Claire Danes is what's new in `T3'

November 13, 2003|By Peter M. Nichols | Peter M. Nichols,NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

A Terminator movie?" exclaims Claire Danes in a documentary about the making of Jonathan Mostow's film Terminator 3: The Rise of the Machines. Accustomed to quieter roles, Danes says she was changing planes in Los Angeles when to her amazement she was suddenly offered the role of Kate Brewster, a veterinarian who gets bounced around in the back of speeding vans while a 20-year-old machine called the terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) battles a building-wrecking blonde called T-X (Kristanna Loken).

Danes was told that shooting would start immediately. On screen, the future savior of humankind (Nick Stahl) is rescued from machine forces. Next to the pseudo-sophistication of the Matrix pictures, Terminator 3 is basic havoc, but "Mr. Mostow does at least film the explosions, chases and collisions with professionalism and something like wit," A.O. Scott wrote in The New York Times.

In the documentary, Danes, spattered with gory makeup, looks as if she wonders what hit her. Still, like all good troupers in upbeat DVD documentaries, she radiates cheer and professes satisfaction at playing such a self-reliant character. Schwarzenegger also is an affable presence in the documentary and commentary. For him, he says, the challenge was to recondition a body that hadn't disintegrated, mind you, but changed since The Terminator in 1984 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day in 1991.

More Schwarzenegger

For a look at that physique in championship form 26 years ago, there is the highly entertaining Pumping Iron. George Butler's documentary follows the young Schwarzenegger as he closes in on his sixth Mr. Olympia title in South Africa. Here the California-governor-to-be is all oiled charm as he plays games of mental intimidation with rivals like Lou Ferrigno (who would become the Hulk on television) and Franco Columbu, who may be a little guy (under 200 pounds) but can still pick up a car.

In Raw Iron: The Making of Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger says that the Butler film was fictionalized in places to make him appear more ruthless and add dramatic interest. Often that's not the real Schwarzenegger, he says with a pleasant if vaguely lethal insistence. Another short covers the rise of the body-building gym culture of the '80s, and an extensive biography of Schwarzenegger, from film roles to civic accomplishments, would have made a helpful campaign tool this fall.

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