I have a very strange relationship with the first two Terminator films. Depending on my mood when you ask me how I feel about them, you're probably going to get a very different answer. It's mostly dependent on whether or not I feel like giving them the benefit of the doubt or not.
I watched Terminator 3 for the first time last week and walked away from it very annoyed.
Nick Stahl looks absolutely nothing like Edward Furlong. He does however look at least somewhat like Michael Beihn (who played his dad in the first film), so I'm willing to forgive this somewhat.
The T-1000, from Terminator 2, was pure liquid metal. The T-X here is liquid metal over a more solid frame, and automatically looks like a random hot chick the moment she appears in the future. This seems like a step down in model rather than a step up to me. Not because she's a hot chick, though really there's no logical reason for her to be so beyond them wanting to use a female terminator this time. When she shows up, she has eight people she wants to knock off. She succeeds in killing at least three of them. This contradicts the predetermination theme the movie is trying to bring us back towards. This is my biggest complaint about the film - the way there is absolutely no consistency and the details change as needed to move the story forward.
The most obvious version of this is Kate Brewster. She is a veterinarian because we need a reason for her to meet up with John. She's the daughter of the military guy because she needs a connection to Skynet. She wields a machine gun in one scene so John can be reminded of his mom and therefore attracted to her. And finally, she can fly a plane simply because there's no other way for them to escape. This is not how you build an interesting character.
I also really hated the long drawn out car chase scene. It was a complete and utter "let's blow stuff up!" excuse if there ever was one. I find that action scenes with actual motivation behind them are infinitely more thrilling then explosions done just for the sake of it. I ended up eventually fast forwarding through this, because it went on far too long and lacked any kind of suspense since you knew the characters were going to survive.
Once again, they spit in logic's face for the sake of watching Arnold Schwarzenegger attempt to act. The scene where he needs to simultaneously kill and save John makes no sense, and watching him pound the hood of that car in what I guess was supposed to be frustration wasn't even laughable, it was just dumb. I hated the "I cannot self terminate" scene in 2, and seeing this callback to it just had me groaning all over again.
The one thing I do like about the film is the fact that it takes us back to everything being predetermined. It's one of the reasons I prefer the first film over the second. The idea that all of their efforts to change things actually help create what they're doing really appeal to me.
Eager to be done with the series, I followed it up this week with Terminator Salvation. I don't know if its the lack of Schwarzenegger (beyond the quick CGI cameo) or the fact that it's set in the future, but I actually enjoyed this one a bit more than the others. I wouldn't call it great by any means, as it certainly dragged in parts. But at the very least there was nothing for me to laugh at or get annoyed by like in the earlier films.
I found it interesting that the film essentially had two leads - seemingly trying to balance between Christian Bale and Sam Worthington's popularity at the time it was made. I don't think it hurt the film though - John Connor's rise to power as a leader and Marcus's struggle with the fact that he was a terminator were both interesting stories, and I'm not sure either could actually fill a movie on their own. They also tie them together fairly neatly at the end, even if it doesn't exactly seem practical.
The action was pretty good and given the post apocalyptic world made perfect sense - you expect a lot of fights with robots, and those fights are probably going to include explosions.
I don't think Anton Yelchin looks like a young Michael Beihn at all, but I'm willing to bet they weren't even trying at this point. He does do a good job in the role though, and I honestly didn't even remember he played Chekov until after I watched it. Between these two films and Fright Night coming up, he seems to be establishing himself as a young actor with a decent amount of range.
I also thought Sam Worthington did a really good job, I was much more impressed with his range here than what I saw in Avatar. The main thing I noticed was that his accent was really inconsistent. Sometimes he was obviously speaking in his normal Australian voice, other times attempting to sound American. Perhaps the dialogue coach on set just wasn't very good, because I noticed some inconsistencies with Christian Bale as well.
More than anything I liked the fact that the film seemed to suggest that it was Skynet's actions that have created John Connor. It leaves both sides of the war equally responsible for the conflict, in a way.
I know there has been some talk of continuing the series, and even of Schwarzenegger being involved again. Personally, I think that's insane. The only way you could include him at this point would be to show him as the man they modeled the T-800 after, now aged and perhaps trying to take Skynet down. There is apparently a deleted scene in Terminator 3 that actually showed him being based on a real person, so they could technically do that. I think seeing him as an actual terminator at this point would just be ridiculous. I also would prefer to keep the story in the post apocalyptic era, but then I've always really loved that setting so that's no surprise. At this point the planned sequels seem to be in limbo, so who knows what it will actually be once things get off the ground.