Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. 63
    Is Terminator 3 a skillful piece of work? Indeed. Will it entertain the Friday night action crowd? You bet. Does it tease and intrigue us like the earlier films did? Not really.
  2. 75
    Gets the most bang for its buck by letting the camera linger on the spectacle, and allowing tension, not flashiness, to be its hallmark.
  3. 75
    May lack the mythic pow of the 1984 original and the visionary thrill of T2, but it's a potent popcorn movie that digs in its hooks and doesn't let go until an ending that ODs on apocalyptic hoo-ha.
  4. 25
    Pointless and mind-numbing.
  5. Has its moments, and Schwarzenegger is as buff and tough as ever. But there's a flat feeling about this effort that's unmistakable and inescapable.
  6. 60
    Picking up some 10 years after the previous film left off, this stripped-down, intelligently conceived follow-up is a respectable conclusion to the Terminator trilogy.
  7. I don’t mind the movie’s retro-ness, but I wish Mostow didn't take pulp so seriously.
  8. If none of this seems particularly fresh, you're right. "T3" is strikingly similar to "T2" and "T," reflecting Hollywood's reluctance to tamper with a hit series.
  9. With him (Schwarzenegger), we return to a franchise we never knew we missed, surprisingly grateful for the star's generosity -- and evident pleasure -- in strapping on the old sunglasses and blasting adversaries to hell.
  10. The brute force of Terminator 3 is relieved, I'm happy to say, by Claire Danes's winning performance as John Connor's reluctant accomplice (whom the production notes describe, not inaccurately, as an "unsuspecting veterinarian"); by many of the special effects, which don't seem obsolete at all, and, yes, by the sinister trix of the Terminatrix.
  11. An expertly paced and efficient sci-fi thrill machine, "T3" effectively marries impressive action sequences with persuasive storytelling and its star's uniquely appealing style of "No" drama -- as in no reaction, no expression, no emotion of any kind.
  12. 75
    This third installment is the loudest, dopiest, and least inventive of the three. But what the movie...lacks in intelligence it makes up for in sheer doom.
  13. Terminator 3 moves at not-quite-breakneck speed, and the shape-shifting, metal-melting special effects aren't exactly spectacular.
  14. 78
    Reality has overtaken the movies here, which, I suppose, makes T3 all the more cathartically appealing. At least onscreen we have Arnold Schwarzenegger in our corner.
  15. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The villain comes back more times than Wile E. Coyote. I found it tiresome and witless and numbingly repetitive, but action mavens won't feel cheated.
  16. 75
    This is easily the funniest of the Terminator movies (although not, it should be stressed, the lightest). It is also the shortest and most compact.
  17. 60
    Less about the characters than about the first two movies, whose best scenes it congeals into ritual or parody.
  18. Though this film doesn't have the novelty value of the first or the complex plotting of the second, it boasts the most spectacular single sequence.
  19. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    T3 delivers the goods. A hard-hitting, straight-ahead sci-fi actioner with none of the pretentions and ponderousness that have put at least a portion of the public off of "The Matrix Reloaded" and "Hulk."
  20. 70
    Pedestrian but appealing.
  21. The effects in "T3" are spectacular, and the action sequences -- particularly the fights between the good and bad terminators -- are exhilarating.
  22. That's not to say Terminator 3 is terminally awful -- just banal, merely humdrum, more conventional horror flick than science-fiction myth, and a whole lot less than what came before.
  23. 67
    As an action film it roars forward with agreeable, transporting energy.
  24. For all the hype and the inevitable box office bonanza, Terminator 3 is essentially a B movie, content to be loud, dumb and obvious.
  25. Wastes no time getting very loud and very silly and never really lets up.
  26. 70
    T3, while far from a classic, is an overachieving, mercenary sequel that's short on thrills, but surprisingly long on laughs and surprises.
  27. 63
    The good news is that Schwarzenegger is more entertaining than ever as the Terminator T-101 cyborg.
  28. Lacks the wonder, surprises and supercool attitude Cameron achieved. "T3" is no weak sister, though. With Arnold Schwarzenegger back as the iconic title character and an often witty, fast-paced script by John Brancato, Michael Ferris and Tedi Sarafian, audiences worldwide will embrace the new film.
  29. 60
    Where Judgment Day exhibited the profligate sprawl of a military operation, the leaner, less grandiose Rise of the Machines has the feel of a single Hummer careening through an earthquake in downtown Burbank.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Begins promisingly and entertains for a stretch because you think it's leading to something more than one of the movie year's flattest conclusions.
  31. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    At its metallic heart, T3 is another chase movie -- one figure relentlessly tracking three others, mostly in cars, at high speed through implausibly underpopulated Los Angeles streets.
  32. Tried hard to honor the spirit of the franchise, not exploit it, and take it to a new level and a surprising destination.
  33. In a summer of comic book super-operas dense with psychological torment and sprawling well over two hours, the unpretentious efficiency of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is refreshing.
  34. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    At its screeching, wall-breaking best, “T3” achieves heavy-metal slapstick.
  35. 70
    As Mostow proved in “Breakdown” and “U-571,” he can churn out excitement at a steady pace; whether he can handle dread--altogether a more unstable material--is another matter. [14 & 21 July 2003, p. 85]
  36. Overall it's reasonably thrilling anyway. If you're hoping for a brilliant revisionist take on the franchise, forget it.
  37. 75
    Against all odds this "Terminator" deserves to be welcomed back.
  38. 50
    Unfolds as a thrilling piece of entertainment, but it has a third act and ending that don’t work and shouldn’t ever work.
  39. 75
    It puts almost everything it has into its explosive set pieces, but manages to instill the audience with just enough emotional involvement. If, Ah-nold decides to come bach again, this installment should ensure he has an audience.
  40. Reviewed by: Kevin Carr
    This movie doesn’t cop out. It doesn’t go for fake, feel-good warm fuzzies, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Terminator 3 has guts. It has a LOT of guts. And it’s a rare thing for any movie – whether it’s a summer blockbuster or an indie arthouse flick – to have guts.
  41. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Here's a picture that you actually want to see a second time, not for the sake of further wrapping your head around its gnarly conceptual matrix, but because of the sheer visceral charge it provides. Here, at long last, is a summer movie -- like its precursors in the Terminator canon -- worth its weight in cybernetic organisms.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 329 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 92 out of 142
  2. Negative: 34 out of 142
  1. Sep 18, 2011
    "T3" lacks what made "T2" and "T1" a masterpiece, but it still has the blockbuster spirit within the movie.
  2. May 15, 2011
    So a very outdated model is going to win against a brand spanking new one that can control machines and has plasma casters in her arms. Ya,So a very outdated model is going to win against a brand spanking new one that can control machines and has plasma casters in her arms. Ya, that will happen. All credit to Arnold, who is a kick ass actor, but I don't think that a (apparently) nuclear powered robot is going to beat the new girl in town. Full Review »
  3. ZenoM.
    Aug 7, 2006
    The most unimaginative movie in years. Boring action in spite of an enormous budget. Special effects are dull and tiresome. It is simply The most unimaginative movie in years. Boring action in spite of an enormous budget. Special effects are dull and tiresome. It is simply unbelievable how they managed to clone the previous movie, in the worst manner possible. I didn't expect a masterpiece, but still this exceeded my worst pessimistic anticipation. Full Review »