Arnold Schwarzenegger

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Year: 2003
Directed By: Jonathan Mostow
Written By: James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd (characters written by), John Brancato, Michael Ferris, and Tedi Sarafian

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where our journey in this franchise ends, because there is nothing worthy of the collection that follows. After 12 years of waiting for a potential sequel to Judgement Day we finally got something that sported some good things and some bad things. I think the story for this film was really the strength and it was a fantastic idea that made sense in the end. However, they simply couldn’t have done a worse job in the casting of an adult John Connor.

I think that a new terminator coming back in time to take out not John Connor himself but his top lieutenants was a great idea. I think the action that follows is both exciting and up to par with the franchise. The car chase scene in the beginning was especially well made and if I’m not mistaken Schwarzenegger funded part of it out of pocket to get it that awesome (though he made so much money to come back this was an easy decision for him). I thought it finally made sense in the end how this weak and pathetic John Connor ended up as the leader of the human resistance. It was that interesting twist at the end that impressed me.

The problem with this movie is so big that it threatens the film as a whole. Despite all the great action, despite Schwarzenegger bringing his A game to hold on to any credibility he had left in a changing industry, and despite the well conceived story there was just nothing that could quite overcome the casting of Nick Stahl as John Connor. I get it if they didn’t want Edward Furlong back, or if they couldn’t get him. I don’t see how the kid from T2 grows up to be the guy we see in this movie. Furlong played a tough and street smart kid who looked totally believable to rise in the future. He was reloading weapons and hacking into bank accounts in Judgement Day like a 10 year old badass. The man we see in this movie is a pussy plain and simple. He spends most of the movie bitching about everything and he comes off as overwhelmingly pathetic. He is unsure of himself and wears that on his sleeve but most importantly he is just lame, even threatening to kill himself at one point.

In fact, Claire Danes was much more badass in the role of Katherine Brewster, who would grow up to be John’s second in command and wife. I really liked that since John was off the grid that a terminator had been sent back to kill the young versions of his future lieutenants. It’s a cool concept that makes sense but John coincidentally crossing paths with this new terminator is a bit lame. Had to bring the story together somehow right? I don’t know that it was really necessary to make the new villain a “T-X” instead of a Terminator we had already seen. I mean how do they keep making upgrades in this future that keeps getting stopped or delayed? They had to up the ante somehow, but I think it is a typical mistake to do so.

I mentioned that Schwarzenegger brought his A game to this movie and he did. The physical condition he was able to get into alone at his age (56) was impressive but not as impressive as his contract. His contract was an unprecedented amount of money, something like $29 million as well as a part of the proceeds and plenty of perks. Making things even more interesting was the fact that this movie came out the exact same year Schwarzenegger took office for the first of his two terms as the California Governor. In this movie I think he again leaned too much on an effort to be funny but it didn’t bother me as much as it did in T2. I actually thought he had a bit more edge to him in this movie when he was clear about not being the same terminator and having no obligation to John beyond his mission.

After taking eight years off of acting to focus on his side venture political career Schwarzenegger got right back into the mix of things when his term ended. Not only going back to his bread and butter, action films, but even becoming the terminator for a fourth time in the God awful Terminator: Genisys. He continues to work toward yet another sequel, albeit this time with James Cameron’s involvement (allegedly), but nobody wants him to at this point. Schwarzenegger is a man of great ability to succeed and I have no doubt that he will eventually find a new niche in the world to make himself even more famous and wealthy. Hell, with the way things are going in this ass backwards country there may finally be that new Amendment passed that will allow him to run for President.

This movie isn’t bad, but it simply isn’t James Cameron and that makes such a difference. James Cameron, as my brother pointed out in his T2 rebuttal is the Jesus Christ/savior of the movie industry. I’ll never forget sitting in the theater watching Avatar years ago and realizing what James Cameron had accomplished. In this current climate of declining theater attendance there is less and less reason to go to the theaters these days. Yet when I watched Avatar I saw the future. I saw that James Cameron had created not just a visual spectical, but a reason to leave the comforts of home and go to the theater. Avatar was a movie that could only be properly seen in the theater. Take away Cameron’s 3D effects and you had nothing more than a Pocahontas story with blue people, but in the theater with those glasses on was an effect that couldn’t be recreated at home. Of course that has been an impossibly long six years ago with little change to the industry. However, with three sequels coming out in tandem in the eventual future there is still hope to see how Cameron changes the industry permanently.

Cameron’s absence in this franchise started a downward spiral of quality to the Terminator brand. There was a TV show, The Sarah Conner Chronicles, and it wasn’t bad but the fourth film was. I remember being really excited to see Christian Bale as John Connor in Terminator Salvation and being so disappointed in the movie I literally got up and left the theater. I was interested in Genysis when it came out but not enough to venture out to the theater. I was really intrigued by the Schwarzenegger vs. Schwarzenegger fight the movie sported but it wasn’t good enough to overcome what was simply a really bad movie. I sat patiently through the movie when we rented it but threw my hands in the air in disgust at the end when Schwarzenegger was “upgraded” to a T-1000.

This franchise took a lick with Genysis but as long as Schwarzenegger is backing it there is really no end in sight. It’d probably take a few bad movies to put it to rest but there is always the inevitable reboot so I wouldn’t expect them to leave the Terminator to rest in peace any time soon. So I’m inclined to say this movie is definitely worth your time because this is probably as good as it gets for the franchise. It’s all downhill from here, or truthfully it’s been all downhill since the first film came out but it at least stayed interesting through three films.

NEXT MOVIE: Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Year: 1991
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron and William Wisher

RYAN’S REVIEW

12/3/17

Sometimes this journey through our DVD collection thoroughly surprises me. Sometimes I go into something with a certain impression and find that I was entirely wrong to begin with. I sat down to this movie whole heartedly expecting to like it more than its predecessor. While I do love this movie, and I do think it is one of the greatest sequels ever made, I find myself really having enjoyed the first film more. The action is better in this one but there is a tonal shift that I am not crazy about. It’s not as hardcore as the first film and has a lighter, almost comical, tone that doesn’t sit right when watching them back to back.

I really loved Schwarzenegger as the terminator in the first film. The first time around he was a cold blooded killer who didn’t say much but didn’t have to. This movie is a full blown Schwarzenegger love fest with a terminator that doesn’t kill and asks far too many questions. Granted things were much different for Schwarzenegger in 1991 when he had more power, and an image to protect. I always liked Schwarzenegger better in the 80s when he was a bit more rough around the edges. Once the 90’s rolled around he became the musclebound funny guy with a lot less violence to his performances. He grew more famous, but I think the product suffered a bit and after watching this I just don’t think this T-800 compares to the one we saw in the first one. He simply talks too much in this movie.

Robert Patrick on the other hand fills the void of villain nicely. I don’t understand why Robert Patrick wasn’t utilized anymore than he was as a villain over the years because he was great in this movie. James Cameron handpicked him after seeing him in Die Hard 2 but it seems no one else saw what Cameron did as his career lagged through the 90s before finding his niche on television in recent years. As the T-1000 he’s as ruthless and unstoppable as Schwarzenegger should have been.

1/23/18

I’ve now let this review sit for over a month and I still haven’t found the right words to finish it up. I think I was just flabbergasted by my lack of enthusiasm after watching it. This is such an important film and such a fixture in my household growing up that it just can’t be right. However watching the first film and this in succession left me thinking this one really wasn’t all that good.

That isn’t the case of course, this is a timeless classic and I love the movie. I just feel like the first one was much better and I can’t get past that realization.

I can’t close this out because my tone is all wrong and I can’t get it back. There aren’t enough words in the world to convey quite how influential this movie was in the household I grew up in. Lines like “he’ll live” and “I know now why you cry” were dropped on a regular basis and even to this day I hear those lines coming from my brother. Not only that but I’m pretty sure my brother has some sort of neurological disorder fixated on this movie. No matter where we are or what we are doing he is humming, whistling, tapping, or just making general noise to the beat of this movie’s score.

It’s also my brother holding me up on this one because I know he is going to read this and find my impression to be nothing short of blasphemous. The expectations are simply too high and my thoughts don’t live up to them.

This is a groundbreaking movie for special effects and action, but I think it lacks the edge that the first film had. The first film is darker and that is simply what I prefer in this franchise. I don’t care how likable Schwarzenegger needed to be to protect and enhance his own product. I thought he was better as the quiet and ruthless killer. In truth it makes little sense for him to be in this movie at all. Why would they send the same model Terminator that was sent to kill Sarah Connor anyway?

This was and is a vehicle for Schwarzenegger and wanting to be the good guy was natural whether it makes any sense or not. It’s one of the things I have always admired about Schwarzenegger, throughout his entire career he has not been a man to say no to, be it as a movie star, television star, or even Governor. It’s an incredible life the man has lived and one day it will make an exciting story. Doesn’t matter if his smiling Terminator was a poor substitute for his killer Terminator or not.

Despite my opinions posted here I do think this is one of the best sequels ever made and it was a great continuation of the franchise. It easily is the primary reason the franchise has never been able to be put to rest properly. Everybody wants to get this glory back but no matter what they do they simply aren’t James Cameron and they can’t get it done.

Leave this franchise alone people, and um I’m speaking to you Mr. Schwarzenegger. Every new entry only tarnishes the legacy of something great. So to bring my rambling to an end I’ll simply say that of course this movie is worth your time and if you haven’t seen it there is something wrong with you.

There is so much more to discuss but I’m spent, I’ve sat on this one long enough. Maybe I’ll come back to it in time and discuss the badass Linda Hamilton or the snarky and street smart Edward Furlong. In the meantime feel free to share your own thoughts, because this one did not go at all as I expected.

NEXT MOVIE: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)

As expected my brother had some thought about the lackluster review I wrote for one of his most beloved movies. He made several good points so I thought I’d share them with everyone. Without any further adieu, here they are:

NICK’S THOUGHTS

Just a few issues I had with your review.  I have to get to work so not a lot of time here.

First of all every proper savior must have the initials JC.  Humanity – Jesus Christ.  Terminator – John Connor.  Rome – Julius Ceaser.  Pinocchio – Jiminy Cricket.  Madden – John Campbell.  And even cinema with James Cameron.  Failing to mention this fails to educate your legion of readers.

Second the warning of AI.  While Cameron isn’t the first to mention this he does drive the point home.  We are within decades of not being the smartest kids on the block.  I was just listening to a lecture by Sam Harris the other day where he says and I quote “I’m not saying we’re going to invent Skynet here, but we have to stop and steer this thing in a direction we want.  We tell this thing that we don’t want any more spam and it decides to create an army of terminators to wipe out humanity because that’s one potential way to stop spam.”

The information dump.  The scene where they’re driving through the desert and Arnold spills the entire back story within 2 minutes that has as much story as the whole movie combined and nicely ties it all together.  I love these.  See Donald Sutherland in JFK, Sam Neil in Event Horizon, Morpheus in the Matrix and the Architect in the Matrix Reloaded.

The scene in the park where the nuke goes off while she’s shaking the fence.  Absolutely terrifying to 10 year Nick like nothing else he’d seen to that point.

While the scene from the first movie where Arnold goes into the fuzz station and handles his business is one of the greatest examples of badassdom ever, the 2nd movie offers up a more than healthy buffet of badassness to feast on.

Yes there is some comedy in this one that is hard to reconcile, however I offer up the Asian guy that gets caught in the crossfire at the mall as a proof its worth it.  Hilarious.

And yes of course the soundtrack.  Nothing musically has ever been so catchy.  Nothing.

I’m sure I could go on but that’s what I got with 5 minutes.

The Terminator

Year: 1984
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, and William Wisher

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was one of the most successful films of the year in 1984 when I was born. I don’t remember specifically when I saw it for the first time. I have a deep memory of watching it with my Aunt and Uncle at a young age, and of course when I was older it was a staple in the household I became part of and then throughout life with my brother. There are few movies more beloved in the home I grew up in than The Terminator, and its sequel Judgement Day. This was a groundbreaking film that studios have always been determined to turn into a franchise with one desperate attempt after another. This movie undoubtedly left room to grow, but for whatever reason there is just no way to recreate the success of these movies with James Cameron behind camera.

James Cameron may be an asshole and notoriously hard to work with, but he is a God at filmmaking. I would literally put him on par with the likes of Stanley Kubrick and early Steven Spielberg. I think he is one of the most inventive and industry changing men alive today and I think the Avatar sequels will surprise us all in new and exciting groundbreaking ways. He took science fiction to new heights with films like this one, Aliensand The AbyssHe stole the hearts of women all over the world with Titanic, making it one of the most successful box office films at all. Making that accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that Titanic has a three hour run time that limits how many tickets can be sold in a day. He broke all the records again when he revolutionized 3D films with Avatar. I saw it in the theater four times and it was worth every penny because it was a truly exceptional experience. You can never watch the movie today and get that same effect that the 3D created in the movie theater, if you missed it back in 09 you made a grave mistake. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it hit theaters again before it’s long awaited sequels are released so if you didn’t see it in the theater hold out hope for another chance. I think it’s easy to forget that there are more Avatar movies coming because it has been so long but when they come out James Cameron will again prove to be one of the most capable and revolutionizing filmmakers there is.

I don’t think one paragraph can accurately cover how much of a badass James Cameron is. I often joke that after Titanic and Avatar that James Cameron could make a movie about anything and studios would fall all over themselves for the rights to fund it. He could literally pitch a biographical feature about his old German Sheppard Wolfie and they’d give him a 250 million dollar budget for the film. This wasn’t always the case though as prior to this film he was actually living in his car. In fact his vision for this movie was so much grander than the budget allowed he had to cut many corners. In an effort to save money Cameron created what he called “guerrilla film making” where he would film on location without the proper permits. A lot of the movie is shot at night because Cameron and crew would show up, set up, and film as quickly as possible before the cops showed up to shut them down. The man may be hard to work with, he may be demanding and even occassionally bring his stars to tears, but the man is a badass and nobody can deny that.

Sometimes is takes a badass to make a badass and that is certainly the case when it comes to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who knows where Schwarzenegger would be today without landing the role in this film. Like Kanye and Taylor Swift, Cameron made that bitch famous. Sure his career had already started with the Conan movies but does anybody really think those parts were going to help him ascend to the next level? Would he have ever reached the heights that he has without these 17 lines of dialogue that gave him the opportunity to get better before his next role? Schwarzenegger could barely speak English back in the day and his accent has never really faded but he was able to overcome that due to the iconic part that made him famous.

When you look at Arnold Schwarzenegger you have to marvel at what the man has accomplished. Here is an immigrant body builder who has risen to the heights of the acting world, married into one of America’s most famous families, successfully entered and exited politics, and maintains his fame even now. I think he is a true example of how anybody is capable of anything in this country. It truly is the land of opportunity for certain people and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a prime example. At one point Schwarzenegger was the highest paid actor in Hollywood, he was elected to not one but two terms as The Govenator, and now he is slowly becoming Donald Trump 2.0. It’s an interesting story and I’m sure there are so many untold stories behind the man that only deepen the intrigue. There are probably already several books written about him but I’d really like to read the one that covers the whole life. There is still an uncertain future that lies ahead and Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man who can reach out and grab it for himself.

One of the reasons this is one of my favorite Schwarzenegger roles is that he actually plays the bad guy in this movie. The cold hearted ruthless bad guy that doesn’t eat or sleep but simply kills and will never stop. I may give a lot of credit to Cameron for how things turned out for Schwarzenegger but he brought his own ability to this movie. It wasn’t enough to look the part so much, he had to be the part. Schwarzenegger didn’t want to act like a robot, he wanted to be a robot. He spent countless hours working with guns prior to shooting and got so good that he was literally criticized for being too good by gun enthusiasts. His presence looms over this movie so much that it’s a tribute to his own personal prowess as a man and person. He only has 17 lines in this movie and speaks less than Stallone did in Rocky when he specifically wrote the part with little dialogue to mask his difficulty speaking. Interesting the parallels of the once action kings right? Schwarzenegger and Stallone both had problems speaking and burst onto the scene with movies that had them speaking less.

Funny factoid, OJ Simpson was originally considered and desired for the role of the terminator but he was deemed too nice. It was thought that people would never be able to accept him as a cold blooded killer. You can twist your head around backwards trying to imagine how that decision may have changed the fate of the American timeline right there. Would OJ and not Arnold turned into America’s fan favorite action star? How different his life would have been…

James Cameron was fond of casting Michael Biehn and I’ve always liked that about him too. I don’t know the story behind Biehn and why he never quite made it to the next level of acting but I have always been a big fan of his work. I think one of the problems with all these new Terminator films is that they keep trying to recast Kyle Reese and they fail. You just can’t top Biehn in the part. I think this is where he was at his best with his role in Aliens a close second, his role in the Abyss certainly doesn’t win him any awards. When I was little and would play with my G.I. Joes there was always a character who would play out a Reese scenario and generally be molded after the character. One of my favorites would be the soldier lost in time and have to fight his way through all the others.

Don’t want to delve too far into Sarah Hamilton here because there is really more to be said of her in the sequel Terminator 2 when she goes full blown Ripley. In this movie she is the soft and delicate victim. In truth a very typical character that we usually see in slasher films, which as a matter of fact some actually consider The Terminator to be. However one difference being that she actually gets down and dirty yet still survives in the end. Sarah Conner isn’t some typical teen running from the killer though, she’s the adolescent badass of the future. Of course she has sex and still manages to survive. Plus she had to make Jon Connor, and become badass mother of the future.

This was one of the most popular movies I remember growing up. The 80s were a terrific time with many groundbreaking and legendary movies being made but this one sticks out as different. I do not know how old I was when I saw it for the first time but I remember where I was and who I was with. It was a movie that I never would have been allowed to watch at home but it was with my Aunt and Uncle that I saw it for the first time. I remember learning the word motherfucker and thinking it was just awesome. I generally credit Wesley Snipes and Passenger 57 for teaching me that beloved nomenclature but this actually preceded it by quite a while. My parents probably would have flipped had they known I had seen this movie but I had a cool uncle and he introduced me to a lot.

Eventually I would enter into a new family dynamic around the age of  10 or so and in that household the action movie was king. We would watch action movies all the time and over and over again. The Terminator and it’s sequel were some of the most popular and to this day the movies are regularly referenced in my household. In fact I think there is a specific corner of my brother’s brain where the movies just play on a loop non stop. I’ll get to more of that with Judgement Day, but the point being this was an influential movie not only in the movie industry but in the very household I grew up in and in my young life.

I have rambled on for a long time now and still have managed to say so little about something so big. There is so much more to this movie and I could never hope to cover it. I may know it like the back of my hand but there is still so much that I know nothing about. For example, there was probably a lot James Cameron’s wife, Gale Anne Hurd, had to do with it as she has gone on to have a really storied career herself. There is a lot to be said of Stan Winston and the special effects his company were able to create. With a movie so influential and groundbreaking there are plenty of people and things to cover but I think it’s time for this rambler to ramble on.

If you haven’t seen this movie then frankly I think there is something wrong with you. Maybe you’re a kid that doesn’t know any better and been blinded by all these new Terminator movies, I’ll get to that in the review for the third film. Point being any movie enthusiast has already seen this movie and they know. Not only is it worth your time but it’s worth your money, it’s worth your attention, and it’s worth that sponge inside of all of us that absorbs influence and binds to the fiber of our soul. This movie isn’t going to change your life or anything but it’s going to entertain the hell out of you. It’s going to raise the bar for what you expect of movies because it shows what a movie is capable of. Even after more than thirty years and multiple attempts to recreate they simply can’t do what this movie does.

NEXT MOVIE: Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) 

The Running Man

Year: 1987
Directed By: Paul Michael Glaser
Written By: Richard Bachman (Stephen King) and Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve never realized before but this movie is set in 2017. So I first have to question how could they be so wrong? Not only are we not executing our prisoners on network television in 2016 but the world seems to be more PC than ever. At the very least we could be collaring our prisoners with exploding devices to prevent escape. My second question would have to be for myself, and why it’s been so long since I last saw this movie.

It’s been probably as many as 15 years since I have seen this movie. I added it to the collection a few years ago around the time The Hunger Games was coming out. I distinctly remember joking on a regular basis that I wasn’t seeing the movie because “I had seen The Running Man.” While I did eventually see that movie and found it to be OK I still think it was simply a rip off of this movie, and a version with kids can never match up to the one with Schwarzenegger.

This movie is campy and cheesy but I loved it when I was a kid and I love it now. It kind of takes me back a little to those days when I was 15 and still thought Pro Wrestling was cool. This movie is like Pro Wrestling only with killing, and a mob mentality on the outside that rivals the French Revolution. Both the thematic element of the show as well as the reaction by the public are stolen ideas by the Hunger Games books.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is when the elderly lady puts her money on Schwarzenegger getting the next kill despite him being the should be victim and not a stalker. She says “He’s a mean motherfucker!” and coming from that sweet looking old lady that line is just golden. This movie also features an awesome fight scene between Schwarzenegger and his old buddy Jesse “the Body” Ventura. Two men who would both eventually go into politics with great success. Ventura serving as GoverBody in Minnesota and Schwarzenegger serving as the Governator of California. The latter actually used this movie as an inside joke during his campaign, labeling his campaign bus “The Running Man.” I would love to go back to 1987 and catch people coming out of the theater to see there impressions on this possibility in the future.

The Running Man book was written by Richard Bachman, a pseudonym created by Stephen King so he could publish more books. King literally wrote too many books for his publisher and had to create a new author he could publish under the guise of. It was a big deal and a very secret pseudonym for some time. Eventually hardcore fans started figuring it out and Richard Bachman suddenly “died.” However, when the rights to this story were bought it was unknown King was the actual author. I am a big fan of King but have never read this particular book so can’t offer any insight into how it compares.

There is probably a really interesting story in this movie involving Richard Dawson and his part in the film. Unfortunately I don’t know the story and know little of the man who was a popular game show host long before I was born. A real game show host playing an evil game show host in a movie has to have interesting real life comparisons behind the scenes.

This is far from a perfect action movie but it was memorable if nothing else. It has a cheesy screenplay from a guy who specialized in these types of films and it’s based on a story from a legitimate Wordslinger. I have to give it a thumbs up if for no other reason than somebody modified the idea and made millions on it with Jennifer Lawrence. There are better movies out there more worthy of your time but should you spend yours with this one it wouldn’t be completely wasted.

NEXT MOVIE: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

 

Red Sonja

Year: 1985
Directed By: Richard Fleischer
Written By: Robert E How.ard (character), Clive Exton and George MacDonald Fraser (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Right now I am actually sitting down to this movie for the first time since it made its way into the collection. It is a somewhat newer purchase and I ordered it on Amazon for nostalgic reasons. I remember this movie when I was a little kid in love with the movie Willow. At that young prepubescent age I was moved nevertheless by the bold beauty of Brigitte Nielsen with the fiery red hair of Red Sonya. Not just that, but when I was five I thought anything involving swords was awesome.

I remember this movie coming on TV when I was really young and my mom let me watch it. I remember her telling me about how Brigitte Nielsen was married to Sylvester Stallone. She would talk about Stallone and Schwarzenegger when this movie was on and it left an impression on me that made a difference later on.

I’m seeing Brigitte Nielsen now for the first time as Red Sonya, fighting and defeating an Asian sparring partner. She is such a powerful looking woman, so tall and intimidating. Beautiful in a way that befits a warrior princess of sorts. She may not have been the type of actress that was ever going to win awards but her casting as Red Sonja is on par with Dolph Lundgren as He-Man in Masters of the Universe

I was under the impression Schwarzenegger was merely in this movie as a Conan cameo but I see now that I was wrong about that. I really didn’t remember this movie well when I indulged myself with an impulsive internet purchase. I find it odd that this is the movie Schwarzenegger chose to take on following The Terminator. Had it not been for his role in Commando he could have so easily been typecast into that Conan type role which would have went nowhere as the 80s progressed.

The young Asian actor in this movie is none other than Ernie Reyes Jr. That’s right, this little prince of whatever is actually Keno from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. Which was not a good movie, but when it came out I was at the age that qualified it as the greatest movie ever. In 1991 I was 7, I thought Secret of the Ooze was one of the coolest new movies I had seen, except for Hook maybe.

The sets in this movie are interesting. Yeah they are cheesy but at least they are real. In the scene where the bad guys are in a room full of lit candles for example. That’s the kind of thing that can be done digitally now but back in 85 some poor person had to painstakingly light all those candles because in the 80s they had to actually make the sets. I’m not suggesting that what they did in this movie was great or anything, just pointing out the merit in actually putting in the work.

OK full disclosure, as hard as it will be to believe, I fell asleep watching this last night. It’s now the following morning and I don’t know how the movie ends. Sad to admit it, but I’m actually OK with that. It’s a sad thing to admit I watched a movie I own and not only don’t know how it ends but have no interest in actually finding out. That being said I don’t think I can tell you this movie is worth your time as I won’t bother giving up anymore of mine.

Last thing worth mentioning is the long standing efforts to do a reboot to this film. At one time Robert Rodriguez was attached with Rose McGowan set to go fiery red and swing the sword. Too bad it didn’t get done because I think McGowan is awesome and Rodriguez no doubt would have made a cool movie.

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NEXT MOVIE: Reign of Fire (2002)

Predator

Year: 1987
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Jim and John Thomas

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here it is, the quintessential action film that my brothers and I must have watched a million times growing up. This movie, as much as Die Hard, is a perfect movie for the genre. Technically it qualifies as sci/fi but this first film is all action aside from the Predator. They took a group of badasses, gave them a nice array of firepower, and dropped them in the jungle to make a movie. That is just a formula for success and it worked so well that the Predator is still a successful franchise nearly thirty years later. They have been hit or miss with sequels and spin offs but the Predator has become an iconic character that people will always show up to see.  No matter how many times I see this movie myself I still get into it every time. It takes me back and I find myself wishing I could break out my G.I. Joes again and mimic the story line with my play.

The cool thing about this movie is that for the first half of the film it’s straight action while the real threat lurks in the background. There is the drop off scene in the beginning with the spaceship but afterwards the actual Predator isn’t seen for almost half of the film. The Predator himself is worth waiting for. A villain so badass the military has literally spent millions of dollars and years of research trying to replicate some of his technology. I remember reading an article in a magazine over ten years ago about how the military was trying to develop a predator style camouflage. I don’t know if that was ever achieved but I’m certain if they were doing that they were also trying to develop their own ideas after the Predator’s mask that allows heat seeking vision and voice synthesizing technology.

The cast of this movie is so interesting because not fifteen years later two of these men would have served in highest office of State Government. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a man with an interesting history, is notable for being the highest elected third party politician when he was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1999. As a Reform Party candidate he held office from 1999 to 2003. Arnold Schwarzenegger also famously served two terms during his hiatus from being an action star from 2003 to 2011. Now I am much more familiar with Schwarzenegger as a politician than I am “The Body” because in 2003 I was a young politically minded college kid. I was a way left liberal back then but I loved the Governator. He had such an interesting approach to politics. During an election year when everybody was trying to hide all their dirty secrets and deny everything Arnold Schwarzenegger would run head long into his own controversies. With an attitude that was real he admitted to his past discretions and just called it the product of another time. Sure he sexually harrarrassed some women, sure he smoked pot once or twice, sure there was that sound clip of him explaining that he was “cumming all the time” (see below) but none of it could phase the would be Govenator. He had surprising charisma and I loved how casual he was when everyone else was so stiff. I found it incredibly interesting how he left office and immediately went back into acting to reclaim his mantle of greatest action star. He hasn’t really achieved that yet but this new Terminator film looks interesting. Both of these men, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse “The Body” Ventura (long time friends no less), have lived such interesting lives. If you have the opportunity they’re both “worth a Google.”

The rest of the crew in this movie can’t go unmentioned. Carl Weathers and Bill Duke were both great in this movie. I have always been a big fan of Weathers, and Duke has such an intimidating look about him. Their last stand together is legendary and left an impression on me from an early age. I once saw a skit on SNL that featured Carl Weathers in which he kept referring to himself as “the black guy from Predator” over and over again. I don’t even remember what the skit was actually about but I still laugh at it randomly when it pops into my head occasionally. I don’t know much about Sonny Landham but I once watched a feature special on this movie and the way people talked about him was interesting. He was apparently quite the wild man and they had a guy shadow him during filming simply to keep him out of trouble. I love how he wounds himself before taking on the predator in his last stand, such a badass Native American warrior. The famous action writer/director Shane Black played the part of Hawkins, notable only for saying pussy multiple times in the film. Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the part of the predator but couldn’t hack it and was replaced by the much taller 6’9” Kevin Peter Hall. Of course Van Damme couldn’t hack it, he may look cool at first with his fancy splits and strange accent but the more I hear about that guy the more I hear he isn’t for real.

Nobody really matters in this movie like the last man standing though. Schwarzenegger played many memorable and iconic roles over throughout his career but this movie is just such a spotlight for him. When he goes toe to toe with the Predator and it comes down to fisticuffs he set the bar incredibly high for other would be action stars. This guy, Arnold freaking Schwarzenegger, is exactly why I can’t abide by the standards of the 20teens, or whatever you want to call them, and accept Liam Neeson as an action star. I tried to watch the first Taken, all the while thinking “who does this guy think he is?” Action stars gotta have more, they have to measure up to the Terminator, Commando, Harry Tasker, Conan, Jack Slater, and of course Dutch. Dutch doesn’t stress about this big ass scary alien, no, he smears mud all over himself and sets traps for it. Low on ammo? Not a problem for Dutch, he’ll just manufacture himself a bow and arrow and take on the space alien Indian style. In the end it takes an ass whooping and a last minute trick but Dutch wins out, as Schwarzenegger always does. A nuclear explosion can’t even take him out, in true Schwarzenegger style he simply dives behind a sturdy plateau of ground and survives despite everything. A true American hero, lost his whole crew and had to single handedly defend Earth from this alien but he did it and he won. That’s just American, that’s the motherf****** Govenator.

This scenario, a group of soldiers trekking through the jungle as they are picked off one at a time by an unknown enemy was one I re-enacted many times with my toys as a little kid. I used to have the most epic games with my G.I. Joes when I was little and I would have them act out a variety of scenarios from my favorite action films. This one was always one of my favorites. I would go the whole nine yards often coloring red on my Joes with a washable marker to simulate blood. Some even had appendages that had gotten old and could easily be removed and put back into place. That Joe always turned out to be the one to lose a leg. When a Joe’s coolness finally wore out on me or he was simply getting too old he would be the victim of an explosion and the pieces of his body would become the debris scattered across the battlefield. Oh how I loved and miss that youthful age when I could have so much fun just using my imagination.

This is an awesome movie, a stalwart in the collection of any action fan who grew up through the golden years of the genre. This movie gets me every time and I never get bored of it. I love the testosterone driving masculinity behind it all. Some evenings when both of my daughters are asleep and my wife is busy in the kitchen this is the kind of movie that can get my blood pumping. When you live in a world of pink and princesses, Predator is like a lightening bolt that zaps some adrenaline into the world. If you haven’t seen this movie then you have missed out. It is a classic film that is not only worth your time but worth your money as well.

NEXT MOVIE: Predators

Despite this, he got elected Governor of California. Two times. America really is the land of opportunity. This is one of the most interesting men of the last century.

Last Action Hero

Year: 1993
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Zak Penn and Adam Leff (story), Shane Black and David Arnott

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was nine years old when this movie came out and I was this kid Danny Madigan.  I spent a lot of time in theaters watching movies alone, I lived for action movies, and I would have given anything for them to suddenly become my reality like they did for Danny in this movie. Naturally I loved the movie and still do despite how it was received when released.  It was a big budget movie that Schwarzenegger had invested a lot in but it was a critical and financial flop being released in the wake of Jurassic Park hitting the big screen.  The epic movie about dinosaurs immediately made box office history and largely overshadowed everything else that came out in the summer of 1993. Despite all that this movie was right up my alley and I still enjoy watching it today.

I have always been a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and admire the life he has lived. As an immigrant to this country he rose to become one of the biggest celebrities in the movie business and then went on to govern the largest state in the union. I grew up during his power years in the movie industry and came of age during his sabbatical into politics.  I call it simply a sabbatical because he has immediately tried to reassert himself into the movie industry after leaving office. He has had an interesting life and I have always loved his films, especially the ones in which he takes a comedic approach.  This movie gave him a chance to take a lot of shots at himself and make fun of what had come to be expected from him as an actor. I love how over the top his performance as Jack Slater is because that in itself was taking shots at his career and he seemed to have a lot of fun with it.  I really like how he can’t pronounce his own name correctly when he gets into the real world. In his efforts to say the name he is actually using an Austrian word that means something I can’t remember.

This movie was made by a great action movie director in John McTiernan who is probably known most for directing one of the greatest action movies of all time, Die HardWhat I have learned now is that not only was a great director behind camera but two of the writers involved have made significant splashes the last couple of years. This was the first story written by Zak Penn who just recently wrote the script for one of the most successful movies of all time, The Avengers.  Serving as screenwriter for this movie was Shane Black, who is living large right now after directing the third Iron Man movie that I am hearing good things about. We will probably wait for it to hit DVD before seeing it, it’s so hard to get out to the theater these days with two kids and our jobs.

Charles Dance was cast as the lead villain when Alan Rickman was unavailable.  I am a big fan of Alan Rickman but I’m glad he wasn’t able to do this one.  I think Charles Dance is a complete badass both in this movie and in his current role on Game of Thrones as Tywin Lannister. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Danny threatens him not to hurt one hair on Brdigette Wilson’s head.  Dance tells his henchmen to stop and then pulls a hair from her head and breaks it in two right before his eyes.  “You were saying?” he asks, such a great villain.  I love a bad guy who is ruthless yet still has a sense of humor. With a cool selection of awesome glass eyes that also double as bombs to go along with his wit I think he fits the bill for great bad guy. I think it’s awesome how quickly he realized what happened when he crossed over realities, and how he was able to exploit the situation. On Game of Thrones he was perfect casting for the part of Tywin Lannister.  I particularly like how the show introduces his character in season one when he talks down to his son as he is graphically skinning a dear.

I’m sure there are plenty of things a strong critic could say about this movie but I don’t care.  This is a fun movie and sometimes having fun is the most important thing about viewing a film.  This movie had a big influence on my imagination as a kid and for my growing love of films.  While it is without doubt not Schwarzenegger’s best film it has always been one of my favorites from him.  It’s fast paced, funny, and it brings back old memories for me so naturally I would recommend it to anyone.  I have a biased opinion obviously but maintain confidence in the recommendation.  I think if you give this movie your time you will find that it was worth it.  Leave us a comment if you are so inclined and let us know how you feel about the film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time that I watched this movie. I wasn’t really sure what the hell I was actually watching at first, but then it sucked me in and I realized I actually liked it. Watching it today, I can’t help but imagine that little boy as Ryan. It is totally how I see him having growing up in the movie theater. The movies raised him and he lived to see movies. Shit he still lives to watch movies. This one is really fun and entertaining, and even makes fun of the action movie genre in itself.

lastactionhero

I had to take a double take to make sure that I wasn’t posting the Back to the Future review. This is just another one of those posters from this time. The awesome gradient in the typography, and the caricature-like images of the actors. This poster is cheezy, the movie is cheezy, so grab yourselves some cheetos and watch this cheezy ass movie. It’s worth a fun time.

NEXT MOVIE: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Kindergarten Cop

Year: 1990
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod, and Timothy Harris

RYAN’S REVIEW

Having just watched and reviewed another movie from our “Arnold Schwarzenegger Comedy Collection” I wasn’t too enthused about watching this one.  It is another collaboration of Schwarzenegger and Ivan Reitman but this one is much funnier.  Like their other collaborations, this is a stupid movie when looked at as a whole, but at the same time this one offers too much to laugh at to simply be overlooked.

Schwarzenegger is way over the top as Detective Kimble to the point that it’s annoying but that’s where looking at this movie as a whole makes it stupid.  What make it funny are his interactions with the children and it’s not just funny it’s downright hilarious.  This big badass Austrian can handle any criminal under the sun but when he is faced with a group of five-year olds they eat him alive.  I literally didn’t even want to watch this movie but as I sit here I find myself laughing more and more. For nearly my entire life, every time I have heard the word “tumor” I can’t help but do my best Schwarzenegger impression (which is not good) and reply, “It’s not a tuma!”

This is a movie that can’t help but be funny because the situation alone is too comedic.  I have two small children myself and children can be such little monsters sometimes. Don’t get me wrong because I love them both more than anything in the world, but children can be trying.  Is there anything scarier in the world than trying to control a large group of them? Small children quickly develop a mob mentality when the wrong person is in charge and there is no stopping the chaos that can come. I think what makes this movie relevant despite everything else is that it captures that chaos and Schwarzenegger responds to it with a comedic element that I don’t know he is actually capable of.  I think his reactions to it are just downright honest to the situation and how anybody would react to it.  It’s just funnier in this case because it was America’s favorite shoot’em up muscle man trying to contain the insanity.

This scenario has been redone time and time again at this point but this was the first time I know of and that makes it the most relevant one.  Going strictly from memory I remember The Rock in a situation like this in some movie I didn’t see as well as Vin Diesel once doing something else similar.  It’s very rarely though I see a movie Vin Diesel is in so I definitely didn’t see that one. It’s always funny to see these big bad guys try to handle children though because all of us that have children know exactly how difficult it can be.  Dealing with a deadly drug dealer or some mastermind criminal bent on taking over the world can seem like small potatoes when you have lived with small children who have an energy and temperament that is simply supernatural.

This may be a stupid movie in many aspects but that doesn’t change the fact that it is without doubt worth your time.  I grew up watching Schwarzenegger shoot, beat, and kill countless men in film after film so this change of pace for him has always been one I liked a lot.  Any time I catch this movie on TV I can’t avoid it and I suggest you don’t either because if you haven’t seen it then you are missing out.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This was one of my absolute favorite movies when I was little. I think it was almost everyone my age’s favorite movie growing up. It was very quotable and I remember watching it late at night with my brother and laughing so hard my sides hurt. My dad loved Arnold. I remember him watching it with us and laughing just as hard as us.

kindergardencop

I think this poster is clever. I love the main image. The typography is classic for its time which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I have to give it credit for being early on the eraser dust font though. Now, to use it would be too cliché. I love the image and the idea behind the poster. You never really see white like this covering a poster either. I think white helps to show the wholesome quality of the movie.

NEXT MOVIE: King Kong (2005)

Junior

Year: 1994
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Kevin Wade and Chris Conrad

RYAN’S REVIEW

Ivan Reitman has always seen the humor in taking America’s biggest action star and putting him in silly situations.  I have always thought this idea was hilarious and for the most part it worked well for him.  There is however a different school of thought when it comes to this movie specifically. I mentioned this movie at work yesterday and I was immediately greeted with the response of how awful it is.  It seems that it’s acceptable to pair America’s greatest action star in an odd couple scenario with Danny DeVito or pin him as the teacher in a Kindergartner class but the line is drawn when he gets pregnant.  I can’t really argue with that because I will agree this is a really stupid movie, but I have always found things I liked about it.

Now I will admit this movie would have never made it into our DVD collection on its own.  It was a Christmas gift one year from my sister, the “Arnold Schwarzenegger Comedy Pack” that also comes with Kindergarten Cop and TwinsThis may be the worst of that trio but it still makes me laugh. This movie was released the same year as True Lies, one of my favorite action films from Schwarzenegger.  He may have peaked as an actor this year, both in talent and success.  True Lies was an awesome film, but it seems to have all went down for him after that. Was it age that made him less effective in his role as America’s action star or was it this film? I don’t know the answer to that but this one definitely didn’t do anything for his image. I think it was a funny idea on paper but people just didn’t respond very well to it.  I happen to think this was probably his best role acting in his entire career. Although he has made really great movies during that time that this movie does not compare to.  Having gone through two pregnancies with my wife I can really see the humor in the large and intimidating Schwarzenegger having a bun in the oven.  With all the hormones and emotions that come with it.  There is one scene where he chases DeVito down the stairs pestering him about when he will be home for dinner that makes me laugh every time.  I can’t think of anything he did in his career that called for more real acting than him trying to pull off a performance as a man carrying a baby and mostly acting against his nature.  There is one scene in which he is just lying in bed crying over a touching commercial, feeling it the way a pregnant woman would.  How can anyone not see the humor in that?

Part of me thinks this movie was only made because Reitman, DeVito, and Schwarzenegger just really wanted to get back together for something.  Schwarzenegger and DeVito made a great tandem in Twins and I think they probably spent years wanting to do something else together. All they needed was a really funny idea to try to recapture the success they had with their first collaboration.  This movie really fell short of that effort but they made the effort and that counts for something, I suppose.  There has actually been some talk since Schwarzenegger’s return to acting about making a sequel to Twins with Eddie Murphy thrown in as an unlikely new brother.  I think this is a desperate attempt to get back into the game, as most of Schwarzenegger’s efforts have been since leaving office in California. As stupid as I think it is though I will probably still see it if it ever gets made.  I’m a sucker for the two of these guys working together even if it is a ridiculous idea at this point.  Both Schwarzenegger and DeVito have seen their better days and I don’t think it’s realistic to expect much more from them at this point.

I have always been a fan of Danny DeVito as both an actor and a filmmaker.  His movie Death to Smoochy is one of my favorite movies of all time despite the fact it was really poorly received by both the critics and fans alike.  I still like DeVito today but more and more now he is simply playing the part of a creepy old guy.  I think his part on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has really gotten out of hand and I wish that he would leave the show.  It’s still a really funny show but I feel DeVito only brings sickness to the table there.  I think he is better than that and I don’t know why he has lowered himself to that level.

I have loved many of Ivan Reitman’s films and consider some of them the best comedies ever made.  Like Schwarzenegger’s career after this film though, it was all downhill for him once this one came out.  He hasn’t made a really great movie in almost twenty five years now and I don’t see any reason to expect anything significant to come from him at this point.  We will always have the films he has already given us though and those will always make him significant in film history.  No matter what; Ghostbusters will always be one of the greatest comedies of all time and that’s just to name one of his.

Is this movie worth your time? I don’t know if I really feel right telling you that it is.  I like the movie but will admit it isn’t that great.  For a while in high school this was actually my sleeper movie.  I would put it in every night as I was going to sleep and I would be out in no time.  I feel that gives the wrong impression about the movie because I do think it is funny.  So my recommendation in for this one is to use your own best judgment.  If you have gone through the nine months yourself or with a significant other I think there is plenty to laugh about in this for you.  If you are inexperienced with those nine months though I think you are taking a significant chance on it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Junior. This movie is ridiculous. I have seen it so many times and yet I really have nothing productive to say about this movie. I think it is somewhat funny, and the contrast of Danny DeVito and Arnold is incredibly ridiculous, but it’s an okay movie. Having had two babies myself, I find it kind of stupid to make a movie around a man like Arnold getting pregnant, junior I mean, really? What am I supposed to say about this poster? Arnold Schwarzenegger is pregnant! “Nothing is inconceivable?” I really have nothing else to say about it. Even the typography is out of left field on this one. (Nice glasses, it definitely….helps….you look more paternal?)

NEXT MOVIE: Jurassic Park (1993)

Total Recall

Year: 1990
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: The original story was inspired by a short story by Phillip K. Dick and then there were several others.

RYAN’S REVIEW

We are on vacation right now and doing something out of the norm with the blog. As a onetime thing we are breaking the order of going through our collection as it sits on the shelf and reviewing a movie that normally wouldn’t come for a long time.  Since the remake of Total Recall is hitting theaters soon we felt this was a perfect time to make an exception. I’ll admit that the remake of this film does look really good, but this will really be a hard film to top.

I think this movie was ahead of its time in many ways.  It’s got a clever and twisted plot that has an interesting ability to suck the viewer in. That is the only reason I am interested in a remake.  This is the kind of movie that could be so much better had the actual technology of the future been incorporated into it.  I think the trailer for the new movie inspires a lot of hope, but as far as this one goes I think it is really interesting to see what they thought the future was going to offer.

I think this is easily one of the best movies Schwarzenegger made during his career.  In truth he made many great movies that I love dearly, but I do honestly think this one ranks right up there next to Terminator or PredatorThis movie is a nonstop thrill ride with plenty of twists and explosions, not to mention a lot of sex appeal (there is a chick with three boobs for crying out loud). That cast is great and the director was on a personal role at the time.  Paul Verhoven made Robocop prior to this film and one of my all time favorites after, Basic InstinctThose two and this film are all I will vouch for, but they are all three awesome.  I like these movies from Verhoven but his career went askew after Basic Instinct and since he has made many bust and even disasters (Starship Troopers).   I read once that Sharon Stone refused to show more of her body during a sex scene in this movie, and that Verhoven “got her back” in his next film.  I’ll admit a little nudity from Stone could have only made her part better but it was quite a role she played.  I have always been a big fan of Stone and I think she is great in this movie.  She is sinister and sexy.  The way she can change directions in an instant to try and manipulate Quaid is quite impressive.

I really like Ronny Cox and Michael Ironside as the bad guys.  Ronny Cox plays a much better bad guy than good guy in my opinion and this is a role he was perfect for.  When he chews out Rictor in his office for the first time he gave the performance of his career.  He is awesome in several movies though, I have always liked him. Bryan Cranston plays Cohaagen in the remake and I think he will be great in the role. Cranston has shown quite capable of playing a powerful villain as we have seen in Breaking Bad. Michael Ironside is an actor that was never used enough in my opinion.  He has such a nasty and serious look to him. I think he is great in the role of Rictor.

There is an incredible story to how this movie was actually made if I am not mistaken.  It was inspired by a short story by Phillip K Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” Phillip K Dick of course is the writer that inspired movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report. The movie was initially set with a different director and Patrick Swayze was attached to star.  Schwarzenegger had really wanted to play Robocop but was too large to fit the suit. He still wanted to work with Verhoven though and kept an eye out for something they could do together.  When he heard of this movie he thought it would be perfect for the two of them.  Now, if I remember correctly Schwarzenegger pretty much muscled this movie out the hands that it belonged in.  I remember specifically thinking there must be a fascinating story to the clout and power Schwarzenegger wielded during this time in the movie business.  What it must be like to actually be muscled by that guy, who would one day go on to become Governor of California.  Unfortunately this isn’t a topic of interest I ever followed up on but I suggest anybody interested look into it yourself.  There is a weird story behind the rights to this movie and how they were acquired.

This is an exciting movie that can suck the viewer in and the thrills keep coming for almost two hours.  This movie is somewhat outdated now but that doesn’t take away from its value. I think it is an incredible and cool action/sci-fi film, one of the best of an era.  I wasn’t thrilled to see Colin Farrell cast in the lead for the remake but I will give it a shot.  I don’t think this movie should have been remade because this one was awesome, but I do understand why they did it.  This movie is worth your time and you should definitely check it out before seeing the knock off version that will be hitting theaters soon.

AMBER REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. As Ryan said above, we are on vacation. When we started watching this movie, I started drinking Skinnygirl Margaritas. (They are no joke, and apparently, I told Ryan as much “a million times”). In any case, I got immediately sucked in. I love the perception that the eighties had on what the future would hold. I think the writers of those movies just went wild with their imaginations instead of researching like most movies do today (i.e. I, Robot and Minority Report). We made it through half of this movie before I fell asleep and don’t remember the rest. We finally finished it yesterday. I was thoroughly impressed with this movie. I really liked it and I can’t wait for the new one. I hope that we have a chance to go to the theater and watch it.

 I kiiiiiinnnndddda like this design. I am struggling a little bit with it. It isn’t clean and is kind of cliché, but I guess it works for this movie. Arnold is all in focus on the front because he has such a recognizable face. The font is nice and extraterrestrial like which also works for the genre. Ehh, it’s alright I guess. I look forward to seeing the new one.