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Under-rated, worthy chapter to the story, with surprisingly provocative ideas and some stellar acting.

While this movie admittedly has neither the grit of T1 nor the grand vision or pathos of T2, I'd like to share what I believe to be three elements which together cement T3's place in the canon of the Terminator franchise.

The first is the way the actors acted the relationship between Connor and the T-800. While Connor has memories that we the audience recall from T2, the T-800, played by Arnold, was not the same T-800 from T2. This is just another machine from off an assembly line of T-800s that were manufactured. Yeah, Arnold looks like Arnold, but this T-800 has no memory of the previous installment because it was not there. And he acts disconnected, distant and mechanical, betraying zero connection to Connor. That was really cool, and helped we the audience appreciate that, where the T-800 comes from, is a much bigger place than we had heretofore really digested. We only ever saw one or two at a time back in our time; the reality we had not yet seen by the time of T3, is that the future was full of these things, and there's nothing personal about them. We the audience wanted to reconnect to all the good feelings from the end of T2, we wanted to get personal with these machines, and that's really hard to do. This movie smacked us back to "reality".

The second aspect is that this is the movie that puts the transition to SkyNet into a context that we could see. Now we know why and how the government handed control over to SkyNet. T3 displayed what we'd heard a little about in T1, and a little more about in T2, but it did so in a way that did not prompt much in the way of "where did that come from?" or "what are they talking about" that I've ever come across (Terminator Salvation failed test this miserably, spectacularly).

The third and final aspect of the movie that, for me, was rather provocative is that, right up to the end, we the audience are following the stubborn view of Connor that judgment day can be stopped. He was sure they'd stopped it at the end of T2. He was sure they were racing to stop it throughout T3...but, if we the audience stopped ourselves from being emotionally carried away, we'd have come to the realization Connor did earlier that judgment day could not be stopped. The terminators kept coming back from the future because the technology had advanced to where it was both possible and necessary. So judgment day did happen, and the terminator being there meant it couldn't be stopped.

Is T3 the best in the franchise? Heck no! C'mon, I'm not totally crazy. Is it the worst? I don't think so, at all. (I, personally, lay that crown on Terminator Salvation, but I digress...) T2 is the best, for me, for a few reasons. T1 is the honourable second because it started the story and set up many of the devices that would help make T2 among the great sequals of all time - right up there with Godfather 2 and Star Wars Episode 2, and Blade II :-)

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