Directed by: Jonathan Mostow
Written by:John Brancato, Michael Ferris
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken, David Andrews
Released: July 17, 2003
Grade: B+

It’s been 12 years since T2: Judgement Day, the big-time action release that surpassed the success of the 1984 original.  Terminator 2 was a landmark film for its narrative and visual effects and whilst this new film catch match its predecessor in quality and originality, it is still an enjoyable action film in a year of staleness.

John Connor (played this time by Nick Stahl) has gone into hiding.  There was no “judgement day” as prophesised by robots from the future but to keep things safe, he doesn’t reveal his true identity and keeps no friends.  This has left his life a shambles and a small drug addiction has developed.

Breaking into a vet surgery to look for drugs, John is caught by Kate Brewster (Danes), who doesn’t initially recognise John but then remembers him as his the young boy she shared her first kiss with in the 9th grade.  The two have no time to catch up because a powerful female terminator, T-X (Loken), arrives to obliterate them both.

In the nick of time (as it always is), the Terminator (Schwarzenegger) arrives to rescue them.  The previous Terminator was killed at the end of the second movie but this is another model sent from the future to keep John safe.  He reveals that John will marry Kate in the future and together, they will start an importance alliance to save the human race from the deadly machines.  T-X has been sent to eliminate them before they get the chance to do this and only the Terminator can ensure their survival.

The best compliment you can pay a visual effects artist is that you didn’t even notice their work.  That adage applies here and with very few exceptions.  From the major details (such as the opening car chase) to the minor details (such as Arnold’s face), the special effects are well woven.  Director James Cameron loves using visual effects in his works but the Oscar winning director did not direct this film despite making the first two.  The honour here fell to Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown, U-571).  Curiously, Cameron has not made a film since 1997’s Titanic.

Arnie is back where he belongs and throws in some new catchphrases (along with the old favourites) to get the laughs.  Edward Furlong, who starred alongside Schwarzenegger in T2, was asked to return due to his own drug problems.  Upcoming actor Nick Stahl (Bully) got the part and works well with the talented Claire Danes (Romeo & Juliet), who is finally landing some decent roles again.

Filled with predictable close shaves, Rise Of The Machines is still an interesting story which wraps with a well thought out conclusion.  The more serious philosophical issues of man and machines aren’t addressed but this is an action film and I wouldn’t expect anything more.  If you’re looking along those lines, Steven Spielberg’s A.I. will provide a more intellectual perspective.  But if you’re looking for some strong action, here’s a film that will deliver.