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YMMV / Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

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  • Ass Pull: See the franchise page.
  • Awesome Music
  • Badass Decay: John Connor. Justified, though, by the fact that he'd spent ten years believing he'd escaped his destiny (but still paranoid), and so had not prepared for it and was tranqued up for most of the film.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Most of the story is generally considered forgettable at best, but everybody remembers the sexy blonde female Terminator with the inflating breasts. And everybody remembers her first scene, where she's introduced to the audience stark naked, just like Arnold back in the day.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: When she gets pulled over by a traffic cop, T-X makes her breasts bigger supposedly to distract him, but he doesn't even seem to notice them.
  • Contested Sequel: Very much so, to the point that "Only the Creator Does It Right" is often invoked. A major point of contention is how the film contradicts the underlying message of the previous movie - "There is no fate but what we make for ourselves" - but it also had many plot developments that changed the nature of the series, such as Sarah having died of cancer, Brewster being behind Skynet all along, and the titular rise of the machines. In fact, these developments were responsible for Terminator 3 being completely ignored by the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (although Terminator Salvation follows the events of T3). Despite all the criticisms, Arnold's performance and the action sequences are widely praised, and it is still the best reviewed sequel on Metacritic (Terminator: Dark Fate beats it by just 1% on Rotten Tomatoes).
  • Evil Is Cool: If nothing else, the idea of the T-X is awesome — a liquid metal coating over a reinforced endo-skeleton, a compromise between the T-800's durability and strength and the T-1000's shapeshifting infiltration abilities. It is also even more heavily armored and faster than those models, possesses on-board weapons stored in its own body, and can take control of other machines, including Terminators that have been reprogrammed by the Resistance. When the T-850 tells John that the T-X is superior to him in every way and it is highly unlikely he could defeat it, it's believable.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Well, when played by Kristanna Loken...
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With fans of Terminator: Dark Fate over which is the better (or less bad) sequel to T2.
    • Those same fans also debate whether the Rev-9 would beat the T-X in a fight. Fans of T3 cite the T-X's onboard weapons as an advantage the Rev-9 can't match, while Dark Fate fans cite the Rev-9's superior durability and ability to completely separate its endoskeleton and liquid metal into two separate entities, something the T-X can't do because its skeleton and liquid metal are permanently attached to each other.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: It's not at all uncommon for fans to claim that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the true continuation of the previous film's story, and that this film (and Terminator Salvation) is the result of some space-time anomaly that transported the T-850 and T-X into an alternate dimension where Sarah Connor had a bridge dropped on her, even though SCC also had her dying of cancer at the same time. Some even go so far as to claim only the first two films as canon, and everything else after as either a different timeline or just a dream, with the alternate ending to T2 being the official "end" to the series. And then Terminator: Dark Fate came around, serving to be the third "canonical" film in the series - and while some (keyword) fans now treat that as canon too, there still exist a decent number of fans who just stick with the original two.
  • Franchise Original Sin: This film's efforts to show Judgement Day as merely inevitable weren't well-received even at the time of the original release, but at least you could make the argument that this film was the first time the series did it, and thus the filmmakers had no way of knowing how it would go until the film was out. However, later films in the series kept doing that despite how badly it went the first time, to the point that Terminator: Dark Fate especially got criticized for this, as despite that film making this and other sequels Canon Discontinuity, it made the same mistakes, only showing many fans that they didn't understand why this one was disliked.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • At the beginning of the movie, John Connor is living "off the grid" as a drifter, breaks into a veterinary clinic to steal painkillers, and in the process runs into someone he hasn't seen in years who claims that he "just disappeared". Nick Stahl, who played John, disappeared for a period of five days in 2012, avoiding phone calls and getting drugs.
    • The shooting of Jose Barrera in public at his fast food job can hit too close to home when mass shootings are in the news. Imagine a total stranger asking for someone by name at the drive-thru then driving to the pickup window. Suddenly, the stranger open fires into the restaurant, killing the employee and speeding off like a gangland hit.
    • Due to Continuity Snarl, John says he was 13 when Skynet tried to kill him in the past. The prologue in Terminator: Dark Fate shows John when he would have been 13, only to be successfully shot down by a terminator. Also, the fact that John was successfully killed by a Terminator, due to his emotional attachment with "Uncle Bob".
    • Kate asks the T-850 if he actually cares about her and John, whom he was programmed to protect. The T-850 replies that if they die, he will have no need to exist. Come Dark Fate, we have a Terminator that, having completed his mission, has wandered aimlessly for two decades.
    • The T-850 promising that he and John will meet again might seem like a touching moment in this movie but becomes harsher in hindsight given that the next three films have a T-800 Terminator being on the opposite side of war as John, with the third movie even having one of them kill John.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: "The Mojave area will sustain significant nuclear fallout." You don't say.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: One of the reasons for the film being as divisive is having many scenes and characters directly transplanted from the previous film.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • The T-850 ended up killing John in the future through the deceptive use of manipulating his feelings toward the Terminator who protected him as a kid. Captured and reprogrammed by John's widow Kate Brewster, the Terminator goes back in time to the early 2000s to protect both John and Kate as young adults from the T-X—latest model sent by Skynet. Hitting T-X with a car first and then forcing her to crash the big truck she's pursuing in, the Terminator also keeps an unwilling Kate hostage until she fully understands the gravity of the situation and uses basic psychology on John when he's doubting himself by threatening him because "anger is more useful than despair". The Terminator also at first refuses to help try saving Kate's father because it'll put them in danger—while he also nearly calls John's bluff on threatening to kill himself—only relenting when Kate asks him to. Overcoming an intrusive reprogramming by T-X at another point, the Terminator then eventually uses an unstable fuel cell to take both himself and T-X out while succeeding in getting John and Kate to the shelter where they'll begin the resistance after Judgment Day to save the future.
    • The T-X is an advanced cyborg sent back in time to kill an adult John Connor and his future lieutenants. Tracking down and murdering several of the lieutenants, the T-X discovers John and his future wife Kate Brewster and chases them, using her ability to control machines to attack them with several vehicles and almost succeeds in fighting off the T-850 before he crashes her vehicle. The T-X then murders and impersonates Kate’s fiance to trick the police into leading her to Kate and John and is only barely stopped from killing Kate. The T-X then goes after Kate’s father, General Robert Brewster, impersonating Kate in order to kill him and then has several robots kill everyone in the military base to protect the newly uploaded Skynet. Defeating the T-850, the T-X then takes control of him and forces him to attack John. When John traps her with an electromagnet, the T-X is able to escape despite being almost completely immobilized. Even when forced to tear off her legs, the T-X is almost able to kill John before being defeated by the T-850. Showing great intelligence on top of her overwhelming strength, the T-X proves to be one of Skynet’s most dangerous agents.
  • Narm:
    • The scene where the T-X inflates her breasts to distract a police officer. It's blatant fanservice in a series not known for fanservice and a huge step down from the T-800 and T-1000's iconic introductions. Not helping is this line said seductively to the cop soon after:
      T-X: I like your gun.
      Officer: (confused) What?
    • The T-X tends to spend a lot of time trying to be sexy for a killer robot, as opposed to the previous models being nightmarish killer machines. In particular is a scene where it "analyses" a blood spot by licking and sucking its finger in an overtly sexual manner.
    • The scene where John berates the T-850 for not remembering the events from T2 until being told he's a completely different unit. Recalling those feats from the past could be powerful and nostalgic for the viewer, if not by the little fact that John himself witnessed how the T-800 was melt into complete destruction and should know better than anybody that this cannot possibly be the same Terminator. The whole scene almost sounds like a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment considering that, upon meeting the T-850 for the first time a few fight scenes earlier, John clearly recognizes the T-800 as being a different unit, even outright asking if it had come to kill him.
    • There's a scene where the T-850 smashes the T-X with a urinal, breaking it into pieces. It's as silly as it sounds.
    • When the T-X kills Kate's fiancé and impersonates him, her deception, unlike the superior infiltrator T-1000, from the previous film is so unbelievably stiff and wooden.
  • Narm Charm: The T-X crashes into the base with her helicopter? Badass. The T-800 follows suit by crashing his too? Hilarious.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: Terminator 3: The Redemption, released on the Gamecube, PS2, and Xbox, is an overall decent action game that recreates (and at times, expands on) the events of the movie.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Silberman's brief cameo, his circumstances are pitiable and funny at the same time.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: One of the reasons why the film is seen as an inferior sequel is the absence of James Cameron as director. A sentiment shared by star Arnold Schwarzenegger who only starred in the movie after being persuaded by Cameron himself.
  • Presumed Flop: While often lumped together with its follow-ups in being a failure, it is the only one that wasn't a Box Office Bomb. (Genisys had a slightly higher gross, but it still didn't break even as most money was made overseas.)
  • Replacement Scrappy: The T-850 is much less popular than his predecessor T-800, due to being a Nominal Hero who has none the latter's development or affection for John. Though the desire to differentiate this heroic terminator from the last one is understandable, the lack of any moral depth makes for an all around unlikable character.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Nerdist fans will recognize Chris Hardwick as one of the Air Force engineers.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: A female Terminator. Fans of the series have gotten so used to the idea that it's now a bit hard to appreciate how novel it was back when T3 first came out. Now, of course, the T-X is inevitably compared to "Cameron" of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, who was much better received. It doesn't help that the former was played by Kristanna Loken (who was largely unknown in 2003, and has had few major film credits since T3), while the latter was played by perennial fanboy favorite Summer Glau (who was already something of a sci-fi icon before 2008, thanks to her role as River Tam in Firefly).
  • So Bad, It's Good: If the film is watched without taking it seriously, it can be unintentionally funny with the aforementioned Narm and Fanservice of the T-X (the inflatable breasts stand out here), as well as the outrageous property destruction scenes - not to mention actual comedic elements that work. Also, Everything Is Online reaches comical levels, with the T-X driving multiple automobiles remotely. It has inspired some YouTube Poops as well.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • Pay close attention to the car chase scene and the scene where the T-X is hit with the RPG. You can note clearly that they are CGI models.
    • In the cemetery, the T-X being launched into and shattering a gravestone looks incredibly fake. Cement doesn't bounce like that.
    • The bathroom fight between the T-850 and the T-X, which comes off like a cutscene you would find in a video game. The physics are badly lacking, a problem also seen elsewhere such as when the T-X is blasted into a tombstone. The "gravity" setting seems to be set way too low.
    • The T-850 ripping off the flesh on his torso to remove a busted fuel cell is fairly obviously just Arnold holding a prop under his shirt.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Some deem the subtitle of the above mentioned Terminator 3: The Redemption is regarding how terrible the actual ''Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines'' game was, with underwhelming graphics, and alternating generic shooter sections with a lame fighting system.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The ending to The Redemption is generally considered better, although one lament is that the T-850's chip wasn't placed in the T-800 that would be sent to protect John in Terminator 2: Judgment Day instead of the F-K Reaper, which could have let things come full circle.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Despite the drop in quality from the Cameron films, Nick Stahl as John Connor still puts in a sincere effort, making John's trauma and isolation since his childhood, grief at losing Sarah and his struggles with his fate surprisingly poignant as well as making the finale where John realizes he can't stop Judgement Day and is helpless to watch the destruction before stepping up as a leader and embracing his destiny quite affecting.
  • Vindicated by History: While still nowhere near as well regarded as the first two films, Genisys and Dark Fate got an even worse reception years later. Compared to them, this film is recognized for being competent if nothing else, and it's agreed that if the franchise must be a trilogy, then Rise of the Machines is the least-bad way to round it out.
  • The Woobie: Every one of the T-X's victims (sans John and Kate, whom are woobies in their own right):
    • Those who become John's most trusted lieutenants in the future war against Skynet; just like John in Terminator 2, they're targeted for things they didn't even do, the difference being they've no reprogrammed Terminator to protect them, and are abruptly killed for no apparent reason.
    • Scott Mason, Kate's fiancé. From what screentime he has, he seems a nice guy and a loving partner, and because of his ties to Kate he is murdered by the T-X so it may pose as him. While we don't actually see the manner in which he dies, the sounds of a saw and poor Scott's screams imply his death was anything but quick.