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Belated Sequels: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

This week’s Belated Sequel is a sequel to one of the most successful and most loved sci-fi movies (dare I say)...of all time!

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Previous Instalments: The Terminator (1984) and Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).

Time since last instalment: 12 years.

Now, I pondered on this for a while.

I was at work doing what I do when I’m not posting my film related thoughts on here, and I thought, “Do I go with Terminator 3 or Terminator: Dark Fate..?”

If you’re not aware, Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) retconned (basically ignored) every Terminator movie that came after T2 and served as a direct sequel to it. Personally I hated Dark Fate and I could go to town on an insanely long post about everything I didn’t like about it...but I’m not going to.

I’d rather talk about a sequel that I not only think is slightly underrated but that was made just as things were starting to change for the worst in “Hollywoodland”.

Up until a certain point, movies were brilliant! They had great stories, well written characters and going to the cinema was an absolute treat because pretty much every film you went to see was, well, worth going to see!

Then, somewhere between 2000 and 2010 a few films were released that were a taste of things to come as far as “trying to please the audience” is concerned.

Obviously Terminator 2 was not only going to be impossible to beat, but no sequel could even be half as good could it?

Do you know what? I know it gets a lot of hate but I actually like Terminator 3. It’s nowhere near in the same league as the first two but I like the fact that we see the start of the war with the machines, I like that it still feels like a Terminator movie and I like that it wasn’t afraid to do something slightly different.

What I didn’t like was the 12A age rating! As soon as I saw that I knew there was going to be trouble. The previous two movies were hard 18 ratings, so how the hell was this one now a 12A?!

Terminator was now essentially a kid’s film!

Another thing that rang alarm bells for me was the new female terminator.

I’ve moaned about female castings on here a few times now and I’m worried people will start to think I’m sexist but honestly I’m not. As it happens I thought Kristanna Loken who played the T-X was pretty good. She had very big shoes to fill after Robert Patrick’s amazing performance as the T-1000 in T2 so unfortunately she was always going to be unfairly judged.

My issue with the casting only really came in after I saw the new, much lower age certificate and I put two and two together. I basically decided in my head that the studio figured that with a lower age rating and a badass female antagonist they’d attract not only a younger audience, but a female one who perhaps wouldn’t ordinarily go to see this kind of movie.

I might be totally wrong but it was the first time I remember thinking that this was more about cashing in than giving us a good film (something that we’ve sadly all become used to now).

The most obvious change with this sequel and probably the thing that doomed it from the start was the recasting of John Connor.

Edward Furlong played the character memorably in T2 but the pressures of fame and success sent him down a rocky road of drug abuse and by the time this movie came around he wasn’t in a good place. Because of this the role was recast and Nick Stahl (the boy from Mel Gibson’s 1993 directorial debut, The Man Without a Face) replaced Furlong as John Connor.

He wasn’t “bad” as the character, but compared to the previous movie Connor was now a bit of a wimp. To be fair, that’s not Nick Stahl’s fault, it’s down to the writing, but I think Stahl gets a lot of the flack just because people didn’t really like him anyway.

Linda Hamilton who was a major part of Terminator 2 as Sarah Connor is also missing from this sequel.

In the story her character died from cancer a couple of years earlier, but in actual fact she dropped out of the project when James Cameron (who was originally meant to direct) left due to a legal mess over the rights to the franchise.

She was also “unimpressed” with the script and didn’t want to bring her character back “without good reason”.

When will Hollywood learn that when a major actor from a previous instalment doesn’t want to return for the sequel it basically spells death?!

Anyway, regardless of whether Linda Hamilton returned or not, I often wonder how Terminator 3 would’ve been received had Edward Furlong be able to reprise his role as John Connor....

All in all, and with all it’s faults I quite like this movie.

Yes it’s vastly inferior to the first two Terminators and yes it’s more of a cash in on the franchise than a chance to tell a decent story. It’s also got lines like “She’ll be back” and the star shaped sunglasses scene marring it slightly, but it still feels like a natural continuation to the story and it’s an entertaining watch.

Was it worth the 12 year wait though...? Not really but compared to a lot of other belated sequels, I’d rather take “pretty good” over “terrible” which is, sadly what a lot of them turn out to be.

Still here? What do you think?

Let me know below.👇


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