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T3 review: Part II

In many movie theaters around the world, a slide show of advertisements for local businesses cycles on the screen before the start of the trailers for up-coming movies. In this theater, the slides were of life in the community: high school pageants and parades, kids standing in line outside the theater, people hang-gliding off cliffs in the surrounding country side, and other examples of local color. Judging by the clothing and hair styles, as well as the faded color of the slides, I guessed that some of those images were at least a decade old.

Again, in many theaters, before the trailers begin the audience gets to endure actual commercials projected on the big screen. Not so here. They went straight into the trailers (mostly for movies I have no interest in seeing like Bad Boys II and the new Lara Croft film). As the trailers played, the projectionist made continuous adjustments. During the first trailer, for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the volume seemed far too low, the sound did not sync up with the images very well, and there seemed to be nothing coming through on the left audio channel. As the trailer progressed, the sound got better and better, and by the time T3 started, the operator had found a perfectly serviceable if not optimal mix.

The movie itself exceeded my expectations. I had read a review that described the movie as basically a re-make of T2 using contemporary film-making methods and technology but with no significant variation on the T2 narrative, i.e. an advanced cyborg assassin travels from the future to the present in order to kill John Connor, the future savior of the human race, while another re-programmed Arnie-bot comes back to him. That was a bum review, but I’m glad I read it, as it set my expectations low enough that the actual film surpassed them.

T3 gets off to a rocky start. For the first half hour of the film, we get the absolute minimum of dialog to establish the major players in the film and then non-stop “action” (read “gun violence and hyper-destructive car chases”). During an interminable chase sequence that involves a mobile crane, a fire truck, and multiple remote controlled police cars and emergency vehicles I feared that T3 would follow The Matrix: Re-Loaded down the dark “all action no story” path. Toward the end of that sequence, I actually thought about leaving the theater, but I wasn’t alone, so I stuck it out. Good thing. Once that first show-off set piece sequence crashed its way to its pointless conclusion, the characters actually started to talk to each other, and the film got good.

Contrary to what I’d read, the film did cover some new ground thematically. In T1, the future really is carved in stone. Everybody plays their part in a timeline that proves itself completely self-contained and immutable. In T2, the characters manage to break the cycle and stave off the nuclear holocaust that would have set John Connor on the path to his glorious destiny as the savior of the human race. In T3, John does not know what point his life serves now that humanity no longer needs his heroic services...

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