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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Terminator 3
Terminator 3
Newsnight Review discussed Arnie's return in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

(Edited highlights of the panel's review taken from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight Review.)

In absolute terms it would be better if it didn't exist. It clearly is rubbish. The first two movies are sacred text for anyone interested in science fiction. It would be better if this hadn't happened. Also getting another director to step into Cameron's shoes is a real problem. It's like saying to Gore Verbinski "Do you have anything to add to Citizen Kane?". You really don't need to do it. So it's a bad film. That said, it's nothing like as bad as it could potentially have been. They have attempted to expand the franchise. It used to be an 18 certificate, then 15. Now we have 12 certificate. We have brought in a female Terminator to expand to the female audience. But for a film which is so clearly a franchise expansion, in its second half it becomes rather dark. It does follow itself through to a particularly downbeat conclusion. There is one moment in it of genuine horror. So, yes, we shouldn't have had it. Yes, it shouldn't have happened. And really, they should have just stopped. But if we have to have a T-3 movie, I would rather have this than what we could have had.

Germaine, having a woman Terminatrix, is that a development you would welcome?

I feel completely indifferent as to the steel genitals of the Terminatrix seeing as she has no reproductive function whatever. I wonder why all these sophisticated engines need the internal combustion engine to get from A to B, and why she wears high heeled shoes and has to run so fast. If she can run that fast, why are they all running after vehicles all the time, going round in vehicles. What is more irritating to me is that you have Claire Danes playing the future mother of the human race and being the sounding board for all the emotion. She spends the entire film panic-stricken or grief- stricken. You might be if you wake up and go into your vet's and find this alternative Terminatrix arriving? She shows a bit of initiative which doesn't last very long. You have her as this sounding board and on the other hand this woman with no feeling at all. They are both horrible precedents, I think. Splitting them this way, so you have the saviour and the female demon, to me, it's always so schematic and so obvious. But I do agree with you, at one point I began thinking this is actually cleverer than you would think. It took them a long time to work out that cyberspace wasn't a place.

Was it cleverer than you expected?

Much cleverer. I am a real pretentious studio intellectual. I like plenty of subtitles, no popcorn. It was terrific, every minute of it. The crane chase, I loved it. Stunning. Car chases are nothing after you have seen that. The jokes. The ghost of Kingsley Amis has gone into the script. There were wonderful anti-grief jokes and jokes against hypochondriacs .I can't resist the laconic one- liners. Why are we so serious about this? I was cowered in my seat.

Most of Los Angeles seems to get destroyed by Arnie as a one-man ball and chain. Do you have a problem with that?

I do as a matter of fact, especially when I am surrounded by children of eight, nine and ten, who are cramming their faces with popcorn and ice cream and seeing all this wanton destruction as just great fun. There is no cause to flinch at all. It reminded me horribly of the sort of footage we had of the embedded soldiers in Iraq. Aim at this and "boom", mayhem. Great, punch the air. I hate that.

The problem with the action sequences is not moral. They are not very interesting or innovative. Perhaps if you haven't seen this kind of movie before, they are. The problem is those sequences in any other movie might be acceptable, but because of what the previous two films were, to then spend 40 minutes of Terminator 3 doing nuts and bolts, OK, let's run a fire truck down a street and bash everything in, it's like hitting the off switch. The quips are not as good as they should be. The gags he did with a dead-pan face have now become too self- reverential. The problem is that it's not that it's a bad movie, it's that as a Terminator sequel it's unforgivable, except in it's latter half when it does become politically fairly dark and it does follow the story through to some apocalyptic ending, which is a good thing.

T3 still top class
31 Jul 03  |  Entertainment


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