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Continuum SF: Planet Earth's newest science fiction magazine

Introduction, with Occasional Critiquing

by James Palmer

(originally published in Continuum SF)

Into darkest theater with gun and camera. My name is James Palmer, and this is Barium Cinema, your guide to the good, the bad, and the thalidomide monstrosities of Hollywood genre films. From new releases to old favorites, this column will seek to explore the good and bad of SF, Fantasy, and Horror movies. I want to let you know when Hollywood gets it wrong, and, more importantly, when they get it right. I also want to tell you about lesser-known pictures playing at art houses and film festivals across the country. Occasionally, I may cover movies based on a certain theme, such as the many documentaries that have been produced in recent years about science fiction fandom. I would also like to cover DVDs, and no, I donít think language selection and French "subtitles are special features". Television shows will also be covered, as well as animation. This will be a no-holds-barred forum, where I tell you my gut reaction to these films, and whether or not you should waste your hard-earned shekels to see them.

So, without further residue, letís dive into our first flick, Terminator 3.

Terminator 3 is pretty good, despite the fact that James Cameron, Linda Hamilton, and Edward Furlong werenít involved. Ahnold came back of course, but you couldnít have a Terminator movie without the Terminator. T3 takes place about 10-15 years after T2, and finds an adult John Conner (Nick Stahl) living "off the grid" (no drivers license, no credit card, no social security number) to avoid eventually being tracked down by Skynet. He and his mother destroyed the artifacts that led to Skynetís creation in the last film, but he still canít be sure.

Enter the newest Terminator, played by the gorgeous Kristanna Loken, a hot blond Terminatrix who can change her outer form a la Robert Patrickís T-1000, and comes equipped with a particle beam weapon and a flame thrower. She was sent back to kill all of John Connerís lieutenants, since Skynet couldnít locate Conner himself. She even succeeds in killing one of them, a young man working at a drive-thru, then goes after her main target, Connerís future wife (played by Claire Danes), who is engaged to somebody else.

When John breaks into the veterinary clinic where his future wife works to steal meds, the two of them reunite (they had a brief make-out session at a party while they were in high school) just before the Terminatrix tracks Danes to her place of employment to off her. Fortunately, the trusty T-100 (Arnold) shows up just in time to foil her plan, and escapes with the two of them. Many explosions, car chases, explosions, and gunshots follow.

This part was a little tiring. Weíve already seen it in T1 and 2. And as a terminator, Loken just wasnít as scary or menacing as Arnold in the first film or Robert Patrick in the second.  Sheís just too darn short and cute. In short, I wasnít blown away by the action like I was with Terminator 2.

What really saves this film is the ending, which you do not expect. You expect the good guys to save the day, that is, to stop Judgement Day from happening. They donít. They canít, even though they try. Their efforts bring them to Daneís father, (David Andrews) the Air Force general whoís in charge of developing the Skynet defense system, just as the renegade computer program takes control. After battling smaller versions of the attack machines they will face in the future, Conner and his new girlfriend go off to destroy Skynet, and end up on a rendevous with their shared destiny that is too sweet, tragic, and poignant to spoil here. Despite its flaws, Terminator 3 is a fitting cap to an exciting movie franchise.

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