Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

"T3" outpaces the narrow genetics of "Hulk," the impersonality of "Xmen," and the inscrutable plot of "The Matrix."

Jonathan Mostow's ("U-571") "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" effectively predicts the near-decimation of the human race by machines through their invincible weapon, computer software.

The hope is that John Connor (Nick Stahl, "In the Bedroom") and his lieutenant, Kate Brewster (Claire Danes, "The Hours"), can repopulate the resistance with the survival help of Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-1000 robot, which is truly "back" from 2029 by way of a time machine.

The new T-X killing machine is a superior female whom Arnie describes as faster and more intelligent than he, a moment of truth I found endearing and a tribute to the overall sophistication of the film, which also has Arnold reprising many of his famous one-liners with tongue firmly in cheek and about as dry as the Mojave Desert.

It's that female robot that so intrigues me: Athletic-looking Kristanna Loken inhabits the role like Naomi Watts on steroids, a blonde who can morph in a second, sometimes into an even more voluptuous lady to avoid a speeding ticket. She throws Arnie around like a stuffed animal, he looking pectorally perfect in advancing middle age, but more than this she figuratively establishes the evolution of women as superior to men in the future.

Because of the egregious number of explosions and weapons in general, "T-3" misses the opportunity to build further on Arnie's wit, the theme of computer enslavement, and the emergence of women as an invincible productive and destructive force. It doesn't come close enough to George Meredith's observation that the" God of this world is in the machine, not out of it."

"T3" does outpace, however, the narrow genetics of "Hulk," the impersonality of "Xmen," and the inscrutable plot of "The Matrix." It also wins the race for the best race of the year, in which a giant crane on a truck levels a building while jousting with a fire truck.

I wanted more thought in this film and less action. After all, I am inextricably welded to the challenges my computer offers me everyday, hoping someone will tame the ever-expanding gigabytic tyrant. Alas, it's not T3 who will save me but maybe my 800 Gateway number. However, the film is much more fun than a morning making that call.