Ah-nuld: Tha feilmohgroaphy

Oh, Arnold, you! I have to admit, when I review the big guy’s movies, I’m hardly objective. I’m almost homo in my love of his screen persona. Regular visitors of this site know, for instance, that my very favorite movie just happens to be “Commando”, the movie I feel showcases the Schwarzenegger attitude the best. I also have much love for “Predator”, “Total Recall” and the “Terminator” movies, but that’s no biggie; Arnold did star in some of the very best sci-fi flicks of the last two decades. What really puts me in the fanboy zone is how I also gleefully enjoy even his lesser films, including his comedies. And, Lord forgive me, I thought he was kinda cool (no pun intended) as Mr. Freeze in “Batman & Robin”.

I can’t help it. I love the bodybuilder body, I love the square jaw, I love the menacing stare, I love the cigars, I love the cheesy one-liners, I love the Austrian accent, I love the way Schwarzenegger defies logic and does all those impossible things. I love the whole package and when I watch one of his pictures, I always have a blast, no matter how uneven some of his movies have been.

EARLY WORK
Never mind stupid “Hercules in New York”, the bit parts, the TV stuff and the bodybuilding documentary. We all know Arnold became Arnold when he starred in:

1982
CONAN THE BARBARIAN
[ The film opens with the Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”, and Crom damn it if the brutal tale which follows doesn’t make a strong case for it. Conan goes through all kinds of hell, watching Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones) and his snake-cult slaughter everyone he loves, being enslaved, pitted in gladiator death matches, bred like an animal and eventually even crucified! Conan certainly comes out of all this suffering stronger – and mad as hell! This is a ruthless gore-soaked revenge story, but one that unfolds through high adventure, fantasy, romance and some deadpan humor. Add great imagery, a rousing score and a great physical performance from Arnold Schwarzenegger and you got one kick ass flick. ]

1984
CONAN THE DESTROYER
[    Way cheesier and less cool than the original, notably because instead of being an epic tale of revenge, it’s just an ordinary sword and sorcery quest that happens to feature Conan.  It’s still an okay, rather action-packed piece of heroic fantasy, despite somewhat ridiculous sequences like the fights between Schwarzenegger and rubber creatures.   ]

1984
THE TERMINATOR
[ I hadn’t seen the original in years and I’m surprised by how well it holds up despite some dated special effects and distracting ‘80s music and hairstyles. Schwarzenegger is at his iconic badass best as the killing machine and there’s tragic emotional resonance to the story of a man who travels back in time to save a woman he loves even though he’s only seen a picture of her. Cameron can craft thrilling action scenes like the best of them and this is a practically uninterrupted chase/shoot-out, stopping only to sketch out an intriguing post-apocalyptic possible future. Trivia note: I noticed for the first time that the blue-haired punk the Terminator kills in the first scene is played by Bill Paxton! ]

1985
RED SONJA
[ In this unofficial spin-off to the Conan flicks, Ah-nuld plays Kalidor, another barbarian-type warrior who helps the titular heroin played by Brigitte Nielsen – as far as I know the only woman to have not only co-starred with but fucked both Stallone and Schwarzenegger. ]

COMMANDO

1986
RAW DEAL
[ Hardly a classic, but an okay ’80s action B-movie, like “Action Jackson” or “Cobra” or whatever. Arnold is kicked out of the FBI because he’s too much of a badass, he ends up as a small town sheriff and goes after the Mob and… Well, you know, asses get kicked, bad guys get shot, etc. Highlight: Schwarzenegger shooting motherfuckers while driving a convertible with the Stones’ Satisfaction blaring out of the speakers. ]

1987
PREDATOR

THE RUNNING MAN
[ This is one of the worst adaptations ever, totally perverting the Stephen King novel, but as a dumb 80s action flick, it’s pretty damn cool. Not much grim sci-fi allegory stuff, it’s mostly an excuse to have Arnold going mano a mano with colorful TV bounty hunters. ]

1988
RED HEAT

TWINS
[ Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito are twins! Heh. ]

1990
TOTAL RECALL

KINDERGARTEN COP
[ Schwarzenegger goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher! Heh. ]

1991
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

1993
LAST ACTION HERO

1994
TRUE LIES

JUNIOR
[ Schwarzenegger gets pregnant! Heh. ]

1996
ERASER

JINGLE ALL THE WAY
[ Schwarzenegger struggles to buy an action figure during the Xmas holiday season! Heh. ]

1997
BATMAN & ROBIN

1999
END OF DAYS

2000
THE 6TH DAY

2002
COLLATERAL DAMAGE

2003
TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES

2010
THE EXPENDABLES

2012
THE EXPENDABLES 2

2013
THE LAST STAND
[ I was relatively excited for this first starring role in some 10 years for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Relatively, because I somehow skipped it in theatres so I must not have been that excited… Having now seen it, I can’t say I regret waiting for the DVD. This is a badly paced, oddly lifeless, ultimately pretty dull movie. And Arnold is barely in it! It takes a simple plot – bad guys want to help an escaped drug lord cross the border into Mexico, Sheriff and his deputies want to stop them – and stretches it out needlessly. And while there are ultimately some bloody shoot-outs, they aren’t awesome enough to make up for how long it takes to get to them. ]

ESCAPE PLAN

2014
SABOTAGE
[ A DEA squad steals 10 million dollars from a drug cartel during a raid, which is then stolen from them. Six months later, somebody starts killing each member of the squad one after another… And we couldn’t care less. For one, all the DEA agents are total assholes, so we’re not rooting for them to survive or to find and stop the killer. Plus it’s such a dumb fucking script! Add direction that recalls that of a bad DTV movie and you’ve got a real recipe for disaster. I’m a lifelong Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, but since he’s returned to Hollywood a couple of years ago, beside the “Expendables” franchise, he’s made some pretty awful movies. ]

THE EXPENDABLES 3