**½/**** Image A- Sound A+ Extras B
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes, Kristanna Loken
screenplay by John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris
directed by Jonathan Mostow
by Walter Chaw Where the first film banked on romantic melancholy, and the second on a literalization of both techno-paranoia and the Oedipal split, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (hereafter T3)--the first in the Terminator trilogy to be directed by someone other than James Cameron (U-571's Jonathan Mostow)--is essentially a mega-budgeted slasher flick rematted as a hero mythology, but without the sociological significance of the genre. What T3 is, at its core, is a post-modern picture with a few agreeable moments of self-knowing humour that devolve into a self-worshipping reverence. With Arnold Schwarzenegger threatening to jettison his foundering movie career (something of a disaster since the last Terminator film) to pursue a terrifying career in politics, the picture plays like an Academy highlight reel, with Arnie delivering three variations of his "I'll be back" as well as a quick "I lied" for the dozen or so people who still remember Commando. T3 never gets more clever than that, really (though a moment where Arnie's killer robot dons a pair of Elton John sunglasses is a classic image only missing a quick refrain of "The Bitch is Back"), and the picture resolves itself as derivative (I should say "slavishly, worshipfully derivative") of the other films in the trilogy while adding a lot of loud "nothing new."