creation of a Terminator mannequin, that’s toys to you and me. Once again its okay, I just didn’t understand why some of the longer features weren’t really about the film, an accusation which can be aimed at the Making of the Video Game (8 min, 57 sec), once again interesting in its own way but I would have preferred more feature about the movie. The extras wind up with a gag reel (3 min, 02 sec) and the best extra on the disc Sgt Candy Deleted Scene (1 min, 51 sec), which has Arnie doing a fake advert for the new Robot Soldier, which explains why he looks the same every time he comes back, but I can understand why its was taken out as it poses the logical problem that if all of his models looked and sounded the same the resistance shouldn’t have had a problem in spotting him.

The new feature for this disc is the Cinechat which allows you to chat with other viewers, in real time, during the film; I have to admit to coming over all Marvin at this point, thinking that this was an awful idea, what’s next, the sound of someone eating popcorn from your rear speakers.

The film with its few scripting faults is a worthy successor to Cameron’s first two, where it is derivative it is deliberately so and usually uses these moments for some light humour. Apart from the impressive audio track and great picture what really sold this disc to me was the director’s picture in picture commentary, which uses the format in the best way.


Charles Packer

Buy this item online

We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal
Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£12.98 (
£12.99 (
£13.99 (
£18.78 (
£13.96 (

All prices correct at time of going to press.