Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Sequel is basically one long, violent chase scene.
  • R
  • 2003
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 18 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 72 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

As in the previous two Terminator films, discussion of making one's own fate and that the only destiny and future is the one you choose for yourself. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

John Connor is an aimless drifter who breaks into an animal hospital to steal and use prescription drugs. Though he becomes "heroic" in somewhat of the classic sense, this is with some reluctance and done more out of the circumstance of the moment. The "good" Terminator is simply programmed to be good. 


Intense action sequences, with characters killed. Intense peril and some mighty scary robots. Blood. The lead character puts a gun to his head and threatens to kill himself. The Terminator carves his chest open with a knife to fix his circuitry; blood shown around cuts. 


The Terminators -- male and female -- show up on the planet naked from the side, with exposed buttocks. After getting pulled over by a police officer, the female Terminator sees a Victoria's Secret billboard and expands her breasts to a larger size. 


Frequent profanity: "f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," "s--t," "damn."


The lead character is shown drinking from a Budweiser bottle. A billboard advertising Victoria's Secret is used in an attempt at humor. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Character steals prescription drugs from an animal hospital and takes them. Teens drink beer at a party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, released in 2003, has lots of profanity (including "f--k"); extreme, graphic violence (a character puts a gun to his head and threatens to kill himself; the Terminator carves his chest open with a knife to fix his circuitry, with blood shown); edge-of-your-seat car chases; and some mighty scary robots. There is a minimal amount of nudity in brief scenes of male and female Terminators, but both are shot from a distance and heavily shadowed. There also is a very sad death of a parent. A character steals prescription drugs from an animal hospital and takes them. Teens drink beer at a party. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydeadpool2099 April 9, 2008

Lame Entry.

Not a good film for the pre-teen set and below due to the obvious violent theme. That being said, the movie is overall pretty weak and uninspired. The best sce... Continue reading
Adult Written byRichManGold December 20, 2020
Kid, 11 years old August 26, 2015

Not as good as the first two, but still quite good and has a lot less violence.

This film is another movie from the amazing franchise called Terminator. Parents need to know that this movie has extreme violence and constant coarse language.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byCgd0911 March 30, 2015

Not the best one, but still exiting

This film is not as dark or violent as the past Insallments, with language that's not as rough, but this is an R film. The violence level is high, with th... Continue reading

What's the story?

Fasten your seatbelts: The Terminator is back in TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES. The new model has lots of upgrades, lots of new powers, and some interesting new shapes. These changes lead to surprising plot twists and some funny lines. But the best part remains the old formula: one long, exciting chase scene. Fans of the Terminator series know the recipe well by now: a relentless, all-powerful cyborg is sent back from the future by its machine masters to kill the young John Conner as part of a plan to exterminate the human race. Each time, fragile human beings must find the resolve and ingenuity to escape the terminator, with doomsday hanging in the balance.

Is it any good?

The recipe is so familiar that this movie contains in-jokes and occasionally pokes fun at itself, building on themes and expectations from past Terminator movies. There are some humorous moments that would not have appeared in the earlier movies, such as the indignant motorist in the path of destruction who wants to complain about his dented fender or the scene where the muscular Schwarzenegger is mistaken for a male stripper.

The chase scenes in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines are a bit more clever and a lot more expensive. But their timing is perfect. The director establishes his credentials right from the start with a truck chase that's a carefully orchestrated hurricane of destruction. This is a wildly entertaining movie, but it has some significant flaws as well, most noticeably in the plot, which disappoints at important points in the story. However, plot flaws are not likely to discourage hard-core fans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • How is this third movie in the Terminator series different from the first two? How is it similar? 

  • Did the violence seem necessary to the story in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, or did it seem put in to keep audiences engaged? 

  • What are some other examples of sequels? Do you think sequels are generally better or worse than the original movie? Why? Why do you think sequels of hit movies get made? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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