T-3: SETTING UP AHNOLD, T-4, AND THE AUDIENCE
Terminator 3 would be better titled, "Acts One and Two of Terminator Three." The film isn't bad, it's just all set up for the next film. Action in the first hour could easily have been condensed into about half the time. The studio clearly didn't want to speed things up because they are counting on getting two movies out of one story. The film leaves us about where the mid-point of a good movie would have left us - with a new Adam and Eve waiting out the Apocalypse in a 1950's bomb shelter.
My sense is, this film is all part of Arnold's pre-political campaign. Arnold has all the laughs in the film, and he still looks buff in leather. If the film had tanked, chances are his political ambitions would too. It didn't tank. When Arnold as Terminator puts on his very cool designer sunglasses as a precursor to, saving the human race, theater goers could almost hear the sub-text, "There's another one Gray Davis can try."
Ultimately, the audience is the ultimate victim of the set-ups. But, T-3 is a fun enough visual romp that you won't mind too much.