What the Hell Happened to Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger was an unlikely movie star.  He struggled with the English language and a thick Austrian accent.  His physique made him hard to cast in every-man roles.  And yet, for a time, he was the biggest star in Hollywood.  Eventually, he parlayed his popularity as a film star into a political career.  However, when his political career ended, Schwarzenegger’s Hollywood come-back was derailed by personal scandal.

What the hell happened?

arnie body building

Arnold Schwarzenegger – body building career

Schwarzenegger began body building at a young age.  He moved to the United States as soon as possible to compete on a global level.  As I don’t know anything at all about the sport of body building, I am going to gloss right over this phase of Schwarzenegger’s career.

The important thing is that Schwarzenegger dominated the sport.  And that it brought him to the United States.  But Schwarzenegger wasn’t satisfied with being the most famous body builder of all times.  He wanted to conquer Hollywood as he had the world of body building.

arnie - hercules

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Hercules in New York -1969

Schwarzenegger’s first film role was in the low-budget fantasy film, Hercules in New York.  Schwarzenegger was credited as “Arnold Strong” since his real name was thought to be too long for Americans to remember.  Schwarzenegger’s accent was so think that all of his dialogue was dubbed over.

It was an inauspicious start.  But it was a start.

Arnie - The Long Goodnight

Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Long Goodbye – 1973

Next, Schwarzenegger played a deaf-mute hitman in Robert Altman’s neo noir film, The Long Goodbye.

As a role that required him to be big without requiring him to speak, it played to all of his strengths while avoiding his obvious weaknesses.

arnie Stay-Hungry

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Stay Hungry – 1976

In 1976, Schwarzenegger co-starred opposite Jeff Bridges and Sally Field in the Bob Rafelson’s body building drama, Stay Hungry.

Schwarzenegger didn’t exactly have to stretch as an actor.  He played an Austrian body builder named Joe Santo who is training for the Mr. Universe competition.  Despite the fact that he was basically playing himself, Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe for “Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture”.

This is especially odd since Stay Hungry was technically Schwarzenegger’s third film.  But since his dialogue was dubbed over in Hercules and he played a dead/mute in The Long Goodbye, Stay Hungry was the first film in which Schwarzenegger’s voice could be heard.

Next: Pumping Iron


Posted on December 2, 2012, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actor and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 284 Comments.

  1. Wow! What a thorough piece…there is much to say about Mr. S, some of it good.

    Quite a bit of this information was new to me, although I had previously heard that studio execs wanted the Juice to play the death robot from the future. I’ve always wondered if that was apocryphal.

    But as to the secret of Schwarzenegger’s success, it’s pure ruthless determination. “Pumping Iron” really shows what a gamesman he is, getting inside people’s heads. Very interesting guy, and not an accidental success by any means.


  2. Ah yes!
    This one has been coming for a while now, hasn’t it? It’s interesting how many of his films are so forgettable while he also appeared in four or five iconic mega-hits.
    Thanks for the Wilt Chamberlain line, by the way, I literally laughed out loud.
    My friends and I found out about Total Recall being initially a Richard Dreyfuss vehicle and started working his name into every Schwarzenegger imitation we ever did. For. Like. YEARS.

    Dreyfuss became the living embodiment of everything that was antithetical to Swarzenegger. We thought it was hysterical at the time.


    • Yep, this one was in draft form for over a month. But the delay was mostly due to my daily Disney World updates. The weekly TV recaps didn’t help. This week I decided it was time to plow through and finish the darn thing.

      The Dreyfus bit sounds pretty funny. Had to be funnier than the Hans and Franz impressions my friends and I were doing at the time.


  3. I echo the props for the Wilt Chamberlain joke. That was textbook.

    I know what a sleazebag he is, but god help me, I will never stop thinking Arnold is awesome. If I had lived in California when he was running for governor, I would have voted for him, and I’ve never voted Republican in my life. I would cross party lines because he was in movies I like! I know it makes me shallow, but what are you gonna do. God help me if Van Damme ever runs for office as a Republican.


    • I’m glad the Chamberlain joke landed. I was worried it was too obvious. I almost left it out.

      In general, I don’t let entertainer’s personal lives interfere with my enjoyment of their work. Ah-nuld may be a sleaze in real life, but I don’t really care. His movies were generally more fun than other action heroes of the 80s. I don’t think I could have voted for Gov Conan. But I guess we’ll never know.


      • I’ve become the same way over the years. People who rise to the top of their fields, especially something as competitive and frustrating as movies, tend to get there by being self-centered and ruthless. When Michael Jordan gave his NBA Hall of Fame induction speech, a more callow me was taken aback to hear him actually say what he said, but then I realized that Jordan couldn’t have been the player he was without being driven to be better than everyone else, whatever it took. It’s a hard lesson of life that the people you admire aren’t always the people you want them to be.


  4. As bad as “Conan the Destroyer” is, “Kull the Conqueror” is even worse because Sorbo just played Hercules with different clothes (which pretty much describes his shitty Andromeda series, too).


  5. Great article! Two things to note: 1. Arnie asked if he could dub the German version of Terminator, and was told ‘no’. To Germans, his accent is of a poor farmer.

    2. Everybody I knew, including me, was foaming at the mouth for T2. I saw it on opening day with all of my friends, and the theater was a madhouse. So, I think that T2 was expected to be a big hit.

    It didn’t hurt that it’s an awesome film. Too bad about that kid that was in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • T2 followed the usual Cameron formula. Cameron goes way over budget. Hollywood types snicker and predict failure. Obviously, it panned out in the end. So did Titanic. So did Avatar. But leading up to T2‘s release, there were plenty of people expecting T2 to be a costly disaster.

      I have learned never to bet against Cameron.


      • Notice that I stopped talking about Arnie after T2. That was his last decent film, in my opinion. T3 was very disappointing to me.

        One thing, though. In ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, you see that Arnold is a very small man. Odd.


        • I like True Lies quite a bit. But after that, yeah, nothing worth discussing.

          What surprised me was how little the first Terminator actually did for his career and how much Twins did. Twins really stepped him up a notch. T2 obviously put him over the top. But Twins is arguably the movie that cemented Ah-nuld as a star.


        • I forgot about True Lies. That was a really good movie. Tom Arnold was funny, and Jamie Lee Curtis brought the whole thing together.

          I don’t really remember Twins that much. Just that it was silly.


        • I am still baffled by how successful Twins was. The entire joke was on the movie poster. I guess other people like high concept comedy more than I do. It blows my mind that Triplets may happen.


        • I had heard years ago that Arnold was a sexist bastard, but now he’s in the same category as Mel Gibson….to me at least. I won’t be going to see his future films.

          On a different note, Arnie makes a Cameo in The Rundown. He says ‘good luck’ or something like that to the Rock at the beginning of the film – supposedly passing the action torch to Dwayne Johnson.

          Do you think that torch was passed? I’m not so sure…


        • Yeah, I left off the Rundown cameo. Just didn’t seem significant. I’m not sure there was a torch to pass. Post 9/11, Americans lost interest in the super-sized action heroes of the 80s and 90s. Pretty much all of them died out and were replaced by regular Joes like Matt Damon.

          The Rock has done well enough. And I guess he is Arnie’s heir apparent. But as successful as he is, I doubt he will ever be anywhere near as big as Ah-nuld at his peak.


  6. As always thanks for another enjoyable entry in the series, you certainly filled in a lot of gaps in my Arnie knowledge, especially regarding his personal problems of the last few years.
    Reading your article I was surprised how many of his movies I’d seen at the cinema. One of my old college buddies was a big Arnie fan and dragged me along to most of his action movies from Terminator 2 up to Eraser, I even saw The Last Action hero, although I drew the line at Kindergarten Cop and Twins.
    Please tell me Triplets is a joke!


    • I wish I could tell you Triplets is a joke. At first, I assumed it was. It is actually frighteningly real.

      But remember that Twins grossed over $200 million dollars in the 1980’s. It was a super-smash. So, I can understand the desire to go back to that well even if decades have passed. Sure, it’s a terrible idea. But it was a terrible idea then too.

      Like you, I saw a lot of Arnie’s movies in the theater without necessarily being a fan. I saw Kindergarten Cop out of loyalty to Penelope Ann Miller. She was a pretty major cinematic crush at the time.

      Some of the later films I saw for work reasons. I actually got paid to watch End of Days and The 6th Day. But I don’t feel good about it. Eraser was the last Arnie movie that was passable.

      Last Action Hero is one of those movies that is bad, but not as bad as its reputation. Like Cutthroat Island or Waterworld. It’s watchable with low enough expectations.


  7. This made my day! Lots of great and curious things I didn’t know. Crossing my fingers for some serious blockbusters in 2013.


  8. Cronenberg’s take on “Total Recall” would’ve been interesting, but I loved the 1990 film (the less said about the remake the better) because it was exciting &, while he still flexed his muscles, Arnold showed more vulnerability on screen than he had previously, which made the film unique.


    • Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Verhoeven’s take on TR. I rewatched it recently and enjoyed the old school special effects and Verhoeven’s unique brand of satire. It’s a fun movie. But I’d love to visit an alternate universe where I could watch the Cronenberg version starring William Hurt that stuck close to the source material. I’m pretty sure the two movies could have co-existed.

      Haven’t seen the remake, but I have heard it was awful.


  9. With Arnie you know what you’re getting. He packaged himself very well as his career progressed. He morphed himself from a hulking menace into the loveable brute which dominated every character he played since the Conan days. He’s pre-sliced ham which perfectly describes his acting abilities as well!

    On a side note:

    “But Cameron didn’t think Simpson would be believable as a killer. At least one jury agreed with him.”

    How long have you been holding that one in the vault?!? 😉


    • I credit Arnie with a lot of things. He’s an incredibly shrewd businessman. He has a ton of charisma which translates to star power. I don’t believe that can be taught. You either have that or you don’t. And he recognized that he was a commodity and knew how to package that.

      Ah-nuld also has a reputation for selling his movies to the public. Celebs hate promoting their films. But Schwarzenegger thrived on it.

      Believe it or not, the OJ line was spontaneous. Most of my jokes are. I put a lot of effort into the research, but the jokes are all off the cuff. Sometimes I debate whether or not to cut them. I asked myself whether or not Wilt Chamberlain jokes or OJ jokes were too dated. But ultimately decided to leave them in. Truth is, I rarely ever cut my jokes.


  10. well, lebeau it’s been a while. how’ve you been? now i see you are talking about arnold’s career. well since you’ve mentioned some of the films arnold did that were great i would have to mention my all time favorite films from arnold which you would already know so here goes.
    (1) conan the barbarian
    (2) the terminator
    (3) red sonja
    (4) commando
    (5) predator
    (6) red heat
    (7) twins
    (8) total recall
    (9) kindergarten cop
    (10) terminator 2
    (11) last action hero
    (12) true lies
    (13) eraser
    (14) jingle all the way
    (15) end of days
    (16) sixth day
    (17) collateral damage
    (18) terminator 3
    (19) the rundown even though he made a cameo
    (20) the expendables: cameo
    and last but not least
    (21) the expendables 2
    so now here are all the great films i enjoyed from arnold that were good, interesting, funny, a little stupid, enjoyable and of course guilty pleasures. i hope twins 2 will be as good as the original. i also heard that arnold is going to do a sequel to conan only this one will be more of a sequel to the 1982 classic than the 1984 version was. i just hope they make rated r. what do you think about that lebeau?


    • Hey Andy! I was wondering where you went. I have to admit, I was kind of hoping this article would bring you back. Good to hear from you.

      Big fan of Red Sonja, huh? I have to admit, I haven’t seen that one since I was a kid. But I don’t think I am going to subject myself to a second viewing.

      Conan the Conqueror is in the works. And it won’t be aimed at kids like Conan the Destroyer was. I think there is definitely some potential in the idea. It’s bound to be a lot better than the remake.

      Part of the reason I did this article when I did is that I wanted to get it in before Arnie makes a comeback. I don’t think he’ll ever be as big a star as he was in the late 80s – early 90s. But I do think he’ll manage a Stallone-like comeback. I wish I had gotten a Stallone article done before The Expendables. Now I feel like I have to hold off writing him up for a while.


  11. if they make a terminator film i hope they make it true to the james cameron films and bring back arnold and the rest of the cast. get a good villian to go up against arnold. a male villian like the T1000 or something. i’d have to say the arnold villian and the T1000 are my all time favorite villians in the terminator movies. tx was alright but it could have more of a male terminator than a female one. i’m not saying this to be sexist. i’m saying this so arnold would have to fight a male terminator of his action hero caliber. arnold was also good as hero as well as a villian when he was the terminator. that was his best role besides conan, etc. better than batman and robin.


  12. well he looks like he could still do the role again. that and conan and a lot of other good films that he did defined him as an action star. if bruce willis could do another red and a fifth die hard and sly could do another rambo, then schwarzenegger could do another terminator, conan and twins. i think he should do another true lies, commando and eraser and maybe predator. he, charles bronson, clint eastwood, chuck norris, mel gibson, harrison ford and stallone helped spawn other good action stars of the 70s, 80s, 90s and present. i enjoy the best action stars even of the 80s. i think back in 1997, he should have done an action movie with bruce willis or stallone or mel gibson and harrison ford or chuck norris than a batman movie with george clooney. i mean really does anybody want to see arnold as a batman villian making ice jokes 90 percent of the time. i didn’t enjoy clooney as batman even now that he is a dramatic actor than an action star which he was for a little bit. to me clooney is no longer an actor, he is a performer, a puppet for politicians and the hollywood left, so to speak. it doesn’t matter what i think about actors i don’t like. we are here to talk about arnold and yes he could do a good terminator film if there was a good script and matches how terminator 1 and 2 were back then and show that 3 was ok and 4 sucked ass. arnold will do great films again and so will mel gibson, michael keaton and mickey rourke and any other person i like that does good action back in the day and can still do it again. that’s what i think lebeau.


  13. arnold can still do great films. expendables 2 showed that he came back and worked with guys of his caliber as action stars. i liked how he worked with stallone and willis. i would love to see willis and schwarzenegger do a movie together besides expendables, since stallone is doing another film with schwarzenegger like the tomb. that is what i want to see from arnold and bruce. a movie similar to last boy scout and eraser and all their good films combined including die hard and terminator.


  14. glad to hear it.


  15. there are action stars that are still great making good films over 50 and there is nothing wrong with that. arnold, bruce and sly made it great by returning to their franchises that they were so popular for and now working together in the expendables films. not bad at all for arnold. i would still like to see some of arnold’s new films like last stand, the tomb with stallone, and ten. plus sequels to conan, twins, terminator, true lies, eraser and even commando if he will do them all. if he doesn’t that’s ok. i just want him to do good films that don’t flop at the box office. i just want him to make good hits.


  16. arnold has been and will always be the king of 80s and 90s action films you know? of good action films, not crappy ones.


    • They can’t take away Arnold’s King of the 80’s/90’s action star crown. That’s historical fact. He reigned.

      I don’t think he can ever reach those heights again. But I think he can capitalize on nostalgia for the pre-9/11 era and stage a nice little comeback.


  17. that’s all right unless the rock and vin diesel and jason statham are the kings of 2000 to 2010. i’m ok with that. to me arnold and sly and bruce willis, chuck norris jean claude van damme, dolph lundgren proved that they do good action movies even with each other. i kind of wish clint eastwood and charles bronson did an action film together years ago like arnold and sly did. i don’t give a damn anymore about johnny depp, brad pitt and george clooney if they think they are the kings of action, even if it’s a shoe in. they are so overrated now. it pisses me off and they got to be political and cocky even if you don’t think that.


    • I’m not sure if there is a current king of action. Since 9/11, the action genre has changed so much. Nowadays we get dramatic actors like Matt Damon dabbling in action instead of action heroes who spend most of their career doing action movies.

      There definitely seems to be a wave of nostalgia for those old fashioned action movies though.


      • This is kind of ironic because if anything, “Die Hard” w/ Bruce Willis was groundbreaking for its time because in part, had a normal, blue-color guy (instead somebody looking like a physical specie like Arnold or Sylvester Stallone) as the hero.

        If I had to pinpoint why Arnold Schwarzengger’s star power dwindled so to speak. I do think not only the 9/11 factor, and negative response to “Batman & Robin” (it really I feel, hurt Arnold’s credibility as a box office star and he was pretty much playing an exaggerated version of himself as a tragic villain like Mr. Freeze), but perhaps also his best collaborators (namely James Cameron, Ivan Reitman, Paul Verhoeven, and John McTiernan) entering “fallen creator” status themselves (Verhoeven w/ “Showgirls”, McTiernan w/ any film post “Die Hard 3” such as “Rollerball”, Reitman w/ any film post “Dave”, and Cameron simply going on a 10+ year hiatus in-between “Titanic” and “Avatar”).


    • He’s not expected to be a star at 66. Pretty much the only criteria for a write-up at this point is that the actor or actress in question have a rise and fall. Schwarzenegger was at one point the biggest movie star in the world. And then a few years later, his career hit the skids. Post 9-11 his movie career was in shambles along with all the other action heroes of the 80s (except for some reason Bruce Willis).

      WTHH isn’t about having a career cut short. Look at Nicolas Cage! That guy’s career is never-ending. And he’s still working.

      When I started the series, I was really only looking at people who had “disappeared”. But I have expanded to the point where just about anyone can fit as long as their career has peaked.


    • If I do a deceased actor (and I probably will eventually) Swayze will probably be the first. If he were still alive, I would have written him up already. I just feel a little weird asking “WTHH” when the answer is that he died. But I will eventually get past that.

      Right now I’m pretty much feeding requests into the poll and whoever rises to the top of the poll gets the write-up. I try to alternate genders but other than that I follow the will of the people. 😉


  18. i wonder how schwarzenegger would have done judge dredd in 1995 instead of stallone. i would have loved to see him play judge dredd. it would have been like watching robocop, blade runner, terminator, die hard and dirty harry rolled into one. i’m glad the arnold total recall is better than the new total recall.


    • I haven’t seen it yet, but I have heard pretty good things about the new Judge Dredd with Karl Urban. The problem with casting Stallone or Scharzenegger in a role like that is that it stops being a Judge Dredd movie and becomes and Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie. There’s nothing wrong with that per se. But it defeats the purpose of making a Judge Dredd movie in the first place.

      Having said that, I think the movie would have been much better with Schwarzenegger than with Stallone. Judge Dredd was a very troubled production and a lot of that came from Stallone fighting with the director. The problem is, Stallon really didn’t get what Judge Dredd was supposed to be about. I won’t say Stallone ruined the movie because a lot of things went wrong. But the movie was definitely worse off because of him.


      • The new Dredd film is pretty darn good. It doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and the plot is very simple. The only drawback is that the usually awesome Lena Headey is not so awesome in this film….although the makeup artists did an extremely good job at making her look like an ex-hooker meth head.


        • Might need to Red Box that one. Reviews were pretty bad when it came out, but fans seem to really like it.


        • I was wary of the reviews, too. But now I have seen it twice. It opens with a brutal shootout, then spends the rest of the movie with Dredd bonding with his trainee in a monster building controlled by a druglord played by Headey. Simple and to the point, just like the comic. Considering that it could have been much worse, the humor is downplayed, and the action is realistic.


        • It even meets the Bechdel (feminist) movie test! Try that with an average ’80’s action movie-


      • The thing about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that he’s really more of a personality (not that isn’t necessarily a negative thing) than he is an actual actor. When you go see one of his movies, it’s easily to except him to pretty much play himself (but Arnold at least as a certain presence and charisma to get away with it most of the time).


      • They Believed The Hype (And It Blew Up In Their Face): 15 Celebrities Whose Careers Were Hurt By Hubris:

        Sylvester Stallone, also saw his ego deflated following the failure that was Judge Dredd. The film was the dream project of director Danny Cannon, who licensed the comic book satire during the 80s with hopes to make a faithful, subversive sci-fi film. When he finally saw his dream come to fruition in 1995 Cannon discovered he was making a Stallone film instead. According to Cannon, Stallone and the studio instigated a number of changes to the film that left it virtually unrecognizable as anything more than a star vehicle. This clashed sharply with property’s intentionally ridiculous style garnering Judge Dredd some of the worst review’s of the Stallone’s career. The film barely turned a profit, hurt Cannon’s career, and marked the beginning of a box office losing streak for Stallone. In a later interview with Uncut Magazine, Stallone would lament his choices and the opportunity they missed to faithfully adapt the property.


  19. i see your point. i think arnold or dolph lundgren would have been a good judge dredd. at least rambo was the only character from a book stallone could control more than judge dredd, right?


    • There’s definitely more flexibility with a character like Rambo. First Blood, the novel, didn’t have legions of devoted followers. Not that Judge Dredd is all that popular in the US either. But Stallone and co were adapting a single book. You can get away with making a lot of changes. Especially when the book isn’t huge to begin with. With Judge Dredd, there were years of comic book stories that depicted the character a certain way. If you are going to throw all that out, there’s not a lot of point in making a Judge Dredd movie.

      If the character wears the helmet for all or most of the movie, it almost doesn’t matter who plays him.


  20. i heard the last stand got good reviews even though it didn’t do well in the box office same with the new judge dredd. i really want to see both of them so badly.


  21. Are action movies dead? Is there no appreciation?:

    « Reply #13 on Feb 4, 2013, 8:27pm »
    They aren’t dead, just in need of an evolution. I saw the Last Stand and was struck by how out of place it seems in our modern world. The Expendables was a nice nostalgia trip but I don’t think many people are really yearning for a return to that type of action movie where a bodybuilder picks up the biggest gun he can find and mows down hundreds of faceless bad guys.

    When I think of modern action films, I think of the Bourne movies, Jason Statham, Liam Neeson and the like where it’s more about stuntwork and physicality and the heroes look more like an average person than Mr. Olympia.

    There will always be a need for mindless action movies.

    « Reply #14 on Feb 4, 2013, 9:26pm »
    I’ve made this point before (as has many others) that the big difference between back then and now is that the action stars today are A-level actors like Matt Damon or Liam Neeson who train with physical trainers and ex-military/weapons experts to come off as supermen.

    Back then you had bodybuilders and kung fu masters and ex-athletes, people who were physically charismatic but acting-wise were limited. But well-crafted actioneers can disguise those acting short-comings and emphasize their strengths, i.e. the physical.

    « Reply #15 on Feb 4, 2013, 2:44am »
    All those movies mentioned in the first post star people who are relatively old, especially in the youth-obsessed Hollywood (Statham, who is the youngest there, is freaking 45), so I’m not surprised at all that these are people who don’t have the drawing power they did of their prime. I enjoy action movies, but some of these guys need creative writers to squeeze new plots out to make the action interesting. The Expendables II was super boring. Going back some ways, Rambo, Terminator 2, and Die Hard were all interesting movies with neat concepts behind them. Generic “Cop/soldier/other bad ass out for revenge/doesn’t play by everyone else’s rules”-kind of s*** can die without doing much harm to the world. There is a place for that stuff once in a blue moon, but you have to put some effort into the rest of these movies for them to survive. They are super cookie cutter.

    If someone puts together a R-rated action movie with a really great plot or hook, it’ll draw. I mean, The Expendables 2 was pretty dumb and honestly a waste of money, but it still drew because it had a hook (a bunch of famous dudes get together again). For movies that can’t have all-star casts, you better come up with something cool.

    « Reply #30 on Feb 4, 2013, 1:27pm »

    Feb 4, 2013, 12:20pm, JR $lim wrote:
    The examples you cited all look like stuff we’ve seen before. N hell I went and saw Last Stand hopin for a good time, but for as bad as I hated it, kinda glad it bombed

    That and movies like Last Stand and Bullet to the Head are woefully outdated.

    Movies like those were popular in the 80’s and early 90’s but their cheesiness fell out of fashion when that era ended. I’m really amazed that Stallone would take part in a film like that, when he knows from experience that the only action films like those which actually do respectably are tongue-in-cheek productions like The Expendables which poke fun at all the reasons why those bygone films are bygone in the first place.


    • Short answer: Action movies aren’t dead. But those movies are throw-back to a bygone age. There was enough nostalgia for the Expendables films, but not for all of these guys to come back and restart their action careers in movies that feel like they were made in 1986. The Expendables is kind of the Avengers of old action movie stars. People can pay one ticket price to see all their favorites in one place. But that doesn’t mean they want to pay to see solo outings.

      I think Die Hard 5 may be different since it is attached to a franchise. If Stallone or Schwarzenegger pulled one of their franchises out of the mothballs, they might have had a hit. (But probably not for Stallone. I think the world is done with Rocky and Rambo). The main selling point for these guys is nostalgia. They either need to team up or bring back a beloved character. Otherwise you get Last Stand and Bullet to the Head.


    • Is Taken The Modern Generation’s Commando?:

      I would like to believe the notion that the one of the reasons why Arnold’s (and to a lesser extent, Sylvester Stallone) star power has dwindled since the end of the ’90s, is that we now look for “real actors” (e.g. Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, and Robert Downey, Jr.) to be our action heroes instead of larger than life personalities. Ironically, Hollywood was kind of going that way by the late ’80s w/ Bruce Willis in “Die Hard”, Michael Keaton as Batman, and Timothy Dalton’s James Bond.

      Jason Statham, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Vin Diesel are arguably the biggest “pure” action stars (in that, they really aren’t known for being great actors to boot or having an otherwise unassuming presence) that we have seen in recent years.


  22. About Conan: I don’t get it! Isn’t this guy too old to play Conan? Is it going to have Conan’s son it or something? How could it possibly work when Arnold doesn’t even look ripped anymore. Stallone is still beefy at least…


    • There were some stories of old King Conan. I’m actually kind of interested to see that if they do it right. I have heard it described like Schwarzenegger’s Unforgiven where he returns to the genre that made him famous and deconstructs it. That sounds pretty awesome. But execution is key.

      Old Conan shouldn’t be running around in a loin cloth. The more broken down Arnold looks, the better.

      How he would ever play the Terminator again, I have no idea.


  23. he should play conan and the terminator but make it true to the original films. conan the destroyer didn’t do well because it didn’t capture what the first one had. the remake sucked ass. terminator 1 and 2 best films jim cameron wrote and directed, 3 was ok but it had a shitty eding, 4 was an abyssmal failure especially without arnold. i’ve got a rule for hollywood, warner bros and anyone involved in t4, if you were going to make a sequel to t3, you should have waited until arnold was out of office before you start to make it. arnold is conan and the terminator end of story, he needs to do it right like how sly did rocky and rambo. same with the sequel to twins and if he does make a sequel to true lies or work with james cameron he should make it look good for the action fans and for himself. arnold may be last we’ll see same with sly and bruce, chuck norris, mel gibson, harrison ford, steven seagal, jean claude van damme, dolph lundgre, etc. but they still got it so before you go criticizing their films take a look at all the good films that made them big in the 80s, 90s and tell me what made the 80s and 90s great and if there is a chance for them to do another great film together like the expendables. you tell me that and i’ll write you back if you still believe they can do something great like the films they did then to the expendables.


  24. In regards to “The Last Action Hero” and why it underperformed at the box office, keep in mind that it opened the same week I believe, as “Jurassic Park”, which turned out to be the biggest hit of 1993.

    Also, from my understanding, “The Last Action Hero” was marketed and advertised as at was advertised as a serious, straight-forward action movie. When it hit theaters, Arnold was just coming off as a series movies like that. It didn’t help that it was his first major role after the huge success of “Terminator 2”. I think that audiences didn’t really anticipate “The Last Action Hero” to therefore, be a deconstruction of the action-movie genre as well as a meta, self-parody (not just of action movies but Arnold Schwarzenegger himself). Something like that was kind of hard for audiences to grasp at the time. The irony I think is that “Batman & Robin” in a weird way, was like that too.

    The best analogy that I’ve heard is that “The Last Action Hero” is to Arnold Schwarzenegger what “The Cable Guy” turned out to be for Jim Carrey.


    • Pardon me if I’ve said this before, but one could make the argument that Arnold’s career simply hit its natural peak w/ the second “Terminator” film. From my understanding, some of his Some of his so-called hits prior to that film made less money that some of his so-called flops after it (then again, we’re not taking inflation into account). As Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fan-base grew out during the ’80s, the box office generally and perhaps naturally, grew w/ it (with most films making more than expected). After 1991, every $100 million action movie that Arnold was cast in was therefore, expected to make “T2”-sized business, and most didn’t.


    • Greatest Box-Office Bombs, Disasters and Flops of All-Time:

      Last Action Hero (1993)
      Director: John McTiernan
      Studio/Distributor: Columbia Pictures
      Budget: $85 million
      Domestic Gross: $50 million
      Worldwide Gross: $137.3 million
      Rentals: $26.8 million

      This noisy action-comedy fantasy film (and ‘film within a film’) was manufactured by studio executives at Columbia to take advantage of the craze for action-hero Schwarzenegger (already famous for snappy oneliners, such as “I’ll be back” and action films), but to also spoof the entire action film genre. The satirical parody was a combination of Willy Wonka… (1971), The Terminator films, Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr. (1924) and Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), the buddy-cop series Lethal Weapon (1987), and an inner-city version of the Indiana Jones series.

      To illustrate the difficulties that the film faced, the gimmicky, self-indulgent script full of industry in-jokes was often rewritten and modified (there were four individuals credited for the story and screenplay!). At least one easy-to-accept rationale for the film’s flop at the box-office was that it appeared opposite the immensely-popular summer blockbuster Jurassic Park (1993). Other possible reasons for its failure: its soft and sanitized PG-13 rating turned off its main action-film audience, the film was mis-marketed, the media and critics disliked the film and were vocal about it, and the studio mistakenly believed that Arnold’s mere presence in this super-hyped film would guarantee success.

      The wandering, messy, convoluted and drawn-out absurdist plot (with lots of star cameos) told about 11 year-old Danny Madigan (Austin O’Brien) who was addicted to the escapist exploits of his idol – LA police hero Jack Slater (Schwarzenegger) – at the local movie theatre. During his attendance at a special late-night screening – at the time of the ‘real-world’ premiere of his latest blockbuster film titled Jack Slater IV, Danny was given a ‘magic ticket’ by elderly Times Square movie theatre projectionist Nick (Robert Prosky). He was able to miraculously join his fictional hero on-screen as his kid-sidekick – suddenly thrust into the screen’s action to appear in the backseat of the hero’s automobile during a chase — to help battle the film’s one-eyed villain Benedict (Charles Dance) and another evil psychotic named Ripper (Tom Noonan) through a cliched set of multiple car chases, explosions, shoot-outs, last-minute escapes, etc. To add another twist to the tongue-in-cheek reality-fantasy angle of the film, Slater joined Danny in the ‘real-world’ when the ticket was stolen by Benedict (who then entered Danny’s world) – where the screen’s Slater was able to improbably meet the ‘real-world’ celebrity Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      The film was nominated for six Razzie awards: Worst Actor (Schwarzenegger), Worst Director, Worst New Star (Austin O’Brien), Worst Original Song — “Big Gun”, Worst Picture, and Worst Screenplay.


  25. last action hero was also a parody of die hard since arnold was considered to play john matrix or john mcclane because of the die hard script and because of michael kamen’s music and john mctiernan’s directing. but all in all it wasn’t a bad movie.


  26. Batman Retrospective Series – Episode 6: Batman & Robin:

    Beginning at about the 00:19:00 mark, the hosts get into Arnold’s career right around the time that “Batman & Robin” was being produced. All of the videos or podcasts that I’ve listened to recently, suggested that Patrick Stewart would’ve been a much better choice to play Mr. Freeze than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s kind of like how Stewart was always the most ideal choice to play Professor Xavier in a potential live-action X-Men movie, but at the very least, that fan casting wish became a reality. I heard that Joel Schumacher’s second choice for Mr. Freeze was Sylvester Stallone.

    More to the point, it’s a bit ironic that Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t really get a chance to show off his trademark physic (Joel Schumacher said that one of the reasons why he wanted him to as Mr. Freeze was because he felt that Victor Fries should look like a man who was chiseled out of ice) because he’s spending much of the time wearing a bulky refrigerated suit.

    The hosts argue that “Batman & Robin” really represented the arc down of his career. Arnold of course peaked w/ “Terminator 2”, then he had a misstep of sorts w/ “Last Action Hero”, before “rebounding” so to speak, by reteaming w/ Jim Cameron on “True Lies”. But you can argue that after that, Arnold’s career choices seemed to more or less be about “what do I do know” (around the time that he did stuff like “Junior”, “Eraser”, and “Jingle All the Way”)?

    By the time Arnold made “Batman & Robin” (I think that he had his open-heart procedure shortly thereafter), it perhaps marked the period where he figured that he couldn’t really rely on his physicality any longer (which is understandable as you get older). Thus, he was arguably trying to merge his identity as an action hero and comedian (which can explain why he’s often saying ridiculous puns in “Batman & Robin”).


    • I Am a Batman & Robin Apologist:

      3. Arnold Schwarzenegger was not meant to play serious dramatic roles. Hell, he wasn’t meant to have roles with speaking parts. It’s a little weird that he was cast considering the other actors in the running in Schumacher’s mind: Anthony Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, and the not so odd Hulk Hogan and Sylvester Stallone. What failed in this movie wasn’t really Schwarzenegger’s acting so much as the writing of Mr. Freeze. He has so many terrible ice puns (“Chill out!” and “Ice to meet you!” are horrific examples) in this film I sometimes wonder whether or not he simply got turned into a punning version of the Riddler, which leads me to…


      • 10 Ridiculously Over-The-Top Acting Performances:

        9. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Batman & Robin

        Arnold Schwarzenegger has never been able to act, but that never stopped him being a great movie star, and he has in fact been in many good movies such as The Terminator and Total Recall, but his performance in Joel Schumacher’s beyond disastrous Batman & Robin is one of the worst screen performances of all time. Granted, the script doesn’t help the big man’s cause but his hammy delivery of the horrible puns just descended us all into despair.

        The thing is, Arnie actually looks proud of himself as he’s delivering the ‘jokes’, completely unaware of the disaster he’s participating in. Arnie has always overacted in everything he’s been in and his almost self-parodic performance in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was a contender for this list, but ultimately, this is a performance the former Governor of California should be ashamed of. It’s actually one of the most depressing performances on this list, as the former bodybuilder and action hero was resorted to camping it up for cheap laughs in one of the most strange and abhorrent movies ever created.

        10 Most Irritating Characters In Comic Book Movie History:
        1. Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) – Batman and Robin

        I could have easily filed this article with all the characters from the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Almost every one of them annoys me in some way including the Dark Knight himself. However, that would have been a narrow focus and unfair to the other members of this list so I just chose one character out of all of them, Mr. Freeze.

        Why Freeze, why not Riddler, Two Face or even Robin? Of all the characters in Joel’s interpretation of Batman Freeze probably has the worst and corniest lines. To this day, I cannot use the term “Just chill” without groaning at Schwarzenegger’s heavy-handed delivery.

        Of course, you have to add in the fact that Freeze leads to that ultra messed up skating sequence and the weird interactions with Freeze and Poison Ivy. Basically, the character is a mess and needed a better interpretation. Oh but also you have Ivy’s betrayal which makes the character almost a hero by default where you start getting into “so is he a good guy or bad guy’ territory.

        However, perhaps the most annoying thing about Freeze or anything aspect about Schumacher’s Batman films is the fact that he is a throwback to the more campy aspect of the 1960’s TV series. The series worked for its time but Batman had evolved considerably in the comics and Tim Burton’s Batman films had brought that evolution to mainstream audiences. That step backwards after such a progression hurt the film. That is the simple reason why Batman and Robin flopped.


        • Mr. Freeze was really bad even by the low standards of the series. In the first Batman (89) Nicholson stole the show by chewing a lot of scenery. Every villain who followed felt the need to follow in that mold to diminished returns. DeVito was lousy as the Penguin. I liked Carrey as the Riddler even if his plot made no sense, but chewing scenery is what Carrey does best. Jones, on the other hand, looked silly as Two Face. Schwarzenegger usually excels at corny one-liners. But Batman and Robin saddled him with an entire movie of ice puns. That was an overload even Arnold couldn’t handle.

          I think Schumacher could have returned to the campy 60s vibe if they had executed better. The problem is Schumacher grafted the 60s camp on the Burton formula. If you are going to go campy, you have to go all in like the Adam West show did. Half camp doesn’t work.


        • Another problem w/ the way that Mr. Freeze was portrayed in that movie is that the filmmakers seemed to really want to have their cake and eat it too. They wanted to have the campy ’50s-’60s era Mr. Freeze (in the comics, he was originally known as Mr. Zero) w/ the puns, heavy Germanic accent and what not, yet at the same time use the tragic backstory that most of us are most familiar w/ now regarding his wife, Nora. It’s extremely hard to take Mr. Freeze’s supposedly sympathetic plight seriously if you see the way that he’s otherwise portrayed in the movie.

          Say what you will about Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones’ Riddler and Two-Face respectively in “Batman Forever”, but they for the most part were portrayed rather consistent. I think the problem w/ the way that Arnold Schwarzenegger handled Mr. Freeze, is that he seemed like he was too “in on the joke” (as if too self aware that he’s playing a larger-than-life, cartoonish bad guy in a superhero movie). At least the villains in the Tim Burton Batman movies (i.e. Jack Nicholson’s Joker and Danny DeVito’s Penguin) there was some sense of subtly and true (creepy) menace.


        • Before The Dark Knight Rises: 10 Baffling Decisions By Batman Directors:

          8. Destroying Mr Freeze (Batman & Robin)

          Let’s be honest, we could all devote tens of thousands of words to running through the problems with the film that almost killed Batman, before Chris Nolan’s revision revitalized the property, but all it boils down to is that Batman & Robin was a fundamentally broken film, lacking discipline, finesse and intellect to a frankly shocking degree.

          One thing that fans will particularly never forgive Schumacher for is the treatment of Mr Freeze, a previously popular member of the Rogue’s Gallery who for some reason was portrayed by walking muscle machine Arnold Schwarzenegger, as opposed to a thinner, more Bat-universe appropriate actor who would have brought brains, rather than just brawn to the role.

          It wasn’t just that Arnie was miscast, it was also the horrendous script, which clearly thought it was hilarious to shoe-horn in as many cringe-worthy puns as possible, turning a genius-level scientist with a tragic back-story into a completely unwelcome fool with sparkly silver skin that in no way looked like ice.

          And because we’re all gluttons for punishment, here are those awful puns:

          Schumacher did an equally painful job on Bane, who should have been one of Batman’s greatest foes, but who was relegated to a gruesome, mindless brute with big big green veiny muscles. Still not as rubbish as the transformation of Mr Freeze though.


        • Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Batman & Robin (1997):

          I know what you’re thinking. Just hear me out.

          I’m not going to argue that Batman & Robin, the notorious 1997 bomb that killed the Batman franchise for nearly a decade and would likely rank high on any list of “worst would-be blockbusters of the past 25 years,” is some sort of misunderstood masterpiece. It’s terrible. It’s worse than terrible. It’s mind-bogglingly terrible, made worse by the fact that the same base creative team behind this film had made the competent-if-not-great Batman Forever just two years prior. There are way too many things going horribly, horribly wrong in this film (more on that later) to justify it as a work of art.

          And yet we’re going to take a look at it this week for “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which is celebrating Batman’s 75th anniversary by assigning a choice of any theatrically-released Batman film. So why Batman & Robin? Why, instead of the gothic charms of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns, or Christopher Nolan’s terrifically brooding and political Dark Knight trilogy, or even the 1966 Adam West-starring goof, am I going with what is hands-down the Caped Crusader’s lowest cinematic moment?

          Because Batman & Robin is one of the most influential superhero movies ever made.

          More after the jump.

          Before we get to that, though, let’s take a look at what went wrong with this film. As I stated above, this film was made by the same base creative team that made Batman Forever: director Joel Schumacher, writer Akiva Goldsman, and director of photography Stephen Goldblatt (who was Oscar-nominated for his work on that film). A key difference, though, is Goldsman: while he paired with Lee Batchler and Janet Scott Batchler for Batman Forever, here he’s working alone, which means he doubles up on the groan-inducing one-liners and goofy, over-the-top action sequences. This doesn’t come as a surprise, as Goldsman is a master at perfunctory scripts with high potential for awfulness. After all, his most recent film involves Colin Farrell playing an immortal man on a flying horse who kills the love of his life by having sex with her. Goldsman surely ranks among the worst screenwriters to ever win an Oscar (and for a Best Picture winner, no less).

          But Goldsman really tops himself here. The plot involves Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) stealing diamonds to power his refrigeration suit, all while looking for a cure for his wife’s rare illness (he’s had her cryogenically frozen). Meanwhile, Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is transformed in a laboratory accident into Poison Ivy, the plant-loving seductress with the venomous kiss. She teams up with Bane (Jeep Swenson), a super-soldier secretly created by a mad genius, to take on Gotham City and push for the rights of plants (yes, really). With these new threats in town, Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) must learn to trust one another to defeat them, all the while discovering that faithful butler Alfred (Michael Gough) is dying and handling the arrival of Alfred’s niece, Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone). It’s remarkable that the film has this much going on, yet Goldsman’s script never gives any of these elements any weight, so none of it really seems to matter. There are “stakes,” but the film never bothers to make us care about them.

          Most of the blame for the failure of Batman & Robin, though, has fallen on the shoulders of Schumacher, and though that’s not entirely fair, it’s not entirely unfair either. Schumacher’s career is littered with enjoyably trashy films; he seems drawn to pulpy nonsense that could make for a fun time at the movies (The Phantom of the Opera, which clearly had Oscar hopes, is an inherently silly premise that Schumacher at the very least made an opulent visual treat). It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Schumacher’s Batman films would be the campiest this side of the Adam West series from the 1960s. Yet in Batman & Robin, Schumacher seems to be pushing it to the limits, particularly amping up the innuendo. Within the very first minute of the film, we see Batman and Robin suiting up, and Schumacher treats us to ass…

          …the infamous nipples…

          …and codpieces.

          Actually, there is a ton of phallic imagery in this film. It seems as if Schumacher was slyly nodding to the implied sexual attraction between Batman and Robin, but this being a “family-friendly” blockbuster in the mid-1990s, this couldn’t be too explicit. So instead we get erections such as Mr. Freeze’s rocket:

          As well as the observatory telescope that becomes a major plot point later in the film.

          Yet the film doesn’t have the courage to go any further than that, leaving it feeling awfully, well, blue-balled on the subject.

          Finally, the failure of this film can be blamed on the horrible casting and performances. Clooney, on paper, seems like a fine fit for the role, yet his Bruce Wayne is essentially a slight variation of “George Clooney, movie star,” the only difference being that Wayne puts on a rubber suit to fight crime. O’Donnell is just bland, as is Silverstone. Thurman should have made for a fun Poison Ivy, yet her “seductive” performance is almost embarrassing to watch, and she’s saddled with a character with ridiculous motivations who’s basically an afterthought in the film, just hanging around the edges to drive a wedge between Batman and Robin and not much else.

          The worst, though, belongs to the film’s top-billed star (yes, really), Arnold Schwarzenegger. Schwarzenegger’s career has been one of the most fascinating in Hollywood, going from Austrian bodybuilder to action hero to governor of California. But Schwarzenegger isn’t an inherently terrible actor, he just needs the right role that utilizes his strengths. James Cameron recognized this casting him as the killer robot from the future in The Terminator; his blank affect and stiff line-readings gave the character chilling menace and the film wry humor, respectively. Similarly, playing a commando hellbent on survival gave him an action-hero presence in Predator (which he also cleverly lampooned in The Last Action Hero). He’s a star, but his acting is very limited.

          So, with that in mind, he shouldn’t be anyone’s first choice to play a brokenhearted scientist trying to save his wife who also becomes a mutated super-villain with a predilection for terrible “cold” puns. Yet here he is, in blue body paint, trying to make us feel something but only coming off as uncomfortably bad. He’s clearly supposed to be the heart of the film, yet Schwarzenegger should be the last actor on your list when you need “heart.” All that’s left is empty-headed brawn.

          How, you’re no doubt asking, could something so terrible possibly be one of the most influential and, yes, important superhero movies ever made? The answer is that Batman & Robin marked a turning point in how superhero movies are made, representing the end of one era while paving the way for a new one to begin.

          Before 2000, the superhero movie was marked by an adherence to comic-book stylization. These films ostensibly took place in the world we know in reality, but with a heightened sense of the fantastic and impossible. This is true of all superhero movies, of course, but the difference is that pre-2000 superhero movies presented their worlds with a certain degree of winking camp. Superman could fly and change into his costume in a phone booth, and Lex Luthor – his main adversary – was an over-the-top madman with any number of cockamamy schemes up his sleeve. Tim Burton’s Batman films were certainly darker than any of Superman’s films, but they still maintained some of the loopy silliness of the comics and previous Batman serials. Superhero movies were playful entertainments, pleasing to both kids and kids-at-heart (generally considered the audience for these films).

          This heightened reality is present all throughout Batman & Robin, especially in the design of Gotham City. From the outset, Gotham looks like any anonymous metropolis, with skyscrapers towering above the streets and presumably-awful traffic. Yet there are little details that make it a city unlike anything we know in the real world. Buildings such as the abandoned ice cream shop that Mr. Freeze hides in…

          …or the neon-splattered Turkish bath that becomes Poison Ivy’s lair…

          …are visually unique and very distinctively Gotham. There’s a cartoonish vibe to these designs, amplifying the camp factor and assuring the audience that Gotham is very much a comic-book world.

          The same is true of the enormous statues that tower over parts of the city, like Gotham’s own versions of the Colossus of Rhodes. These towering figures give Gotham’s skyline a mythical feel, as if it exists at the intersection of ancient Olympus and modern New York. Truly, these statues are god-like images of guardians of the city, and they firmly establish the world of Batman & Robin as a world of fantasy. Gotham is not real; it is ripped from the pages of a comic book, and the film is not going to ignore that fact.

          Best Shot

          After Batman & Robin failed spectacularly at the box office, superheroes disappeared from the big screen for a few years. Instead of men in capes (always men, you note) performing heroic feats, Hollywood gave us multiple asteroids colliding with Earth and return trips to galaxies far, far away. For a few years, at least, Batman & Robin had effectively killed the superhero movie.

          And it did, at least in the form we knew. In July 2000, X-Men was released, bringing the ragtag team of mutants to the big screen. But there was something different about X-Men that separated it from previous superheroes. It was unquestionably taking place in a world that was meant to be understood as our own. Wolverine’s bright yellow costume was gone; so was everyone else’s, replaced by cool, black leather. The X-Men weren’t just superheroes saving the day anymore, either; they were perceived threats to the general population, not heroes to be celebrated. Moreover, they had become metaphors for the Other, providing social commentary in addition to selling action figures. The world of X-Men was certainly still one of science-fiction/fantasy, but it looked uncannily like our own. We weren’t watching a comic book come to life anymore.

          Other films followed suit. Spider-Man, which premiered in the summer of 2002, fittingly held on to the whiz-bang sense of awe that accompanied it’s teenage protagonist, but there’s no mistaking Spidey’s New York for anything but the genuine article. As a result, the film became a gargantuan blockbuster, becoming the highest-grossing superhero movie at the time and helping a city (and nation) heal after enduring the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history (I have a theory that the events of 9/11 were a crucial influence on audience’s desire for superhero movies, but that’s for another time). X2: X-Men United and Spider-Man 2 doubled down on their connection to our reality, reinforcing the idea that superhero movies needed to be “darker” and “grittier” to succeed.

          (Case in point: Ang Lee presented Hulk with comic-panel edits, and the film tanked. Catwoman took the campy route and bombed spectacularly. Audiences were fully rejecting superhero movies that weren’t rooted in “realism.”)

          Then came Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise that has become the most celebrated superhero movies ever. Everyone involved with the project stated that the film’s dark tone and clear reality were reactions to the disaster of Batman & Robin, and that the film was going to distance itself from the latter film as much as possible. Indeed, to look at Nolan’s trilogy in comparison to the Burton/Schumacher films is to see a marked difference in the way they present their visions of Gotham. Nolan’s films ditched kitschy characters like Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, and the Riddler, while turning other villains such as the Joker, Bane, and Scarecrow into terrifying figures that wouldn’t be impossible in the real world. In Nolan’s hands, Gotham became a stand-in for America, and through this lens he examined post-9/11 ills in our society. His films don’t look like comic books, and consciously so. It’s no wonder that his films are celebrated as among the best the genre ever produced, while their predecessors are treated as a distant, quaint memory.

          For better or worse, Batman & Robin changed the way that superhero movies were made. Even today, the offerings from Marvel and DC – both in theaters and on television – are rooted firmly in the real world, just with superheroes and cool technology (exception: Marvel’s Thor franchise, which, it should be noted, is the lowest-grossing film property of Marvel Studios). Thanks to Batman & Robin, superhero movies ditched the campy, comic-based fantasy realm they once inhabited. Superheroes now occupy a world that’s not too different from our own. We’ve seen this “dark and gritty” influence permeate most Hollywood blockbusters, regardless of whether they’re about superheroes or fairy tales. I’m not going to say that all of them are great, or that every superhero film needs the same super-serious approach. But it has resulted in some truly inspired and incredible films, including The Dark Knight.

          To paraphrase that latter film, Batman & Robin wasn’t the superhero movie that we deserved. But it was the one the genre needed to enter a new, exciting, and crowded future.


  27. what do you guys think about arnold schwarzenegger going up against richard gere in a movie?


  28. arnold and sly should do more good films together like with the expendables and the tomb. that is what i would like to see.


    • 10 Upcoming Blockbusters Doomed To Bomb At The Box Office:

      8. Escape Plan (Oct 18)

      Budget: $70 million

      Predicted Box Office: $80 million

      Why It’s Going To Bomb: The year in movies has not been kind to either of Escape Plan’s stars, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Sly kicked off the year with Bullet to the Head, which was a catastrophic financial failure, and The Last Stand for Arnie, which scarcely scraped past its budget and was in no way a success.

      The issue appears to be that neither Sly nor Arnie appears to be much of a box office draw on their own anymore, hence why The Expendables movies were both major financial successes – the appeal was in seeing so many action stars thrown into the mix together.

      While the pairing of Arnie and Sly is likely to help bolster the film’s box office, don’t expect this one to be a major hit or make much past its budget, because the inclusion of younger talents (Jason Statham) and an international flavour (Jet Li, Van Damme) were vital in The Expendables’ success. Vinnie Jones and 50 Cent just don’t cut it, unfortunately.


      • Batman & Robin (1997) Podcast Commentary (Oliver and Richard finish off their commentaries with the painfully bad Batman & Robin):

        Go to sections 1:22:01-1:22:48 of this podcast. It discusses why Arnold’s later/more recent films (i.e. post-“Batman & Robin”) haven’t been as successful at the box office than when he was during his ’80s-early ’90s heyday.


  29. They Believed The Hype (And It Blew Up In Their Face): 15 Celebrities Whose Careers Were Hurt By Hubris:

    The Last Action Hero marked Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fall from box office grace. Based on a screenplay intended to satirize the popularity of ultra-violent action films during the 90s, the film’s writers Zak Penn and Adam Leff would express disbelief when the man responsible for the trend, Shane Black, was hired to rewrite their work. The film would be rewritten countless times by everyone from Black to Carrie Fisher, retooling the film to be a Schwarzenegger-centric meta comedy. The actor commanded a record breaking $15 million to star and Universal backed a cavalcade of marketing for the film (including a rocket launch to market the film in space). Lavish promotion did little to combat bad word of mouth and a troubled shoot. The film was released a week after Jurassic Park and was crushed in the box office. By retooling it to match his screen persona, Schwarzenegger and the studio missed the point of the premise entirely.


  30. 10 actors who tried to bounce back from a flop:

    The Flop: Last Action Hero

    Again, in some quarters you’d struggle to describe Last Action Hero as a flop. Yet, considering it was Arnie’s first action outing since he cleaned up worldwide with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, it was clearly a major commercial disappointment. Trounced at the box office by Jurassic Park, he sought solace by teaming up with the director who has served him best throughout his entire career: James Cameron.

    Cameron was keen to get Arnie back to his action roots, with none of the no-guns, no-violence policy that underpinned good chunks of Last Action Hero. And he did, in a film that at one point was believed to have killed off the James Bond franchise as a result (something that Bourne supposedly was supposed to do a decade later). True Lies cleaned up, a sequel was mooted (and eventually shelved in the wake of the September 11th attacks), and all Arnie had to do then was choose his films wisely.

    This is where things went back off track. Eraser we might have a soft spot for, but the likes of Junior, Jingle All The Way, Batman & Robin, Collateral Damage and End Of Days (we’ve a further soft spot for The 6th Day) all took their toll. It took a third Terminator movie to get Arnie back at the top of the box office, but even that franchise is leaving him behind now. In short, it seems Arnie’s days as a major movie star are spent. And while he did recover from his first real flop, he’s simply been unable to muscle his way back from a string of several disappointments.

    Career status as a politician: live and kicking

    Career status as a major movie star: terminated


    • The Battle For Relevancy: 15 Stars Struggling To Stay Popular:

      Arnold Schwarzenegger is done with politics and has come back to Hollywood for good. Hooray! The only problem is that audiences don’t seem that interested in seeing the 65-year-old bust heads like he used to. The Last Stand flopped, Schwarzenegger’s appearance in The Expendables 2 was derided as the worst aspect of the sequel, and the action star’s upcoming collaboration with Sylvester Stallone, The Escape Plan, may receive a similarly flat reception. Is it time for the action star to hang up his machine gun? Probably, but Schwarzenegger has been prolific enough to insure we’ll be seeing him in up to nine new films from 2013 to 2015. Of these The Expendables 3 and The Terminator 5 look like surefire hits, whereas The Legend of Conan is being conceived as a swan song for the aging hero’s iconic character.


    • Why Last Action Hero failed—and why it deserves to be rediscovered:,105120/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:1:Default

      Arnold Schwarzenegger has built his career on negating suspension of disbelief. He plays characters with comically Anglo names like Ben Richards and Howard Langston, despite looking and sounding exactly like an Austrian ex-bodybuilder. He’s good at squinting, smirking, and standing up while keeping his back straight, but not at convincing the viewer that he’s anyone other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

      His screen appeal lies in his un-believability. He’s incapable of disappearing into a role (though he comes close in The Terminator). Instead of becoming the character, the character becomes him. That’s the central conceit of his comedies; the humor depends on the viewer recognizing Schwarzenegger and thinking that it’s funny to see him do something un-Schwarzeneggerian. This is also the reason why most of his comedies are pretty bad.

      Yet, despite his non-existent range, Schwarzenegger has continually taken on projects that either cast him as a character with multiple identities (Raw Deal, Total Recall, True Lies, Escape Plan) or require him to play multiple characters (The 6th Day, the Terminator franchise). This results in a Hollywood hall of mirrors: Schwarzeneggers interacting with other Schwarzeneggers; Schwarzenegger pretending to be Schwarzenegger; Schwarzenegger discovering that he’s not the Schwarzenegger he believed himself to be, but a different, identical Schwarzenegger.

      No movie takes the multiple-Schwarzenegger trope further than Last Action Hero, an elastic meta-action-comedy that was considered a resounding commercial and critical failure in 1993. The victim of its own marketing campaign, the movie made $137 million at the box office (equivalent to about $222 million in today’s dollars), but still managed to lose money, because so much had been spent on advertising.

      Heavy cross-promotion didn’t exactly endear it to the press, nor did the then-prevailing impression that Last Action Hero was an extension of the Schwarzenegger brand, a Planet Hollywood theme restaurant in feature form. But blaming Last Action Hero’s comparative failure on advertising isn’t accurate; after all, Jurassic Park was just as aggressively promoted. (Of course, many of those involved with the movie would eventually come to blame Jurassic Park—which opened the week before Last Action Hero and became a runaway hit—for their movie’s “failure.”)

      Rather, the reason why Last Action Hero didn’t become a massive blockbuster rests in the film itself. It’s a mutant that can’t be categorized, both a straightforward action movie and a Joe Dante-style gag-a-minute fantasy. It doesn’t make much sense. It’s the only truly funny comedy of Schwarzenegger’s career, and it’s overtly about Schwarzenegger, and yet none of its best jokes are related to Schwarzenegger’s screen persona. At times, it’s brilliant and demented.


      • Good piece. I mostly agree although I’m not so sure Last Action Hero needs to be rediscovered. From memory – it’s been a long time – LAH was guilty of a couple of pretty big sins. One, it was just too damn long. Two, the tone was all over the place. If it had embraced the satire and stopped trying so hard to please Arnold’s fan base, it could have worked. It needed to be tighter. There’s about a half hour worth of stuff that just doesn’t work at all.

        I don’t intend to rewatch LAH, but I can’t imagine it would hold up very well. It was very specifically a satire of late 80’s early 90’s action movies. Especially the ones that made Schwarzenegger a star. But those days are long past as evidenced by the grosses for Schwarzenegger’s latest movies.


      • Disappointing Childhood Movies Vol. 4 – 80s Action Hero in a 90s Movie Edition:

        There was no greater action hero in the 1980s than Arnold Schwarzenegger. The mountain of a man with the thick Austrian accent starred in a glut of iconic, ultra violent movies during the decade of Reaganomics. Conan the Barbarian, Predator, The Terminator, Commando, The Running Man – these are just a few of the more memorable action flicks that stand out in his filmography, each of which was released in the 1980s. Some may argue the decade belonged to Stallone, but even myself, a diehard Stallone fan, must concede that Schwarzenegger truly owned the greatest action movies of the greatest decade for action movies – the 1980s. Commando has been talked about ad nausea over the last ten years or so, and is even now rightly recognized not only as an action classic, but also as an award-winning documentary of 1980s banana republic politics (not really, but one can dream).

        By the 1990s, however, Schwarzenegger’s star began to wane somewhat when compared to the heights he hit in the previous decade. After 1996’s Eraser, Schwarzenegger never truly enjoyed A-List box office success ever again. The 1990s started off the right way, with Arnold starring in mega-hits like Total Recall, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and True Lies – all three hard-R action slugfests. Schwarzenegger also starred in a series of disappointments throughout the decade, however, with films like Jingle All the Way, End of Days, Batman and Robin (in which he costarred but received top billing), Junior, and especially Last Action Hero all considerably underperforming at the box office. I’ve written about Last Action Hero in the past. I find it to be an exceedingly clever film in a lot of ways. But it was also a massive disappointment, both critically and financially, and exactly what I didn’t want to see when I saw it in theaters the summer before fifth grade.

        Directed by John McTiernan, scripted by Shane Black (from an original story by Zak Penn), and starring Schwarzenegger as the titular action hero, Last Action Hero was almost designed by committee to be a big summer hit (and was indeed marketed as the “next summer blockbuster”). Two years prior, Schwarzenegger and James Cameron re-wrote the blueprint for blockbusters when Terminator 2: Judgment Day conquered the box office, taking along with it records that stood for an R-Rated film for over a decade. With the backing of Columbia Pictures and a cushy summer release, Last Action Hero would surely be the next Schwarzenegger mega-hit, another feather in the cap of ace screenwriter Black, and yet another action milestone in the filmography of McTiernan, the mastermind director behind Die Hard, perhaps the greatest action movie of all time. It stands to reason that I, as a wild-eyed youngster appreciative of all things Schwarzenegger, would go absolutely nuts for Last Action Hero – and I have to admit I was initially psyched to see the film.

        Along the way, however, another thing happened – something unexpected. Universal Pictures, Michael

        Crichton, and most importantly Stephen Spielberg collaborated on a little known film by the name of Jurassic Park. As a kid I had always loved dinosaurs, and I had no idea in the summer of 1993 that dinosaurs would be brought to the big screen in the most realistic manner ever seen on film. Opening just one week before, and thus stealing the thunder from, Last Action Hero, Jurassic Park not only became the biggest film of the year, but also a perennial favorite, a franchise-spawner, and one of the most iconic, beloved summer blockbusters of all time (as well as my pick for best summer movie ever made, just ahead of Jaws). Suddenly, the kinds of movies like Last Action Hero seemed a bit old hat, just as Guns N’ Roses probably seemed when Nirvana hit it big. Jurassic Park ushered in the era of 90s filmmaking while Last Action Hero seemed like a dying scream from the decade of righteous excess.

        Of course, this isn’t entirely true. Last Action Hero is an action movie, but it’s not really like anything that came out of either Schwarzenegger or McTiernan’s filmography in the past. It is, instead, a post-modern deconstruction of 1980s action movies as well as a wish fulfillment/fantasy film. The big secret about Last Action Hero is that Schwarzenegger, portraying fictional movie character/hero Jack Slater, isn’t really the main character in the movie. That falls to Austin O’Brien’s annoying kid/sidekick character Danny Madigan, who is transported to Jack Slater’s world via a “magic ticket” (a conceit mocked and parodied mercilessly in the 90s, most notably by The Simpsons). Through further circumstance, villains from Jack Slater’s film universe, notably the cold-hearted assassin Mr. Benedict (a fantastic Charles Dance, portraying the best character in the movie by far) begin to populate our universe (aka, the real universe). If this all sounds confusing, that’s because it kinda is – never a good idea for a film ostensibly targeted at younger crowds (the film was rated PG-13 and intended for an audience of mostly younger males).

        When I was watching Last Action Hero for the first time (along with my younger brother – and we were the only two people in the entire theater by the way), I had pretty much no clue what was real and what wasn’t. This wasn’t in the good Matrix kind of way, either. This was the fault of the director and the screenwriter. I don’t blame Schwarzenegger for taking this role on and for being paid like an A-List celebrity, either, as he was at that time the biggest star in the world. But he doesn’t really bring his all to Last Action Hero and he’s not a good enough actor to pull off the nuance of the dual-world roles (for what it’s worth, he nails the “action-y” aspects of the Slater character however). This is a film much better suited to the talents of a previous McTiernan collaborator, one Bruce Willis. Schwarzenegger can do action and he can do comedy, but he’s missing the true acting talent necessary to pull off the role completely. Willis, who can do drama in addition to action and comedy, would have been a much better actor for the role.

        But again, as a kid I had no idea about any of this stuff. I also didn’t even know that Last Action Hero had so much turmoil behind the scenes either. Disastrous test screenings, script rewrites (Zak Penn had written the original script and Shane Black was hired to re-write it – Penn eventually received a “story by” credit with Black receiving the screenwriting credit), issues with editing, time constraints, release date issues, poor word of mouth, competition at the box office, and general hubris by Columbia Pictures (it was one of the first films to feature the ill-fated SDDS sound technology) all lead to the movie losing nearly thirty million dollars at the box office, making it Schwarzenegger’s biggest film flop at that point. Nowadays losing thirty million dollars on a picture is kind of small potatoes (look at what films like John Carter and Battleship lost in 2012, and then how badly White House Down and The Lone Ranger performed the next year), but in 1993, it would have been almost unheard of for a film starring the biggest box office star in Hollywood to lose so much money.

        There has been a recent critical reappraisal of Last Action Hero, one that rightly points out how odd, unique, and funny the film actually is. The reappraisal is mostly correct – Last Action Hero is an incredibly unique and twisted movie in a lot of ways. It is also notable for Charles Dance’s chilling villain, numerous cameos that are actually funny and make sense (the best of which remains an uncredited Danny DeVito), and general oddities (including what was probably the most expensive fart joke ever filmed) throughout its incredibly lengthy 130-minute running time. But it is not a good movie, not by any stretch of the imagination. Austin O’Brien, ostensibly the lead, is a putrid actor, and the stench of his awful performance just screams “child actor” in the worst possible way. Ultimately, McTiernan, Schwarzenegger, and Black all tried to force action and comedy together in ways that just didn’t make sense on screen. I imagine there was a great spark of an idea somewhere in Last Action Hero (and indeed, it can kinda be seen in places throughout the film), but the final product just turned out to be such an absolute mess – one that couldn’t even placate the easily placated mind of a 5th grader.


        • jeffthewildman

          Lately it seems like a general re-assessment of this movie seems to be going on. That’s deserved as this is one movie that while far from a misunderstood classic, is not quite deserving of its reputation as an unmitigated bomb.

          I was one of the few who saw Last Action Hero during its original theatrical run. At the time, I saw it as one that wasn’t great but had its moments. I remember observing at the time that “it’s not on the level of Commando or the Terminator movies. But it’s still entertaining”. I saw that Roger Ebert had given it two stars and thought “that sounds about right”.

          My mom, who I saw it with, was harsher on it. She complained that it “was too long and boring”.

          For a while I wondered if maybe that was true. My defense of it may have been coming from seeing it at a younger age when my cinematic frame of references wasn’t really that sophisticated. Recently I came across Last Action Hero on TV and re-watched it. Came to the conclusion that my original viewpoint was accurate: far from a great movie. But not the disaster of Battlefield Earth proportions people see it as. But why does it have such a reputation? I’ll get to that in a bit. But now let’s look at the movie itself,

          First, the flaws. Yes, the movie is overlong. At least 20 minutes could have been shaved off with no loss whatsoever.

          Secondly, I agree with the assessment of Austin O’Brien’s performance, There’s a reason why his career never really took off.

          Thirdly and most significantly, the action and comedy elements never quite meshed the way they were supposed to. For fans who wanted biting satire along the lines of The Player the humor wasn’t mean enough and the action elements proved intrusive. For those who wanted action, the comedy elements kept getting in the way.

          Yet even with all these flaws, there’s quite a bit to enjoy in Last Action Hero. The performances by Charles Dance and Tom Noonan as the villains, the many amusing cameos, the comedic parts that do work quite well and the satiric jabs at Hollywood, ones that while not biting enough do provide some decent amusement.

          Indeed while this lacks the bite of the aforementioned player or the flat out hilarity of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, it doesn’t get bogged down in smugness like the overpraised Tropic Thunder.

          So yes, the flaws with this movie are there and noted. But is it really deserving of all the scorn heaped on it? I don’t think so.

          Pearl Harbor. Hudson Hawk. Battlefield Earth, Judge Dredd, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Those movies are deserving of their reputations. Last Action Hero is definitely better than any of those as well as a few other mega bombs.

          Yet why is it often ranked with those? Why is such undue affection lavished upon the likes Of Armageddon while this one is considered best forgotten?

          I think there are a few reasons for this. The primary reason for why it failed at the box office, dinosaurs aside, is due to the tonal problems I mentioned earlier. Early in its run, Last Action Hero drew in the core audience of teenage and young adult males who were expecting a movie where Arnold would gun down 20 people every 10 minutes. When they didn’t get that, they came out disappointed and spread those views (if this had happened at a time when the Internet is at the level it is today, the reaction would have been even more widespread). But with the core audience disappointed and more family film types going to Jurassic Park, this left a vacuum that wasn’t filled.

          But this box office failure lead to it getting a reputation as a bomb that deserved what happened to it.

          There was also a sense of hubris in the marketing that was doubtlessly off-putting to many potential audience members. It seemed like Arnold, the producers and the studio were trying to sell it as the ultimate Arnold action movie and much of the public was put off.

          Another flaw with the marketing is one I alluded to earlier, by selling it primarily at the action crowd, it drew in an audience and left them disappointed. Indeed, if it had been sold as a combo action/comedy, it might have been able to get a larger audience.

          There’s also the fact that this was released after Arnold had reached his box office peak of sorts with T2. Arnold had been king of the box office for most of the 80s. But times were changing. Schwarzenegger and the action movie tropes associated with him were starting to seem out of date (they wouldn’t be totally until a couple years later after Tarantino changed the rules of the game). But in some ways Hero suffered by being released at a time when audiences were hungering for something new and to them another summer blockbuster with Arnold and stuff blowing up was not it.

          So it’s easy to overlook what works about Last Action Hero and focus on its numerous flaws. Is it a good movie? Not quite and the more you actually think while watching it, the more obvious it becomes. Is it a disaster with no redeeming features at all? No way. Is it a massively flawed movie with some virtues that make it worth viewing? Yes.


        • I think its more than a marketing failure- action movies need a certain suspense of disbelief. You have to believe that the hero is in danger- although we know (outside of Game of Thrones) that they really aren’t.

          Playing it as one big joke is very dangerous- you are basically making fun of the audience for liking action movies “See? Isn’t it really silly and stupid?”

          An audience doesn’t know how to feel about that- made even more confusing in that they had the meta original script rewritten by Shane Black- who wrote 80’s action movies as straight (mostly- there is a big difference between Commando and Peckinpah)

          So- no surprise- it didn’t work.


        • I (know when I think about it) seriously believe that the whole “playing it as one big joke” approach is why “Batman & Robin” (featuring Arnold as Mr. Freeze) is so hated. It was as if the filmmakers had absolutely little if any respect to the source material much less the audience’s own intelligence.


        • I meant to say “now when I think about it some more…” (that’s what happens when you’re too late to realize that you made a typo and there’s no “edit” function) at the start, but it’s still the same message otherwise!


  31. The Reluctant Return of an Action Hero: ‘The Last Stand’ As Meta Comeback for Arnold Schwarzenegger:

    You probably missed Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback. Most people did. The Last Stand was supposed to be the former Governor’s mighty return to movies, but instead it grossed a paltry $12 million domestically and now marks Schwarzenegger’s lowest grossing movie ever (factoring inflation). It’s a shame, because those who (really should) take the opportunity to give The Last Stand the second chance it deserves on video will discover that it’s not just an enjoyable burst of Golden Age action cinema filmmaking, but a meta narrative that makes it far more intriguing than it appears.

    Most comeback movies dutifully pander to fans’ nostalgic expectations by just giving them more of what ain’t broke. Exhibit A: The Expendables series, which recreates for its actors (including Schwarzenegger) the roles they’ve always inhabited while exhibiting an “Oorah! We still got it!” enthusiasm about bringing back its aging heroes. The Last Stand, however, isn’t interested in simply rebooting its star into his old plot and character archetypes. Instead, it offers Schwarzenegger a comeback movie with a character — Sheriff Ray Owens — with a comeback narrative of his own. What’s more, because it biographically grafts Ray to Arnold, The Last Stand turns its fictional character’s journey from former to restored hero into one that parallels the very re-ascension Schwarzenegger is undergoing with this film.

    The Last Stand eagerly fashions Ray into Schwarzenegger’s biographical reflection. They’re both men who gave up action-packed careers defined by assault guns and shootouts (respectively LAPD officer and action star) for the lives of public servants (small town Sheriff and California Governor) defined by parking violations and politics. They’re both men who place greater value in their alternate careers; Ray admits to regretting his time being “part of the action” in Los Angeles, and Arnold has said his public service “was the most gratifying … thing that I’ve ever done.” Ray left the LAPD in 1993 because a shootout left him with five bullet wounds. Schwarzenegger sustained the worst (metaphorical) wounds of his career in 1993, compliments of The Last Action Hero. And for many, True Lies, which was in production at that time, marked the end of the Golden Age of Arnold. The Last Stand even has Ray, in a rare exception for a Schwarzenegger character, acknowledge his status as an immigrant.


    • 10 Actors Who Have Become Parodies Of Themselves:

      8. Arnold Schwarzenegger

      Known For: Being the most popular and successful action star in the history of cinema, known for hits like The Terminator franchise, Commando, The Running Man, Total Recall, and so on – you know what I’m talking about.

      The Parody: Arnie first successfully flirted with self-parody in the hugely underrated Last Action Hero, as he played a movie star who ends up being dragged into the real world and struggles to contend with its realities.

      However, Arnie’s return to cinema since leaving the Governor’s Office has essentially caused him to become a heightened, surreal version of his former self; take his recent film The Last Stand, which sees him remain a man of few words, who still shambles around robotically, though the difference now, of course, is that he is old.

      That Arnie can’t resist throwing the phrase “I’ll be back” into as many of his movies as possible is proof of how willing the man is to parody his most iconic and best-loved work.


  32. Hey Lebeau – please can you do JCVD and Stallone?


    • Absolutely. The only reason I haven’t done Stallone yet is The Expendables. But I think Bullet to the Head probably makes him eligible again. I expect I’ll do JCVD first.


      • At this point in Stallone’s (and Arnold’s for that matter) careers it seems like they might as well be better off in ensemble flicks like “The Expendables” or (if they have to go at it alone) films that trade off of their biggest individual successes (e.g. the sixth and fourth “Rocky” and “Rambo” films respectively and “Terminator 3” and the rumored “King Conan” flick for Arnold). I think part of the reason why Stallone and Arnold aren’t as big draws in general theses days as they were in their prime is because of a generational shift. Also, most if not all the big money action flicks/franchises are arguably those involving licensed properties like for example comic book superheroes (e.g. DC and Marvel’s), theme park attractions (e.g. “Pirates of the Caribbean”) or toys (e.g. “Transformers”) w/ PG-13 ratings.


        • The 80’s R-rated action movie is a dinosaur and so are the actors who starred in them. They get resurrected every now and then for nostalgia. But you’re right. Everything is driven by pre-sold intellectual property these days. You don’t need to pay Arnold $20 million when you can cast an unknown as Captain America or Thor and have a guaranteed hit. That used to be what A-list stars were for. But these days, A-list starts don’t guarantee box office. As the Lone Ranger showed, not every IP will guarantee success either. But the right IP is money in the bank.


        • As for something like “Lone Ranger”, it seems like for whatever the reasons (of course, there are other circumstances for why “Lone Ranger” didn’t really connect w/ audiences), there really isn’t much of a market for modern, high-concept westerns (e.g. “Wild Wild West”, “Jonah Hex”, and “Cowboys & Aliens”).


        • Yeah but, there wasn’t exactly a market for high concept pirate movies before PotC either. If LR had been an audience pleaser, I think it would have been a hit. Or at least not a massive bomb that has lead to the ending of Disney’s first-look deal with Jerry Bruckheimer.


        • I strongly suspect that the primary reason The Lone Ranger failed is this: Most people younger than 34-35 (the primary movie going mass audience nowadays) haven’t a clue who The Lone Ranger was. Those who do know likely haven’t thought about him in decades. That combined with the fact that Depp alone is no longer a box office draw meant that this project had failure written all over it from the moment it appeared on the horizon.

          A few more like this and I might consider writing a WTHH on Depp.


        • I think the ancient IP is a factor. But not as big a factor as most people make it out to be. If The Lone Ranger had been a great movie, it would have introduced new generations of fans to the character and cemented Depp’s status as an A-list star. But it wasn’t great. It wasn’t even good. And you knew it wasn’t going to be good before they even started filming. Because it was made the same way all the Pirates sequels were made. The release date, the budget, the sets and special effects all took precedence over the story.

          Which, I get where after all the success of the Pirates films, Disney would think they were following a sure-fire recipe for success. Prior to the first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean was anything but a sure-fire box office property. Pirate movies were proven failures even more so than westerns. So putting all the ingredients that made those films a success on a new franchise had to look like a winning strategy.

          Problem is, the first Pirates movie was more entertaining than it had any right to be. And Depp’s Jack Sparrow was a breath of fresh air. Now, 3 sequels later, most American audiences have grown tired of the Pirates franchise and its ever-dropping quality. (what saved the last sequel from being a flop was Depp’s overseas appeal – but other countries don’t care for Westerns). Lone Ranger was about as good as one of the sequels without the built-in appeal of Jack Sparrow. Plus, Depp has been doing his shtick in movie after movie. His oddball act is stale no matter what dead animal he wears on his head.

          The Lone Ranger could have worked. But it would have taken something more than Disney doing a paint-by-numbers based on Pirates.


        • The main reason it failed: It wasn’t a very good movie in the first place. Depp was doing his “weird character” shtick (I half-expected him to start “doing” Ed Wood: “Ranger, I LIKE you, mask and all! We could make a FABULOUS movie together!”) and Armie Hammer had the charisma of a bucket of mashed potatoes.


        • Bingo!

          I miss the Depp who made Ed Wood. Now it just feels like he’s going through the motions.

          Bucket of mashed potatoes made me chuckle. I’m not sure the movie wouldn’t have been improved by a masked bucket of mashed potatoes riding a horse.


        • re: I’m not sure the movie wouldn’t have been improved by a masked bucket of mashed potatoes riding a horse.

          You must be “physic” ‘r’ something! In its glory days, MAD-TV did a hilarious send-up of “mismatched buddy cop” films in which the unorthodox, rule-flouting cop was played by a can of creamed corn! The title: “Cream of Cop.”


        • I could see this catching on. The studios could save some money. Who’s going to sell more tickets; Hammer or groceries?


        • “Batman & Robin” is a good example in hindsight in regards the now outdated mentality of hiring a huge A-list star or perceived box office draw (as far back as when Marlon Brando was paid $4 million for a 15 minute cameo as Jor-El in the 1978 Superman film) like Arnold to sell a pre-sold intellectual property. I mean, people should see a superhero movie franchise like Batman for Batman, not whomever was in it. I think the Tim Burton-Joel Schumacher era Batman franchise when you get right down to it, was sold more on whomever was playing the villain (as far back as when Jack Nicholson was hired to play the Joker). What didn’t help was the fact that the actor who was playing Batman literally changed on three different occasions over the course of four films.


        • I think you’re exactly right. Schumacher in particular took that to new heights. He hired Silverstone because she was the biggest young actress at the time. He hired Arnold because he was the biggest actor in the world. Didn’t matter if they were right for the roles or not. He just wanted the biggest stars he could cast. Everything about that movie was big, big BIG. Including it’s failure.


        • re: Everything about that movie was big, big BIG. Including it’s failure.

          Very good zinger! One thing Hollyweird does on a semi-regular basis, especially with established comic book characters: Take a character/concept beloved/be-liked by many, then DISCARD most of the aspects that made it so cool/liked in the first place! Examples: The “Get Smart” movie, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.” THEN the geniuses behind the cinematic stinker think: “Gosh, where did we go wrong? Maybe comic book movies don’t sell so good.”


        • I LOVE this comment! You are dead-on. I remember after the failure of Superman III the Salkinds made some kind of comment about how there were only so many Superman stories to tell. WTF? Comic books had been telling Superman stories for decades and you can’t tell three? Of course collectively, Hollywood hasn’t gotten Superman right since so maybe that isn’t the best example.

          The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, however, is a perfect example. Why even bother to pay for the rights to make an adaptation if you are just going to gut everything the book was about. The characters were already in public domain. You didn’t need Alan Moore to make a movie with them. That movie is so far removed from the source material I’m pretty sure no one involved ever read it.

          Then again, I guess you couldn’t make a movie where the Invisible Man is raping girls in an orphanage…


        • re: Then again, I guess you couldn’t make a movie where the Invisible Man is raping girls in an orphanage…

          Alan Moore [writer of the “League…” comic book/series] is known for having stories wherein the “heroes” are as ****ed-up as the villains…and I think that’s part of the point. You have the motley-est of crews of misfits and monsters that band together for a “greater good,” a la “The Dirty Dozen.” But then, if you’re not going to follow through on the original premise, WHY BOTHER to make a movie of it?

          That makes as much sense as an actress taking a role as a stripper with scenes of her working and she doesn’t remove any clothing! It’s a good thing that doesn’t happen in too many movies…[Yeah, that’s lame sarcasm.]


        • If you wanted to do the source material justice, League of Extraordinary Gentleman would have to be a modestly budgeted movie that could afford to offend people.

          Instead, they made a big budget popcorn movie. That was the first step of many in the wrong direction.


        • Escape Plan (2013) – A Review:

          Stallone. Schwarzenegger. Teaming up to star in an action movie! Of course this is destined to be the biggest box office hit of the year….if it was 1988.

          But this is 2013. And Sly and Arnold aren’t the powerhouse stars they once were. They still have their fans, but the the majority of audiences seem more drawn to watching superheroes, computer generated effects and younger more manicured action stars engaged in rapidly-edited fight scenes.

          With their recent individual ventures of action heroics getting very cool receptions (Arnie’s The Last Stand and Sly’s Bullet To The Head came and went without any fanfare) perhaps pooling their muscles together they could make audiences take notice and generate some excitement. And we’re not talking about an Expendables-type of movie with one or two scenes of them together – this is a whole movie with them as the leads. You hear that everyone???

          Based on the disappointing box office Escape Plan has had I guess no one did. Or at least barely anyone cared.

          Stallone is Ray Breslin a guy who specializes in breaking out of the most secure prisons in the world. He pinpoints their weaknesses, implements a clever plan, walks out its doors, explains where the flaws lie in the prison and makes a very comfortable living doing it. This is sort of a more testosterone Sneakers-kind of premise.

          Breslin gets recruited to test a new state-of-the-art pen that is ‘off the grid’. However, he discovers the job is a setup and he’s really meant to rot in this place. Without any backup and persecuted by a devilish warden (Jim Caviezel) Breslin has to use all his smarts in order to formulate some kind of plan to get out of this unbreakable place. Fortunately, he meets fellow inmate Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and perhaps working together they could figure out a way to breathe free air again.

          Prison break movies can be a heck of a lot of fun. It’s a simple formula – you toss your characters in some prison cells, set up highly secure obstacles for them to overcome, they implement a well-thought out plan to get around them, a few surprises get thrown at them along the way and by the end their shedding their prison stripes and drinking some beers with a fuming warden pounding his fists back at the clink.

          I was surprised at how extremely lackluster Escape Plan was. It’s a very fragmented flick. Things don’t really build in the way you would think they would to a tension-filled escape. Situations arise that would appear to lead to something else, but they just stop.

          There’s a segment where the warden wants to break Stallone (I forget why exactly, this is such a forgettable flick). So the guards beat him, they don’t let him sleep, Arnie offers his encouragement to him to fight and then – it all stops! Suddenly they leave Stallone alone. Maybe I missed something, but it was like they needed filler and threw this bit in. Unless they knew typically the warden has to punish the hero and thought they would include it even if they didn’t have much of a reason for him to do it or a reason for him to stop.

          At one point Stallone studies the masked guards. I get it. These guys stay masked so they look more anonymous and the prisoners can’t ID them in anyway. Plus, they look a bit more intimidating. But Stallone starts to learn their body movements and the way they walk. He begins to know who is who. Cool. I was waiting for some kind of payoff to this and nothing comes of it!

          There’s not even fun scenes between Sly and Arnie and they’re paling around together for a very long time in this. They mainly spout out exposition and unnecessary backstory to each other that is completely moot to their current predicament – breaking out of this plasticized joint.

          The story itself gets overly complicated with Stallone being setup and mysterious powers pulling the strings and all that. If you’ve watched at least three movies in your life it should take you about five minutes into this to figure out who can’t be trusted. It’s not a shocking reveal at all. The movie itself must not have thought much of it either since all of it gets wrapped up in three minutes at the end.

          The supporting characters come and go from the screen without helping things. They either spout out clichéd dialogue like, “I don’t like this” or come out of nowhere to solve a problem after which they disappear completely afterwards (I’m talking to you Sam Neill).

          The actual escape – something I would have thought would have been the big centerpiece to a movie called Escape Plan – is incredibly bland. One thing doesn’t lead to another in any satisfying way. For instance first getting out of their cells, then getting around the guards, then getting to the control room, there’s no real clever ways they devise to do any of this. It all just happens with very little ingenuity and you’re not left being impressed by the solutions they come up with.

          There’s no cool escape. No fun one-liners by our leads. The big fight between Stallone and Vinny Jones is numbingly routine. The action is almost non-existent. Caviezel is the only one who seems to be trying to do anything as he tries to make his warden as evil as he can. Arnie manages to eek out a few mild chuckles, but it’s only because the rest of the movie is so devoid of anything interesting to watch. Everyone else is just doing a paint-by-numbers, badly-done, straight-to-dvd flick that is not even worth the rental.

          This flick deserved to bomb.


        • I really need to update this article to reflect the crashing and burning of Arnold’s comeback to date.


  33. 5 Once Great Action Heroes Who Are Ready For Retirement:

    2. Arnold Schwarzenegger

    I remember when I first heard that Arnie was going to return to making movies and I was very excited. There wasn’t anything special from in delivered in his small turn in the The Expendables, but then again it was only a very minor part. Anticipation remained. Now, having seen The Last Stand, Escape Plan and The Expendables II, the thrill of having Arnie back in the saddle has all but disappeared.

    Schwarzenegger seems content to play a caricature of himself, and while there’s nothing wrong with that in principle, there’s very little range there. He’s even gone as far as turning himself into a soundboard on YouTube, shouting his famous lines into the camera like a man possessed. On the subject of one-liners, the most publicised quip featured in Escape Plan has to be an all new low for entertainment: “You hit like a vegetarian!” Do scriptwriters have some sort of obligatory action mad-lib quota that needs to be adhered to?

    The saddest thing about Arnie now is that he has lost most of the charm and charisma he used to exude in droves. The years away from the camera haven’t done him any favours in the acting department, either, as his timing has really suffered – a lot of his jokes fall flat. Group all this together and the future seems bleak for upcoming flicks like The Legend of Conan and Terminator 5. These iconic characters need to respected, and we can only hope that Arnold can get back into the swing of it before we are left with more unnecessary and disappointing sequels.


  34. 5 Reasons Sabotage Is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s True Comeback Vehicle:

    Whether you love him or hate him, it’s easy to agree that Arnold Schwarzenegger has lived one of the more interesting American tales. Most would allow being governor of California to be the final chapter of their professional lives, but Schwarzenegger is relentless. Though already conquering cinema in the 80s and 90s, the man is attempting to have a sort of comeback as a leading man at the prime age of 66. So far, the plan hasn’t panned out too well.

    Since leaving office, Schwarzenegger has had a supporting role in The Expendables 2, a lead role in The Last Stand (his worst financial flop of a film ever) and he shared the screen with Stallone for a third time in Escape Plan (successful internationally, but not too strong in the country Arnold calls home). All these films have been met with mixed critical reaction, especially when it comes to Schwarzenegger’s acting chops, and only modest success at the box office (especially when compared to the man’s pre-political office hits).

    However, recently the trailer for Sabotage hit the web and there is reason to believe this is Schwarzenegger’s true comeback vehicle. The new gritty action movie could be the game changer Schwarzenegger’s film career needs to find the same success he once tasted. Check the trailer out for yourself below and then read on to find out why this might truly be Schwarzenegger’s second chance at cinematic glory…


  35. Another way of looking at it.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger was the king of action movies in the 80s and for a while into the 90s. Between 1982 (When the original Conan was released) and 1991 (when Terminator 2 came out) he scored hit after hit. Some of his movies were good (Commando, Predator, The Running Man, Total Recall) a few were truly excellent (the two Terminators) and a few were average (Conan The Destroyer, Red Heat). In that era his only two missteps were with Red Sonja (a weak Conan semi-sequel with him in a second banana role) and Raw Deal (an ill-advised attempt at tackling a serious dramatic role albeit one with a lot of boom bang).

    Also in that era he proved he could do what Stallone failed miserably at: comedy. When Stallone tried we ended up with Oscar, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and the truly hideous Rhinestone. Arnold gave us Twins and Kindergarten Cop.

    Last Action Hero, while not a total success, wasn’t quite the full fledged disaster it was made out to be at the time. It had many flaws: it was too long, the tone never quite gelled and there were parts that didn’t work. But it wasn’t excruciating to watch the way Battlefield Earth or Judge Dredd or Hudson Hawk were. In fact it was more enjoyable than most of Schwarzenegger’s post 1994 output.

    In 1994, he starred in True Lies. Reteamed with James Cameron after the two Terminators, Schwarzenegger showed off both the action star and the comedian sides quite well. In some ways it was appropriate that it was a summation of his strengths because it was the film that marked the end of his box office domination.

    Also in 1994, he acted in Junior, his third comedy and his worst one of all. Twins and Kindergarten cop managed to sidestep cutesiness. This one fell right into it.

    But the big game changer of 1994 was an edgy dark comedy/crime film by an indie talent with an understanding of the pop culture zeitgeist. This film would change the rules of cinema in the 90s and help end Schwarzenegger and Stallone’s box office dominance.

    Like Nirvana’s Nevermind helped send 80s hair metal into the irrelevant column, Pulp Fiction rendered Schwarzenegger and Stallone and the action movie tropes associated with them passe.

    In both cases it could be argued that the exiled genres were on their way out anyway and that the breakthroughs only sped up their demises. But in the process a lot of popular stars got exiled to the whatever happened to files.

    By this point, Chuck Norris has found his second wind in TV with Walker Texas Ranger. Bruce Willis appeared in Pulp Fiction and proved he could do character acting, thus ensuring greater career longevity. Mel Gibson began transitioning into serious dramatic roles the same way Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood had before. Seagal and Van Damme hung on for a few more movies until they were more or less exiled to direct to video land circa 1998. For a while it looked like Stallone was headed in that direction too until he closed out the Rockys and Ramboes and launched a new franchise with The Expendables.

    Arnold tried to keep pace. He tried to do more comedies. But the results this go round were not as good as they were before (Junior, Jingle All The Way). He tried tackling action roles with more depth. But the results were disastrous (End of Days, Collateral Damage, The Sixth Day). He also tried playing a comic book villain. But the result was disastrous (Batman And Robin). Indeed, the one Arnold film released between 1994 and the on-set of his political career that actually worked was Terminator 3.

    As far as his comeback films go, The Last Stand was actually entertaining. Probably his best since True Lies. But ti flopped. In fact, the failure of it, Bullet To The Head, Escape Plan and Grudge Match brings home the overall box office verdict: if Stallone and Schwarzenegger aren’t selling The Expendables the public isn’t interested.

    I hold out hopes for Sabotage, primarily because David Ayer (End Of Watch, the underrated Harsh Times) is directing it. AT the same time though, it isn’t surprising that Arnold plans to go back to the Terminator and Conan. He doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. His limitations as an actor mean he can’t transition into serious dramatic roles the way the aforementioned Willis did. And he doesn’t have writing/directing to fall back on like Stallone does.


    • Great summary. I agree with ever word.


    • re: Like Nirvana’s Nevermind helped send 80s hair metal into the irrelevant column, Pulp Fiction rendered Schwarzenegger and Stallone and the action movie tropes associated with them passe. […] In both cases it could be argued that the exiled genres were on their way out anyway and that the breakthroughs only sped up their demises. But in the process a lot of popular stars got exiled to the whatever happened to files.

      VERY good point(s).

      Another: It could be a generational thing. Critic Richard Roeper said [I paraphrase but it’s close]: “For [many] young people today, The Rolling Stones are as hoary as Glenn Miller was for my generation [i.e., the youth that “grew up” w/ the Stones in the 1960s].” While the Stones’ popularity does indeed cut across many generational lines, when was the last time a NEW Stones song got played on mainstream radio?!? To put it another way: Are today’s young people (ages 13 – 34) going to flock to the theaters to see an “action hero” that is as old — if not older — than their FATHERS? I don’t think so.


      • These days, whatever appeal those guys have – even to some extent Willis – is based on nostalgia. That’s all Stallone and Schwarzenegger have left to sell. That’s the entire point of The Expendables movies. And that’s why the Expendables is successful and all the other action movies that feel like they were made in the 80s have flopped. I think there’s enough nostalgia for The Terminator for that to work. Not sure about Conan.


        • Agreed. Willis has slightly more range as I noted previously. But action remains his bread and butter. I get the sense that Arnold realizes this which is why he dcided to do Sabotage before he returned to the Terminator and Conan. That one looks like it will give him the chance to do an ensemble type role, since he can’t carry a movie totally on his own name anymore.

          As for it being a generational thing, agreed. Many of the older people that were fans of Arnold in the 80s or grew up with him don’t go to the movies as often as they once did and when they do it’s usually for more ambitious fare. And to the younger crowd he’s sen as an 80s relic who’s past his prime. Willis has managed to stay relevant by branching out occasionally and taking ensemble and supporting roles in more ambitious films (IE: Pulp Fiction, Looper). Stallone tried to branch out. He tried comedy and the results were godawful (Oscar, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. The truly hideous Rhinestone). He made a few attempts at serious dramatic acting. The results, while more successful critically, failed at the box office (FIST, the really very good Cop Land) and Stallone later dismissed them (he claimed that Cop Land almost ruined his career and I totally disagree, I thought it was his best role aside from the original Rocky). He went so far as to try to do supporting roles. But the results were unsuccessful (Tango and Cash, Driven). In his case the bottom line as far as the general audience goes was usually, if it’s not Rocky, Rambo or The Expendables, we’re not interested.

          As far as Arnold goes, Sabotage may very well turn out to be his Cop Land. If it succeeds at the box office, it might be the comeback effort he’s looking for and it could prove he can do that kind of role. If it does what Cop Land did however (popular with critics, fails with audiences) it will likely send home this point: he can play a Cyborg or a medieval mook. The choice is his.


        • re: Stallone later dismissed them (he claimed that Cop Land almost ruined his career

          A sad state of affairs when a fine performance in a good movie can “ruin” a fellow’s career…and that’s not sarcasm. “Cop Land” was perhaps too much like “Q&A” and “Prince of the City” in that it was too “specific” for wide audience appeal: All dealt with police corruption in (or near) NYC and were serious DRAMAS without lots of macho gun-play or dazzling stunts. I doubt too many high school-or college-age youths wanted to see a movie about unions and the corruption therein, namely Sly’s “FIS*T.”


        • How can the guy who made Stop or My Mom Will Shoot claim that Cop Land nearly ruined his career with a straight face? Stallone’s career was on life support already. Cop Land was a hail mary pass that failed at the box office. But I don’t think it did any damage to his career at all.


        • re: How can the guy who made Stop or My Mom Will Shoot claim that Cop Land nearly ruined his career with a straight face?

          GREAT point! Maybe “Stop…” was HIS idea (like the fine turkey “Rhinestone”) and maybe a former pal or agent suggested he star in “Cop Land.” Or maybe he’s just a jerky former-big-star with a bloated ego.


        • I find that whenever Stallone reflects back on his career, he gets it wrong. He said the problem with Judge Dredd is that they tried too hard. He said, “It didn’t live up to what it could have been. It probably should have been much more comic, really humorous, and fun. What I learned out of that experience was that we shouldn’t have tried to make it Hamlet; it’s more Hamlet and Eggs..” No, that is the exact opposite of the problem. You made Hamlet and Eggs when you should have been making well, Judge Dredd quite frankly.


        • Ah, who could forget Judge Dredd’s battle-cry: “FOOSH WAH!”

          Q: What’s an Italian beef? A: Him.


  36. Pumping Iron and the birth of the 80s action hero:

    The dawn of the 80s action hero

    As fitness began to permeate popular culture, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting career kicked off in earnest. He’d had brushes with the movie world before, namely in 1969’s Hercules In New York, where Schwarzenegger, badly dubbed and credited as Arnold Strong, wrestled a man in a baggy bear costume in Central Park. He’d also made a brief appearance in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye (1973), and even earned a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1976 comedy drama Stay Hungry, written by Pumping Iron’s Charles Gaines.

    Yet Schwarzenegger’s huge frame and thick Austrian accent didn’t exactly endear him to Hollywood’s filmmakers – in the early 70s, he simply didn’t fit the leading man template. All of that changed with Pumping Iron. Although many of the bodybuilders received a profile boost from the feature (Lou Ferrigno landed the title role in The Incredible Hulk in 1977), it was Schwarzenegger who was most commonly singled out by critics – “Schwarzenegger lights the film up like neon,” one review read. What’s more, Schwarzenegger’s steely, single-minded screen persona made him perfect for the two movies that would eventually make him stratospherically famous.

    Conan The Barbarian arrived in 1982, and was a huge hit. Both that film and First Blood, which starred Sylvester Stallone and appeared in cinemas later that same year, established a new breed of action hero: terse, capable, and physically imposing, they were a world away from the relatively slight actors of the 50s, 60s and 70s. Where the heroes embodied by John Wayne or Clint Eastwood might have shot first and asked questions later, this new breed of hero wouldn’t even have bothered with the questions.

    Even though Schwarzenegger was the villain, he dominated both the title of 1984’s The Terminator and the film itself – as the implacable, emotionless future cyborg in James Cameron’s science fiction classic, the Austrian took the persona he introduced in Pumping Iron to its heartless conclusion.

    It was Stallone’s 1985 action sequel, Rambo: First Blood Part II (written by James Cameron) and Schwarzenegger’s Commando (also 1985) that epitomised the 80s action movie at its height. Although the villains and scenarios in each are different, they’re both about lone soldiers wading into battle, arms shining with sweat and oil, teeth bared, guns blazing.

    The image of the muscle-bound warrior and the colossal machine gun was one that appeared time and again in the middle part of the decade, either on the covers of videogames or the posters of B-movies that followed these hits, like Chuck Norris’s Missing In Action, which was ‘inspired’ by the First Blood Part II script floating around Hollywood and rushed into production by the Cannon Group in 1984.

    Both the 70s and 80s fitness craze and the pumped-up action hero embodied the tone of the Reagan era. It’s an interesting coincidence that the cover of Time magazine mentioned earlier also carried a picture of President Reagan and Russia’s leader Leonid Brezhnev with the line, “War of words: east-west exchange” beneath it. The late 70s and 80s was a period not only of renewed confidence and optimism in the US, but also of renewed tensions between east and west.

    Just as former actor Ronald Reagan presented himself as a tough cowboy – he often allowed himself to be photographed on his ranch, chopping wood with an axe or riding horses – so the movies presented a new American hero that was tough, determined and seemingly unstoppable; a lone force for good against a heartless enemy. In a press conference shortly after the Lebanese hostage crisis in 1984, Reagan famously said, “Boy, I saw Rambo last night. Now I know what to do the next time this happens…”

    The 90s and beyond

    By 1990, Schwarzenegger was one of Hollywood’s most highly-paid stars, having shot and quipped his way through a string of hits, including Predator, The Running Man and Total Recall. Stallone didn’t have quite the same sure-fire draw, but films like Rambo III, Tango & Cash and Rocky V still made money, even if they weren’t of the same magnitude as First Blood Part II or Rocky IV.

    It’s often said that the violent, trashy, often R-rated action movie had run its course by the early 90s, and that the success of Jurassic Park, which dominated the box office as Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero faltered in 1993, proved that audiences were more keen to see special effects spectacles rather than testosterone-fuelled bloodshed.

    Yet it’s also arguable that audiences never lost their appetite for action; it was the political and cultural climate surrounding the movies that changed. The us-versus-them mentality that emerged when the Second Cold War was at its height between 1979 and 1985 soon thawed, and by the time Rambo III came out in 1988, its anti-Soviet fervour already seemed out of step.

    The fitness craze, meanwhile, didn’t so much die out as become so assimilated into popular culture that it became almost invisible. Pumped-up wrestlers and toned Calvin Klein models became a common sight in magazines, TV ads and on billboards. These days, it’s widely expected that actors and actresses will train intensively for an action role – fitness magazines thrive on writing about the regimes that transformed actors like Tom Hardy into Bane or Henry Cavill into Superman.

    The traditional action movie crystalised a moment of American history that, to modern eyes, seems almost quaint. It was a period of acquisition, brash self-confidence and sculpted bodies. Modern action heroes like Batman, Iron Man and Superman are, by contrast, introspective and tortured – a reflection of a world still dealing with the impact of 9/11, the subsequent War on Terror, and the 2008-9 financial crisis.

    Trashy, loud and violent, the heroes of 80s action cinema were – whether critics cared for them or not – utterly unique. The image of Arnold Schwarzenegger, posing in his little brown briefs in the Whitney Museum, signalled the approach of that era; Pumping Iron hastened the arrival of an age of big-screen brawn.


  37. The 8 Ball 3.22.14: Top 8 Arnold Schwarzenegger Roles:

    (03.25.2014) – Jeremy Thomas
    From Conan the Barbarian and John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop to the Terminator, Dutch in Predator and more, 411’s Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 Arnold Schwarzenegger roles!


  38. jeffthewildman

    Saw Sabotage yesterday. Found it to be fairly good. On a scale of * to **** it gets ***. As far as director David Ayer’s filmography goes, it’s not on the level of End Of Watch (his best film) or the underrated Harsh Times. But it’s ahead of Street Kings.

    However, it seems like much of the public does not feel the same way. According to Box Office Mojo:

    “Sabotage bombed with an estimated $1.83 million on Friday. That’s less than The Last Stand ($2.03 million), which was the former governor of California’s not-so-triumphant return to leading man status. For the weekend, Sabotage is poised to finish in seventh place with less than $6 million”.

    In some ways, it seems like Sabotage is Arnold trying to prove he can tackle roles with more substance and depth and that he can play ensemble or supporting roles. While the movie didn’t reinvent him as a serious dramatic actor, it showed that he could do that, far better than the abysmal Collateral Damage. But its box office performance shows that the public isn’t buying. The box office verdict on Arnold and Sly remains: If it’s not The Expendables we’re not interested,

    (Perhaps, a large segment of the public may have felt that Arnold was not a good match for the gritty realism Ayer brings to his films (the three aforementioned ones as well as Training Day which he wrote),)

    So where from here? Once he uses up his fallback franchises (Conan, Terminator), will Arnold end up making Direct-To-Video stuff? Or will he retire? I suspect that were it not for the part of the constitution that says he can’t run for president (on account of not being a native born citizen) he might very well have aimed for higher political office. But since as of right now that’s impossible (unless the constitution is changed), Hollywood is all he has to fall back on. But it’s a very different Hollywood than the one he was king of between 1984 and 1994. To most people younger than 30, he’s seen as a relic, a product of a time long past and they’re not interested. Most of the people that grew up watching his movies are more into other things cinematic. So that’s why he’s in the position he’s in now.


    • My uneducated guess is that if Conan and Terminator bomb, he will retire from lead roles and pop up from time to time in celeb cameo/supporting roles and make the talk show rounds.


      • Maybe- I think you fail to note his looming divorce settlement. He might take a few bad roles if the pay is good to make some non- Shriver money.


  39. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Part 1: The 1980s:

    “Conan the Barbarian” (1982)
    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first cinematic endeavor was “Hercules in New York” (1969). It’s an atrociously bad flick. By the late 1970s, Arnie had improved as an actor and gave a surprisingly good performance in “Stay Hungry” (1976), playing a bodybuilder, which was appropriate casting and he held his own with the likes of Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. “Pumping Iron” was released in 1977 and chronicled Lou Ferrigno’s attempt to unseat Arnold Schwarzenegger in the “Mr. Olympia” competition. You wouldn’t think a documentary about buff men in speedos would make for a compelling watch, but the film was well received by both critics and general audiences. The 1980s then became the era of the action hero. Sylvester Stallone had the head star, establishing the characters Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. Arnold Schwarzenegger entered the mix when he was cast as the lead in “Conan the Barbarian.” Directed by John Milius, this film is a loose adaptation of stories penned by Robert E. Howard. Hard to imagine, but Oliver Stone was actually one of several writers who contributed to the screenplay. At a young age, Conan witnesses his parents murdered by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). Conan is then sold into slavery and becomes a pit-fighter when he reaches adulthood. For reasons unknown, his master sets him free and he becomes a renowned thief. After a series of adventures, Conan and his new companions are hired by King Osric (Max von Sydow) to rescue his daughter from Thulsa Doom, who is revealed to be a cult leader of sorts. Conan is more interesting in personal revenge and his haste leads to the death of his love interest, Valeria (Sandahl Bergman). Mako plays Akiro the Wizard, who assists Conan in act three. Conan finally confronts Doom and despite Doom’s best efforts to talk his way out of trouble, Conan decapitates him, avenging his parents. Before the end credits roll, we see an older Conan on a throne, implying that this was merely his origin story and greater adventures await, promising a long running series of films. Unfortunately, there was only one mediocre sequel in 1984 and a remake released in 2011, which I’ve never seen. Jason Momoa from “Game of Thrones” seems like a logically successor to Arnie in terms of physicality, but it’s hard to find someone with Arnie’s charisma, who can match his unique movie star persona. Fans love all of the carnage in “Conan the Barbarian,” but my favorite scene is when Conan is chased by a pack of wild dogs into a cavern and he discovers the remains of a king. Such an eerie scene that also hints at the character’s destiny.

    “Conan the Destroyer” (1984)
    Okay, so why is “Conan the Barbarian” enjoyable despite of its generic story and weak acting, while “Conan the Destroyer” is panned? Many complain about the PG rating. Yes, the violence was sorely missed, but the adventure still had potential. Sarah Douglas was a suitable antagonist as Queen Taramis. What annoyed me the most was the amount of irritating sidekicks Conan was saddled with. Mako being the acceptation. Also, this film does not deliver on the original film’s cliffhanger. I thought the sequel was suppose to tell the tale of how Conan became a king? But, when Princess Jehnna (Olivia d’Abo) suggests they marry and rule together, Conan balks at the idea and the movie ends with the same exact cliffhanger as the original. “Kull the Conqueror,” which was released in 1997 and starred Kevin Sorbo, was initially conceived as the third Conan film. “The Legend of Conan” is now in development, but taking Arnold Schwarzenegger’s age into consideration, you would have to imagine that Conan is already a king. One interesting tidbit about “Conan the Destroyer” was that Andre the Giant played Dagoth, the horned creature that Conan battled in the climax.

    “The Terminator” (1984)
    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature character. A cybernetic assassin from the year 2029. Writer / director James Cameron originally envisioned someone like Lance Henriksen for the T-800. An antagonist who moves stealthily, but after meeting with Arnie, James Cameron reworked the script. He knew how essential Arnie would be to the success of the film and even waited while Dino De Laurentiis forced Arnie to shoot “Conan the Destroyer.” Cameron used this time to work on the screenplays for “The Terminator,” “Rambo: First Blood, Part II,” and “Aliens.” This is an action / adventure / sci-fi flick, but also works as a date movie because of the romance. The story is really about Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn). Usually, I’ll find it hokey when characters in a movie fall in love so quickly, but it works here because these two characters were clearly “meant to be.” Reese traveled through time to protect the woman whose photograph had given him hope in the post-apocalyptic world. This leads to the conception of the future savior of the human race. So, by Skynet sending the T-800 back in time, it brings about its own downfall. By trying to prevent the birth of John Connor, Skynet inadvertently brings him into existence. But, of course, John Connor had already known that Kyle Reese was his father because his mother tells him. That’s all I’ll say about the time travel aspect of the story because the more you analyze it, the less sense it makes. The T-800 was the part Arnie was born to play. Such an iconic villain. He can’t be reasoned with. He can’t be bargained with. And he absolutely will not stop until you are dead!!! On some levels, I might be disappointed that he becomes the hero in the sequels. Not that I have anything against “T2.” Because of my age, I saw “T2″ first as a kid and had a bunch of the action figures. Along with Arnie and James Cameron, the late Stan Winston is the man responsible for bringing the T-800 to life with his celebrated animatronics and makeup effects. “T2″ was a real pioneer when it came to CGI, but the original was old school. Matte paintings, miniatures, and stop motion.

    “I’ll be back” counter: 1

    “Red Sonja” (1985)
    Understand, I’ve only included this flick in the article because the backstory of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s involvement in the production was classic showbiz absurdity. “Red Sonja” was meant to be an offshoot of the “Conan the Barbarian” franchise, but despite of Dino De Laurentiis being the producer, this film did not have permission to use the “Conan” name. Instead, Arnie’s character was referred to as Kalidor. He was also meant to only appear in a cameo, but he was kept on set for nearly a month and the film was edited to make Kalidor essential to the plot. It was almost like the real life version of “Bowfinger,” with an actor being forced to star in film through nefarious means. Is it any wonder that Arnie never worked with Dino De Laurentiis again?

    “Commando” (1985)
    “Total Recall” (1990) took a lot of flack for being an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie with a high body count, probably because it was released at the height of his fame, but in “Commando,” Arnie can be credited with 94 deaths!!! Wow. This film was never one of my favorites. John Matrix sounds like such a phony name and musical score seems to be retread of “48 Hrs.” (1982). Also, I found Rae Dawn Chong’s character so unnecessary. Matrix needed to carjack her, but why the heck did she have to tag along for the rest of the movie? And Dan Hedaya’s Hispanic accent was pretty cartoony. Having said that, “Commando” might be the best of Arnie’s worst 1980s movies. If that makes sense. I’d rather watch this than “Raw Deal” or “Red Heat.” This film is also noteworthy as it was the inception of his “one liners.” It would soon become a staple of the genre for the hero to make a quip either before or after vanquishing a foe. Something that had already been done in the 007 films, but Arnie truly made it his own. The character Rainer Wolfcastle from “The Simpsons” is a very popular parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger and it was probably his performance in “Commando” which was most inspirational. Also, WWE Film’s “The Marine” franchise continuously steals from “Commando,” rehashing the ex-soldier saving a loved one from kidnappers plot three times. To say that John Cena and The Miz are poor substitutes for Arnold Schwarzenegger would be an understatement.

    “I’ll be back” counter: 2

    “Raw Deal” (1986)
    Okay, so Arnold Schwarzenegger now goes undercover with the mafia? And no one is at all suspicious of his pretty thick Austrian accent? Also, his character’s wife is suffering from depression, so instead of supporting her, he fakes his death. How is her thinking her husband is dead not going to make her depression even worse? And all he does to fake his death is blow up his patrol car. If there’s not a body in the car, why would anyone assume that he was killed in the explosion? The reconciliation happens off camera, but apparently his wife was totally fine with his supposed death and surprise return. “Raw Deal” is a Steven Seagal movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Having said that, there is one supremely badass sequence with Arnie driving around a rock quarry in a leather jacket, shooting some anonymous henchmen while “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones blares.

    *Arnie says “I’ll be RIGHT back,” this time, which doesn’t make my official tally.

    “Predator” (1987)
    “I ain’t got time to bleed.” This is the sort of movie that puts hair on your chest. The 1980s was the time for machismo. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. I won’t get into all of the behind the scenes drama with Jean-Claude Van Damme as the original actor inside of the Predator suit or the failures of the early dog-lizard-like design of the alien creature because the finished product shows no signs of the flawed production. Directed by John McTiernan, “Predator” succeeds as an action / adventure and a sci-fi / horror movie. It was definitely my favorite movie as a kid. Stan Winston was responsible for the iconic creature design. An extraterrestrial trophy hunter with dreadlocks and mandibles, portrayed by the over seven foot tall Kevin Peter Hall. Nowadays, all these CGI aliens from “Cloverfield,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” and “Super 8″ seem to be the same slimy amphibian with claws. There’s nothing distinctive about their designs. The Predator’s vision is infrared, it can mimic the sounds made by humans, and can also be camouflaged by its surroundings. The Predator hunts by code. It shows good sportsmanship. It will not kill a human who is unarmed. But, if you are armed, it will skin you and rip your spinal cord out before polishing your skull up to keep as a prize. It stalks and kills every member of an elite military rescue team, who were trekking through a Central American jungle, building to a final showdown with Colonel Dutch Schaeffer. When Dutch lets out his primal roar, challenging the Predator, you know shit is about to go down. Never had Arnie been overmatched like this. He takes a beating, but when he turns the tide, he proves to not be a cold blooded killer. He shows mercy, only to have the Predator set off an explosive device. Arnie barely escapes with his life. At the end of “Commando,” he sports a few scratches. At the end of “Raw Deal,” he is totally unscathed. At the end of “Predator,” he looks to have been in several car wrecks. John McTiernan knew that for an action film to be successful, the hero needs to be put through the wringer. Something that he would carry over into the “Die Hard” franchise. “Predator 2″ was released in 1990 and starred Danny Glover. It’s not as good as the original, but not as bad as some people gripe. Nobody seems to like that the film was set in Los Angeles, but the sequel needed to do something different. If it too was set in the jungle, it would’ve been viewed as lazy and unoriginal. Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet to appear in any of the follow up films. Allegedly, he was to have made a cameo at the end of “Alien vs. Predator” (2004), but him being elected as governor of California put the kibosh on that. Robert Rodriguez developed “Predators” (2009) with Arnie in mind to reprise his role as Dutch, but the lead ended up being a new character played by Adrien Brody. Arnold Schwarzenegger > Adrien Brody.

    “The Running Man” (1987)
    Long before “Battle Royale” (2000) or “The Hunger Games” (2012), there was “The Running Man.” Based on a novel written by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, this film is both quintessentially 1980s and somehow still ahead of its time by presenting a dystopian future where the media, namely reality TV, has brainwashed the masses. The only difference between “The Running Man” and modern reality TV is that no one ever gets slain on “Survivor” or “Big Brother.” The stalkers on “The Running Man” all have pro wrestling inspired gimmicks. Professor Subzero, Buzzsaw, Dynamo, Fireball, and Captain Freedom, who was played by Jesse “The Body” Ventura. This was the second pairing of Jesse and Arnie, two future governors. Richard Dawson, the then host of “Family Feud,” plays Damon Killian. Killian was an excellent antagonist and one of the few adversaries in an Arnold Schwarzenegger film to have a comeback for “I’ll be back.” Killian replies, “Only in a rerun.” Wow. He dared to talk back to Arnie. The love interest was played by Maria Conchita Alonso. This was the first movie where Arnie gets the girl. Sandahl Bergman died in “Conan the Barbarian.” He rejected Olivia d’Abo in “Conan the Destroyer.” His relationship with Rae Dawn Chong in “Commando” was strictly plutonic and I don’t count the psychological torment he caused his wife in “Raw Deal” as a happy ending. WWE Films took a break from rehashing “Commando” in 2007, releasing “The Condemned,” starring”Stone Cold” Steve Austin. The concept was similar to “The Running Man.” Convicts fighting to the death to win their freedom. The difference being the jungle setting and that this death sport was streamed live on the internet. Since the concept is so fertile, I’m actually surprised there’s yet to be a sequel or a remake of “The Running Man.” Maybe the popularity of “The Hunger Games” will facility this?

    “I’ll be back” counter: 3

    “Red Heat” (1988)
    Despite of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hilarious Russian accent, this movie might be the lamest buddy cop flick of the 1980s. Personally, I’m more disappointed with “Tango & Cash” (1989) because Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell are two of my favorite actors, but that movie sucked. I’m less surprised about the poor quality of this pairing of Arnie and Jim Belushi. It’s just unfathomable to me that this uninspired film was directed by Walter Hill. The man who made “The Warriors” (1979). This film is just not a par with all the classic buddy cop films like “Lethal Weapon” (1987), “48 Hrs.” (1982), or even “Running Scared” (1986). There’s nothing special about the story. Arnie plays a fish out of water cop, hunting down the drug kingpin who murdered his partner. The few times this movie made me chuckle, it was Arnie and not Jim Belushi. Since I didn’t see this film as a kid, there’s no nostalgia for me. Arnie didn’t even say “I’ll be back” in Russian. A missed opportunity. In my opinion, this film is as forgettable as “Red Sonja.”

    “Twins” (1988)
    Critics are usually pretty hard on Arnold Schwarzenegger. I’ll agree that he’s more of a larger than life personality than an actor, but in “Twins” he gives a genuine performance. He’s not playing a tough guy who spouts one liners. As Julius Benedict, he is sheltered, naïve, but always compassionate and selfless. Danny DeVito as Vincent Benedict was the perfect foil for Arnie with his smart mouth and wiseguy antics. These two played off each other so well in both the comedic and dramatic moments. Kelly Preston provided the eye candy. Not to objectify leading ladies, but she was pretty hot back then. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as brothers? I believe it was Leonard Maltin who said that “Twins” was a box office smash because of its poster, but beyond the inspired casting, this film succeeds on many levels. Director Ivan Reitman at his best. There’s plenty of laughs, but the climax was also quite suspenseful. Then, the film closes on a touching moment with the brothers being reunited with their mother. Me and my sister would quote this film a lot as kids. Arnie worked with Ivan Reitman two more times, as many times as he has worked with James Cameron. Evidently, there’s now a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy being introduced as the long lost Benedict brother, but let’s wait and see if this project actually comes to fruition.

    “I’ll be back” counter: 4


    • Arnold Schwarzenegger, Part 2: The 1990s:

      “Total Recall” (1990)
      This movie is so freakin’ awesome that I will never watch the 2012 remake with Colin Farrell. I know I shouldn’t think of that film as a remake, but rather another adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” but just like the “Conan the Barbarian” remake, you just can’t recreate the magic of Arnie. Lines like “Get your ass to Mars,” and “Screw you, Benny!” So many great scenes like the shootout on the escalator where Douglas Quaid uses an innocent bystander as a human shield or when people get sucked out onto the Mars surface and the low atmospheric pressure causes their eyeballs bug out of their orbital sockets. Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside are great villains. Robert Picardo was the voice of Johnnycab. Marshall Bell, who was the bad guy in “Twins,” plays the mutant with Kuato growing out of his torso. Spectacular makeup and visual effects by Rob Bottin. I saw this extremely violent movie at the age of five while on vacation with my family in Orlando, Florida. I also saw “Die Hard 2″ that week, but I liked “Total Recall” a lot more even if I had no clue what was happening in the story. All I knew was that Quaid needed to turn on a reactor. Sharon Stone became famous for “Basic Instinct” two years after this, but she was never hotter than in this film. Rachel Ticotin, though Quaid’s love interest, was a self reliant character. You’d be hard pressed to find too many damsels in distress in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. “RoboCop” (1987) was great, but this is my favorite Paul Verhoeven film. Fans still debate whether or not the majority of the film takes place inside the mind of Quaid. The ending was ambiguous.

      “Kindergarten Cop” (1990)
      Arnie reteams with Ivan Reitman and again shows his range as an actor. His character, Detective John Kimble, actually has an arc. He goes from a clichéd tough as nails cop “who plays by his own set of rules” to a sensitive nurturer. The film opens inside of a shopping mall, so now you would think it is a satire of the mall sequence from “T2,” but the film was released a year before “T2.” Like “Twins,” there’s a lot of heart to the story. Arnie didn’t have someone like Danny DeVito to play off of this time, but he interacted well with all the child actors, which isn’t always easy. Penelope Ann Miller was a good love interest. I remember seeing a lot of this actress in early 1990s. I think she was great in “The Freshman” that same year, but haven’t seen much of her in recent years. Linda Hunt was great as the principal. She’s tough on Kimble at first, but she eventually warms up to him. Pamela Reed was also good as Kimble’s partner. They had a nice rapport. Richard Tyson added a lot to the film because he played his part straight. A key to the success of an action / comedy is for the actors portraying antagonists to come across as a serious threat and not be the butt of jokes. Look to James Remar and Sonny Landham in “48 Hrs.” (1982) as a strong example. “Kindergarten Cop” holds up today even though Arnie’s fan base has matured. The jokes still work. Lines like “I’m the party pooper,” and “It’s not a tumor!” And just like “Twins,” the ending was suspenseful. The finale in the locker room plays like a genuine police thriller.

      “I’m back” counter: 1

      “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)
      Was this the zenith of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career? Even with inflation, it is still his most financial successful film and perhaps his most popular. With the exception of “True Lies” (1994), it’s mostly downhill from here. Arnie reunites with James Cameron, Stan Winston, and Linda Hamilton. This time, the T-800 has become one of the good guys, reprogrammed and sent back in time to protect teenage John Connor (Edward Furlong) from the far more advanced liquid metal T-1000 (Robert Patrick). The T-1000 seems to embody James Cameron’s originally concept for “The Terminator,” using the ability to morph greatly to its advantage. The T-1000 is clearly the more efficient killer and it has the advantage over the T-800 in most physical altercations. Another unused concept that resurfaces here is having Sarah Connor in a mental institution. Something that James Cameron originally conceived for the character John Rambo in “Rambo: First Blood, Part 2 (1985)” but Sylvester Stallone had his own ideas. James Cameron had already crafted one of the great sequels of all time with “Aliens” (1986), following up on Ridley Scott’s classic, “Alien” (1979). Now, Cameron was adding to his own legacy. He makes sequels that aren’t reliant on the audience having seen the previous film to enjoy the current one. In my first Arnold Schwarzenegger article, I referred to his character as the T-800. But, I’ve now learned that some believe he is of the T-850 series, model 101. Whatever his designation is, he becomes a surrogate father to John Connor and learns the value of human life as the story unfolds. Arnie doesn’t kill anyone in this movie unless you count the T-1000. Michael Biehn filmed a dream sequence cameo as Kyle Reese, but James Cameron decided to cut the scene. As I much as we all liked Michael Biehn’s performance in the original, I agree with Cameron’s decision. Sarah Connor was now a badass action hero in her own right and no longer needed a pep talk from Reese. On the “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) DVD audio commentary, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright poke fun at the overly sentimental climax, with Arnie giving John the big thumbs up as he is lowered into the vat of molten steel, but I though it was epic. I’m getting misty just writing about it. “Hasta la vista, baby.”

      “I’ll be back” counter: 5

      “Last Action Hero” (1993)
      “Magic ticket my ass, McBain.” The biggest problem with this movie was that it was a parody of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies… starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? So, most people didn’t get the joke, and even if they did, the jokes weren’t that funny. Imagine if Mel Gibson and Danny Glover had starred in “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1,” which spoofed the “Lethal Weapon” franchise. This was Arnie’s second collaboration with John McTiernan and needless to say, this flick was nowhere near as awesome as “Predator,” their previous film. Danny DeVito voices a cartoon cat and Robert Patrick makes a cameo as the T-1000, which he had already done in “Wayne’s World” (1992), so that joke was already wearing thin. Sharon Stone also makes a cameo as her character from “Basic Instinct” (1992). Sharon Stone had co-starred with Arnie in “Total Recall,” though I don’t get how referencing “Basic Instinct” satirizes the action / adventure genre. It was a just pointless pop culture reference. I will say that both Charles Dance and Tom Noonan very pretty cool villains. And the one joke which definitely landed was seeing Sylvester Stallone on the poster for “T2.” Even though this was mediocre film, I still had a Jack Slater action figure as a kid, which I traded for a Michael Keaton Batman since I had three T-800 action figures from “T2,” so I was covered in the Arnie toy department.

      “I’ll be back” counter: 6

      “True Lies” (1994)
      I don’t know if James Cameron is a big 007 fan, but there were several homages in this film, which I only recently learned was a remake of the French film titled “La Totale!” I’ve not seen the original, but I assume moments like Harry Tasker removing his wetsuit to reveal a tuxedo were inspired by “Goldfinger” (1964). This film poses the question, what if a suave super spy was also a family man? Outside of the “Halloween” franchise, this is the role Jamie Lee Curtis is most known for. As Helen Tasker, she displayed both her sex appeal and comedic chops during her erotic dance sequence. She’s spoken very highly of this film in interviews. Tom Arnold is serviceable as Arnie’s sidekick. He’s never been in anything else as good as this. And Bill Paxton was an absolute riot. His character provided so many laughs. But, how did Tia Carrere not become a big star after her performance this movie? She was such a superb femme fatale, worthy of a James Bond villainous. Between the “Wayne’s World” franchise and “True Lies,” the future looked bright, but after co-starring in just one Pauly Shore movie, she was relegated to syndicated TV. Shame. Though she was in “Kull the Conqueror” (1997), which was initially conceived as a Conan the Barbarian movie. I pointed out in my review of “The Living Daylights” (1987) how political climates are reflected in cinema from one decade to the next. During the Cold War, Art Malik was a hero in a James Bond film. Then, just seven years later, Middle Easterners had replaced the Russians as Hollywood’s stock villains. While I do have my ideological differences with the late Charlton Heston, his macho onscreen persona was almost a precursor to Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it’s cool that he had supporting role. Also, his character wore an eye-patch which automatically makes him a badass. This is around the time that Arnie was rumored to be starring in a remake of “Planet of the Apes,” to be directed by Oliver Stone. That film lingered in development hell. Bummer. Eliza Dushku played Dana Tasker. She’s become a favorite of fanboys since. I saw her live at New York Comic Con 2012. “True Lies” was the last feature length collaboration between Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron. In 1996 they filmed “T2 3-D: Battle Across Time” for the Universal Studios theme park stunt show. There were “True Lies” sequel rumors for years, but nothing ever came to fruition.

      “Junior” (1994)
      Sigh I had only seen this movie once, but unlike “Red Heat,” I chose to watch it again before writing this article. Though Arnie is reunited on camera with Danny DeVito and Ivan Reitman is in the director’s chair, this is not the sequel to “Twins.” I do not fault Arnie for playing against type. Even Rainier Wolfcastle once offered to play a nerd, but I guess audiences won’t suspend their disbelief enough. Yes, they will accept Arnie as a barbarian, a cyborg, a soldier, a cop, or a spy with amnesia, but not a scientist. Shame. This is just such a bizarre concept. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a pregnant man? This isn’t what his fan base would want to see. And no one else takes him seriously enough as an actor to have an open mind. All that people remember about this movie is the dream sequence with the crying baby with Arnie’s face. At least Roger Ebert praised Arnie’s performance. Overall, “Junior” is a high concept film with too few laughs. The weakest of Arnie’s collaborations with Ivan Reitman. Again, I will commend Arnie for making some brave choices. He even dresses in drag, but the movie just wasn’t funny and a tad disturbing.

      “Eraser” (1996)
      I guess you can say that this was the last Arnold Schwarzenegger film that really felt like an Arnold Schwarzenegger film. No cringe inducing ice puns, no devils, no clones, just Arnie being a badass. He plays U.S. Marshall John Kruger, who assists people in the witness protection program, namely Vanessa Williams. I wonder if Arnie’s character was named Kruger because director Chuck Russell had made “Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors” (1987)? Kruger is betrayed by his mentor, played by James Caan. This film has really great supporting cast. James Coburn, Robert Pastorelli, and James Cromwell. Also, some high quality action scenes. Kruger falls from an airplane without a parachute and acquires one in mid-air. How very 007 of him. He also shoots an alligator and follows up with the line, “You’re luggage.” This may not be Arnie’s most popular flick, but it’s guilty pleasure of mine. Chuck Russell also helmed “The Scorpion King” (2002) with Duane “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock is one of the few modern action heroes with Arnie’s charisma.

      “Jingle All the Way” (1996)
      Well, at least this movie has provided Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel with a lot of comedic fodder. The story begins a lot like “The Santa Clause” (1994), telling the story of career oriented man, who neglects his family even during the holiday season. Sinbad plays Arnie’s rival for the elusive “Turbo-Man” doll. Phil Hartman is his unscrupulous neighbor, always trying to outshine Arnie and seduce his wife, Rita Wilson. Jake Lloyd, the future Anakin Skywalker, is the son of Arnie. Jim Belushi has a small role as the crooked mall Santa Claus. Danny Woodburn from “Seinfeld” is his elf. Pro wrestler, Paul White, who at the time was known as The Giant in WCW and now known as The Big Show in WWE, plays the monstrous Santa Claus whom Arnie must fight. Curtis “Booger” Armstrong voices Turbo-Man’s unpopular sidekick, Booster. The movie did a good job capturing the insanity of Christmas shopping, but it all falls apart in end when Arnold actually becomes Turbo-Man. Not that he wears the suit in a parade, but that the suit is functional. He flies around the city while Sinbad tries to steal the doll, guised as Dementor, Turbo-Man’s arch nemesis. The silly ending makes the movie unwatchable for anyone over the age of eight. WWE Studios is actually developing a sequel starring Larry the Cable Guy. Wow, that will definitely suck.

      “Batman & Robin” (1997)
      See my article “Batman: The Joel Schumacher Years” for my review…

      “End of Days” (1999)
      Arnie never really recovered from “Batman & Robin.” He somehow endured “Last Action Hero” and “Junior,” but “Batman & Robin” caused his star in Hollywood to fade. It was the end of an era, so maybe “End of Days” was an appropriate title for his final film of the millennium. I actually don’t dislike this movie as much as most people do. It was nice to see a mini reunion of “The Usual Suspects” (1995) with Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollack. It was just such a strange concept to infuse a film about the antichrist like “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) or “The Omen” (1976) with the action / adventure genre. I enjoyed the scene where Satan tries to tempt Arnie’s character and Arnie brazenly calls him a choir boy. Only Arnold Schwarzenegger can mouth off to the prince of darkness, but overall the film just doesn’t work. And this was the first movie where Arnie played a human who actually died. His only other deaths scenes where as the T-800. The best thing to come out of this film was Arnie appearing on WWF Smackdown! to promote it and he pummeled Triple H. But, that didn’t do anything help box office returns.


      • Terrific write-up. Going into the 90’s, Schwarzenegger was at his career peak. Adding my own personal opinion, I think Schwarzenegger made 5 legitimately great movies, and 3 of them were released in the early 90’s: Total Recall, Terminator 2, and True Lies (in case you’re curious, the other two would be The Terminator and Predator. Just awesome, top shelf movies all). In between TR and T2, Kindergarden Cop was a fun family friendly comedy, and Eraser, in ’96, was a solid action flick too, and both served as solid hits for him, but otherwise as the 90’s continued he kept making lousy choices: Last Action Hero, Junior, Jingle All The Way and End of Days were all disappointing films, but they were interspaced in between the hits, so for several years it was one hit, one miss, one hit, one miss.

        The film that really damaged his career though has to be that stinkeroo Batman movie from ’97. What a god-awful movie that was. What’s interesting though is that Schwarzenegger was paid $25 Million to be in that movie. To me that’s a revealing fact, because that shows that despite a few misfires in the previous couple years, he was still regarded by Hollywood in ’96 as one of the top box office draws around. At that time you could literally count on one hand the number of actors that could demand a $25 Million paycheck, and at that moment Schwarzenegger was in that rare club.

        The Batman movie changed that. Maybe not in and of itself, per se, but it certainly put the writing on the wall. Now if he had quickly followed up that embarassing flop with another strong hit I really think he could’ve turned the tide back his way, but instead he took two years off and returned with the disappointing End of Days, which only made a meager $66M domestically, and by that point it was clear his reign was over.


        • How the year 1999 changed cinema forever:

          1999 changed the way action cinema was made

          If memory serves, it was Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo that was the first to include an outright pastiche of The Matrix in one scene. But even if it wasn’t the forerunner, it was one of an abundance of movies that would follow in The Matrix’s wake. The idea of making a traditional buddy action movie was all but gone – perhaps outside of Rush Hour – in a matter of years. Traditional action directors moved away from the genre, whilst techniques such as wire-fu, bullet time, slow motion and parkour instead began to take hold.

          There were two things about The Matrix that arguably caused changes (for it was heavily influenced in its own way by Eastern cinema anyway). Firstly, it wrapped up things not seen in a Hollywood action movie in the midst of a Hollywood action movie. Secondly, people wildly, wildly reacted to it. In a way they hadn’t wildly reacted to Lethal Weapon 4. That it came out of the most traditional of all movie studios at the time – Warner Bros – was all the more surprising. But its success brought in a new wave of action talent, was influential in marking the end of the action movie superstar (Bruce Willis’ turn in The Sixth Sense later in 1999 would help there too) and remains mimicked to this day.

          1999 changed the star system

          1997’s top five films at the US box office featured Will Smith, Leonard DiCaprio (admittedly in his breakthrough role), Jim Carrey and Harrison Ford. 1998’s top five featured Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Cameron Diaz (admittedly in her second breakthrough role) and Adam Sandler.

          1999? Bruce Willis was still there, but the first Star Wars prequel was hardly sold off the back of its stars. Mike Myers headlined an Austin Powers sequel, and Keanu Reeves broke through in The Matrix. Tom Hanks’ name was above the title of Toy Story 2, but his star luster wasn’t really the reason people paid their money. In short, big genre blockbusters were out-trumping big movie stars. The trend would continue.

          In fact, 1999 would mark the biggest hit to date of Bruce Willis’ career, and whilst it would see some stars still bringing home the proverbial bacon – Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, John Travolta – it was nearly the last time they would. Even Will Smith struggled, hardly aided by the final cut of Wild Wild West.

          In the years that would follow, the $15-20m salary that routinely went to the Schwarzeneggers, Travoltas and Cruises of this world would gradually be replaced by lower salaries with more profit shares. There were exceptions, and often having points on a project proved more lucrative (recent example: Sandra Bullock reportedly making around $70m out of Gravity). But whereas once upon a time Disney would add Bruce Willis to Armageddon to give it a bit of star name insurance, by the time Prince Of Persia or Pearl Harbor came round, Jake Gyllenhaal and Ben Affleck were seen as cheaper, just as dependable bets.

          Only Tom Cruise – and he’s had his occasional blips – has arguably consistently managed to deliver box office. An apparent failure such as Knight And Day turns out to have made $261m worldwide. Valkyrie, meanwhile, broke $200m. Even Tom Cruise’s ‘flops’ are blockbusters still, just not so much in the US.

          But then Cruise adapted, and arguably was ahead of the game with the Mission: Impossible franchise. He was developing material to produce in the 1990s, and continues to do so. Now, it’s far more commonplace.

          1999 was pivotal in kickstarting the process of belated reboots of franchises

          The Phantom Menace was the epitome of a fan demand project. The realization of a long promise of a fresh Star Wars trilogy, it arrived on the big screen over 15 years after the previous Star Wars movie. As such, it came back to the big screen off the back of a clamor of fan demand. Appreciating Star Wars is a special case, and people tended to queue for Star Wars movies anyway, it was an eye-opener in the sense that a belated sequel – positioned with enough for new fans and old – could have massive crossover potential between adults and children. Furthermore, as much as The Phantom Menace tends to be disliked, it opened up many to Star Wars on the big screen, many of whom – at the behest of parents who assured them that there were much better Star Wars films – would seek out the earlier trilogy.

          This wasn’t, to be fair, a lesson quickly heeded by Hollywood, but it wasn’t ignored. George Lucas for one would see the (commercial) advantage of following a not dissimilar path with Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull in 2008 (which we looked at here). The following decade would see Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines, Crocodile Dundee In Los Angeles, Exorcist: The Beginning, Rocky Balboa, Rambo and Superman Returns, to varying degrees of success. Furthermore, reboots also followed, 1999 saw the hugely successful Mummy reboot for a start (now being rebooted again for 2016), and at the very least a dotted line could be traced back to here as the reboot explosion would begin to take hold.


      • Jurassic Park v Last Action Hero: the marketing battle

        When Jurassic Park and Last Action Hero went head to head at cinemas in 1993, one marketing campaign continually out thought the other.

        ‘Leapin’ Lizards! $50m’ screamed the headline of Daily Variety back on June 14th 1993. It was reporting the-then record-breaking box office opening weekend for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, a film that would continue to dominate the box office for most of that summer. As Tom Pollock, chairman of Universal Pictures at the time noted, “this is a breakthrough picture for critics and audiences”, setting records that were “beyond belief”.

        Jurassic Park was surrounded by – and easily defeated – blockbuster movies that summer season, headlined by big stars. There was Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, Tom Cruise in The Firm, Clint Eastwood in In The Line Of Fire, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in Sleepless In Seattle, Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes in Rising Sun.

        And, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger, back in action cinema for the first time since Terminator 2: Judgment Day, headlining Last Action Hero.


  40. long duck dong

    I think your info might be a bit wrong on the Die Hard issue.Cause Die hard(the first one) is actually based on a book .Not to say that they didn’t have a scrip circling around.
    As far as the steroids use goes, he has actually admitted that, at least as far as I know. He confessed using steroid back in the days when it was legal. I’m pretty sure many bodybuilders did.
    Besides from that I would say it was pretty good article.
    My favorite movies are , in no particular order:
    True Lies
    Terminator one and 2
    Read heat.,I loved him in that movie.He’s lines made me crack up big time!

    ps lebeau, If you like Olivia watch BOLERO she and Bo Derek struts around naked .a lot.
    the movie it self I think was pretty horrible,but as akid bo Derek and Olivia nekkid…was a dream


  41. I have to hand it to Arnold Schwarzenegger; his pure ambition, raw charisma, and emotional intelligence took him to great heights (I’m under the impression he married Maria Schriver for a little political clout, since she’s a Kenndy and all).
    As films go, my three favorite Schwarzenegger “Commando”, “Terminator 2” (I feel the original Terminator film was a Sarah Conner/Kyle Reese show), and “True Lies”.


  42. 10 Actors Who Need To Stop Flogging A Dead Horse:

    1. Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Done To Death: The aging warrior, cyborg or otherwise.

    After a stint as Governor of California, Arnie is back and though he’s not extremely elderly at age 66, he’s certainly not the marble-carved hulk of the Conan and Terminator series. Even so, Arnie has returned to films with predictable action fare, including an inevitable role in the Expendables 2, and now the Governator has his sights set on revisiting his most famous franchise.

    Terminator Salvation was the first in the time-travelling series to not feature Schwarzenegger’s T-800 bounty hunter, and it fared decently considering the Austrian-American bodybuilder had previously been inextricable from the franchise. Now, with Terminator: Genesis on the horizon, Arnie is set to reprise the role all over again.

    Add to that a rumored Conan sequel, a confirmed Twins sequel called Triplets (cue facepalm), and the upcoming Expendables 3, and it’s clear that Schwarzenegger is content to relive the past over and over again.

    Total Recall and True Lies are good examples from a time when Schwarzenegger participated in fresh, original projects, and though it’s unlikely he’s going to be approached for roles like that, Stallone’s Copland does offer hope for an actor of his type.


  43. Eraser is the most Schwarzeneggerian movie Arnold Schwarzenegger ever made:

    As a longtime film critic, I’ve noticed a strange contradiction. I became a critic because I love movies, yet I feel professionally obligated to take umbrage with movies that feel too much like movies. I get irritated when confronted with a plot I’ve seen countless times before, or characters that have devolved into stereotypes, or a twist that’s been around since before Al Jolson broke the sound barrier. Yet I don’t think I would have chosen film criticism as my profession if there wasn’t some part of me that also really loves it when movies act like movies. I have a distinct love-hate relationship with all the well-worn nonsense that films resort to in their mad attempt to escape the demon-beast Originality. This might seem contradictory, but loving movies, all movies, can require a fair amount of mental gymnastics as we try to figure out why some clichés fill us with unhinged joy while others angry up the blood, or why we find some movies offensively cheesy, and others transcendently cheesy.

    A while back, for example, I condemned Days Of Thunder for being the ultimate brainless, jacked-up Tom Cruise movie, a shameless, painfully unironic catalog of the tropes found in seemingly every movie Cruise had made up until that point. Here, however, I am going to praise Eraser for being the ultimate brainless, jacked-up Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, a shameless and painfully unironic catalog of the tropes found in seemingly every movie Schwarzenegger made up to that point. Days Of Thunder and Eraser are so generic, they might as well be known as Tom Cruise Movie and Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie, respectively. Yet while I was irritated at how Days Of Thunder clumsily buffs up Cruise’s already skyscraper-sized ego, I loved how Eraser ratchets up the ever-present ridiculousness of the action icon’s oeuvre.

    I suppose much of the difference comes down to personal preference. If you’re going to see a movie that’s the purest possible reflection of an icon’s sensibility, and how they see themselves both within the context of pop culture and the world at large, it’s good if you like the actor in question. I think Schwarzenegger is one of the most entertaining figures in pop culture, dating back to the days of the underrated 1976 character study Stay Hungry, which paired the young bodybuilder with Jeff Bridges and Sally Field. It almost doesn’t matter who Schwarzenegger is playing, since he tends to play the same character over and over. He doesn’t need dialogue or material to be entertaining; his greatest role and most transcendent performance is probably in Pumping Iron, a 1977 documentary wherein he aces the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger, alpha-male bodybuilder of the Western world. The guy with the million-dollar smile and impossibly chiseled body in Pumping Iron is already a movie star; he just needed the credits to make it official.

    Schwarzenegger managed to become a huge movie star without ever becoming a particularly good actor. Before assuming his destined position as the chief executive of California, Schwarzenegger starred in a string of pop classics: Conan The Barbarian, The Terminator, Commando, Predator, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, True Lies, and Total Recall. When Schwarzenegger dies, the title of one or more of those films will likely appear in the headlines. But if Schwarzenegger died and a headline read, “Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eraser star and former California governor, was 117 years old, beloved by all,” people would wonder why the headline writer had such an inexplicable hard-on for the movie Eraser.

    Eraser has been more or less forgotten; even Schwarzenegger’s high-profile embarrassments, like Junior, Last Action Hero, and Batman & Robin, have a higher cultural profile. And Eraser was an enormous hit, grossing more than $240 million worldwide on a $100 million budget, and finishing 10th at the international box office for 1996, sandwiched between the likes of Jerry Maguire and The English Patient. For icons like Schwarzenegger, there are the movies everyone remembers, films that became part of the canon, and then there’s everything else. Despite its box-office success, Eraser unmistakably belongs in the “everything else” pile, alongside The 6th Day, End Of Days, Red Heat, and Collateral Damage, movies even Schwarzenegger himself probably can’t keep straight these days.

    In Eraser, Schwarzenegger plays yet another preternaturally efficient law-enforcement officer: U.S. Marshal John Kruger, a writhing mass of righteous muscles who, as even his worst enemies concede, is the best at what he does. Kruger is defined by a complete lack of moral ambiguity: He never seems to experience a moment of indecision, or be tempted by any of the riches the world has to offer. He doesn’t even seem to experience sexual urges. Those would only slow him down and keep him from his all-important work saving the lives of desperate people in need.

    Kruger isn’t just an unusually pure good guy; he’s practically ass-kicking Jesus, though even Jesus had his moment of doubt on the cross. Also, Jesus had those disciples helping him out; as Kruger sternly but compassionately asserts more than once, he always works alone. (So in some ways, Kruger is actually better than Jesus.)

    Kruger’s specialty is faking the deaths of government witnesses to protect them, “erasing” their pasts to protect their futures. He creates untruths for the sake of the public good, and in return, the people he saves worship him like a god and help this solitary figure out whenever he’s in a bind. Kruger’s latest case involves protecting whistle-blower Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), a high-level executive at weapons manufacturer Cyrez. Lee is concerned that her company is planning to sell a revolutionary new railgun, one that can see through walls, fire lasers, and do all kinds of wicked-cool shit to terrorists.

    Early in the film, villainous James Cromwell hisses to Lee, “This isn’t the Red Cross! We make weapons! Things that kill people! If the government isn’t prepared to pay the price for them, it’s my job to find someone who will!” Shortly afterward, he puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. Cromwell is an Academy Award-nominated actor, but in his one scene, he’s called upon to be a flesh-and-blood comic-book character who speaks in hyperbole that wouldn’t be out of place in panels written by Stan Lee.

    Eraser was Russell’s follow-up to the smash-hit comic-book adaptation The Mask and is, if anything, even more cartoonish and over-the-top. Eraser lacks pretty much all the qualities that define action movies of genuine quality, including, but not limited to, genuine quality. It isn’t spare and minimalist, like an early John Carpenter movie, or operatic and philosophical, like masterpieces by John Woo or Sam Peckinpah. Eraser never sets out to be anything other than a big, dumb movie, which helps explain why it succeeds. When you set the bar this low, it’s hard not to soar over it.

    While on a plane, Kruger discovers that his mentor within the agency, U.S Marshal Robert DeGuerin (James Caan, picking up a paycheck and killing a whole bunch of people), is a mole intent on selling Cyrez’s super-weapon to terrorists. In the time-honored tradition of villains, DeGuerin drugs Kruger, then explains his entire evil plan to him, in hopes that Kruger will bring him and his evil minions to Lee, who is in hiding. Kruger then opens the emergency exit, hurtles a seat into the engine, causing it to blow up, then tosses an emergency parachute out in front of him and exits the plane.

    For anyone else, falling out of an airplane without a parachute would represent an instant death sentence. For John Kruger, however, it merely puts him at a slight disadvantage. It speaks to the wonderful excess of Eraser that the filmmakers saw a U.S. marshal falling out of a crashing plane without a parachute as the mere beginning of a set-piece.

    Kruger miraculously retrieves the emergency parachute while hurtling through the air at breakneck speed, and DeGuerin orders the pilot to chase after him in the crashing plane. In an astonishing act of concentration and focus, Kruger manages to pull out a gun and successfully fire it into the cockpit of the airplane crashing toward him, preventing it from hitting him as he soars through the air like some sort of man-god. Eventually Kruger comes to earth, landing on a car at a junkyard, no worse for wear. For Kruger, falling out an airplane, retrieving a parachute while hurtling toward the ground, and shooting out the cockpit of an airplane trying to murder him is more or less a typical day at the office. Nothing to go home and blog about.

    Eraser lives and dies by its set-pieces, and it isn’t long until Kruger, having shaken off that unfortunate business on the airplane, gets into a shoot-out with the bad guys at the zoo he earlier designated as a meeting place with Lee. The sequence exists, preposterously but gloriously, just for the moment where Schwarzenegger shoots a hilariously fake CGI alligator—these were the dark days of CGI, when the most anybody aspired to was a Clutch Cargo level of realism—then quips, “You’re luggage.”

    What’s great about this scene, beyond the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger shoots a hilariously fake CGI alligator and then quips, “You’re luggage,” is that Kruger eschews the more obvious zinger: “See you later, alligator!” Also, Kruger’s humor is lost on the alligator, which is dead and all, though it’s possible that its spirit floated above its body for a moment, conceding, “That was a pretty good zinger.” In this moment, the always-slippery line separating Schwarzenegger from popular parodies like The Simpsons’ Rainier Wolfcastle, star of the McBain films, disappears completely.

    Eraser might as well be a McBain movie, though McBain has better one-liners than the Eraser screenwriters give Schwarzenegger. Instead, Eraser leaves the funny business to the late Robert Pastorelli, who is graced here with an “and” credit, which generally signals that the name attached to it is a notable character and/or played by a notable actor. Pastorelli, then co-starring on Murphy Brown, is set up as the fan favorite who steals the show from the writhing mass of muscles at its center. In other words, Eraser wants Pastorelli’s comic mobster-in-hiding to be Eraser’s equivalent of Tom Arnold in True Lies, a film that transformed the public’s opinion of Arnold from universal contempt to a certain grudging admiration. In True Lies and Eraser, Arnold and Pastorelli fill similar roles; they’re the audience surrogate, the guy next door with the sharp sense of humor who helps the impossibly powerful, perfect hero save humanity.

    As my colleague Matt Singer pointed out to me, Eraser, a film about a man who makes inconvenient truths disappear for the greater good, was made roughly around the time Schwarzenegger began an affair with his housekeeper, which produced a secret son and later destroyed his marriage and damaged his political reputation. In real life, Schwarzenegger is clearly a man of secrets, of powerful passions. But in Eraser, Kruger’s dialogue never expresses anything about him as a man; it’s just a means of conveying the information necessary to move the plot from one point to the next. Schwarzenegger has chosen three professions—world-class body-builder, movie star, and politician—where he’s constantly on display. He understandably prefers the fantasy of himself as a selfless servant of the public good over the complicated, incriminating truth.

    Eraser, while patently ridiculous, appeals directly to the lizard part of audiences’ brains that wants to see Arnold Schwarzenegger fire giant super-guns and murder dangerous reptiles in a lighthearted, quip-intensive fashion. Eraser clumsily but thoroughly pleasured that portion of my brain, and if it’s unlikely I will remember much about the movie beyond the airplane scene, “You’re luggage,” and the underwhelming comedy stylings of the painter from Murphy Brown, that’s because a big, dumb Arnold Schwarzenegger popcorn movie called Eraser is custom-designed to be forgotten.


  44. I admit I like Eraser. It’s by no means a great movie like Terminator or Predator or Total Recall, but it’s still a solid, fun action flick that goes solidly in the win column for Schwarzenegger, in my opinion. Eraser is interesting, in a way, because even if Arnold didn’t know it at the time, Eraser would serve as the end of an era for him. In ’96 he was still a big box office draw, matter of fact Eraser made just over 100 Million domestically, and it may sound quaint nowadays but back then 100M was considered the magic number to reach at the box office to be considered a blockbuster. Oh, what quaint days those were. Nowadays, two decades later, the biggest releases make a hundred million over a single weekend. Can you believe that kids, 100 Million used to be a blockbuster!

    But yeah, Schwarzenegger delivered another box office home run in ’96 with an entertaining-if-not-great action flick. Of course, he did some real damage to his career the following year by doing the mega-stinker Batman & Robin in ’97, then took the next two years off presumably to spend a good amount of that $25 Million he was paid to do said stinkaroo movie, then when he finally returned in ’99 it was with the disappointing End of Days, and by then his era as King of the Box Office was over. Hisonly other real box office winner after this was Terminator 3 in 2003, which was seven long years later, so Eraser really was the end of an era for him.


    • Very true. $100 mil was the magic number in the 90s. Today, it’s a mid-size production budget. WTHH to the industry? I remember liking Eraser well enough. Better than I expected to frankly. I have never made an effort to rewatch it. I doubt it would hold up very well for me. But it really was the last hurrah for Schwarzenegger as the world’s biggest movie star. Term 3 was a hit, but more of a desperation move by that point. Eraser was Arnold flexing his muscles one last time.


      • I just finished watching True Lies, and it holds up very well, the film is still wildly entertaining. And funny too, funnier than most probably remember. Schwarzenegger is in top form here, showing off both his action and comedic chops to full effect. James Cameron as director always was able to bring the best out of Schwarzenegger, as proven here. True Lies was a blockbuster in 1994, one of the top hits of the year in America and the 3rd biggest film worldwide. This was Schwarzenegger when he was still one of the bigggest movie stars on the planet, with his last big box office blockbuster. For many years afterward, both Schwarzenegger and Cameron talked about doing a True Lies 2. For a few years, at least, it seemed like a certainty.

        Of course, once Titanic released and broke box office records, Cameron seemed to have retired for the next decade or so, and despite Cameron still talking it up in the following years, True Lies 2 never materialized. A shame for Schwarzenegger’s career, I do think if Cameron had quickly followed up Titanic with True Lies 2 in let’s say 1999 or 2000, it certainly would have given Arnold a big career boost just when he needed it most. It’s an interesting case of ‘what if’.


        • True Lies was a remake of a French comedy. So, it has comedy as its roots. It’s a bit of a weird hybrid. French farce combined with a Schwarzenegger action vehicle. Cameron pulls it all together with a deft hand. I think it’s some of Cameron’s best work.

          The big loser was Tom Arnold. He spent at least a decade trying to get Cameron back for True Lies 2. The first movie very nearly made him a respected supporting actor. He was counting on the sequel but it never happened.

          On the whole, I think I’m glad TL2 never happened. The first movie told a complete story. There was no need for a follow-up.


        • Yeah, “True Lies” was Arnold’s best film (I mean Tom, but I just wanted to type it out like this, to make it kinda “goofy ha ha”). Seriously though, after that film, Tom Arnold ended up headlining films such as “Carppol” and Big Bully” (films that if found on cable during a lull do the job, but also instantly forgettable). Also, he was a panelist on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” (which was a a decent late night sports show, bottom line).
          Anyway, I think “True Lies” is a fantastic film, and also am glad there were no sequels; it just would have been diminishing returns.


        • Why True Lies 2 never happened:

          James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger scored a big hit with True Lies. And yet, despite rumors, they never made True Lies 2…

          Upon its release in 1994, James Cameron’s True Lies was said to be the film to put whatever nails needed putting in the coffin of the James Bond series. It was an easy conclusion to reach at the time, not least because 007 had been in limbo since 1989’s Licence To Kill. Of course, 1995’s GoldenEye would, not for the last time, see Bond reinvent itself to cope with more modern threats (as Daniel Craig’s Bond has done in the Jason Bourne era).

          True Lies, however, was all set up to launch a brand new spy series. It gave Arnold Schwarzenegger a slightly different role, and a very sturdy horse, and Cameron proved that he was the director who could get the most out of him.

          I can’t say I was ever a massive fan of True Lies in truth, and tonally it feels a backwards step from Cameron’s other big movies. But it was a huge hit, grossing over $370m at a point when very few films got anywhere near that number.

          Unsurprisingly, sequel talk began.

          James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger were both interested in putting another one together, and both independently had chatted about the project. That said, Cameron’s next film would end up taking an inordinate amount of time. He moved from True Lies to his long-cherished Titanic movie, a film that was time-intensive to begin with, before the heavily-reported delays to the movie kicked in.

          Titanic’s eventual release at the end of 1997 turned Cameron’s career in a different direction, not for the first time. It became the first film to ever break $600m at the American box office, won 11 Oscars, and its 3D re-release in 2012 pushed its cinema takings over the $2bn mark. Only Cameron’s Avatar, made a decade later, has ever beaten that.

          That said, there still seemed to be a plan to follow Titanic with True Lies 2, and that was said at one point to be Cameron’s next project. However, the attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, on September 11th 2001, changed his mind.

          Cameron has said several times over the past decade that this was the point where he decided that it’d be wrong to press ahead with True Lies 2.

          And that seemed to be that.

          However, rumors kept springing up. Back in 2009, ahead of his huge success with Avatar, James Cameron was part of a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. It was to promote the film that would go on to gross over $2.5bn worldwide, but a member of the audience that day asked him about True Lies 2. Cameron’s answer was that Arnold Schwarzenegger was tied up being Governor of California, but “who knows after that”.

          Further fuel was poured on the fire by Tom Arnold. He went on to reveal that once Schwarzenegger’s term of office was up, work was set to begin on True Lies 2.

          That said, at the time, Ain’t It Cool News got in touch with James Cameron to find out if Tom Arnold was correct. “I think Tom was joking,” he wrote. “There are no plans for a True Lies 2. I don’t know about the creative direction thing… I’m always down for a good action/comedy (actually we always classified the film as a ‘domestic epic’). But since September 11, I’ve never felt comfortable generating laughs with nuke-toting Islamic fundamentalist terrorists. True Lies, even though it has a cautionary thread underneath the pratfalls, is in a strange way a product of a more innocent time”.

          And that’s been the cycle ever since. A rumor springs up, sometimes with Tom Arnold behind it, and it gets shot down for similar reasons.

          The closest it seemed to get to more True Lies was when the possibility of a spin-off TV series bubbled up, back in September 2010. As Deadline reported, James Cameron was involved, was adapting the film for TV, and subsequently John Cena was linked with the lead role. But that never came to pass, and talk of the project has quietly fallen away.

          James Cameron’s focus, for the next five or six years at least, is going to be three more Avatar movies, and then after that, he may get around to his adaptation of Battle Angel. But it’s hard to see True Lies 2 ever happening now.

          After all, Bond is happily reinvented and more popular than ever at the box office. Arnold Schwarzenegger – who arguably needs True Lies 2 more than anyone – isn’t the bankable star that he once was (he has made murmurings that he’d be interested in the film if it ever happened, though). And James Cameron, at the points where he may have been tempted to give True Lies 2 a go, has enjoyed the two biggest movie hits of all time.

          That he’s a filmmaker who has the clout to make any film he wants, combined with his political unease over making a sequel, is what’s ultimately stopped True Lies 2 from ever happening. And it sounds like it’s stopped it for good.


        • jeffthewildman

          True Lies was an effective summation of both sides of Arnold’s career. It succeeded where Last Action Hero failed and the action and comedy elements weren’t fighting each other.


        • Largely true. I think the problem with The Last Action Hero is that even while they were making it, no one could agree on what it should be. The original script was a smart meta comedy. Arnold was probably the last guy who should have been cast in it. Because once he came on board, it became an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie which meant it had to be HUGE. Then they hired John McTiernan who had done some great action movies. But nothing in his resume said he was capable of meta comedy. Not surprisingly, McTiernan wanted to amp up the action. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger was trying to reinvent himself as a family friendly brand. So he was trying to amp down the violence. That clever script got passed around to every screenwriter in Hollywood until it was just a mess. It was being rewritten during filming. And then the entire mess had to be pulled together in the editing room before the release date which just wasn’t nearly enough time to try to salvage it.

          On the other hand, True Lies was Cameron’s vision from start to finish.


        • How 1991 nearly broke Hollywood:

          In 1991, profits were down, star wattage was dimming and Hollywood was in a panic. Simon looks back at a bad year for the studio system…

          A few weeks ago, reports were circling that Hollywood was facing a problem. The US box office had had its worst summer for over a decade, and were it not for the emergence of the Chinese market as an outlet for American films (which we wrote about a short while ago), then studios would be facing some very difficult decisions.

          To a degree, they probably already are.

          But then, we’ve been here before. And as bizarre as it may seem, given the fact that it housed some huge films, 1991 was the year that left many studio executives staring into the proverbial abyss. Box office was down, DVD was still some way away, and after a decade of recession-proof growth, 1991’s US box office collapsed.

          It’s worth putting in context that this was at a point where the US was the most crucial market for Hollywood’s output, responsible for most of the studios’ takings. So it would be no exaggeration to say that there were a lot of worried rich people when 1991’s summer box office, for instance, dropped 11% on 1990’s numbers. Furthermore, admissions in August and September 1991 were the worst they’d been since 1978. Hollywood was in trouble, and many were pinning their hopes on Steven Spielberg’s Hook, arriving at the end of the year, to give the business a shot in the arm. We’ll come to that shortly.

          But it’s worth starting with the two big hits, to explore just what went wrong.

          Schwarzenegger And Costner

          Star power still just about ruled in 1991, and Hollywood was paying more than ever to acquire it. This was off the back of a preceding decade where a good movie star bought you a hit movie, no matter how good or bad the film itself was. There were not many exceptions to that particular rule.

          Thus, Arnold Schwarzenegger found himself a then-unheard of $15m richer for making a sequel to The Terminator, with part of his salary offset by him being given a Gulfstream jet plane of his own.

          He proved good value, though. Off the back of an opening weekend of over $30m (then one of the biggest of all time), Terminator 2: Judgment Day went on to become a huge box office success. Reviews were strong, fan enthusiasm was off the chart, and even the R-rating wasn’t enough to deter queues of moviegoers from lining up to see the film multiple times. Terminator 2 would comfortably be the biggest movie of the year at the box office, with a then-gigantic $519m global haul. It not only hit big in the States, it travelled too.

          It marked a box office peak for Arnold Schwarzenegger, that only True Lies has really come close to matching since. The same year, Kevin Costner was also box office gold. Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves took $165m at the US box office. That too marked a peak for him at the US box office (unless you count Man Of Steel, but that didn’t really sell off the back of Costner’s star status). Notching up a total of $390m in all worldwide, and generating a sizeable hit single too, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves was a massive success, even more so on video.

          Yet scratch below the surface of those two huge blockbuster hits, both headlined by expensive movie stars (Schwarzenegger and Costner being the biggest film stars in the world at that point), and there were many star vehicles that didn’t perform. Expensive ones at that.

          Julia Roberts was thus hired to star in Dying Young. The result? A flop. Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in the decent Frankie And Johnny? A surprising box office disappointment. Warren Beatty’s Bugsy? Bruce Willis in The Last Boy Scout? Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry? All of them underperformed, with big above-the-line talent bills to pay.

          And then there was the most notable flop of the year, the maligned but actually rather fun Hudson Hawk (that we wrote about here). When it failed to break $20m, it would be fair to say that the fit hit the shan.

          Indies And The Middle Ground

          There were hits, just not as many of them. Orion wouldn’t be around long to enjoy The Silence Of The Lambs’ success, although Disney built on the wonderful Beauty And The Beast, which brought home no shortage of bacon. City Slickers, meanwhile, along with Robin Hood, hinted at a future where independents would prove themselves more nimble and profitable than studios. A sign of things to come: even Terminator 2 was technically an independent film.

          But even studio films that were well regarded and decent successes weren’t breaking through. Backdraft, for instance, was solid, as was Cape Fear, New Jack City, Thelma And Louise and Hot Shots! But 1991 left Hollywood. for the first time in a generation, uncertain about star power. Yet if you didn’t have a star, you were still exposed. Disney gambled on a major blockbuster without a movie star with The Rocketeer, and the film flopped, only to be rescued by its deserved fan base since.

          William Goldman had famously coined the term “nobody knows anything” when talking about Hollywood, and 1991 seemed to prove it. “Right now”, said then chairman of 20th Century Fox, Joe Roth, “the movie business is a disaster”.

          The Clues

          So what went wrong? 1990, after all, had been a stellar year at the US box office. Yet tellingly, the films that made the big money in that year weren’t the ones people were expecting. The big budget blockbusters were Die Hard 2: Die Harder (then the most expensive film ever made, before Terminator 2 popped up the year after), but that failed to generate as much money as Fox expected and needed (again, in pre-DVD days). It was no failure, but as with Disney’s Dick Tracy, it took a lot of money and resources to make, and didn’t offer too much return (Dick Tracy would inspire the Disney boss at the time, Jeffrey Katzenberg, to write an infamous memo, that we talked about here).

          Further star vehicles, such as Presumed Innocent, Bird On A Wire, Another 48 HRS and Days Of Thunder were offering hints that the star system was changing, as the totals for all but the first of those fell short. The status quo was already under threat.

          The big hits, and they were really big, were Home Alone, Dances With Wolves, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghost and Pretty Woman. Two of those took more than Terminator 2, at a fraction of the budget. The biggest star vehicle? Ghost probably counts, although Patrick Swayze’s name wasn’t guaranteeing box office gold at that stage. Further down the top 10, The Hunt For Red October and Total Recall were arguably buoyed by the leading names on the poster, though.

          However, what really rattled Hollywood was that it couldn’t sink $50-60m into a film with a star and get a guaranteed hit the other side with reasonable reliability. The audience was wising up, but the 1991 slate was still built around the old way of doing things.

          Crucially, Hollywood was also spending more to make films, with jaws dropping when Terminator 2’s production budget broke $100m. Even beyond that, though, spec scripts were routinely being bought for $1m+, and stars were getting points as well as upfront salaries. The bottom, at some point, had to fall out, and as Mike Medavoy, then head of TriStar Pictures observed, “we’re coming off 13 years of the most expansive growth I can remember. To a certain extent, what we’re going through is a natural reaction to the enormous spending cycle we’ve just emerged from”.

          Enormous would be right. The cost of making a summer movie, according to Premiere magazine back in 1991, had jumped 20% in a year, doubling in five (proving he always had a knack for making friends, Bruce Willis apparently blamed the cost rises on unions in a Los Angeles Times interview. Willis pocketed around $14m for The Last Boy Scout).

          Boom And Bust

          But it wasn’t just the spending. While box office receipts were slowing, so was the video boom that had helped fuel the decade of excess beforehand. Furthermore, non-US box office takings were tempered, and the American television networks were cutting costs.

          Virtually all of the key, major revenue streams for a movie were being squeezed. Not only was the audience failing to show up in the same numbers at the cinema, that was being reflected elsewhere along the chain. Even the modest, mid-range movies were coming back flat. As Premiere wrote in that same 1991 issue, “you break even with the middle range, and make money with the hits”. But neither was really happening, and all the big studios were really offering at this stage was more of the same kind of product.

          Interestingly, Premiere also asked the heads of the Hollywood studios what needed to change to turn things around. Most agreed that the movies needed to be better, and that 1991’s summer slate had hardly been vintage (not that quality had been a block to box office gold in the years before).

          But it was Tom Pollock, then chairman of Universal Pictures, who had his crystal ball partly plugged in. Whilst his wish for lower ticket prices and cheaper films never came true, his argument that Hollywood needed fewer movies, better movies, and pay per view on demand, was pretty much on the button. As was Sony Pictures’ chief in 1991, Peter Guber. He wanted a new system of distribution, to negate the need to ship thousands of film cans around the world. Only now is he getting it.

          Hook Vs. The Addams Family

          1991 would end with a similar lesson to the one taught during 1990, that sharply brought the issue into focus. Steven Spielberg’s expensive Hook, laden with stars, was regarded as a disappointment. It made money, but as Spielberg confessed to Mark Kermode on the Kermode & Mayo Radio Five film review show, it’s the film of his that he struggles now to find anything he likes in. TriStar, having invested heavily to make the film, was then obliged to spend humungous amounts to promote it. By the time Hook’s global take of $300m was finally accrued, most of that money was already accounted for.

          Meanwhile, around the same time, the much cheaper and virtually star-free The Addams Family would make nearly as much as Hook at the US box office, just delivering a lot more profit (and that’s factoring in that it took $100m less globally too). The Addams Family was arguably a much better film, better sold, and offered something different to the rest of the market. That was supposed to be Hook’s job. As it would happen, Steven Spielberg would go on to be part of the solution.

          What Happened Next

          What’s interesting, then, is what Hollywood did next. It was too late to affect 1992’s output by the time 1991’s numbers had come on (and the 1992 box office chart demonstrated similar issues), and so 1993 is the next logical place to look. And there’s a sense that some lessons at least had been learned.

          Looking at the summer output in particular, crucially the films were much better. Spielberg, for a start, led the way, dispensing with stars and focusing on story and impact for his groundbreaking (and ground-shuddering) Jurassic Park. He followed it at Christmas with Schindler’s List, arguably adding up to his best movie year ever.

          Elsewhere, interestingly, star vehicles delivered, but generally off the back of good to excellent reviews. More to the point: the star movies were notably better. Robin Williams powered Mrs. Doubtfire to success, Harrison Ford took on The Fugitive, Tom Cruise battled The Firm, Clint Eastwood headlined In The Line Of Fire and Tom Hanks joined Meg Ryan for Sleepless In Seattle. Each of them hit big. Each of them this time around was a studio film too.

          Even the mid-range was improving and working. Sylvester Stallone blasted back with Cliffhanger, Tom Hanks gambled on Philadelphia, Bill Murray starred in Groundhog Day, and Julia Roberts found a hit with The Pelican Brief. Each turned in good business, and in two cases, acclaim. Groundhog Day, of course, remains a flat-out classic.

          The notable underperformer? In an indication of how things had changed, that was the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero. A pity, as it’s an interesting failure, but the film just scraped to $50m at the US box office, landing 26th on the annual chart. Just two years before, that would have been unthinkable. The Schwarzenegger phenomenon was nearing its end.

          But then others things had changed. Studios once gambled on stars for two reasons. Firstly, they increased your chances of a hit. Secondly, they gave you someone to blame if the film failed. After all, if you’ve hired a big star and the film bombed, what more could you have done? It’s not your fault that an expensive star attraction had fallen out of favor with their audience, is it? As the 90s progressed though, that wouldn’t wash, and things gradually changed. 1999, I’d argue, would ultimately prove pivotal, and we covered that here.

          The Lessons Of ’91

          But were the lessons really learned? Well, I’d argue not really. Hollywood got a shock and a half in 1991, but for the most part, it just carried on for some time with more of the same. If Arnie was available, people still stumped up (and to a degree, they still do). Budgets continued to rise (only the likes of Paramount and Disney really made a stand against that, both eventually falling in line with everyone else). Trends of movies evolved as they always did, with stars being replaced by special effects, and most blockbusters being usurped by sequels and comic book movies. But the mechanics weren’t radically altered.

          Yet what saved Hollywood, and averted the problem, was DVD. The studios found themselves awash with the cash the format generated from the late 90s, and found themselves struggling again when that bubble burst towards the end of the 2000s. Then it moved onto worldwide box office. Now, as 2014’s numbers are pored over, the search is on for a new revenue stream, but few doubt the studios will find one. The irony’s not lost that 1991 suffered numbers that left people looking back at the similar problem 23 years early in 1978. Now, in 2014, we find ourselves looking back 23 years again, to see what 1991’s box office had to teach. If the cycle continues, we’ll see you back here in 2037 for more of the same.

          For that Premiere article we referred to earlier ended with a quote from the late, legendary film producer Don Simpson. He argued that “the rules never change. They only appear to change”.

          And as Hollywood goes through the same cycle again, Simpson might just have a point there.


    • I don’t know if I’ve said this before, but it seems like “Batman & Robin” kind of officially marked the point in which audiences really started to turn on Arnold. I’m not trying to lay most of the blame on Arnold (I mean Joel Schumacher actively pursued him and Arnold wound up getting a huge pay day out of the whole deal), but I suppose you could tell that the filmmakers retrofitted Mr. Freeze’s characterization otherwise serious and tragic (as evident in “Batman: The Animated Series” for which “Batman & Robin” borrows elements from) to better suit or tailor to Arnold’s larger-than-life on-screen persona.

      It’s easy to believe that had Arnold Schwarzenegger not been in the movie and a more rounded actor like Patrick Stewart (who seemed to be the real “fan choice” to play Mr. Freeze at the time), the movie wouldn’t have been so embarrassingly campy and cheesy (to the point of self-parody). It was as if Arnold was at that point, kind of coasting on his reputation if you will. Nobody really took into account that he was pretty much going to play a utter bastardization of Mr. Freeze, which wound up insulting and alienating a large portion of Batman fans.

      The sad irony about this is that say what you well about his acting abilities, but by most accounts, Arnold Schwarzenegger has usually demonstrated having a fairly keen eye towards scripts or concepts (e.g. “The Terminator”, “Total Recall”, “True Lies”, etc.). For example, w/ the first “Terminator”, when he read the script, he understood that he would be best suited to play the Terminator instead of the heroic Kyle Reese character, which Michael Biehn ultimately played. I guess my whole point is that based on his past history, Arnold “should’ve known better” when he got a hold of the “Batman & Robin” script.


      • Wouldn’t it be great to hear Patrick Stewart deliver all of those cheesy puns? That would have been awesome.


        • I think that the filmmakers behind “Batman & Robin” (namely, the screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman) completely misunderstood why made Arnold Schwarzenegger’s one-liners in his past movies work. They were usually within the context of him coming off as being “cool” (I know, I know) and “badass” (e.g. just after he has dispatched his opponent).


      • Wouldn’t it be great to hear Patrick Stewart deliver all of those cheesy puns? That would have been awesome.


  45. Both screenshots are from “Conan the Destroyer” instead of “Conan the Barbarian”, where Arnold pumped himself up more than he did for the first film and wears a fur speedo for most of the movie. In the original, he actually had to slim down and tone himself differently to use the sword. It had a much grittier, more naturalistic feel than the second film. Why do people keep confusing the two?


    • Thanks for the heads up. The Conan the Barbarian picture isn’t the one I meant to use. Obviously, it’s from the wrong flick. I’ll switch it out. Thanks again!


    • Terminator Genisys plot sounds bloody awful…

      Sarah Connor isn’t the innocent she was when Linda Hamilton first sported feathered hair and acid-washed jeans in the role. Nor is she Hamilton’s steely zero body-fat warrior in 1991’s T2. Rather, the mother of humanity’s messiah was orphaned by a Terminator at age 9. Since then, she’s been raised by (brace yourself) Schwarzenegger’s Terminator—an older T-800 she calls “Pops”—who is programmed to guard rather than to kill. As a result, Sarah is a highly trained antisocial recluse who’s great with a sniper rifle but not so skilled at the nuances of human emotion.

      “Since she was 9 years old, she has been told everything that was supposed to happen,” says Ellison. “But Sarah fundamentally rejects that destiny. She says, ‘That’s not what I want to do.’ It’s her decision that drives the story in a very different direction.”


  46. Arnold Schwarzenegger brings Christmas cheer and gratuitous violence in Jingle All The Way:

    For years, I knew Jingle All The Way, the 22nd top-grossing film of 1996, primarily as a running gag on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. Whenever the show’s faux-Arnold Schwarzenegger (a still image of the actor with the lips cut out to present the illusion that he was talking) appeared on the show, he would make sure to throw in a plug for what he invariably referred to as his “smash-hit holiday classic Jingle All The Way.” It was a profoundly silly bit that never failed to make me laugh.

    It wasn’t until today, however, that I got to experience Jingle All The Way myself. Boy oh boy, am I kicking myself for all those wasted years, because it is one of the most mindlessly kinetic, over-the-top, just plain batshit-insane Christmas movies ever made. Schwarzenegger stars as Howard Langston, an ordinary man with the physique of a world-class bodybuilder who causes what appears to be anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars’ worth of damage through his city in a mad bid to prove to his worth to his son. Not since the Blues Brothers destroyed Illinois has someone gone so far to such screamingly pointless ends.

    Jingle All The Way begins by establishing Howard as the worst kind of human garbage: a dad who routinely misses seminal moments in the young life of his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd, only three years away from becoming the most reviled child actor in human history, thanks to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace) because he’s out providing for his family financially. In this case, that means missing his son’s latest karate meet, an oversight that in films like these qualify as child abuse punishable by death and/or life in prison.

    In an early indication of where the film’s head is at, when Jamie tells his dad that everyone at school will think he’s a loser if he doesn’t get the TurboMan action figure, Howard refrains from telling his son that he shouldn’t care about the opinions about such materialistic little monsters. Instead, he insists he will get the TurboMan action figure, even if that means destroying all humanity. The slick-talking, glad-handing Howard promises to make it up to his snotty, entitled creep of a son by getting him a toy whose scarcity has already become the stuff of popular legend. Howard heads to a toy store to try to buy the doll, but he’s greeted with jeering laughter by fellow customers who cannot even conceive that Howard doesn’t realize that the Hope Diamond is easier to procure than a TurboMan this late in the Christmas season.

    This sets Howard off on a nightmarish, migraine-inducing (both for himself and the audience) trek through the little-known seedy underbelly of the Christmas world. He tries to buy a toy from a scuzzy bootlegger played by Schwarzenegger’s old Red Heat co-star James Belushi, only to realize the Belush is selling bogus, stolen merchandise. Howard develops a friendship/rivalry with postman Myron Larabee (the once mildly popular stand-up comic and sitcom star Sinbad), who agrees with him that if children don’t get the specific toy they desire for Christmas, their faith in humanity will crumble and their lives will become one long slog toward death row.

    One of the many perplexing aspects of Jingle All The Way is that it’s ostensibly a change of pace for Schwarzenegger, who was best-known at the time for his ultra-violent action movies. Yet the film contains more kicking, punching, lunging, flailing, tripping, and all-around violent slapstick than anything the action icon has ever done. True, all this frenetic violence is in service of procuring an action figure for a small boy rather than taking down a Mexican drug cartel, but the wall-to-wall violence, however goofy, is nevertheless pervasive and repellent. Even when playing an ordinary guy who just wants to do right by his family for Christmas, Schwarzenegger is a whirl of flying fists and unthinking destruction.

    Like Kindergarten Cop, Twins, and Junior before it, Jingle All The Way was designed to highlight Schwarzenegger’s comic chops. I happen to think Schwarzenegger is a hilarious man, but he is not a hilarious actor—his onscreen comic arsenal is limited to bugging out his eyes in wide-eyed horror when something does not go his way. And nothing goes right for our overmatched protagonist in Jingle All The Way: When he breaks into a radio studio to demand a toy from a DJ played by Martin Mull, he’s informed that the contest he’s competing for is merely for a certificate for a TurboMan doll, not the real thing. And what could be more worthless than a mere guarantee for a hotly desired consumer good? Meanwhile, Howard’s wife Liz (Rita Wilson) is pursued sexually by neighbor Ted Maltin (a smarmy Phil Hartman), a recent divorcee who wants to assure Liz she’ll always have a place in his heart—and bed—once she realizes Howard is the kind of guy who seldom makes good on his promises.

    Directed by Brian Levant (The Flintstones, Beethoven), Jingle All The Way is one of the most mindlessly flailing films I’ve ever seen. It’s paced like a runaway train, making Crank and Requiem For A Dream feel glacial by comparison. Perhaps that’s because if it slowed down and let viewers really think over the film’s actions for even a moment, they would realize how insultingly idiotic it is to nearly destroy an entire city for the sake of some snot-nosed brat getting the toy he wants on Christmas. The film sometimes takes on the quality of a fever dream, as when, apropos of nothing, Howard is mistaken for the actor playing TurboMan in the big Christmas parade, and outfitted in a suit that includes a working jet-pack, which of course goes off at precisely the wrong time. This imperils not just Howard, but also all the children, parents, and other revelers who are nearly knocked over or driven into walls by the giant man careening about in his one-of-a-kind jetsuit.

    By assuming the role of TurboMan, Howard is given the opportunity to give a special TurboMan to one lucky boy along the parade route, and in a 180 from everything that’s come before, the status-and-materialism-obsessed Jamie decides to give the action figure to a friend, because he has the “real” TurboMan at home. That last-minute turnabout makes Jingle All The Way part of a curious subsection of Christmas movies where people treat each other with unspeakable cruelty for 80 minutes before deciding in the last five or so that Christmas really is about love, family, and generosity.

    Oddly enough, the film Jingle All The Way most reminded me of was Robert Zemeckis’ infinitely better, but similarly manic directorial debut, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, a Beatles-free Beatles movie about the crazed machinations that ensue when a gang of teenyboppers learn that that objects of their desire are in town, and revert to an almost animalistic state in an attempt to reach them. Jingle All The Way features humanity at its worst, and it’s tempting to imagine how a genuine satirist like Zemeckis or Bad Santa director Terry Zwigoff would have used the premise to explore the dark, eviscerating heart of capitalism through the seemingly wholesome prism of a dad’s desire to get a nice gift for his son. But Jingle All The Way doesn’t have a satirical bone in its body. It’s a live-action cartoon that accidentally depicts the yuletide season as a Kafka-esque nightmare where every step forward is met by three steps back. Its sole, fuzzy message seems to be that a man must become a god—or at least a superhero—to make up for the unforgivable transgression of missing a kid doing karate.

    Then again, I was impressed by the film’s unstoppable velocity, the way it keeps careening forward with little on its mind but reaching the finish line as quickly and mindlessly as possible. Perhaps I’m being just a little too hard on it. When it comes right down to it, the film is about two raging assholes (Howard and Myron) violently competing with each other for the sake of procuring a meaningless bit of consumer product that will probably be discarded or forgotten by February. If that isn’t a potent metaphor for the rancid materialism of Christmas, I don’t know what is.

    And because Christmas is about mindless tradition above all, audiences longing for a continuation of the Jingle All the Way saga have now been bestowed the gift of Jingle All The Way 2, a long-in-the-works sequel starring Larry The Cable Guy, which came out earlier this week. Schwarzenegger doesn’t return, of course, but the spirit of mercenary greed will undoubtedly remain the same.


  47. I’d just like to know what the hell happened to his face? I know he’s getting old, but the last couple of years he’s suddenly started looking kinda weird, like he had work done and it didn’t work. Even my mother couldn’t stop commenting on it while we were watching The Expendables 3.

    Btw – I always thought Last Action Hero was great. Never understood why it didn’t fare better. I think it suffered from a similar problem to Starship Troopers – either it wasn’t what audiences were expecting, or somehow they didn’t get that it was a satire.


    • Plastic surgery isn’t just for actresses. Stallone’s been having work done forever. If Schwarzenegger had his face done, he needs to get the number of Stallone’s plastic surgeon. Not that Stallone doesn’t look weird. But it’s better than whatever is going on with the Governator.

      I think part of the problem with The Last Action Hero is that a lot of the people making the movie didn’t get that it was a satire. There’s some good satire in the movie. But you have to wade through some pretty lazy action movie stuff to get to it. The movie failed at the box office because it tried to be all things to all audiences ultimately satisfying no one. Arnold wanted to make a family friendly movie because that’s where he wanted to take his career. The studio wanted a big budget Arnold movie just like every single hit he had made before. And the script was a satire of the kind of action movies the studio wanted to make. It’s a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.

      Liked by 1 person


    Having recently finally watched ESCAPE PLAN. Which seemed like an ’80s fantasy of bringing two action her powerhouses together Co-starring in the same film. While not the dream project me nor either of them was probably hoping for. As truthfully they are in THE EXPENDABLES series together. In ESCAPE PLAN they spend most of the film in scenes together. While a review of that film is forthcoming. It allowed me to remember their subtle rivalry in their heyday’s. So here I present some thoughts on each and the span of their careers thus far.

    Though relax this isn’t the battle to end all. It’s more notes on if there was a fight.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to be the John Wayne of my generation. Only he lasted long enough to be partially disgraced by scandal and diminished box office returns. He is an iconic screen star and movie hero, though like Wayne a certain screen type no matter how he tries to stretch. His acting ability is never truly tested though never stood the test of time as a dramatic acting legend. He is around and he knows what we expect of him and we as an audience accept his dramatic limitations.

    Though foreign he strangely seems to stand for modern Americana working his way up from the bottom. Molding his body into a supposed modern God like figure. Aged in screen at the perfect time from young manhood to older gentleman. It makes us feel like we know him since most of his roles were starting ones. We watched him mature on screen. He embraced his stardom and wealth. Yet until late in life never Renee too arrogant. Seemed to instill all American values including wealth.

    Though because of his accent never seemed to play too many cops or government officials always more as a rebellious figure. Though whose accent was rarely explained or had excuses made for. Because of that though only appeared in a few sci-fi and fantasy movies though more of the noteworthy and financially successful ones of that era and talked able seems more a science fiction hero though the list of films TOTAL RECALL, PREDATOR, THE TERMINATOR, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY then eventually THE SIXTH DAY, and THE TERMINATOR 3, while not as good or prestigious, Are no slouches either. There were plenty of sci-fi films made but he seemed to be the only major star at the forefront of studio made memorable ones. If you include fantasy film the Conan movies and END OF DAYS

    Like Michael Jackson music he seems to try and fit in and change With the times. But seems an ill fit as his type of action star is missing and becoming extinct to a degree, but is also a familiar relic. Good in their time still entertaining. But seem so distant from today’s special effects extravaganzas. Though you never doubt his talent and drive. He just seems a hold out dorm a previous era who is trying to change his image to a degree to stay in fashion. He doesn’t seem hell bent to be willing to break to adhere to the audiences to make them go to see his type of films. Like Sylvester Stallone who keeps making films his way that luckily there is still more of an older audience for though with diminishing results. Which he seems to refuse to accept as he tried going back to drama and tried comedy. Which got him noticed but never truly acclaimed or worked out. Even his successful modern action films there is a gimmick, either an all star extravaganza or over the top violent. Or a sequel to one of his successful earlier films. I believe Stallone realizes his purest fit is in the action films of yesteryear and if he has to be one of the few making them so be it. Which is admirable to a degree. Yet also maybe misguided. Like s King after previous victories. Schwarzenegger seems perfectly content to work when he wants of her wants and do what is required of the role. Even if it means tweaking his on screen image… A bit.

    Which is why I believe though there was a competition Schwarzenegger seemed to win back then and still. He just came off as more successful as he went with the ride and wasn’t as focused and determined as Stallone was. While Stallone never acknowledged the competition. He seems behave made peace as they seem to co-star once in awhile in moves together. Which was always dreamed about in their heyday. Now is a gift that seems a bit too little too late. Though at the height of their competition in the old days Stallone seemed to always be in the corner jealous and scheming. Now he is doing what he should have done back then. Instead of just accepting paychecks for questionable starring roles STOP OR MY MOTHER WILL SHOOT, OVER THE TOP. Now he is writing and/or directing his one films rather then taking what is offered to him as much and only doing the necessary amount of work. After all he still appears in movies like GRUDGE MATCH, but to be fair he gets to co-star with acting legend Robert DeNiro.

    Though Arnold will always reign supreme as an action hero. I was always personally partial to Bruce Willis what I admired about him is that he could go for comedy to drama And maybe comedy if he wanted to. He was charming but also had a certain gruff attitude.

    Schwarzenegger. Stallone and Willis were always big action stars. The trifecta. You could include Mel Gibson but he always tried different genres. Not necessarily trying to be an actor more then they did,But trying to be more of an all around star. Where as the trifecta seemed to realize where they were best used and had no qualms of being more or doing more then asked. Even if Stallone wanted not only control, but to write or at least have intellectual property credit. Schwarzenegger always came out on top and more successful then Stallone who actually won an Oscar for writing and was either writer or director or both on his own films and one that didn’t even star him. Though Stallone’s weakness was he believed his own hype a bit too much and always acted like he was making great art. Then he seemed to take on too many paycheck roles. That diminished his brand to a degree. They were mostly filled with testosterone and went with the times, but have aged badly and now seem not only dated but embarrassing to watch. He wanted variety. Bruce Willis was more the wisecracking Everyman hero. Like a modern day Humphrey Bogart. As an audience member you could identify with him or wanted to be as cool as him or be friends with him at least. Even if he seems to possess a dangerous hostility that comes out only when provoked and forced, still, always managed to keep his sense of humor.

    It seems for now while Schwarzenegger seems like he is willing to try new and different things that essentially all boil back to mostly action and thrillers. Stallone has tried to new things, but seems intent if he is going to star in a film. For it to be either a sequel to one of his best known hits (RAMBO, ROCKY) if not he will try to make action films that harken back to his successful days (BULLET TO THE HEAD). Schwarzenegger seems to only do this with the TERMINATOR series. As some of the properties he can’t exhaust as far as sequels as they moved on without him and thankfully others stand perfect as stand alones.

    Strangely Stallone reminds me of George Clooney in the fact that his films while memorable never seem to be hits they were supposed to be, yet still finds starring roles. Not that it’s a bad thing. They are of the lucky few.


  49. forrestbracket

    maggie dramatic role for anrold coming out what do u think of this lebeau


  50. One can only hope.


  51. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s quote of “I think gay marriage should be between a man and a woman” makes WatchMojo’s list of Another Top 10 Dumb Things Said by Celebrities


  52. From ‘Twins’ To ‘Maggie,’ The Reinvention of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

    By Mike Ryan • 05.07.15 #Arnold Schwarzenegger

    For the longest time, my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger film was Twins. Now, I had seen movies like Terminator and Predator (and probably even The Running Man) more times — those movies seemed to have a longer cable television lifespan — but Twins always made me happy. It made me happy because here’s Schwarzenegger, known at that point only for bodybuilding and action movies, trying to make a comedy. He was really trying, and I’ve always had a soft spot when someone is trying something different.

    Twins, only Ivan Reitman’s second movie after Ghostbusters, was on cable recently and, watching it for the first time in a few years, we now kind of take Schwarzenegger’s charm for granted, but this was a new thing in 1988. It was only after Twins that Schwarzenegger’s action films were integrated with real humor. Retroactively, some of the lines in his earlier films became funnier, now that we kind of knew Schwarzenegger was in on the joke. But that was only after that he was being written funnier parts; Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in Judgment Day is a much funnier killer robot than the killer robot from the first film.

    Looking back, maybe Twins wasn’t that big of a risk. If it would have failed, I suspect Terminator 2: Judgment Day would have still happened. But it would have been embarrassing for Schwarzenegger, proving he was nothing but a one trick pony. And, sure, people accuse him of that anyway, but he is legitimately funny in Twins and it’s a shame he didn’t do more straightforward comedies that weren’t Kindergarten Cop (more of an action-comedy) or weren’t schlock like Junior (which is almost not a comedy, despite the premise) and Jingle All the Way.

    Schwarzenegger’s return to acting since his stint as the governor of California has not gone particularly well. (And it’s still a little weird; could you imagine if Reagan left office and just started making movies with monkeys again?) There’s nothing particularly memorable about The Last Stand or Sabotage, and Expendables 3 — the only film of the three in which Schwarzenegger plays a large role in the film — made the least amount of money of the three Expendables movies. (Escape Plan, another movie in which Schwarzenegger played second fiddle to Stallone, was a modest hit.) Worst of all, Schwarzenegger isn’t really trying. He’s acting like an athlete returning from an injury who just wants to ease back into things before actively trying to push himself. To this point, Schwarzenegger’s strategy has pretty much been to show up and look at the camera as if he’s saying, “Hey, it’s me! Can you believe I’m back? Well, believe it, because here I am.”

    This narrative changes with the release of Maggie, a movie in which Schwarzenegger really is pushing himself to do something different. And, like with Twins, I find it impossible not to root for him.

    Abigail Breslin plays Maggie, a teenage girl who has been bitten by a person infected with a deadly disease (from this point on, “person infected with a deadly disease” will be refereed to as “zombie,” even though that’s not a term from the film) and only has a few weeks before the disease also turns her into a zombie. Schwarzenegger plays her father, Wade, who pulls some strings to get her out of quarantine so that they can spend a few precious last weeks together.

    It’s almost a shame this movie is about zombies at all, because I fear there’s a zombie fatigue setting in that might automatically alienate people when they hear “Arnold Schwarzenegger zombie movie,” because even having seen Maggie, my first instinct is to think of something different after reading those four words together. And for people thinking that this is going to be a movie in which we watch Arnold Schwarzenegger kill hundreds of zombies, they will be disappointed to learn that there’s only one true, jump scare-type scene in which Schwarzenegger has to fight a zombie. He does kill others, but it’s not “cool.” It’s played as sad and depressing. This is a disease that is slowly taking loved ones away, while the infected are 100 percent conscious of what’s slowly happening to them. This is a grim movie.

    The thing is, without Schwarzenegger’s involvement, there’s not a lot here. It’s an okay enough story, but basically it’s just about a dying girl’s last few weeks alive, with the added twist that she’s going to be a zombie. There are some interesting themes here, in that we rarely learn much about zombies before they become zombies — the transformation is usually much quicker in other stories — but it’s basically a movie about saying goodbye. The only element that makes it truly interesting is Schwarzenegger’s presence.

    Just like how I felt the first time I saw Twins, I have never seen Schwarzenegger try to do something like this before. There’s little action, there’s little to no humor; what Schwarzenegger is trying to pull off is some sort of solemn gravitas. The thing is, he actually succeeds, but only because of everything we already know about Arnold Schwarzenegger before we see Maggie. And I suppose this played into why Twins was so effective; there’s an old switcheroo of expectations at work, which is appealing.

    I almost hate that Schwarzenegger will be in his fourth Terminator movie later this summer. It kind of undercuts this almost narrative that Schwarzenegger is somehow adapting his onscreen persona to something different as he approaches 70. Then again, maybe that’s not fair. No one is mad that Harrison Ford, an actor already in his 70s, is playing Han Solo again. Regardless, the fact that Schwarzenegger is in a movie like Maggie at all is an interesting look at perhaps his next chapter.


  53. Arnold Schwarzenegger Looks Back At The Roles That Redefined His Career:

    The action icon has broken into acting, then stardom, then comedy, then politics, and back again.


  54. Stallone and Schwarzenegger: how their action heroes differ:

    What sets Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone’s action heroes apart from one another?

    There are spoilers within for Predator, Terminator 2, Cobra, the Rambo and Rocky films, and Big Momma’s House 2 (just seeing if you’re paying attention there).

    Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. At a certain point, you cannot think of one without the other. Action icons of the ’80s, they are as synonymous with 80spop culture as the side ponytail, hair metal and New Coke. For action fans they are yin and yang, the flip sides of the same sweaty bicep. While they bear some superficial similarities, their star personas are actually quite different.

    Stallone – The Underdog

    Though he boasts a bulky physique comparable to the former Mr. Universe, the essence of Stallone’s appeal is that he is inherently an underdog — this is why he is perfect for Rocky Balboa, and miscast in Cobra and Judge Dredd.

    Stallone, unlike Schwarzenegger, is not suited to playing pure archetypes. In his action movies, he has to overcome adversity to transform himself into a superman. Therein lies the key difference between their respective star personae. While Schwarzenegger is presented from the outset as a ready-made hero, Stallone begins as a man who has to turn himself into one — while this is partly a result of his success in Rocky, it is also indicative of their respective talents.

    Though his career choices include a extensive list of car wrecks (Rhinestone, Over The Top, Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot), Stallone is a talented actor, as his turns in Copland and Rocky Balboa have proved. As a trained actor, Stallone is capable of playing out the beats of a character arc; the inverse of Schwarzenegger.

    The Rambo franchise (1982-2008) is Sylvester Stallone’s most successful venture into the action genre, and a good deal of the series’ appeal is based on the character of John Rambo, and the struggles he faces conform to Stallone’s underdog persona.

    Though he possesses an extensive skill set for killing, with Stallone in the role Rambo comes across as a more worldly and damaged version of Rocky Balboa, rather than just another monosyllabic brute. This focus on Rambo’s bruised humanity is highlighted in the first film in the franchise, First Blood. Rambo is a drifter who is antagonized by a sadistic, small town sheriff. After being arrested on trumped up charges, Rambo is then subjected to various indignities by the sheriff’s deputies, experiences which trigger memories of his wartime imprisonment.

    Traumatized by this melding of old and new pain, Rambo’s old survival instincts kick in and he escapes to go on a rampage against his former captors.

    Throughout First Blood, Rambo is never presented as the one-man-army he would become in the sequels. He is presented as a victim of a society that has no place for him, and does not want to accept him. In this way, Rambo is even more of an underdog than Rocky, who manages to find acceptance and love from his family and community.

    This psychological dimension would be reduced in the sequels, but the character’s past trauma continues to inform the most visceral moments of the sequels, whether its the death of Rambo’s ally Co-Bao (Julie Nickson) in Part II or (more ludicrously) his attempt at a more spiritually fulfilling life as a Buddhist in Rambo III.

    This psychological dimension is also rooted in another convention of the Rambo series: the self-surgery sequence.

    Injury and torture are key motifs in Stallone’s action movies, and are synonymous with 80s action movies as a whole. If the hero is wounded or tortured, it is ritualized as a masochistic form of spectacle. This convention is a key motif in Stallone’s work, from the brutal training and matches in Rocky to his half-deaf cop in Copland.

    In each movie of the Rambo series, Rambo has to perform self-surgery on himself. Think back to the scenes in the Rambo movies in which Rambo has to perform self-surgery. This self-surgery motif reaches its cartoonish peak with Rambo III, in which Rambo uses gunpowder to cauterize a massive hole in his side). This convention serves a similar function to a training montage — if Rambo can get through the pain, he has crossed some insane psychic barrier to regain his mojo and beat the villains.

    Stallone is a great action star, but while he is often lumped in with Schwarzenegger as a muscleman, his appeal is closer to that of Bruce Willis (John McClane) and Mel Gibson (Martin Riggs). While he lacks their sense of humor and more, uh, relatable physiques, Stallone invests characters like Rambo and Rocky with a degree of vulnerability and humanity.

    This becomes a problem when Stallone is cast in the role of a pure action hero. The best example of this disconnect is Cobra (1986). An urban action film along the lines of the Dirty Harry series, Cobra is Stallone’s attempt at a pure action archetype. Beyond the movie’s obvious flaws (covered in a recent episode of the podcast How Did This Get Made?) Cobra does not work because it negates the very things that make Stallone watchable. His eyes, the key to measuring Rambo’s pain, are covered by glasses and he is fully clothed in leather. Part of the vulnerability of his most famous characters Rocky and Rambo is that their bodies are always partially exposed.

    In Nighthawks, another action movie set in an urban environment, Stallone’s wardrobe is not used to make him look tough. During two major action sequences in Nighthawks, Stallone is even dressed in drag. Whereas Nighthawks is about an ordinary cop who is out of his depth, Cobra is about a super cop who is (literally) ready for anything.

    From his clothes, to his car, to his ridiculous arsenal, Cobra is designed to be instantly iconic — which misses the point of Stallone’s appeal as an action hero. With Schwarzenegger, we can buy him instantly as a super cop, a super warrior, or a superhero. But not Stallone. With Stallone, it’s about the character’s journey to become a superhero. That’s his essence as an action hero, and the defining element which separates him from his Austrian rival.

    Schwarzenegger – The Superhero

    While Stallone, through his performance in Rocky, will always have an innate advantage over Schwarzenegger in terms of acting ability, it was Schwarzenegger, at least in their heyday, who showed a shrewder understanding of how to best utilize his limited abilities.

    The key to why Schwarzenegger was able to outpace Stallone in the ’80s and boast a stronger filmography was an understanding of what his appeal and limitations as a performer were. Stallone at his best is basically David fighting Goliath – an ordinary man with great tenacity and talents which allow him to persevere against enemies with greater physical advantages. Schwarzenegger is closer to Hercules, a hero of great, near-supernatural strength who is tasked with ridding the world of supernatural creatures who are even powerful than he is.

    Hence the focus on high concepts and genre films. Only in an outlandish situation would someone of Schwarzenegger’s speech and physique work as a protagonist.

    Part of the fun of watching Schwarzenegger is seeing how this superman deals with a particular herculean task. There is no real need for a deep character arc or introspection in these roles. This lack of depth is partly the reason why his characters do not lend themselves to sequels as Stallone’s do (The Terminator movies do not count since he technically plays a different character in each movie).

    Predator is an example of the Schwarzenegger persona at its zenith. He opens the film as the leader of a crack team of commandos and is shown as highly competent and concerned for the wellbeing of his men — he is clearly a hero. Once the Predator turns up, the movie begins stripping Schwarzenegger of his superhuman sheen. His team are wiped out, his weapons are useless and his body, lovingly photographed by McTiernan, is inadequate to the task of defeating his alien foe.

    In the film’s extended climax, Dutch has to prove his superiority by outsmarting his foe. It is only at the climax of a Schwarzenegger movie that he can appear to be more vulnerable. Even at the climax of Terminator 2, when his T-800 is outmatched by the T-1000, his weakness and ‘injuries’ make him seem more vulnerable and sympathetic. It is only when he is placed against an enemy who is bigger and stronger than he is that Schwarzenegger makes sense as a relatable hero for an audience to root for.

    The reason why Schwarzenegger faltered in the 90s was that he seemed to forget what made him a star in the first place, and tried to make films which required a broader acting range than he was capable of – hence the lame comedies (Junior) and action flicks (End Of Days) in which he plays average guys going through the kind of redemptive character arcs that he had previously avoided.

    Unlike Stallone, who has matched his physique to blue collar characters like Rocky, Schwarzenegger is not Joe Average — his one unalloyed success of the ’90s, True Lies, proves this by having him play an American James Bond in a milieu which bridged the gap between the comic book excess of his eighties hits and the CGI-augmented, MTV-influenced carnage of the new decade.

    The most emblematic example of where Schwarzenegger went wrong is End Of Days. On release, End Of Days was seen as a comeback for Schwarzenegger after the failure of Batman And Robin and the success of his heart surgery.

    For reasons that remain baffling, Schwarzenegger elected to turn his back on his strengths as a one liner-popping muscleman and play an everyman. Jericho Cane is an over-the-hill cop with a tragic past, who drinks to mask his pain. This is a role designed for an actor, not Schwarzenegger, and the already silly pre-millennial premise is undermined by his casting.

    Even if the role been designed along the lines of Predator’s Dutch — a gifted professional with no real inner turmoil — the movie still would not work because the premise is contingent on a flawed man being tempted by the Devil.

    While the movie did not perform to expectations, Schwarzenegger continued down the path of playing ordinary heroes with bodybuilder physiques and Austrian accents. None of these projects (The 6th Day and Collateral Damage) were particularly successful, and reinforced the essential problem underpinning Schwarzenegger’s decline. While as an audience we take Schwarzenegger’s foreignness for granted, it is always in the context of him playing a role that accounts for his accent and build — a secret agent, a cyborg, or a special forces soldier. When Schwarzenegger steps too far out of his established persona, his movies suffer.

    The Heroes Return

    Ultimately, Stallone’s franchises were the basis of his comeback, while Schwarzenegger’s initial efforts (The Last Stand and Stallone co-staring Escape Plan) have thus far failed to jump start his career. Part of that has to be quality — while they have their good points, none of Schwarzenegger’s new vehicles boasted the kind of popcorn high concept that would support his outsized presence.

    And so Schwarzenegger is taking a note from Stallone and going back to the well, with a sequel/reboot to The Terminator out this year and a potential sequel to Conan The Barbarian in the works. While age may have made Schwarzenegger’s image somewhat outmoded, I would not count him out yet. Elder action heroes have had second winds before, and with the resurgent popularity of the comic book, fantasy and science fiction genres, the potential for the kind of comic excess Schwarzenegger is remembered for remains a possibility.


  55. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Every Movie Ranked From Worst To Best:

    A look back at the career of one of Hollywood’s biggest icons.


  56. The hidden triumphs of late-period Arnold Schwarzenegger:

    Things are not going well for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    In the few years since his adventure as governor of California ended, Schwarzenegger has tried, with not even limited or qualified success, to resume his career as the biggest action star of his generation. But let’s not delude ourselves: Schwarzenegger is not 1993 Michael Jordan, who left the basketball world on top for a whiff in minor-league baseball, then came back to his area of expertise to win three more straight NBA championships. Schwarzenegger’s career was already on the skids when he turned to public service, and his return to movies has merely continued his losing streak, exacerbated by his advancing age and the fact that today’s target demographic wasn’t even alive during his heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, much less eagerly awaiting his comeback. Add to that the stink-trail of his ignominious final couple of years in office, when he presided over woeful budget shortfalls and an embarrassing sex scandal, and his public image isn’t what it used to be, either. People aren’t invested in his success, if they’re interested in him at all.

    So here’s Schwarzenegger’s dilemma: How does a 67-year-old of diminished star power, waning (albeit still impressive) physical abilities, and limited range get back on top? The answer is, “He doesn’t,” but that’s a liberating conclusion, not a premature burial. Schwarzenegger has long since passed the torch to The Rock, Vin Diesel, and other less-weathered blocks of granite, and hasn’t really had a true hit since 1999’s End Of Days, a horror/thriller beloved by few and remembered by fewer. (The third Terminator, from 2003, was also a success, but with too long a list of qualifiers to count.) But there are advantages to being an icon of Schwarzenegger’s stature without being a star anymore, and the primary one is a freedom of movement that wasn’t possible when every single movie he did was a cultural event. Had the script for his muted new indie “zombie” movie Maggie crossed his agent’s desk in 1994, it would have gone to the incinerator before Schwarzenegger even laid eyes on it.

    In other words, there’s reason to be optimistic about the places Schwarzenegger’s career can go in his twilight years, and reason to be excited about what he’s done already, even though he’s been rewarded with middling-to-poor reviews and worse box office. He hasn’t lost his essential Arnold-ness—that easy, dopey, disarming charisma that’s always been hidden beneath his Mr. Universe bulk—and he’s gained the flexibility to play antiheroes and character roles, to function as part of a larger ensemble, to try his hand at straight drama, and to bounce back and forth between Hollywood projects and independent films. Perhaps his losing streak will continue unabated, but excepting one serious miscalculation, Schwarzenegger has played his hand smartly since his return to movies, and just hasn’t been fortunate enough to be rewarded for it.

    Let’s get the mistake out of the way first: Schwarzenegger should have never hitched his wagon to Sylvester Stallone. The three Expendables movies and Escape Plan must have seemed like tempting ways to resolve the Schwarzenegger/Stallone action rivalry of the 1980s and early 1990s, and combine their dimming star wattage into one big, shining light. But Schwarzenegger already won that war handily two decades ago, and he hasn’t been well-served by including himself in a Stallone-led nostalgia tour of washed-up ’80s action heroes, second-tier modern stars, and the stunt castings of assorted MMA fighters and Kelsey “Pockets” Grammer. Schwarzenegger doesn’t need to act like a member of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, still pumping out the old hits without needing to bother creating any new ones. If anything, the 2013 Stallone/Schwarzenegger team-up Escape Plan was an even lousier idea than the Expendables trilogy, because it attempted to place these stars in the context of a tech-driven, 21st-century action thriller, but didn’t have the production values to do it properly. It was the kind of movie that dangerously presages the glue factory of straight-to-video thrillers, where the likes of Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme have been laid to rest.

    But there’s a difference between an ’80s nostalgia tour and the genuine revival signaled by The Last Stand, Schwarzenegger’s first big starring vehicle after the governorship, and a woefully underrated one at that. Rather than riding along with a fossil like Stallone, Schwarzenegger teamed up with Kim Jee-woon, the talented, bold Korean genre stylist behind A Tale Of Two Sisters; The Good, The Bad, The Weird; and I Saw The Devil. Kim updates a Western premise for The Last Stand, which basically amounts to a lawman (Schwarzenegger) squaring off in a bloody showdown in a one-horse town, but not all the way to the present. Instead, the film consciously goes against the trends of the day by reviving the physical stunts and hard-R bloodletting of Schwarzenegger’s earliest work. Though the semi-major studio Lionsgate released it to the graveyard of mid-January, which is practically begging for the derision the film got in many corners, Last Stand shows how comfortable Schwarzenegger can be returning to the mid-1980s destruction of Commando and Raw Deal without having to resort to glib self-reference. If he must return to his roots, this was the way to do it.

    One year later, Schwarzenegger’s turn in David Ayer’s Sabotage, another critical and commercial failure, again showed promising signs that he’s willing to relinquish some control over his image. As the leader of a corrupt DEA special-operations unit, Schwarzenegger is first shown spearheading a mission to take down a drug fortress while shielding the feds from the $10 million he and his team are skimming from the money pile. They don’t entirely get away with it, and they have to deal with a saboteur in their ranks. Typical of Ayer—who’s turned “edginess” into a personal brand with films like Training Day, Harsh Times, Street Kings, and Fury—Sabotage goes way too heavy on the machismo, even for Schwarzenegger, who looks distinctly uncomfortable letting the “fuck”s fly. But Schwarzenegger’s character is also straitlaced relative to his team, which lands him in the moral hinterlands between a proper lawman and an out-and-out rogue. That’s foreign territory for him as an action star, and further evidence that he’s open to new possibilities.

    His new film, Maggie, goes all the way. If Schwarzenegger had tried to slip this solemn, nearly action-free twist on the zombie movie into theaters at the height of his popularity, theatergoers would have torn the stuffing out of their seats. But save for a scene where he beats back a zombie in the bathroom of an abandoned gas station, Schwarzenegger spends most of the film watching over a teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) who’s been infected by a virus that’s devastated the globe, but hasn’t turned into an undead, flesh-craving beast just yet. There’s a process for “quarantining” (i.e. killing) the infected before they get to that point, but it’s up to Schwarzenegger’s father to determine when it’s time—which turns Maggie into a touching allegory for terminal illness and losing a child. Maggie is such a good idea for a zombie picture that it’s a shame first-time director Henry Hobson makes it suffocate under its own dark cloud. But the determined grimness brings out notes of tenderness and anguish in Schwarzenegger that he’s never allowed himself to express onscreen. He still has tremendous presence—a man of his size and stature will always have it—but his performance stays in line with the low-key smallness of Hobson’s film, which is not his modus operandi.

    It occurred to me while watching Maggie that our retirement-age Schwarzenegger may want Clint Eastwood’s acting career. Eastwood is another star who made his bones snarling through hard-hitting genre pictures, ventured into California politics as a conservative voice in the liberal wilderness, and needed to figure out how to remain viable as he got older and the movies changed. Schwarzenegger hasn’t shown any interest in going behind the camera, but like Eastwood in Unforgiven and later films like Million Dollar Baby and Gran Torino, his face has taken on a weathered character, and he knows his range enough not to push beyond it. One of the effects of being a star as long as Schwarzenegger and Eastwood have is that later roles can pay off on earlier ones, like spending from a reserve of interest that’s accumulated in their cultural accounts. Schwarzenegger is now at a point where he can put his legacy to work for him, and get audiences thinking about how the roles he takes today relate to the ones that made him a star yesterday. Now if he can only figure out how to make money doing it, he stands to burnish his legend, too.


  57. 10 Actors Who Are About To Make A Huge Comeback:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger – Terminator: Genysis

    Arnie has been trying to make a comeback for a few years now, given the end of his political career, but his efforts haven’t gotten him very far: The Last Stand should have been a modern action classic, but was actually rather forgettable, Escape Plan was wholly disappointing schlock, whilst Sabotage was pretty much a misfire of the highest order.

    So it’s Terminator: Genysis that will mark Schwarzenegger’s true return to the motion picture business; one that will see the actor reprising what is perhaps his most famous role as the time traveling T-800 of the movie’s title.

    Schwarzenegger’s future as a Hollywood star of the aged kind presumably lies with the success of this movie reboot. Still, for a 67-year-old, you couldn’t argue for a better comeback vehicle than that of a $170 million blockbuster. It rarely happens.


  58. Nostalgia Critic Real Thoughts On: Jingle All the Way

    Put dat cookie down NAH-OW!


  59. WatchMojo’s Top 10 Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Quotes


  60. Visualizing Terminator Genisys’ Poor Performance:

    Those parentheses are very important. It is entirely possible that Terminator Genisys will end up freefalling in America only to more-than-make up the slack overseas. After all, Pacific Rim barely crossed $100 million domestic but ended up with a $411m cume on a $191m budget and ended up with a sequel and an animated series. Even the prior Paramount/Viacom VIAB +0.00% Inc. would-be franchise starter G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra earned $300m worldwide off a $175m budget and ended up with a cheaper, 3D-converted, and more overseas-friendly sequel. If anything, there will be an inevitable temptation to greenlight a sequel to Terminator Genisys if the numbers even remotely come close to justifying it if only to deflect the notion that it was a failure. But regardless of how it does overseas (and that’s an important discussion for a later day), the fact remains that it pretty much tanked in America. The $155m Skydance Productions film opened with $27.5m over the Fri-Sun weekend and $44.1m over the Wed-Sun weekend, basically making about in five days what Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation made in their Fri-Sun portions of their five-day weekends. So without further ado, and with the disclaimer that this is exclusively about the film’s domestic performance, let’s dive in!

    The marketing was terrible.

    Paramount has a really strong history of successfully opening tent poles over the last decade, but (with the obvious caveat that the film wasn’t very good) this was one of the worst and/or least successful attempts to market a tent pole picture in America that I can remember. The PR campaign started with laughably-terrible Entertainment Weekly cast photos, which had everyone but Arnold Schwarzenegger posing in generic backgrounds and looking as comically angry as possible. The first trailer was fine, establishing the “it’s the same, but different” premise, reassuring fans that Schwarzenegger would be a key character this time around, and offering a few money shots. But the second trailer blatantly gave away the film’s core plot twist.

    It spoiled a major (and fan unfriendly) reveal to no real benefit of the trailer itself and for the sole purpose of getting the online movie community talking about it even if it was in the negative. Getting James Cameron to plug the film at the last minute was a smart touch, but allowing director Alan Taylor to talk too much about how displeased he was with Thor: The Dark World took the focus off of the film he was promoting. And finally the reveal of a cell phone game that could be played in the theater for select IMAX showings (which was initially and erroneously reported as a game to be played during the movie) solidified the bad taste that the film was building in the online community with little interest increased among general moviegoers. Of course, a bad marketing campaign can be salvaged if the movie is good and/or the public is excited anyway. But…

    The reviews were terrible.

    Thanks to an early overseas opening, the embargo for Terminator: Genisys was up a week prior to the film’s domestic debut, so the proverbial cat was out of the bag. In short, the film earned a 27% positive score on Rotten Tomatoes and more importantly an average rating of 4.7/10 on the site. While my review was among the more negative, there wasn’t exactly a small contingent of super-satisfied critics that fought the alleged good fight ala Speed Racer or The Lone Ranger. At best, some critics were okay with the film. But word got out that the picture was a narrative mess, was a general bore, did little with its time-hopping scenario, and was a mere arbitrary franchise reboot with no major story twists beyond the big one that the trailers revealed.

    Again, bad reviews won’t doom a movie that is already anticipated, but Terminator Genisys was never a hotly anticipated summer property. It was based on the notion that there was a large community of fans who would race out to the theater to see a new Terminator movie and/or would race out to the theater to see a new Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. Neither of these things was in evidence, and thus the movie itself had to deliver beyond rehashed variations on what we’ve seen before. It didn’t, and even if the reviews didn’t kill the film outright; they were a nail in the coffin of domestic moviegoer disinterest.

    It wasn’t the main event.

    This is where I feel a touch of sympathy for those involved. Imagine if you will a slightly different timeline, one where Jurassic World and Inside Out play primarily how conventional wisdom suggested they would play. In Earth 2, Jurassic World opened to $115 million four weekends ago, earning so-so reviews and satisfied-but-not superlative word-of-mouth. It made $55m on its second weekend, $30m on its third weekend, and just $20m over the Fri-Sun portion of the holiday weekend. Meanwhile, Walt Disney's DIS +0.86% Inside Out played like a typical Pixar summer original. It opened to $65m on its debut weekend while earning $35m in weekend two, and now only $20m over the Fri-Sun portion of its holiday weekend.

    Under this alternate timeline, Terminator Genisys arrives on the scene with audiences more primed with a new blockbuster release. But Skynet was up to no good, and thus in our timeline Jurassic World and Inside Out performed far better than anyone would have expected a year ago when these dates were set. Terminator Genisys is not the first would-be big movie to run headfirst into a phenomenon, but it had the extra misfortune to crash into two family-friendly phenomena. Both films amounted to perfect “consensus choice” movie picks for large groups of multi-aged family members making the choice to head out to the theaters over the long weekend. If you’ve got mom, dad, your eight-year-old son and fifteen-year-old daughter, plus a few cousins, aunts, and uncles and grandparents in tow, are you more likely to see Terminator Genisys or Jurassic World? Speaking of which…

    That PG-13 didn’t help.

    For the record, Terminator Genisys thoroughly deserved its PG-13 rating. It has very little on-screen killing, no gore, not much profanity, and no sexual content whatsoever. But once again a major studio has taken an R-rated franchise and watered it down to a PG-13 for the sake of younger audiences who already have plenty of kid-friendly options available to them. Moreover, while Jurassic World and something like Marvel’s Ant-Man are PG-13 films that are/will be considered kid-safe, the Terminator franchise has a strong reputation as a grim, violent, and adult-skewing franchise. All the PG-13 did was annoy the very hardcore fans who wanted to get excited about the film in the first place. The whole “turn an R-rated franchise into a PG-13 franchise” has worked exactly once, with Live Free or Die Hard. And even they eventually went back to the R-rated sandbox.

    The film played 65% over 25 years old, which means again that there were very few would-be young Terminator fans who were thrilled at an age-appropriate Terminator movie. I may go into this later this month, but Hollywood really needs to stop making PG-13 the default rating. A genuinely R-rated Terminator Genisys would have at least helped the film stand out amid the current and future flood of PG-13 action-ers. As it is, the film had a PG-13 rating and yet still came off as kid-unfriendly, while the older moviegoers who might have been interested were turned off by the rating and otherwise not convinced to actually splurge for a babysitter in order to indulge their nostalgia. When playing around with cultural nostalgia, make sure the property is the kind that older moviegoers can drag their kids to. Otherwise, the former fans will just wait until VOD/DVD.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a box office draw anymore.

    I really liked The Last Stand, I enjoyed Maggie, and I appreciated his work in the deeply flawed Sabotage, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a major box office draw in America anymore. And frankly he hasn’t been in nearly twenty years since Eraser way back in 1996. His post-Batman & Robin vehicles (End of Days, The Sixth Day, and Collateral Damage) underwhelmed to varying degrees, while only Terminator 3 was a big hit since the franchise was still popular with moviegoers (star+concept). His post-gubernatorial output may be artistically interesting (Matt Singer’s “Arnold Schwarzenegger is an auteur” is a must-read), but only Escape Plan (with Sylvester Stallone) and his glorified cameos in the Expendables films topped $25m in America.

    Now much of Schwarzenegger’s recent output has implicitly dealt with his cultural irrelevance, but, unfortunately, the box office performances of said pictures have turned subtext into text. He will still get work, because he remains an exciting performer and because I can’t imagine any filmmaker of a certain age turning down an opportunity to work with him, but his days as a top-level box office draw arguably started with the first Bush administration and ended during the first term of the Clinton administration. I’m excited about the artistic possibilities of a Schwarzenegger unburdened by box office dominance, but he shouldn’t be considered to be a major domestic box office draw anymore. No one stays on top forever, and we shouldn’t expect our former top-tier movie stars to maintain his or her popularity just because Hollywood has been so terrible at crafting new movie stars over the last fifteen years.

    America didn’t want or care about another Terminator movie.

    If I have been a bit hard on both the artistic failures and domestic box office failures of Terminator Genisys, it is because the film represents one of the ugliest trends in modern Hollywood today. To wit, just because a movie or a franchise was momentarily popular back in the 1980′s or the 1990′s doesn’t mean that moviegoers young and old want to see another variation in a theater. They also indirectly bashed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and then delivered a painfully inferior product, but I digress. The difference between Terminator Genisys and Jurassic World is pretty straightforward: Jurassic World offered a film that was plenty exciting even if you had zero strong feelings about the Jurassic Park franchise or were too young for nostalgia. It also had a killer hook (The park is open!) and a present-tense movie star (Chris Pratt) to entice those on the fence, and the film just plain looked good and looked like spectacular big-screen entertainment.

    Terminator Genisys offered basically a tweaked variation of what you’ve already seen before, with the same would-be movie star who was a big deal in the 1990′s and the anti-Chris Pratt in Jai Courtney. It looked at best to be a passable Saturday matinee option, but the reviews squandered even that potential. The key appeal of Terminator Genisys was merely that it was another Terminator movie, with little to offer moviegoers who had no emotional attachment to such a thing. And the film’s big reveal was ironically something that was supposed to happen in Terminator Salvation but was altered after the script leaked and fans cried foul, which means that the very hardcore fans were already on the attack even before reviews confirmed the worst. Here’s a free (if simplistic) tip going forward: Before you embark on your franchise reboot, make sure that the pieces are in place to at least theoretically make a film that will appear exciting and fun even to audiences who have no interest in the franchise in question.


    Now if Terminator Genisys ends up playing more like Tammy (2.5x multiplier, $110m domestic) than The Last Airbender (2.1x multiplier, $95m domestic) and/or goes nuts overseas (it has earned $85m thus far with China, Japan, Germany, Spain, and Italy still to go) then a reevaluation may be in order. But for the record I don’t think Paramount greenlit a $155m Terminator movie to earn $110m domestic, so I don’t feel too bad calling the film a miss domestically. And if it ends up doing well outside of America, perhaps becoming the first film to end up under $100m domestic but still top $400m worldwide, then that will be an entirely different and wholly necessary conversation. But that conversation will have to wait. And just because the film earns just enough to justify a sequel doesn’t mean that said sequel will earn as much as the first film did. Unless you want to call Dwayne Johnson and get him to come aboard.


    • Is Terminator Genisys the worst blockbuster ever?

      July 6, 2015 by Anghus Houvouras 89 Comments

      Anghus Houvouras on whether Terminator Genisys is the worst blockbuster of all time…

      An insulting, paradox riddled mess. A senseless, poorly written, incompetently directed embarrassment. A master class in how to mismanage a franchise reboot. Terminator Genisys arrived in theaters this week with little fanfare other than a ringing endorsement from James Cameron. Something that probably would have meant more before having seen Avatar. It’s terrible, which is something a lot of people predicted based on a heinous marketing campaign that revealed every lazy twist. If you can’t make a movie look exciting or at least interesting based on a two-minute trailer, the prospects for the finished film are going to be bleak.

      ‘Bleak’ is a great way to describe Genisys, which is so bad that it deserves a hyperbolic post-mortem. This wretched, stillborn blockbuster needs an autopsy.

      Nonsense personified

      I’m not sure if this is specific enough. There’s so much nonsense in Genisys that halfway through the movie it became painstakingly difficult to keep up with the sheer amount of bullshit being heaped at us. We start with the opening that shows John Connor (Jason Clarke) on the precipice of victory over the machines. Thanks to the previous movies, he already knows how this scenario plays out. The machines will fall. In a last-ditch effort to survive they will send back a Terminator to kill his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) will be sent back to save her thus launching a series of events that will lead to the birth of John Connor who will one day take down the machines.

      Within the first ten minutes they wipe that slate clean. Turns out John is sucker punched by another machine at the very moment Kyle Reese gets sent back. This is where things start to get weird. Instead of just killing John Connor right there, they transform him into a human/machine hybrid and then send him back in time to help create SkyNet (hiding in a killer app called Genisys).

      Reese shows up in 1984 to discover that a liquid metal T-1000 is waiting for him immediately erasing the storyline of the original Terminator. You see, it turns out the machines just keep sending robots back into the past. They sent one back to kill young Sarah Connor when she was 9, but it’s all right: another Arnold model T-800 was sent back to save her. Now they’re buddies. She calls him ‘Pops’. So this Terminator apparently knows everything that’s going to happen in the future. So instead of Kyle Reese saving Sarah, falling in love, and planting the seed that will one day be the leader of resistance, they don’t.

      This would be the first ‘What the F*ck’ moment of the movie.

      The second is when you learn that the next part of the plot involves Sarah and Kyle using a time machine to propel them from 1984 to 2017, because that is when SkyNet goes live and Judgement Day occurs. The time machine is a ramshackle, homemade version of the same device that sent Kyle and the Terminator back in the first place and is apparently easy enough to be assembled with parts picked up from a 1980’s Radio Shack.

      I couldn’t quite figure out why they needed to go forward to 2017. Instead of a 30+ year head start to put together a plan to stop SkyNet, they decide to thrust themselves into an uncertain future and give themselves 72 hours to save the world. I’m not sure which was more stupid: the plan or the hackneyed writers who thought this was a good idea.

      I knew John Connor, and you sir are no John Connor

      Probably the biggest sin of this movie is what they did to John Connor. For decades it’s always been established that John Connor would one day lead the resistance to win the war against the machines, though we’ve yet to really see that happen. We’re always dealing with the tension that John’s great victory over the machines might not happen because a robot is going to kill his mother, or his father, or sneak in and slip a condom on Kyle Reese right before penetration.

      Genisys finally gives us a John Connor who leads humanity to victory, only to see him turned into a human/machine hybrid hellbent on destroying the world. When I saw the trailers and first learned of this twist, I thought it had potential. We’re always told that John ends the war with the machines, but we never knew how. Wouldn’t it be crazy if John Connor ends the war by entering into a pact with the machines. Something akin to the scenario in The Matrix. John ends up winning the war by ceasing hostilities, but he ends up being more Neville Chamberlain than Winston Churchill.

      Sorry to say, the creative team behind Genisys doesn’t go there. Instead, John Connor dies a tragic death and a tepid plot device that turns him into a soulless villain. The entire idea of John Connor being some kind of great leader is eradicated. Genisys turns John Connor into a plot device and ruins the concept of his character for no other reason than needing some kind of M Night Shyamalan inspired twist.

      The Emotional Complexity of a Robot.

      There are so many confusing things about Genisys, but the most baffling is the poorly engineered characters. Sarah meets Kyle and they fall in love over 48 hours. Kyle Reese is John’s Father and best friend, and yet after they all kill him there’s barely a moment to mourn his passing. I realize in this new Genisys timeline Sarah and Kyle haven’t even had time to get sweaty and produce humanity’s only hope against the machine. However, I would think that learning your best friend is actually your son, then being forced to see him killed to save the world would carry more emotional weight than the ambivalence we’re shown.

      Maybe it’s the terrible casting. Jai Courtney is a one-dimensional hunk of meat. A poor man’s Channing Tatum. Clarke is a pint-sized dynamo, but she never really becomes Sarah Connor. She’s more like the spunky female lead in a community theater production of TERMINATOR! THE MUSICAL. Our protagonists are given so little to do. Other than looking shocked and firing weapons, they have so little to do.

      The fault lies mainly with a script that is so bereft of characters, conflict, and common sense that our actors spend many scenes slack-jawed at the events unfolding around them. At no point in Genisys do you get anything from the characters other than confusion or anger.

      Arnold’s sad last attempt at remaining relevant

      Watching Genisys is a sad experience. One that makes you pine for the good old days when Arnold had presence and charisma. Before being the Governor of California made him dead in the eyes. He’s so bad in Genisys. They try to make him likable and give him a few moments of levity, but they all land with the cast iron thud of a T-800 Exoskeleton.

      I give James Cameron a hard time, but Genisys shows how important a director with clout and vision is to a project. One who can restrain their iconic action star and help him deliver a solid performance. Arnold was never a great actor, but he used to be a great presence. Cameron knows exactly how to use Arnold. Watch T2 or True Lies and you’ll see Arnold firing on all cylinders. Alan Taylor lacks the gravitas to keep someone like Arnold in check. What you end up with is an awkward performance that rivals his turn as Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin.

      Like Stallone, Arnold has stumbled into his 60’s still trying to be the action icon that made him into a household name 30+ years ago. Arnold, we’ll always love you. However, most of us have little interest in seeing you try to rekindle the magic that you haven’t been able to generate since the end of the 20th Century.

      How much did they pay for James Cameron’s seal of approval?

      The most confusing thing about Genisys is the ringing endorsement from James Cameron. I hope the check was big. Big enough to fund another one of those undersea expeditions he’s always embarking upon.

      How could this much go wrong?

      What’s most disappointing about Genisys is how bad it is given the source material. As Rise of the Machines and Salvation proved, you can still deliver something marginally entertaining even if your end product is underwhelming. Genisys delivers nothing. It’s so fundamentally terrible on every level. Alan Taylor makes Michael Bay look like Christopher Nolan.

      Terminator Genisys’ most mind-boggling trick is how a movie that cost 200 million dollars could look this bad. Nothing feels real. The whole movie looks like it was shot on a sound stage. There’s a helicopter chase sequence that feels like a cut scene from a PlayStation 2 game. There’s no excuse for a major summer blockbuster to look this cheap. I’ve seen more inspired cinematography in home-made pornography.

      When a movie is this terrible, you start to wonder how a system of checks and balances didn’t somehow prevent this from happening. Surely someone, somewhere had to see that the pieces weren’t fitting together. That the cast was awkward. The direction uninspired. The writing practically non-existent. I know a lot of blockbusters start production without a finished script, but I could easily be made to believe there was no script for Genisys and they made it up as they went along. Alan Taylor just shows up on set and says “Why don’t you guys do a scene where the Terminator makes a stupid face… and Kyle Reese will be like ‘Huh? What’s he doing?’ ROLL CAMERAS”

      Terminator Genisys is the worst blockbuster ever made. A joyless waste of a movie that will hopefully fail badly enough to let studios know this kind of franchise malfeasance will not be tolerated by the ticket buying public.


    • I would love to see Arnold VS. the Rock in T6 (if it ever happens)


  61. Since Terminator Genysis has released (along with the non-starter film Maggie earlier this year) the time may be approaching for an update to the Arnold article. Since Arnold’s return to film he has made a number of films; the high-profile Expendables films did respectable business with the first film earning just over $100M and part 2 earning about $80M. Good, respectable showings that helped give his comeback a good initial boost. But then again, the third Expendables flopped only earning about $40M (I really think the PG-13 rating hurt its chances among action fans moreso than the leak did). The Last Stand, his first real return movie as a lead, flopped domesetically. So did Escape Plan (although at least it did much better overseas). Then Sabatoge flopped. Recently, the dramatic zombie-flick Maggie flopped, only earning a paltry almost-nonexistent $150,000 domestically in a small number of theatres this past May. His comeback so far started off somewhat promising but has turned out to be underwhelming. It’s been pretty clear since he began his comeback that if he were to have one more runaway hit left in him, it would probably be his signature role, The Terminator.

    Terminator Genesys opened with a $27M opening over the July 4th weekend – an underwhelming beginning, and it appears the film will cross the $100M barrier domestically, but just barely. Worldwide box office will have to determine if it makes it to profit. But it’s not going to be a blockbuster for him, sadly. There’s talk of sequels, but since the film is not making much of an impression will the studio even want to roll the dice again? That also puts another Conan film, which Arnold says he plans to do next, in doubt as well, doesn’t it? And a sequel to Twins – which Arnold insists is still in the pipeline – seems to have “automatic flop” written all over it. I think this is the last time we will ever see a Schwarzenegger film break the $100M domestic barrier, even if more Terminator or Conan films come to pass.

    What are your thoughts, Lebeau? These recent developments with his biggest franchise role deserve an update in his article, but I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments section too.


    • Two things.

      1. Maggie was also released On Demand. I don’t think the grosses include the money made from VOD. I have no idea whether or not that makes Maggie profitable, but I know Snowpiercer followed a similar strategy last summer and was very successful. So Maggie may not be the flop that its box office grosses suggest. It certainly didn’t perform well at the box office though.
      2. T:G is also underperforming domestically. But, it’s making up for that overseas. It’s doing twice as much worldwide as it is in the US. It may even be enough to get another Terminator movie made.

      After the disappointing domestic performance of the latest Terminator, there’s no doubt that Arnold’s days as an A-list movie star in the US are done. But I’m still not counting him out. He’s still a draw elsewhere and that may be enough. With Maggie, he showed he can act. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take on more supporting and dramatic roles as time goes on.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t done a complete rewrite like some of the older articles, but this entry has been brought up to date to include Maggie and T5.


      • “I’ll Be Back”? The ‘Terminator’ Dilemma: When to Admit a Franchise Is Dead:

        Soft returns for the movie and release dates set for two sequels confound Paramount and Skydance as “bubble” movies — not flops, not quite megahits — require tough decisions: “Sometimes you are left scratching your head.”

        But now Genisys, which cost $155 million to produce and tens of millions more to mar­ket, is underperforming at the box office — it had earned only $80.6 million domestically and nearly $200 million overseas as of July 19 — underscoring the tough decisions franchise-mad studios face with what might be called “bubble” movies, decent performers whose returns don’t trigger an automatic sequel but whose backers aren’t quite ready to give up. Terminator could join Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Snow White and the Huntsman and Jack Reacher as recent bubble movies that scored sequels. On the other hand, franchise plays Prometheus, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader did fine but have not scored a follow-up green light.

        “Sometimes you are left scratching your head,” says Rentrak box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “If a movie doesn’t kill at the box office, why move ahead? Studios will build franchises sometimes without the blessing of the audience.”

        Terminator: Genisys presents a tricky conundrum. Ellison has been especially enthusiastic about Terminator (Skydance paid $20 million for rights) and made the trilogy a priority. But opening over the July 4 holiday, the fifth film in the franchise failed to lure its target demo of younger males. Worse, critics attacked director Alan Taylor’s convoluted storyline and the upending of previous Terminator mythology. “There is no question that the market was affected by reviews, which nicked early word of mouth,” Paramount vice chair Rob Moore said after its opening weekend. The film has yet to open in China, where it launches Aug. 23, but without a muscular performance there, Genisys might top out at $375 million to $400 million worldwide — not an outright flop but not enough to quell nerves at Paramount.

        The studio and Skydance declined to comment on the status of the Terminator sequels or a television spinoff that was announced. But one Paramount source admits the planned follow-ups aren’t a given: “We will definitely need to see the holds globally to confirm that people like the film.” Complicating matters, Skydance didn’t cast any well-known movie stars in Genisys other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, 67, so the sequel probably would need to add a proven draw or rely again on Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney.

        “If they are going to make another one, something has to change,” says MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler. “You either have to make a better film or make it cheaper. They tried to bring in elements of the first film, but it didn’t work. It’s going to be very difficult. They are going to have to cater to the international market.”

        Those foreign grosses, which now account for two-thirds of studio tentpole returns, increasingly are cited as key in determining whether a bubble movie is sequel-worthy. For instance, 2013’s Pacific Rim, made for $190 million, was considered a disappointment in the U.S. with $101 million but grossed three times as much overseas and is getting a sequel. Still, reliance on international performance is somewhat problematic because studios see a smaller cut of the box office than they do from U.S. theaters. Perhaps for that reason, insiders say that Legendary Entertainment, which is fully financing Pacific Rim 2, will spend less on the sequel, due Aug. 14, 2017, via Universal.

        The danger, of course, is that a studio abandons a franchise too soon, leaving millions on the table. Universal’s Fast & Furious movies faced extinction after the fourth installment failed to grow, but the decision to make a fifth film led to a revitalized property and, eventually, this summer’s $1.5 billion-grossing Furious 7 (at least two more Fast movies are planned).

        Ellison and Skydance have their own experience with a rebooted franchise in Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible, whose fourth film, 2011’s Ghost Protocol, re-energized the series with $694 million globally. They will test the strength of the Mission franchise when Rogue Nation hits theaters July 31. Fox faces a similar test with its Aug. 7 reboot of Fantastic Four, whose sequel already has been dated for 2017.

        “Any movie that can be sequelized is money in the bank,” notes Dergarabedian. The tough part, of course, is knowing when to hit the terminate button.


        • 10 Upcoming Movies That Have Already Ignored Massive Mistakes

          Casting Actors Who Are Past It – Terminator 6

          The Lesson: A View to a Kill

          The rights to Terminator revert back to James Cameron in 2019, which might be the best thing to happen to the franchise since the early ’90s. Or at least it would be if he hadn’t confirmed plans to recast Arnold Schwarzenegger in the next instalment.

          As iconic as Arnie was as the T-800 in the original films, he isn’t just long in the tooth these days, he’s got fangs like Baraka from Mortal Kombat.

          How can somebody play a believable killing machine post 70? Even if Schwarzenegger is a human template for the Terminators in T6, as is rumoured, it still begs the question of why they’re based on a man in his twilight years.

          Casting an actor way past his prime for sentimental reasons rarely does a franchise any favours. Take A View to a Kill, one of the more divisive Bond films, for example.

          Roger Moore had aged visibly in the two years since his previous 007 outing in Octopussy, and was actually older than his female co-star’s mother.

          Nobody bought him in the action sequences and even fewer could stomach him in the romantic scenes.

          Moore himself has even admitted “I was only about four hundred years too old for the part”, which is usually what a studio gets when they cast with their heart rather than their head.


  62. You be you, and I’ll be Bach! Wait, I’m not Bach at all (too far behind); maybe I’m the piano man.


  63. Now, this here is true spam.


    • You wouldn’t believe the amount of spam comments that the built-in filter catches. There are hundreds of them every day. And for every 100 the filter catches, one of them still gets through. Daffy and I try to clean them up as soon as we spot them.

      The opposite side is that sometimes the filter will identify a real comment as spam. If you have 2 or more links in your comment, it will almost certainly flag your comment for approval. It’s crazy. But let me tell you, the comments section would be a mess if not for the filter and manual scrubbing from Daffy and me.


      • Yeah, I guess a few comments sneaking through can’t be helped. At the same time, just like in many instances in life, someone completely innocent gets flagged/screened. There isn’t a website I’ve seen that doesn’t have some sort of spam (For example, ESPN always has those “Work at home, I make 6000$/week” in their comments section).


  64. As a Terminator die hard (as well as general mark for Schwarzenegger) I don’t quite see why critics were so hard on Terminator Genisys. The movie isn’t perfect, but considering the total disappointment of Salvation (which doesn’t really feely like a Terminator movie until the last 30 minutes or so) it was far from the worst of the series. You can argue that Rise of the Machines was a better movie, but Genisys was definitely a bit more fun. the two main things that hinder the movie is 1) the big twist gets spoiled in the trailer, it’s like if the sixth sense had told you Bruce Willis was a ghost in the first TV spot. It really takes away the shock that the movie was to hinge on. 2) the thing that work in the film don’t get quite enough screen time.
    The T-1000 was done very well, and 20 + years after its debut it can still be a intriguing villain, and what can be said about Schwarzenegger’s performance? The man really seems to be tailor made for the character, he know how far he can go with the comedy, and then bring it right back to the serious tone the film needs for the action sequences.

    Also who doesn’t love J.K. Simmons when he’s doing his thing.

    Yes the performances of Jai Courtney, and Jason Clarke range have moments that range from stiff to passable, but why is there a problem with Emilia Clarke? I found her believable as a 19-20ish Sarah Connor.

    Here’s hoping that the foreign markets make it possible for at least one more go with Arnold’s t-800


    • I agree with some points, disagree with others. I’ll run through them all point by point:

      • I agree with your overall ranking. Although for me, there are the first two movies which are good and all the others which just aren’t worth watching. Being the most fun of the bad movies isn’t all that impressive in my book. I give them all “thumbs down”. T3 is probably still the best non-Cameron Terminator movie. And the TV show is arguably better than any of them.

      • Man spoiling the big twist is just mind boggling, isn’t it. Once that is “revealed” in the movie, there’s just not much left. If it had been a surprise, it might have carried the movie through to the conclusion. But the trailer just sucks the wind out of the sails of T:G’s third act.

      • I would have preferred no T-1000. Felt shoe-horned in. Then it was easily dispatched to make room for the movie’s real villain. Maybe would have been better if the trailer had made us think the T-1000 was the main villain. But without that, it just felt like T:G aping the first two movies – which is something it did WAAAY too much. Which is my biggest gripe with the movie and why I think critics are being so hard on it. Almost every scene is an inferior copy of a scene from T1 or T2. It felt less like a movie than a coverband cycling through a greatest hits collection.

      • Scharzenegger was great. In Maggie, he showed he had some dramatic range. And in T:G, he showed just how good he is at comedy. I would have liked to have seen him be even goofier.

      • J.K. Simmons was fun, but I have no idea what that character was doing in the movie. He didn’t bring anything to the table other than being J.K. Simmons. I get that he was kind of a reverse clone of the skeptical psychologist from the first tow movies. But I could have done without him.

      • The problem with the Clarke version of Sarah Connor has more to do with the script than the actress. As written, she is insufferable. A better actress maybe could have redeemed her. But Clarke couldn’t do anything but scowl.

      • I would bet on at least one more go round for Arnold as the Terminator. Probably with a greatly reduced budget, which might not be a bad thing. Hopefully with a tighter and more inventive script.


    • I’m a Terminator die hard too, and I genuinely liked the movie when I walked out of the theater. But the more I thought about it (on my own and in internet reviews) I started seeing more and more problems with it. They seemed like they had to shoehorn in callbacks to the earlier movies CONSTANTLY. What was original about the movie? By that I mean, what ideas in the film aren’t just reworkings of something in one of the first two movies? Other than John Connor being the bad guy I can’t think of much, and since that was spoiled beyond belief in the trailers it loses its impact. But even there it boils down to yet again an even more powerful Terminator to fight which is the story of the first three movies. It really feels like a big budget fan film.

      A new thing that was recently pointed out to me, and it just adds to the problems is the jump forward in time. Besides it contradicting everything the Terminator universe time travel is based on, it was idiotic how they did it. Why jump forward to right before Genisys is released and without a real plan to stop it? Maybe take those 20 years to work with Arnold to prepare. Or even if you don’t want to wait that long, how about a sometime earlier in the development of Genisys long before it is self aware and can rush itself to within seconds of coming online?

      I don’t have a major problem with Emilia Clarke, but she is no Linda Hamilton. I watched T2 shortly after seeing Genisys and the difference was striking. Watch Hamilton’s performance, particularly in scenes such as when they are in the desert or when she attacks Miles Dyson’s house. She is really intense. You can feel the anger and fear in that character. Emilia Clarke doesn’t come close in the scenes calling for similar emotions. It wasn’t bad, just not great.

      JK Simmons had the most entertaining character in the movie, but he literally does nothing to affect the plot or move the story forward. He exists solely as comic relief. Remove his character entirely from the movie and you don’t have to change anything. That is bad storywriting.


      • far enough, to each his own preference. I’d also like to give some food for though ( or maybe just something to give my argument for the movie some weight)

        Firstly Fun is a key element of a movie for me, especially when it comes to summer blockbusters. The Fast and (occasionally) Furious movies in recent years have proven that a movie could have a plot that resembles Swiss cheese , and still be a lot of fun, as well as bring in a big audience. As this relates to the Terminator series I’ll say this. After having seen T:G I was willing to see it again in the theater, something I did not feel like doing in regard to 3 and Salvation.

        Second, about rehashing the formula I have to bring up Rocky 5 and Rocky Balboa. Rocky 5 broke from the model of the other three sequels and was a flop at the box office as well as critics. after a decade Stallone goes back to the formula, and liberally uses lots of nostalgia, and callbacks to the other films in the series, and Rocky Balboa is something of a surprise hit (considering where both the franchise and it’s star had been prior to the movie’s release)

        SIDE NOTE: This might note be totally accurate but I’m willing to bet that Rocky Balboa is one of the prime reasons so many nostalgia reboots/sequels have been made. If the Rocky series (which was all but dead after 5) can be a hit, why can’t (insert once popular franchise here)


      • oh forgot to say in T:G Sarah is ten years younger, and hasn’t spent those years hanging around gun runners and the like. Also if you take deleted scenes in to consideration she hasn’t spent an undefined amount of time in a mental hospital being abused by the guards.


    • The Terminator might not be back following #TerminatorGenisys


      • Sadly, Terminator Genisys failed even to break the $100M barrier domestically, finishing out at $89.7 Million. And with Genisys’ poor reception a sequel would probably do even worse stateside, so it’s probably best to leave it alone at this point.


        • The Terminator: Where next for the franchise?

          As plans for more Terminator films are shelved, we look at where the franchise should head next…

          If the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to revive the Terminator franchise’s fortunes, then it’s fair to say that this year’s Terminator Genisys fell short of expectations. While the fifth film in the series fared well in the Far East, Genisys’ sour reviews (not least our own) and lacklustre US box-office clearly took their toll. Late last week, we heard that the once-planned trilogy of Terminator films – and a related TV series – were “on hold indefinitely.”

          Appropriately for a franchise about time travel, it’s a case of history repeating itself. Only six years ago, Terminator: Salvation’s middling critical and financial reception left The Halcyon Company’s plans for its own Terminator trilogy in limbo. The Terminator rights were put up for sale, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures won the bidding war (reported hammer price: $20 million), and the process of rebooting began once again.

          The producers behind Terminator: Genisys had clearly taken a long hard look at Salvation and then promptly drew all the wrong conclusions. The reason Salvation had failed, they reasoned, was because Schwarzenegger hadn’t been a part of it. What fans wanted was a bit of the old Terminator magic: Arnold back in his shades and leather jacket, lots of stunts and chases through benighted LA streets. In short, a return to the form James Cameron had established in 1984 and 1991 – a form which neither Jonathan Mostow or McG had managed to replicate.

          Producers David Ellison and Dana Goldberg admitted as much when we visited the set of Terminator Genisys last year. “…there are going to be great Easter eggs in there,” Ellison said. “There’s going to be a respect for canon. But also, if you haven’t seen a Terminator movie before, we view this as Terminator 1. You don’t have to have seen anything before you see this movie – it’s completely standalone.”

          The result is one of the weirdest would-be blockbusters in years. Terminator Genisys is a kind of greatest hits reel of Terminators past; a muddled check-list of things that might, on paper, have sounded like perfectly sound ideas. The start of the film takes place in 1984 with a recreation of the film that started it all – perfect for getting older fans on side. But then it throws in a variation on the mercury-like T-1000 to please those who preferred its 1991 sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And to capture a bit of that lucrative Asian market, the T-1000 is played by Byung-hun Lee.

          Then, just to keep the younger members of the audience interested, the action shifts to 2017, where the end of the world comes not with a bang, but with the friendly glow of an iPhone app. For extra geek points, former Doctor Who star Matt Smith is thrown into the mix as an evil AI phantom with plans for world domination.

          It shouldn’t work, and it doesn’t. The muddled plot, which jumps between time periods like a frog on a hotplate, essentially boils down to a string of “trailer moments” – stunts and sequences that look nice enough in isolation, but fail to add up to much of a whole. A young Arnold fighting an old Arnold. A school bus flipping over on the Golden Gate Bridge – a scene which looked like three memorable scenes from The Dark Knight, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, and, weirdly, Dirty Harry, all slammed awkwardly together.

          That flipping school bus sums up quite a bit about what’s wrong with Terminator Genisys. Why did Sarah Connor (now played by a wide-eyed Emilia Clarke) and her fleeing gang of friends steal the slowest vehicle in the parking lot? Why did it flip over like that, anyway? Just because. Don’t worry about it. There’ll be another stunt coming along fairly soon. Look, it has a helicopter in it.

          So now that we’ve established that Terminator Genisys didn’t really work, the question remains: what can be done about it?

          The likely answer is: not a lot, probably. At least for a few years. If production company Skydance really isn’t doing anything more with the franchise, it seems certain that its rights will revert to James Cameron in 2019. He may well have his own ideas for a further Terminator reboot, but with all those Avatar sequels he has planned, will he have the time to direct it himself? It seems more likely that he’ll serve as a producer and story consultant, but will ultimately hand over the task of making the thing to someone else.

          Should all this happen, it’s not hard to imagine Cameron, with his current taste in all things expensive and expansive, in rebooting The Terminator as a $200 million summer movie in the vein of T2. The nature of Skynet and its takeover of Earth will almost certainly change, as it did in Genisys, but the central concept of a time-travelling cyborg and its unwitting prey could – and should – remain intact.

          In fact, if we had a suggestion for a Terminator reboot, it’s this: strip the budget right back and reboot it from the ground up.

          Forget about the multi-million dollar budget, the four-quadrant check list, the absurd action set-pieces and PG-13 mayhem of Genisys. Learn from the essence of the 1984 original: bring the horror element back to The Terminator.

          It’s important to remember that the first film was inspired by a nightmare, and felt like a nightmare from start to finish; a relentless, benighted chase through a Los Angeles that seemed somehow diseased and decaying.

          Forget the time-hopping complexity of Genisys. The Terminator was only glancingly about time-travel, and wore its sci-fi coat relatively loosely. Make the reboot a simple chase thriller again. We don’t really need Arnold Schwarzenegger back – wonderful though he was in the first two films – or even Sarah Connor; what we do need is the hunter and the hunted, the former implacable and seemingly indestructible, the latter unprepared and vulnerable.

          Get in a director who’s young and promising – who can bring a youthful, angry energy and cinematic tension. Look again at this year’s horror hit It Follows and note just how Terminator-like its premise – about a group of teens pursued by staring ghouls – really is. Look again at how perfectly those filthy, infectious supernatural beings dovetailed with the bankrupted Detroit setting, as though the run-down landscape had spontaneously belched them up.

          Now imagine the director of It Follows, David Robert Mitchell, at the helm of a Terminator film – one made for a lean $20 or $30 million.

          A great Terminator film needn’t be expensive or laden with stars – the first iteration was proof of that. The scene in The Terminator, where the T-800 smashes a fist through a car windscreen in an attempt to choke the life out of Sarah Connor, has more tension and impact than the sequence in Genisys where the bus flips over – a scene that likely cost more than The Terminator’s entire stunt budget.

          A shot of the T-800 staring with steely resolve through a gap in a door carried more unspoken menace than all the goofy iterations of Genisys cyborgs put together.

          Genisys made the usual Hollywood mistake that more is more: that what made T2 such a success was its special effects and huge explosions, so they heaped dozens of them on top of each other. But T2 was a great film because it was about characters reclaiming (or discovering) their humanity – the battle-hardened, traumatised Sarah Connor, Schwarzenegger’s reprogrammed T-800 – not just action and special effects. Without relatable characters and a solid, engrossing story, stunts are just that: stunts.

          Like the T-800 itself, the next Terminator film should be a combat chassis, an engine designed for one thing and one thing only – to stalk, to kill, to thrill and terrify.


        • TERMINATOR: GENISYS (2015)

          The continuing saga of humanity’s war with the machines who are led by Skynet the artificial intelligence that decided that humanity needs to be eradicated. John Connor, the one leading the human rebels against Skynet, has a plan to attack Skynet but decides not to take part in it and opts instead to prevent Skynet from implementing it’s contingency plan

          To send a terminator to kill the woman who would give birth to John, Sarah Connor. But he fails so he sends his right hand, Kyle Reese who is the one who will sire him, to protect Sarah. And as Reese is leaving he sees John attacked by someone there who is one of Skynet’s soldiers. When Reese arrives, he discovers a terminator which is not like the ones he’s encountered. He is saved by Sarah who knows who he is and why he is there. He also discovers she has a terminator with her. She tells him that the terminator he encountered was sent to kill her when she was nine and the terminator, with her, was sent to save her and has been her companion and guardian ever since. They intercepted the terminator he followed and plan to use it’s chip to activate a time machine they built to go to 1997 which is when Skynet was activated but Reese says they should not go to 1997 but to 2017. He says that there’s a voice or memory that tells him to remember the date because it’s when they can stop Skynet. So Sarah and Reese go, the terminator stays behind and says he’ll meet them when they arrive but they get arrested when they arrive and someone unexpected show up.

          The film feels like a bad romantic comedy surrounded by a tired Sci-Fi franchise that dido my need to be rebooted or sequalized that at this point feels like a cash grab and trying to grasp at past glories.

          What worked for the first two films is they they both seemed to excel and push he special effects at the time to jaw dropping limits. The first one on a limited budget. The sequel on a gender one. Ever since those two it has been diminishing returns as ever since the stories for more outrageous and seemed too much extra. Making storylines and timelines confusing, bloating up the story and effects mainly as it’s creator stepped away from the series of films.

          Each film has had a different brain trust director and writer. Who seems to try to reboot, remake it at least copy the past glory of each film.strangely try to make it their own. Their vision rarely matches. So they each sequel feels like it’s own spin off with the same characters. Yet keeps trying to attempt s continuity.

          Jai Courtney still manages to have no charisma he still has the look of an action star or at least a villains right hand man. Here he does well enough in the action scenes. But here they try to show a vulnerability that just doesn’t work. As well as showing him at first to be a screw up next to the terminator, as he film goes along his action skills get more impressive.

          Emilia Clarke tries but she feels miscast. Try as she might. Then again she doesn’t have much to do and the toughness of her character seems like an act more than something natural. The appeal of the character in the original two films. That Linda Hamilton played the role in was that In the first film she might have depended on a man, but in the end dispatches the terminator becoming her own hero. In the sequel hour she gets help time to time she is also capable of taking people at and fighting for herself. In this film it seems like the character goes in reverse and she is dependent again on two men. Though she is tough. she is barely shown to do anything. Margot Robie and Brie Larson both screen tested for the role of Sarah Connor. Emily Blunt was the first choice for the role

          J.K. Simmons feels here more only as another noticeable face and name in the cast as his role seems here only to be an ally to what he doesn’t entirely understand and save the characters when it looks like a dead end.

          Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to have fun reprising his role. While allowing the unstoppable characters to be noticeably aged and broken down. Though at other times seems to be used also for humor. He worked out for six months, about three hours a day, before shooting started, by which time he had the exact same body weight and muscle measurements as he had 12 years previously while shooting Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Jason Clarke is the sixth actor to play John Connor in the many portrayals of the character. This has lead to people referring to him as the “Rusty Griswold” of the Terminator series as five different actors have portrayed that role in the many films.

          This film seems only made to do away with previous timelines to create one they can keep making up as they go along.

          One of James Cameron ‘s original ideas for THE TERMINATOR was to have Skynet send two Terminators back to 1984: one being a cyborg, and the other a liquid, shape-shifting android. However, due to the limitations in special effects, the idea for the shape-shifter was not used until TERMINATOR 2 : JUDGEMENT DAY. Interestingly, in this film, Cameron’s original suggestion seems to have been followed: in the altered version of the very first Terminator movie, both a cyborg (the T-800) and a liquid android (T-1000) are sent back to 1984.

          It is obvious this film was made at great expense as the effects and action sequences are huge. The special effects are noteworthy in few scenes, but it still leaves you feeling kind of bland. They are obviously trying to impress the audience, but instead except for a scene to two leaves you feeling like And then.. Especially as these scenes are nice but feel more like Filler then actually necessary. Like it is trying to show off.

          Watching the film. You feel no nostalgia. Not like this is a continuation. We won’t even go near plausibility it any real emotion.

          Even in the beginning of the film. It feels less like a war between humans and cyborg, but more liens laser battle that you would see in classic G.I. JOE cartoons when they battle cobra with red and blue lasers only here they actually cause casualties and damage instead of just stunning characters.

          Ang Lee was in negotiations to direct the film but a deal could not be reached. Other directors considered to helm the film included Rian Johnson and Denis Villeneuve.

          Screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier also worked on SCREAM 3. Laeta did uncredited rewrites and Patrick edited the movie. The title “Genisys” refers to “SYS”, a computer term referring to the “System” or critical files that the system depends on to function properly, as well as “genesis”, a beginning or start (in context, the core of the story hinges on time-travel to where the war begins).

          GRADE: C-


  65. After viewing the trailer for “Fear City” (sounds like a sports teams’ fan slogan) I was reminded of Rae Dawn Chong, and not just because I think it’s a fun name to say. I read that there was a sex scene written for her character and Schwarzenegger’s John Matrix character, but Schwarzenegger had it excised since he thought it would be in poor taste for his character to be taking time off from saving his daughter to get a little love’n. I have to say I think that was a wise decision, and reading that elevates the film for me.


    • I was looking ahead at my calendar and Commando has an anniversary coming up. Just sayin’.


      • More awesome facts coming then?


        • I should’ve mentioned “Commando” in my comment, but for some reason I forgot. That “Fear City” trailer though, that’s the raciest trailer for a mainstream film I’ve ever seen!


        • I knew what you were getting at. And yeah, that Fear City trailer is great. The movie is worth a look if you like gritty crime dramas. It’s exactly the movie the trailer is selling.


        • Yep.

          I’m working on three things. More WTHH obviously. And Facts You Need to Know which are shorter and therefore quicker to write. And then galleries which are just a matter of formatting pictures that are already collected in the articles. That balance lets me put out content a bit more frequently than if I just do WTHH.

          I have been using the calendar as a guideline. Generally, I try to post a gallery on each WTHH subject’s birthday. When I prepare the gallery, I go through the old article and scrub it up a bit. I fix any videos that stopped working, add captions to pictures, etc. If I find the article lacking, I may do an update for a full rewrite. August has been a busy month in that respect because of the number of birthdays.

          That’s put me a bit behind on the new WTHH article I’m working on. That’s another balancing act. Trying to deliver new content while also bringing the old articles up to the current standards. Overall, I think the improvements have been worth delaying the new article. The end result will be to have the entire series read consistently. And a lot of these rewrite are practically new articles in and of themselves. But I’m definitely looking forward to posting the next 100% new article.

          So that’s what I have planned for the foreseeable future. There may be a few odds and ends mixed in. At some point between now and the end of the year, I intend to do an article comparing Disney World and Universal. But before I do anything like that, I want to put some space between it and the massive trip report I just wrote. I know Daffy and RB have some things they are working on as well.


        • That sounds like a good gameplan, and a full schedule. As for “Fear City”, I think I viewed a few minutes of it on cable a few years ago, but it was pretty far into the story, then I didn’t see it listed again afterwards. I plan on viewing it in its entirety someday.


  66. 1980s/1990s Arnold Schwarzenegger Appreciation Thread:

    2 hours ago StarSpangled Clash With A Plan said:
    Honestly, I think Arnold’s a slightly better actor than people give him credit for. He’s never had Meryl Streep level range and he’s not gonna win awards, but he always has a strong presence and charm that can help him salvage crap like Batman and Robin.

    He’s very capable. I sometimes think most of the flak people give him for being a bad actor comes from the fact that that’s what they’re supposed to do. A bad actor is somebody who can’t make you feel or believe anything that they do. I usually have a very easy time believing Schwarzenegger.

    I also think his “comeback” over the past several years is severely underrated. In particular, I think Terminator Genysis was tons better than it had any right to be partly due to his presence in the film.

    I do think he would benefit from taking a few more risks, particularly at this stage of his career.


    • Post the exact moment an actor’s career peaked.

      Arnold in T2 was his peak. Even though True Lies was a big hit, he was the King of the Summer movies by 1991 when T2 came out. I honestly don’t think he was ever the same again, as either the Millennials didn’t embrace him the way Gen-X did, or eventually his age would catch up with him (like Stallone) and he couldn’t do believable action movies forever.


      • I actually liked later Arnie films such as “Eraser” and “End of Days”, but those films didn’t seem to capture the public’s imagination.


  67. I’m not so sure that DIE Hard Was ment as a follow up,Cause die hard is based on book,a relatively unknown one,.
    Could be ofc,but sounds like something someone has spun a tale on later,After the movie was a hit


    • The story goes that although Die Hard is based on the book Nothing Lasts Forever, it was at one point pitched as a Commando sequel. According to this story, the names of the characters were changed to match the characters from Commando. I can’t definitely prove this story one way or another. But I did find more than one interview in which screenwriter Steven E. de Souza, who worked on both Die Hard and Commando, debunked this story. That’s good enough for me. I’m going to update this article accordingly. Thanks for asking the question that got me to fact check.

      Once again, Wikipedia proves unreliable. I should start keeping a list.


  68. Arnold Schwarzenegger Replacing Donald Trump As ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ Host:

    By Lisa de Moraes 12 mins ago

    NBC is is replacing Donald Trump with a politician on Celebrity Apprentice. Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka The Governator, is taking over for Trump as chief mentor/executioner on NBC’s reality competition series. “I have always been a huge fan of The Celebrity Apprentice and the way it showcases the challenges and triumphs of business and teamwork,” Schwarzenegger said in today’s news, adding, “I am thrilled to bring my experience to the boardroom and to continue to raise…


  69. @Schwarzenegger on career-changing nudity that happened in ‘The Terminator’ (exclusive)


  70. The CineFiles Podcast: Episode 27

    It’s episode 27 of The CineFiles Podcast and…. it’s Halloween month! Which means — boo! Did we get ya’? Are you scared? This whole introduction will be rife with jump scares so be wary all who enter here. This week, we discuss the films we’ve most recently seen: the Cannon Films documentary ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, the short film PUMPKIN PIE, the oldie-but-a-goodie THE INVISIBLE RAY, FORT TILDEN, POLTERGEIST, THE TURBO KID, THE VISIT, THE FINAL GIRLS, THE GIFT, MOCKINGBIRD, SABOTAGE, CRIMSON PEAK and Eric’s take on THE NIGHTMARE. Plus so much more. We then give our thoughts on the latest news coming out of the Hollywood buzz mill. And, finally — boo! Did we get you that time? Yes? No? I warned you: jump scares, people!

    The second half of episode 27 focuses on that enduring sub genre of Horror, the Zombie Movie. Whether you like your undead to be French, Italian, from the UK, funny or scary (or both), what is it about the living dead that compels us to go back again and again. Please give us your thoughts and tell us about some of your favorite zombie flicks in this installment of The CineFiles Podcast.


  71. Arnold Schwarzenegger chooses his new project – and it’s quite a low key one


  72. 10 Actors Whose Credibility Suffered The Most In 2015

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    He’ll be back, they said. And so he was, and the results were… well, kind of poor, actually.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s highly-publicized return to Hollywood – after a long career doing politics in California, don’t you know? – was supposed to kick off with a bang. Unfortunately, said bang ended up sounding more like a thud, as zombie drama Maggie, which co-starred Abigail Breslin, failed to make back anywhere near the $8 million it cost to make (it grossed less than $1 million) and was savaged by the critics.


    Then there was Terminator: Genisys – the non-awaited fifth movie – which was met with negative reviews and didn’t end of grossing as much as the studio prophesied (though it flopped on its opening weekend, it did eventually gross $440 million, which is still pretty good). The minor financial turnaround wasn’t enough to win audiences and critics around to Arnie’s return, however, and – much to his chagrin – the intended sequel is now in limbo.


    • I think anything dealing with “The Terminator” should be terminated (with a Sarah Connor F-bomb inserted) for the time being. As Lebeau pointed out, there just isn’t really anymore story to tell; to quote Christian Slater’s Mark Hunter character from “Pump Up the Volume” (not “Pumping Iron”), “All the themes have been used up, turned into theme parks”. I don’t know, I’m sure Schwarzenegger will probably find a project down the road that strikes a nerve with audiences; I’m pretty sure he still has appeal.


  73. Podcast discussing each Arnold movie.

    Last Action Hero, The Running Man, and Twins have been posted to date.

    Batman & Robin is next.


  74. I have to say that the WTHH blogs that LeBeau wrote have inspired me to make a YT series with a friend. I mention this here since it’s Arnold and he was involved with Carolco. We made this movie detailing Carolco and of course, it drew heavily from WTHH. We got another one coming out soon centering around Orion, but for now, here’s the Carolco movie.


  75. Unlike his buddy Sly arnold can not act therefore since hes too old for action movies theres not much left to go. Sly oscar nom proved hes more then action star.


  76. I saw maggie he was decent in it not good. At best hes decent. He has never given a performance as powerful as Sly. Sly never started out as a action star arnold did. Sly was dubbed next Brando at one point. It showed he at least had some potential.. I know sly is not in Brandos level but I rank him little higher then those lame action stars. He is much better then Jason Statum ,wesly snipes ,arnold and jackie Chan


  77. Batman & Robin: 25 things we learned from its making-of book

    Arnie had his eye on the global market…
    As author Michael Singer notes, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s involvement as Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin “can only boost his already mighty reputation”. But Arnie also admits in the book that he’s got one eye on the international markets when he takes on a role. “When I read a script one of the first questions I ask myself is whether the movie is for the entire world. For some, perhaps Italy or Germany or Japan or Brazil may be nice places to take a vacation. For me, these are important markets with audiences seeking entertainment, just as Americans do”.
    … but he was always worried about heritage
    “I had to figure out how to separate my Mr Freeze from [Otto Preminger, Eli Wallach and George Sanders’, on the TV show], and how to make it memorable within the context of all the other terrific Batman villains. Because, you know, these movies are going to go on forever, and after people see Batman X, they’ll look back and talk about their favorite villains”, Schwarzenegger also said.


  78. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs up for new action comedy, Why We’re Killing Gunther


  79. Schwarzenegger rescuing a swimmer on WatchMojo’s Top 10 Celebrity Heroic Acts


  80. Retrospective / Review – Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)


  81. Blind Items Revealed #5

    April 18, 2016

    This foreign born permanent A list mostly movie actor who only does small parts in franchises now cheated on his girlfriend and used his son as cover. Nothing like telling the girlfriend you are going to spend some precious father/son time together, but use a VIP room to have sex with a couple of women instead.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger


  82. 1996 Was the Year the Macho ’80s Action Hero Died

    Jean-Claude Van Damme

    In 1996, we got a healthy dose of action movies, but many of them seemed to be more about recapturing earlier greatness than on doing something new and interesting.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme tried to recreate his earlier success in Bloodsport with 1996’s The Quest.For example, Jean-Claude Van Damme directed and starred in The Quest, which is basically a repeat of the classic 1988 beat-em-up Bloodsport. Van Damme even co-wrote the story with the man who inspired Bloodsport, Frank Dux. Because of this and a string of other box-office failures, Van Damme was soon sentenced to the world of straight-to-video movies for the next decade before staging a moderate comeback.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Arnold Schwarzenegger flexes his muscles and fires big guns in Eraser.1996’s Eraser was the last time Arnold Schwarzenegger headlined a major Arnie event movie. Sure, End of Days earned a healthy profit in 1999, but Eraser was Arnie’s last true summer tentpole movie. Try to fathom that for a minute. Twenty years ago, summer tentpoles could be big shoot-em-ups with nothing more than a single actor’s name being enough to draw huge crowds. Eraser wasn’t based on a comic book or any other existing property or series. It was purely a Schwarzenegger vehicle, and it became one of the 10 highest-grossing movies of that year. Now that’s star power.

    Nothing was ever the same for Arnie. He can be in as many Terminator sequels as he wants; his old glory is never coming back.

    Sylvester Stallone

    Daylight was the start of Sylvester Stallone’s quick descent as an action star.Sylvester Stallone’s career arguably peaked in 1985 with the release of the wildly popular sequels Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV. But he managed to have a few successes in the ‘90s, such as Cliffhanger, Demolition Man, and The Specialist. But then he starred in 1996’s Daylight, which is basically an homage to the 1972 disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure. I watched Daylight years ago, and I remember it being tedious and rarely ever exciting. It underperformed in the U.S., but made quite a bit of money overseas.

    That was the last hit Stallone would be the main star in for the next decade. Cop Land, D-Tox, Get Carter, Driven, and Avenging Angelo all did progressively worse at the box office until Stallone was forced to return to his roots and star in perfectly decent sequels to Rocky and First Blood.

    Kurt Russell

    All of the above action stars saw a turning point in their careers in 1996, but one actor had a film that epitomized the shift in action blockbusters away from what they used to be. That man is Kurt Russell, and the film is Escape from L.A.

    Escape from L.A. is a carbon copy of 1981’s excellent Escape from New York. In the first film, Snake Plissken was tasked with sneaking into the Big Apple via airplane to retrieve the U.S. president and some valuable information he has with him. In the sequel, Plissken is forced to sneak into Los Angeles via submarine to retrieve some valuable information being held by the president’s daughter. The plots are interchangeable, with the only difference that the sequel is not executed very well at all compared to the original. That is, except for the final scene. I have to admit this movie has an incredible final scene that is even more interesting if you think about the lines as though they’re talking about ‘80s action heroes.

    Steven Seagal

    But the pièce de résistance has got to be Executive Decision. Up till 1996, action heroes had been mostly unkillable. Sure, the heroes in the first two Terminator films died to protect the people they love, and Ripley self-sacrificed at the end of Alien3, but at least those deaths had the dignity of coming at the climax. We had never really seen an ‘80s action hero get killed in a perfunctory manner.

    Steven Seagal looks like he’s ready to run the show in Executive Decision.Which is why it was so shocking when we saw what happened to Steven Seagal’s character at the 40-minute mark of the two-hour Executive Decision.

    Seagal had made a name for himself as sort of a hybrid between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. He was built like a tank while also being nimble enough to take down dozens of opponents with his martial-arts skills.

    In Executive Decision, while doing a daring midair transfer of elite marines onto a passenger jet that has been hijacked by terrorists, Seagal’s character runs into severe trouble. All of his comrades and a couple of nerdy technicians make it aboard the jet, but he gets stuck in a passageway that is seconds away from disintegrating, which will cause the jet to decompress and kill everyone on board. Seagal’s only option is to heroically close the hatch just before the passageway breaks apart, tossing him away like a ragdoll and killing him instantly.

    Steven Seagal sacrifices himself early in Executive Decision, turning an ’80s action icon into a disposable character.Can you imagine that happening to John Matrix in Commando or Dutch in Predator or James Bond in any of his movies? This kind of death was unthinkable. Suddenly, the man who couldn’t be killed by a million bullets became all too human, showing that he can be killed just like anyone else. If you wanted to pinpoint the exact moment that the ‘80s action hero died, this is it!

    With Seagal dead, it’s now up to the nerdy technicians to improvise a new plan to stop the terrorists. They have to become the heroes that Seagal was already a natural at playing. The rest of the film never quite lives up to the first 40 minutes because there’s such a gaping hole left from Seagal’s absence. But this was the pattern that other films that year followed.

    Twister and Independence Day were huge blockbusters that heralded the resurgence of the disaster movie after its heyday in the ‘70s. Those two films had the novelty of turning computer nerds into action heroes, carrying the torch passed in Executive Decision to its logical conclusion.

    Exceptions to the Rule

    Star Trek: First Contact turned Patrick Stewart into an action star.There are always exceptions to the rule. 1996 also saw the release of a couple of films that turned dramatic actors into action stars: Star Trek: First Contact (Patrick Stewart) and The Rock (Nicolas Cage). Stewart went on to help start the comic-book era with his indelible role as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films while Cage continued to build his reputation as an action hero for several more years with hits like Con Air, Face/Off, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and National Treasure.

    I should also mention that Tom Cruise is the one shining exception to the rule. He has managed to survive for three decades as an action star by giving people what they want while also somehow reinventing himself every few years. He established the surprisingly versatile Mission: Impossible film series in 1996, and it’s still going strong almost 20 years later.

    Hobbling on

    Of course, the ‘80s action movie didn’t completely die out after 1996. It hobbled along for a few more years with 1997’s Air Force One, Con Air, Face/Off, and The Fifth Element being particular standouts. But there were also a lot of mediocre or just plain bad movies: Conspiracy Theory, Kull the Conqueror, The Peacemaker, Starship Troopers, and Alien: Resurrection, the two final ones essentially being subpar imitations of Aliens.

    Things got worse in 1998 with the horrible Lethal Weapon 4, Small Soldiers, The Avengers (with Ralph Fiennes and Uma Thurman, not the Marvel one), and Soldier (with an extremely wooden performance by Kurt Russell). The only real standouts were The Mask of Zorro and Rush Hour.

    And in 1999, computer nerds completely took over in The Matrix, which changed the face of action movies for the next decade and beyond.

    Attempting a Resurrection

    There have been plenty of attempts to bring the macho ‘80s action hero back, with indulgent fare like the Expendables trilogy, a fourth Indiana Jones film, and a couple of PG-13 Die Hard sequels. While those had enough nostalgia to turn a profit, they didn’t succeed at rejuvenating this long dormant idea of a one-man army. Comic-book movies have sort of filled that void, but they mostly avoid the hard R rating that characterized the epic shoot-em-ups of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.

    I don’t know if we’ll ever see a resurgence of ultraviolent-yet-humorous blockbuster action films like we did more than two decades ago. Audience tastes change over time and those kinds of films probably just aren’t as palatable enough to generate the huge box-office numbers required to sustain ever-increasing movie budgets. So while I mourn their loss, at least they can rest in peace knowing that they refused to go down without a fight.


  83. It’s hard to see his comeback as anything but low key, which is probably the way he wanted it. I’m sure that he’s savvy enough to know that at his age, and with his glory days of the ’80s/early nineties long behind him, he’s not going to be headlining big action franchises or dominating the box office the way he used to. He’s in a good spot in that he could probably start working with some pretty interesting directors and taking smaller parts in more prestige movies.


  84. Arnold Schwarzenegger Fired Back After Trump Dissed His “Apprentice” Ratings


  85. Arnold Schwarzenegger considering run for Senate (report)


  86. Arnold Schwarzenegger explains why he won’t be in the Predator reboot

    Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t a fan of Shane Black’s Predator reboot. In a recent interview with Yahoo! Movies, the action star said that he read the script for the reboot early on in the process and didn’t like it, which led to him turning down the chance to make an appearance in the film.

    The original Predator, released in 1987, starred Schwarzenegger as the leader of a team of commandos fighting against aliens in a Central American jungle. The reboot is set to feature Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Yvonne Strahovski, Edward James Olmos, August Aguilera, and Olivia Munn.

    “They asked me,” Schwarzenegger said of his potential involvement in the upcoming film. “I read it, and I didn’t like it– whatever they offered. So I’m not going to do that. Except if there’s a chance they rewrite it, or make it a more significant role. But the way it is now, no, I won’t do that.”

    Black’s version of the story is already filming, so it’s unlikely that the script will get rewritten for a Schwarzenegger appearance in time. The director further explained Schwarzenegger’s absence on his Twitter, agreeing with a fan who said that they believed it was the role and not the script itself that made the star turn down the part. “I spoke with him,” he said. “I think it was that he didn’t have enough to do. Enough presence in the film.” Schwarzenegger has been planning a return to a few of his old projects recently, with a new Terminator movie reportedly in the works along with a sequel to Twins; however, some of the films have stagnated, included the planned The Legend of Conan movie, which the screenwriter recently said is finished.

    The Predator reboot will be released on Feb. 9, 2018. While we wait, head over to Grunge to see why we’re worried the film may not succeed.


  87. The Legend of Conan reportedly won’t happen

    Sounds like The Legend of Conan will remain just that: a legend.

    Although Arnold Schwarzenegger has been talking up a storm about his future projects, including a long-awaited return to the Conan the Barbarian franchise, screenwriter Chris Morgan (who was one of several different writers working on a sequel), told Entertainment Weekly that the project has stalled.

    “At the end of the day, the studio decided that they weren’t gonna make that,” Morgan said. “I gotta say, it’s honestly a heartbreak. I love that first movie so much, so much, it’s one of my favorite movies.”

    Morgan said writer Will Beall (Gangster Squad) penned a draft that would’ve picked up the Conan story much later in the Barbarian’s life. “[Beall] killed it. Our take was Conan, 30 years later, a story like the Clint Eastwood Unforgiven. It was so awesome.,” he said. “Ultimately, the budget was big, the studio was not really sure of the title, and the relevance in the marketplace. They ended up letting it go.”

    Although a feature film might not be in the works, that doesn’t mean it’s the very last we’ll hear from Conan. “I think they’re gonna look to do a TV show or something with it,” Morgan said. “But just to be associated with it, pitch it to Arnold, have him get so excited, there was a moment of magic for me, personally. You never know, down the road we may revisit.”

    Schwarzenegger recently said the Conan sequel is one of a few projects he’s got coming down the line, along with another Terminator movie and a sequel to the 1988 comedy Twins. But with so much on his presumably large plate, it’s possible he isn’t up to date with all the backstage dealings. He does, however, have an explanation for why he won’t be in the upcoming Predator reboot and why he won’t return for The Celebrity Apprentice.


  88. ‘Conan the Barbarian’ at 35: How Darth Vader Helped Arnold Schwarzenegger Beat the Muscle Man Stereotype


  89. Did the Last Action Hero ruin Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film career?

    According to this imdb quote “Arnold Schwarzenegger considered Last Action Hero (1993) his first real failure after an unbroken string of successes. He also considered it the beginning of the end of his film career.” The film was widely considered a failure when it was released as it failed to double its budget and it also received poor reviews. However even after TLAH, True Lies and Eraser both did over 100m domestic and 200m+ worldwide. I would have thought that films like Junior, Jingle all the Way, Batman and Robin and End of Days would have had far more negative impact on Arnold’s career even though he seemingly disagrees. What does reddit think?


  90. Arnold Schwarzenegger donates $100K to an anti-hate organization

    Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday said he was donating $100,000 to help an anti-hate organization, the Simon Wisenthal Center, “named after the great Nazi hunter who I was lucky to call a friend.”

    On Facebook, the Republican politician/actor who is no friend of Donald Trump wrote to “so-called white nationalists,” that “you will not win. Our voices are louder and stronger. There is no white America – there is only the United States of America. You were not born with these hateful views – you can change, grow, and evolve, and I suggest you start immediately.”

    Schwarzenegger announced his donation to the Los Angeles-based center as his way to speak out against the racist and anti-Semitic protests that resulted in three deaths over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.


  91. Arnold Schwarzenegger Shows Off His Comedic Chops As The World’s Greatest Hitman In ‘Killing Gunther’


    • Can Taran Killam Resurrect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Career?

      Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career has pretty much stalled since his return to Hollywood after a stint as Governor of California. The Last Stand scored only $12 million; Escape Plan $25 million; Sabotage $10 million; Aftermath straight to VOD, and Terminator Genisys may have finally put the nail in the coffin of the Terminator franchise. Schwarzenegger used to make $20 million a picture. Now his movies don’t even make that much.

      Taran Killam is trying to change that, although Killing Gunther looks more like a MacGruber: A comedy that bombs at the box office and potentially gains a cult following in the home digital market. Gunther is an assassin parody about a hitman (Schwarzenegger) who is so good at his job that his competitors (Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Cobie Smulders, Alison Tolman, Hannah Simone) collude in an effort to remove the competition.

      Eh, it has potential. Unfortunately, it’s missing two key ingredients to its ultimate success: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi.


  92. Yes, I do think Arnold Schwarzenegger is a good actor. Wow, he took some bad films (like 1986’s “Raw Deal”) and made them kind of fun. He strikes me as one who has a power of personality; I like that (Makes sense that he went political). My favorite Arnold Film? Probably “Eraser” (it has the beautiful Vanessa Williams in it, so that helps:-).


  93. The double life of Arnold Schwarzenegger

    From the mid ’80s to the early ’90s, Arnold Schwarzenegger was easily one of the biggest action stars in the world after successfully turning a career as a bodybuilding champion into box office gold. The muscle-bound actor was a true Cinderella story who worked his way up from a poor, abusive childhood in Austria to become the most famous immigrant in America. But Schwarzenegger wasn’t content with dominating Hollywood. In 2003, he wowed the nation by becoming the governor of California and locking down a second term. And right by Schwarzenegger’s side was his devoted wife Maria Shriver and four children. The Terminator star seemingly had everything, but behind closed doors, he wasn’t the picture-perfect family man. From allegedly harassing women for decades to a bombshell secret that destroyed his marriage, this is the double life of Arnold Schwarzenegger.


    • All I can say about Arnold Schwarzengger is to not trust a politician, and to not drink and bake, because otherwise, you could be terminated.


  94. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he was cast as Terminator over OJ Simpson because the disgraced football player ‘didn’t look like a killer’ and admits he ‘screwed up’ by having an affair with the maid and ruining his marriage


  95. Jimmy Kimmel: ABC wouldn’t allow me to tell an Arnold Schwarzenegger joke at the 2011 Upfronts

    Asked by AdWeek if he had ever been censored, Kimmel responded that it happened once when he was planning to joke about the former governor’s affair with his housekeeper and, it turned out, one of the ABC executives was friends with Maria Shriver.


  96. Underrated Schwarzenegger films?

    Post by wildojinx on 5 hours ago
    So I’ve seen all the well-known Arnold films like Commando, Predator, the Terminator films, etc, but what are some films starring him that aren’t as well-known, but still enjoyable?


  97. Top 5 Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Performances


  98. 9 Famous Actors In Real Danger Of Becoming Irrelevant

    Arnold Schwarzenegger

    Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life story is one of the most fascinating tales in the history of the movie business, one that saw a broke Austrian arrive in the United States with huge biceps and even bigger dreams. The most famous bodybuilder in history, hugely successful entrepreneur, Hollywood superstar and Governor of California, the 70 year-old has pretty much done it all.

    Well, apart from recapture his earlier success since a full-time return to acting in 2013.

    While he should be commended for venturing outside his wheelhouse, the results haven’t been great. Old-school actioner The Last Stand, gritty cop thriller Sabotage, zombie drama Maggie and drama Aftermath all failed to earn back their budgets at the box office, despite praise for Schwarzenegger’s willingness to try something different.

    In fact, besides brief cameos in The Expendables series the Austrian Oak’s only hit since his return came when he reprised his signature role in Terminator Genisys, a movie rightly described as the worst in the franchise. Unsurprisingly, he has all-but-committed to appearing in the upcoming sixth installment.

    It seems fanciful to expect Schwarzenegger to make a full-blown comeback and reclaim his status as one of the biggest stars in the industry, but a more careful and deliberate choosing of projects could at least add some longevity onto an already-legendary career.


  99. Arnold Schwarzenegger is heading to Amazon to star in Outrider Western event series

    One day after it was revealed that Amazon is reviving the Conan the Barbarian franchise that helped make Schwarzenegger a box office star, Deadline reports that Amazon is developing Outrider, a mystery set in the Oklahoma Indian Territory in the late 1800s. He’ll play a ruthless federal marshal who emigrated from Austria as a child in a series that promises to “blur the line between good guys and bad.” Outrider marks Schwarzenegger’s return to television after succeeding Donald Trump as host of NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice last year.


  100. Top 5 Worst Arnold Schwarzenegger Performances


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