Terminator III: Rise of the Machines (2003) Director: Jonathan Mostow
While it would have been impossible to top the action-packed sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is still a fun re-hash of the Terminator formula. It is mostly a safe, predictable sequel lacking in the Asimovian depth of the prior two films in the series, but it will no doubt entertain the average moviegoer.
James Cameron, Ridley Scott, and John McTiernan all turned down the opportunity to direct T3, thus the job of directing was given to Jonathan Mostow. He managed to secure Arnold Schwarzenegger reportedly for $29M, even though Schwarzenegger was considering a run for Governor of California at the time. Linda Hamilton turned down a reprising role as Sarah Connor character’s narrative had ended in the previous film, and Edward Furlong was unavailable to return due to ongoing drug problems so the role of John Connor was recast as Nick Stahl.
The film opens in rather bleak fashion. John Connor has been living off the grid since the fall of Cyberdyne and he is now depressed and empty. But things change when a new terminator is sent back in time –this time a female named T-X (Kristanna Loken) as well as a standard model terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) the two battle each other, John meets his future wife Kate Brewster (Claire Danes) whose father is spear-heading the development of self-conscious machinery under the program called Skynet. They struggle to reach a secret location in the Sierra Nevada called Crystal Peak. At the end when they finally arrive, John and Kate barricade themselves inside Crystal Peak while the terminator sacrifices himself outside to destroy the T-X, however they soon learn that the facility is a mere nuclear shelter for government officials –but none made it in time. Skynet has now taken over the internet, every computer in the world, and has launched a nuclear war against humanity, and so John and Kate are left to handle the emergency equipment at Crystal Peak by themselves. Despite the efforts of Terminator 2, the machines have still managed to rise up against humanity. Perhaps despite all the time travel to save him John Connor cannot escape his true fate.