Friday, August 17, 2012

Top 5 Films Featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger

This list is in no particular order. These are just some of my favorite films that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and one of the stars of the new film "The Expendables 2" has been in over the years that I enjoyed either based solely on his performance or it was just a generally well made and enjoyable film that he happened to part of in a supporting capacity.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for a number of things in the film world and none of those are his acting skills. While that is damning label for just about any other actor out there working today (save for maybe Keanu Reeves somehow), Arnie has made a career out of playing each of his films as himself or at the very least a parody of himself. The unfortunate side effect is that if you don't care for him, you will most likely never care for any of his films, which would be a damn shame because he has single handedly made some of the most influential and genre defining films of any actor of all time and helped pioneer what soon became known as an action hero. His resume reads like a pop culture highlight reel with such classics as "Predator", "Terminator", "Conan" and "Total Recall" that are so ingrained in the minds of everyone that even if they haven't seen them, most will have at least heard of them. Even his lighter fare such as "Twins" and "Kindergarten Cop" are considered classics by many and even though his career isn't free of trash ("Junior" and the horrible misfire known as "Last Action Hero"), he will always be considered one of the best action film stars that has ever lived. It wasn't easy but I present to you my list of the top five Arnold Schwarzenegger films of all time, "Ha Ha, I love it!".



Forget about that lame remake, this is the real deal. Released at the height of Arnie's career and popularity, "Total Recall" was and still is a force to be reckoned with. Directed by Paul Verhoeven ("Robocop", "Starship Troopers") and sporting cutting edge visual effects (for the time anyway), this film comes from an era where a large budget and a no holds barred approach to filmmaking were commonplace. Sporting not only one of the best performances from Arnie of his career, it also stands as one of the best action/science-fiction films ever made due mostly in part to its smart script and gratuitous violence (the film earned an X rating when first submitted to the MPAA). Out of all his films, "Total Recall" stands tall as probably the best mixture of everything his fans loved about his movies, great action, great effects and some of the best one-liners in film history, "See you at the party Richter!".



Once again, forget about that lackluster reboot from last year and the sub par 1984 sequel, this film is yet even more proof that the original is still and always shall be the best. Arnie was just getting started here but oh my what a start it was. His gargantuan figure and his then strange accent were a perfect fit for this swords and sorcery epic. Very few films can be labeled as perfect with little argument, but "Conan the Barbarian" is just such a film. From its immense scope, practical sets that were made from scratch (they built a stone temple on the side of a mountain!), one of the best villains to ever grace the screen with James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom and without a doubt one of the single greatest film soundtracks ever created, it has no equal in its genre. There isn't much left to say other than this is a classic that will never be replaced and a stark reminder of what made Arnie the superstar he would soon after become.



The concept is simple, alien vs. Arnold, but like most great films it is the execution that matters most and director John McTiernan showed extreme skill in constructing a film that many would try (and fail) at replicating for decades to come. This is the one and only film on this list where Arnie is ever upstaged by a co-star, but it took a creature from another world to finally give the mammoth action star someone worthy to face off against. With creature effects done by the legendary Stan Winston, a testosterone filled cast of muscle bound grunts whose appeal and masculinity have never been equaled in any other film to date and the predator himself, one of the most recognized and beloved Sci-Fi creations to come out of the 80's, there isn't much more it could have done to set more standards. Still as exciting today as it was when it was first released, "Predator" is a timeless classic that actually gets better with age.



Arnie's third and last collaboration with long time friend and director James Cameron, "True Lies" is a film that is part spy/espionage parody and part action thrill ride, but excels at both miraculously. Upon release there were complaints that the terrorists depicted in it were a little too cartoonish to be taken seriously, and you know what? They were right, but this film was never meant to be taken as some sort of political statement, it was a farce and nothing more. "True Lies" features some amazing action sequences and stunts that have no real equal and the comedy portions involving Arnie's wife, played by Jamie Lee Curtis, and a scene stealing Tom Arnold as his partner were just icing on the cake. The action was slick (that harrier jet sequence still impresses), Arnie was the perfect blend of self parody and earnestness and James Cameron just seems to be having a whole lot of fun behind the camera. Without a doubt, one of the more all around entertaining and light hearted action films of Arnie's career.



James Cameron and Arnie's first venture together, here is the one that will cause some controversy. Most will wonder where the hell T2 is and how this even compares to that landmark film? I understand them completely, T2 was and still is one of the best sequels ever made and improved upon the first film in many ways. However, it was still a sequel and one that didn't stray too far from the formula at that. Plus, and I may be alone here, but I still think Arnie made a much stronger impression as the unstoppable killing machine than the kid friendly version we got in T2. Here he was at the peak of his physical conditioning, was still a relatively unknown commodity and just look menacing as all hell. Plus this film, unlike the clean and sleek sequel, just felt so damn raw and gritty (mostly due to the guerrilla filmmaking by James Cameron and the extremely low budget). It wasn't afraid to show the terminator punch through the gut of some dude (something the sequel shied away from) or show him wipe out an entire police force. For me there is no contest between the two,  the original "Terminator" is still the best by leaps and bounds and always will be.



Unknown said...

Honorable mention to Running Man.

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