The Terminator franchise has been a part of sci-fi pop culture for several decades, beginning with the breakout success of The Terminator in 1984, and continuing with the 1991 blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The sequel was followed by Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003, which didn’t replicate the overwhelming success of the first sequel.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day became the highest-grossing movie of 1991, and remains the most lauded installment of the entire franchise. Yet Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines continues to charm audiences who have been underwhelmed by the sequels and prequels released between 2003 and present day. Many fans look back on the story and characters fondly, and other elements that made the movie special.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was the first part of the Terminator franchise that was not directed by James Cameron, as the reins were instead handed over to director Jonathan Mostow. Fan-favorite characters such as Sarah Connor are also absent for the first time in the franchise.
But the T-800 and John Connor return, engaging in another time-warping escape from Skynet that is rooted firmly in the success of the first sequel. The cast of this movie was mostly new to audiences at the time of release, but many have since become icons in popular media.