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Now or Then – Terminator Salvation or Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines?

Terminator Salvation or Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines?” width=”560″/>

Now: Terminator Salvation
(2009)
Then: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

Much like the Alien movies, the Terminator series gave us one of the greatest sequels in movie history, before being mined for diminishing returns by its franchise-hungry studio. The latest entry, Terminator Salvation, jettisons the time travel plot of the earlier films and instead takes place in a generically devastated post-nuclear future, where all the nasty things alluded to in the past are now finally taking place. In the previous installment, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, however, we got a variation on the usual Terminator plot: Robot from the future arrives to kill unwitting human in the present, while someone else from the future arrives to protect said human. So which of these two killer robot scenarios will win this time?

John Connor, Petulant Kid Turned Future Messiah
Terminator Salvation: With the War Against the Machines in full swing, we finally get to see the adult John Connor (Christian Bale) fighting against Skynet and issuing daily radio missives to the Resistance. But if he’s considered a Savior by so many, why is Connor fighting under someone else’s command?
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines: Convinced that Judgment Day has not been averted (good call), a youngish Connor (Nick Stahl) is living his life off the grid, until he’s sucked back into the thick of things by two Terminators sent back in time — one to kill him, the other to protect him.
Winner: Terminator 3. You’d think Bale would take this one in a walk, but he just isn’t given much to work with here.

The Latest in Killer Robot Technology
Terminator Salvation: [Spoiler Alert!]
Though he doesn’t know it at first, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) is
a half-human “infiltration droid” — the only one of his kind — who
only thinks he’s a good guy.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:
The T-X (Kristanna Loken), aka the Terminatrix, has a full arsenal of
futuristic weaponry hiding inside her sleek, sexy body. Plus, she can
control most other technology by remote.
Winner: Terminator Salvation. Marcus’s existential dilemma lends this otherwise nondescript McPocalypse some welcome depth.

Intra-Franchise Consistency
Terminator Salvation: A
CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger, fresh out of the box as a state-of-the-art
T-800, makes a cameo appearance near the end. In addition, people say,
“I’ll be back,” “No fate but what we make,” and “Come with me if you
want to live.” (No “Hasta la vista, baby,” alas.)
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:
Schwarzenegger’s actually in this one, so they have less work to do to
make it feel like part of the series. Still, they do manage to get John
Connor’s age wrong.
Winner: Terminator 3. With a few tweaks, Salvation could just as easily have been a Matrix sequel.

Verdict
Winner: Terminator 3. Tired rehash beats lifeless reinvention. At least this one gives us characters we can care about!

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