Now, far be it from me to christen 1984's The Terminator and 1991's Terminator 2: Judgment Day as perfect films. If I had to, then I could probably pony up a few issues that I had with each of the flicks separately ... but collectively? Well, when you look at them together, they're actually a pretty awesome one-two punch to introduce an incredible franchise to the worlds of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Aren't they though? Aren't they just about the best first and second films in any intellectual property out there today? Certainly, they're among the rare air, and I believe most folks -- even people who aren't exactly fans specifically of SciFi -- would likely agree.
So, again, I say, "Perfection is a hard act to follow."
In some respects, I think Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines was destined to fail. Coming on the heels of that one-two punch, how could anything truly reach for the bar that was set so damn high? I don't say this in any way to fault the efforts put forth by director Jonathan Mostow, any of the attached screenwriters, or even the cast and crew. At some point, an entry was bound to miss the mark; and seeing that creator James Cameron had left to pursue other projects then maybe -- just maybe -- Rise had an uphill battle that not even a T-800 could climb.
Also, I'd be remiss if I failed to mention that -- unlike so many fans of the franchise -- I'm actually quite fond of Rise. Hate me if you must, but I thought the film -- in its conclusion -- delivered a kinda/sorta perfect coda to the property, showing its characters that despite how hard you might work to change the fate of the planet you very well might be doomed anyway. Wasn't it Jeff Goldblum's line that warned each and every one of us (in Jurassic Park) that life (or nature) finds a way? Well, in the case of Rise, I'd like to think that the universe found a way to reach out and strike back against the Terminator, the Connor family, and anyone else who dared to take a chance.
And, of course, I'm well aware of the backlash I may suffer for saying such a thing. When you do offer a position that the majority of fans disagree with, they tend to rise up, call you names, and look at you like you shot their dog. Mind you: I never said -- nor would I ever imply -- that Rise is the best in all of the Terminator series. I simply am saying that where it all went -- the finality of the flick's message -- resonated with me. Perhaps it's that I'm a bit older than most. Perhaps it's that I do tend to gravitate toward darker material. Whatever the case, I liked it, and I thought it set up the property for a great new direction ... but we've never seen a legitimate follow-up in that respect. I will give you that.
As for what really matters to genre fans?
Well, the film earned an incredible four nominations (but no wins) at the 2004 Saturn Awards (which all of you ought to know by now is sponsored by the Academy Of Science Fiction, Fantasy, And Horror Films. It's almost a given that the Terminator films draw nods in such categories as 'Best Make-Up' and 'Best Special Effects,' but Rise also earned relative newcomer Kristanna Loken a nomination in the category of 'Best Supporting Actress.' Lastly, the film -- as a whole -- earned a shot at 'Best Science Fiction Film,' but that title went out to -- cough cough -- X2: X-Men United.