Without James Cameron at the helm, it’s almost scary to think what could’ve become of the Terminator franchise. Terminator 3 is by no means the epic thrill ride with a keen eye for storytelling that T2 was, but it manages to be one of the single greatest all-out action flicks ever to come out of Hollywood. The DVD release leaves a bit to be desired (and is especially weak for a 2-disc set), but the film is what all true DVD fans need to show off their systems.
John Connor (played by Nick Stahl) has ripped himself right out of society. He has no home, credit cards, bank accounts, family, and has become a complete washout. It is his hope that this will prevent any Terminators from tracking him down. It doesn’t. The latest model Terminator (the gorgeous Kristanna Loken) is sent back through time not only to eliminate John, but everyone who later is at his side during the battle. This brings in Claire Danes, portraying a veterinarian who is quickly sucked into the melee during an emergency call late at night. Arnold is back as the quickly aging (appropriately enough) T-101 to help protect John and keep him alive for the quickly approaching Judgment Day.
Very little is here to advance the Terminator storyline. From the opening moments, it’s nearly non-stop action throughout the entire 100 minutes. Remember the trench/chase scene from the second film? Forget it. It has nothing on a car/crane chase sequence a half-hour into this one. There is a much heavier reliance on CGI in this edition, and when it works, it works. There are those scenes where it’s painfully obvious, but for a movie filled with so many awe-inspiring shots, this is a small price to pay. A few surprises are given to keep the timeline moving, but until the shocking revelations at the end of this film, there’s hardly anything that will stun fans of the series. Then again, this is obviously not the focus of this third edition either. It’s all about entertaining the masses and in this regard, it’s easily the best of the year. (**** out of *****)
The picture here is incredible. With the exception of a few grainy nighttime sequences, the print is flawless. The colors along with the explosions are reference quality material, right along with sound. Gunfire is prominent as it comes from all sides, immersing any viewer into the action. Bass is deep and the action never drowns the dialogue out.
Warner has finally ditched the annoying cardboard snapper case for this release (thankfully) and settled for the standard plastic. Disc one holds the film, a 5.1 mix in French and English, plus 2 separate commentary tracks. One is director Jonathan Mostow going solo meticulously explaining how much of this film was accomplished; the second features most of the films stars (including Arnold himself) along with Mostow. The trailers for the film and video game have also been included.
Disc 2 is, as usual, contains all the features but there’s not exactly a lot here to dive into. Arnold introduces this disc with a short 30 second clip explaining what your about to experience, but it sounds better than it is. There’s the now standard (and quickly becoming redundant) “HBO First Look” which runs at a paltry 13 minutes. There’s nothing here that will surprise anyone as it’s all been seen before. There’s a deleted scene called “Sgt. Candy” which was thankfully cut from the movie, but does give some insight as to how the T-101 came to be. The best part of the disc is the visual effects room which goes deep into the process and even allows you to fiddle with a few sequences, adding in/taking out smoke, changing the weapons used, etc. The rest of the disc includes a look behind the McFarlane toy line, a blooper reel, a VERY brief look at the costumes, and the making of the video game. (***)
The more than satisfying ending sets up a 4th film and one that has potential to even out-action this one. Arnold (along with Mastow) prove they have the skills to keep this series going full force if they so choose. It wouldn’t surprise this reviewer if this disc gets an even better edition somewhere down the line since there’s bound to be more material out there (abandoned effects sequences, more deleted scenes?). As for the moment, you couldn’t ask for a better popcorn flick with stunning sound and picture.