...and it was a happy ending? Wha....huh? That was my reaction to the end of Terminator 3, which I saw with Josiah, Mesh, and Holton on Saturday afternoon. Big spoilers here for those of you who haven't seen it, just so you know.
Basically, it turns out that Judgement Day hasn't been averted, only postponed.
(Within the first few minutes of the film I consigned myself to the utter abandonment of any of the standard time travel objections. The movie just won't hold up under scrutiny. And I'm not talking intense scrutiny, I'm talking the "Hey, I wonder if...?" The answer is no, that doesn't make sense, but watch the movie and enjoy it anyway. Which I did, just so you know.)
Anyway, plot hole issues aside (Can we all say "Swiss cheese"? I knew you could!), the thing that bothered me most about the movie was the fact that when Judgement Day happens, it's a kind of bittersweet, happy ending. We're watching ICBMs launch and detonate over major cities, and the last scene of the movie is a shot from space of dozens of thermonuclear explosions roiling the atmosphere, with some delicate, emotional string music in the background. What the hell?
When T2 came out, it was 1991. The Berlin Wall had only been down for about 2 years, and when the movie was released, the Soviet Union was in the process of disintegrating. The Cold War would end in December, 1991. Back then, we still believed that global thermonuclear war was the greatest threat to the continued existence of humanity. But we haven't faced an Evil Empire that could literally destory the country for almost 12 years. It seems that we don't believe in nuclear war anymore.
Which makes perfect sense. The only people who have nuclear capabilities are either 1) not crazy enough/have too much at stake (Russia/China[?]); 2) would use them on someone else first (Pakistan/India); or 3) don't actually have enough warheads to destroy the country (North Korea). As much as the French hate us, I don't think they'd nuke us. The Brits and Israelis certainly wouldn't. And that, folks, names most of the major members of the nuclear club. So contrary to normal practice, something that was once a dangerous reality has become the stuff of science fiction.
But remember the opening shots of T2? The playground? The piles of skulls? The quiet, muted voice-over? "Three billion lives ended on August 29th 1997. The human survivors of the nuclear fire lived on to face a new nightmare - the war against the machines." I get the feeling that Jonathan Mostow was trying to recreate this feeling of dread with the shot of human skulls under the river, but he's no Cameron, and it shows. Welcome to the first postmodern Terminator movie, where nuclear holocaust isn't real enough to be theatening, even after September 11, 2001. Or, maybe, it's because of that. We've seen terrorism, and though it truly is terrible, if that's the worst they can do, MAD isn't part of the equation. A terrorist may be able to destory a city, but only a nation can destory every city.
Now we get to wait for the (inevitable?) T4, in which we see John Conner actually lead the Resistance to victory.
Oh, and just for the record, in T3, Claire Danes has the worst day currently on record. She holds up surprisingly well.Posted by ryan at July 28, 2003 9:58 AM