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Archive for the ‘Arnold Schwarzeneger’ Category

How does one choose the best of greatness? How can I chose my favorite Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl victory, all five (that’s right Broncos fans, five wins,) are great.  How can I choose between my favorite Scotch because it’s all great.  I can go on and on but you get my meaning, it is hard to choose greatness when all of it is great.  Yet here is my dilemma, how do I pick a top 5 favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger film?  They are all nirvana (We now and forever will not speak of the abomination known as Junior.  Clearly this film was spawned by the forces of evil and it will never be seen, reviewed, or discussed in any fashion on my blog.) None the less, I have to endeavor to create such a list in order to celebrate the greatness that is Arnold Schwarzenegger.  I also have to do it because Benn Farrell lost the monthly review challenge in March so he has to write many things on Arnold because he lacks the special gift that those who know the greatness of Arnold have because he doesn’t see it.   When he has his list of Top 5 up I will link it here, but I can tell you that Last Action Hero will be in the top 5 as well as possibly Twins, maybe even Kindergarten Cop.  It’s shocking I know, especially the disgrace of Last Action Hero.  But like I said, he lacks that spark.  Anyway, I shall now produce a visual feast that shall make you warm in spirit and make you damn proud to be an American, by celebrating the work of an Austrian.Image: Arnold Schwarzenegger

running manNumber 5: The Running Man (1987)

“It’s time to start running!”  Ah what can you say negative about a movie where the bad guy is one time TV actor and longtime game show host Richard Dawson?  Oh and his henchman are a potpourri of famous football players, former professional wrestlers, and an opera singer.  Oh and the female lead in the film is Maria Conchita Alonso who in the 1990’s went to do what can only be described as Spanish speaking soft core porn.  How can you dislike this movie?  Oh and its based on a book by Richard Bachman, which is a pen name for none other than Stephen King.  Granted this movie has nothing to do with that book with the exception of the title and basic premise but still there is that too.  This is a purely guilty pleasure action film and one of my favorites.  Briefly the story is that in the future America a police helicopter pilot is sent to jail after disobeying orders to fire on a crowd of people who were starving and rioting for food.  He breaks out of prison and is caught again and forced to take part in a life or death game that is televised to the public.   If the prisoner survives the contest he is pardoned and sent to Hawaii…or someplace warm.  The contest is rigged as is society as a whole.  Well fortunately for this America that police helicopter pilot is Ben Richards who is played by the man Arnold Schwarzenegger.  The movie is glorious because of the violence of the film, the ludicrousness of the plot, and there is almost no acting in the film.  It is a vintage Arnold action film of the 1980’s.  Oh and by this point in time it is assumed that Arnold will have one-liners in his film and this has quite a few and they are all memorable.  I may be the only person on the planet who loves this film but I don’t care.  It is awesome and deserves to be on this list.

 

 

 

PredatorNumber 4: Predator (1987)

“If it bleeds, we can kill it.”  This was a wonderful movie on many levels.  It introduced a movie creature that has become an iconic part of American movie culture.  The movie put together some of the largest and biggest men on screen only to see them get torn apart.  Even Arnold can’t out muscle the 7 ft tall alien, but he can out think him, mostly.  It’s a typical 80’s action film with lots of blood and bodies.

You can read my full review here, but the Cliffnotes version of the story is that a group of Special Forces are sent to a Central American country to rescue some politicians.  It turns out the politicians are CIA and the previous groups that were sent to find them have disappeared.  Arnold’s unit finds the other military units slaughtered and begin to think that there is something larger at play then a bunch of rebels.  Things become clearer as they see something pick off his soldiers one by one and Arnold has to face the alien mono v mono to survive.

This movie was intense from beginning to end.  The minute they all jumped into the jungle I was on the edge of my seat until the final explosion.  The director, John McTiernan, did an excellent job building up the suspense and the slow reveal of the monster.  Plus visually this film was stunning with all of the shots of the Jungle.  McTiernan would put the experience of this film to good use when he would go to shoot another jungle film called Medicine Man.

This makes the list because it is full of action and Arnold’s humor.  It also created an iconic monster.  The special effects seemed amazing at the time but they do not hold up well over the long haul, with the exception of the creature costume itself.  Of course the costume was created by legendary special effects man Stan Winston.  This movie is a keeper.

 

conanNumber 3: Conan the Barbarian (1982)

Conan was his first starring movie and really began his career as the action hero he was born to be.  He didn’t have a whole lot of lines in this film and some said that was a good thing because it left all  of the actual acting to the big stars in the film like James Earl Jones and Max Von Sydow to name a few.  This is also one of the few films where Arnold found love and loss.  Again, I have a review of this you can find here, but if you didn’t know what this movie is about, Arnold plays the once and future King Conan and he is on a journey of revenge and redemption trying to find the men responsible for killing off his entire family and village.

I am a fan of this movie for many reasons.  I love the action scenes and they are plenty.  I have always been attracted to the ancient world and its war making.  The concept of holding a sword and shield standing toe to toe with another person holding the same has always fascinated me in a primeval sort of way.  This movie does a wonderful job of tying the action with music and I am a big fan of this music which was written by Basil Poledouris who has written the music for such memorable movies as Hunt for Red October, RoboCop, and was arguably the best thing about Starship Trooper, besides the nudity.  Some of my favorite action scenes with music are the Orgy scene and the final battle on the hill.  But the music is great throughout the film.

The reason why it is my third favorite Arnold film is because it was one of the first ones I have ever seen and the old world background and the bloody action has always appealed to me.   It isn’t higher on the list because the story isn’t great and the acting is mediocre and the special effects are very dated early 80’s.  There is a scene in the Orgy battle where you see a stunt guy break open the very visible blood back after Arnold takes a swing at him.  That being said I have it at number 3 because whenever it’s on TV I will stop and watch it even though I have it on both BluRay and DVD.  The movie was kind of the launching point for his career.  I know some people will say his 70’s documentary Pumping Iron started him off but if this movie bombed I am not sure we get Arnold as the Terminator two years later.  As bad as this movie is, and it’s not horrible, Oliver Stone did write one version of this script, it’s always a fun watch and it has Arnold being a bad ass for most of the movie and you can never go wrong with that.

 

True LiesNumber 2: True Lies (1994)

This move for me proved that if James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger partnered together on every action movie they would own the box office record for action movies.  Unfortunately Cameron used his success to make the stain on the American movie culture known as Titanic and Arnold would never again have the same success as he had in this movie.   This is the third movie Arnold and Cameron worked together on and even though it is my second favorite Arnold movie if you were to tell me it’s his best movie I wouldn’t disagree with you.  This movie is that wonderful.

This movie, which I haven’t done a review for yet, has Arnold as a super secret agent spy who is a bad ass in every way.  However, he has not told his wife of 10+ years that he is a secret agent. She thinks he is a computer software salesman.  Well when Arnold’s character thinks his wife, who is played by the amazing Jamie Lee Curtis, is cheating on him, he creates a sting operation that will eventually and accidentally get them captured by major bad guys who will threaten the US by setting off nuclear weapons inside major cities unless Arnold can stop him.

There are so many things to like about this movie.  The two biggest reasons were Jamie Lee Curtis, who played the wife, and Tom Arnold who played his partner and side kick.  Curtis was amazing in what I would argue is her first action movie (I am ignoring her horror flicks when she was young because running and screaming isn’t action.)  She did a wonderful job of at first acting like the shy, quiet housewife, then getting turned into a sexy secret agent, and finally getting to throw around some punches and acting like a bad ass.  Tom Arnold on the other hand was the comic relief.  He was hilarious in every scene he was in and his timing was perfect.  I have never seen him be that funny and that good at it ever.   These were two excellent casting choices by Cameron.  But to be honest the entire cast was wonderful.

This movie is my second favorite only because I felt that while this was definitely the peak of his movie career, Arnold’s best movie had come three years before this one and that one cemented his place as an action movie icon.  This movie kind of just piled on that point.  This movie is the proof that you can have your cake and eat it too.

terminator2 Number 1:  Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

This is the essential Arnold Schwarzenegger film.  He is an action hero that is allowed to show a little heart and kicks much ass.  While he is the straight man the others, mostly the kid actor, provide a little comedy, and you had a menacing bad guy that was as near indestructible as the alien was from the movie Predator.  This had great action, great characters, ground breaking special effects, and a nice story.  Terminator 2 is Arnold’s largest grossing film in his career and after his run of 80’s action movies this film cemented him in the same lexicon of action hero’s as John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

Again another movie I haven’t reviewed, but the brief version is that Arnold once again reprises his roll as the Terminator from the first movie but this time instead of being sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, played by Linda Hamilton, he is sent back to protect her son John, played by Edward Furlong, from the newest version of the deadly Terminators, the T-1000, played by Robert Patrick.  The story is a race against time to keep John alive, find some way to destroy the new Terminator, and destroy Skynet before it even starts.

I like this movie because I was on the edge of my seat from the beginning to the end.  You never knew when the new terminator would show up and every time you thought they had it beat the robot would rebuild itself and start killing again.  The special effects were amazing because they were able to create this robot using liquid mercury and stop action filming and many other techniques.  Computer graphics were still a few years away so what they were able to do in make this creature was amazing.

The characters were wonderful in the film with the one exception of Edward Furlong.  This was his first film and it showed.  He had the makings of a talented career if he worked at it but he went the wrong direction with drugs and alcohol and has been a B movie, direct video king, ever since.  In this film he was a little annoying which I suppose since he was supposed to be 10 or 11 I guess that’s ok.  Interesting side note: while filming this movie, Edward hit puberty and his voice started to change which created issues with the continuity of the movie.  After it was filmed Furlong had to go into the studio and redo some of his lines in order to fix his voice track.

The biggest change made by a character in this film was Sarah Connor.  In the first Terminator she was basically your standard damsel in distress.   In this film we have her full on bad ass female that has become an icon of strong woman in films.  She was no nonsense, decisive, woman who needed to rely on herself and didn’t need a man.  Linda did a great job at it.  Arnold was Arnold in this film doing the roll that was made for him.  His change from killing machine to body guard led to some fun moments with John but his best stuff was his action scenes.  To this day the scene where he is walking out carrying that mini-gun makes me all gooey inside.minigun

The best part about this movie was then ending where Sarah and John were forced to lower the Terminator into the vat of liquid metal in order to destroy the chip in his head to kill off Skynet once and for all.  I would argue that most of the men in the audience had watery eyes as they watched John hold on to the Terminator crying to him that he had to say and the Terminator in that thick Austrian accent saying, “I’m sorry John.”

It’s my favorite movie because I can remember what theater I was at, even though it no longer exists, and the great time I had watching it.  I went with some girl, hell I don’t remember who, she could have gone naked and I wouldn’t have remembered.  When you have that move that kind of reaction to a movie it has to be a favorite.  At least it is for me.

 

Honorable Mention in no particular order –

Commando (1985) –

I have this in my top 80’s movies list which you can read here, but it is an honorable mention because of the shear ridiculousness of it.  It is the very definition of a guilty pleasure because so many things don’t make sense about it.  It is the very definition of 80’s action movies that require lots of dead bodies, no plot, unrealistic timelines, and the good guy winning in the end by killing the bad guy and getting the girl.  It’s fun movie to watch if you’re a guy and better to have.  If your wife or girlfriend ever made you watch The Notebook then this is something you make her watch.

Red Heat (1988) –

This was an odd buddy cop movie that worked with Jim Belushi as his partner.  It’s a fun watch but not the complete action movie you would expect of an Arnold film.  This actually has some detective cop drama to it as they try to solve the pieces of the story.  That being said the car chase between two busses is absolutely glorious in ever since of the word.  Doesn’t make by top 5 list just because the action is a little slow and the humor isn’t a strong.  But a good time none the less.

Terminator (1984) –

It must seem like a heresy for an Arnold fan to not have this movie on his Top 5 list.  It marks all the check boxes in action, intensity, great characters and a fun story.  It is the backdrop of this film that creates my number one Arnold film.  Well it doesn’t make my top 5 list for one reason:  He is the bad guy.  Arnold is great at the Terminator and it is his master roll, but in celebrating his greatness I can’t include a movie of his that involves him being the bad guy.

Total Recall (1990) –

This movie is just over the top in its action and special effects.  The whole concept of Arnold having to go to Mars is just a delightful trip to excessiveness.  I am a fan of this movie and it almost made my Top 5 because it did give us the lovely actress Sharon Stone when she was just starting.  Who knew she would become a tired hag.  And listening to Arnold say, “Get your ass to Mars,” is a delight.  But I couldn’t do it just because I though the special effects were a little uneven.  Some of it was great, like the body scanner X-ray machines.  But the prosthetics that involved fake faces, breasts, and aliens, just didn’t work for me and as much as I liked the movie, this was a draw back for me.  That is the reason why it didn’t make my Top 5 but still is a fun movie.

Red Sonja (1985) –

This movie is pure guilty pleasure even more so than Commando was a guilty pleasure.  This movie is actually just absolutely God awful.  But it does have Arnold doing Conan the Barbarian things as a Conan light character.  The movie is basically a female version of Conan called Red Sonja and the main character is portrayed by Bridget Neilson.  If Arnold wasn’t in this movie then I was put this on the list of worst movies ever.  It still may belong on it but whenever it comes on TV, which hasn’t been in 15 years at least, I would watch it.  I have it on DVD and that’s embarrassing.  Not sure if it’s on BluRay yet and nots sure if they are making it on DVD anymore.  It’s one step above Sharknado level.  But I can’t not watch it when I see it and I won’t even tell you it’s fun.  But I’ll watch if you put it in front of me.  So it goes on the list.  Plus 6th day, which is a way better movie, was released in the year 2000 so I can’t use that one.  And there is a movie Arnold did called Raw Deal that I have never been able to finish so it can’t make the list either.  So Red Sonja it is.

Hope you enjoyed my list. I did.

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terminatorgenisysI was excited to see this film, at least I thought I was, when I saw the trailers for this film. It had the great one in the film and in a typical roll for him as the terminator.  It had Khaleesi herself Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor.  Yet the Terminator franchise has become so mediocre to poor since Terminator 2 I chose discretion as the better part of valor and decided to wait.  So I waited, and waited and waited.  I waited over a year and finally I decided to watch as Benn and I have chosen April 2016 to be Arnold Schwarzenegger month.  Well I chose it because he lost the monthly challenge so I made him watch a bunch of Arnold films.  As for this film I am a fan of it even though the story and plot make no sense but the action was fun and I hope they finally put to bed this once great franchise.

Terminator Genisys begins right before the events of the original Terminator movie from 1984 but starts in the future with John Conner, played by Jason Clarke (Everest,) once again sends back in time Kyle Reese, played by Jai Courtney (I, Frankenstein,) to protect John’s mother Sarah Conner, played by Emilia Clarke (TV’s Game of Thrones,) from the terminator sent back to kill her.  However, just as Kyle is getting zapped to the past, he witnesses John get attacked by a terminator.  (This is where the timeline gets all crazy.)  Kyle is sent back to 1984 but is attacked by a T-1000 terminator sent for him and he is saved by Sarah and her guardian the Terminator T-800, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie.)  Her guardian was sent to protect her as a child when Skynet sent a T-1000 to kill her as a child.  The three of them destroy the new T-1000 and are sent to the future to destroy Skynet but not to the year 1997 when Judgement Day happened but in the year 2017 when the computer program Genisys goes live.  In 2017 Kyle and Sarah run into some unexpected complications when they try to destroy Skynet and will have to fight and kill an even more powerful terminator in order to survive.

The biggest weakness for this film is the story and how it destroys the timeline and does so while making no sense what so ever.  Stories involving time travel are always dicey and especially the Terminator franchise because there are a lot of which came first the chicken or the egg scenarios.    But this movie really doesn’t explain how Skynet sends another Terminator to kill Sarah as a child and only explains who sent the guardian Terminator by saying its memory was wiped in order to prevent the person who does it from being hunted.  Then in the new 1984 if both the T-1000 is destroyed as is the original T-800 with the young Arnold is destroyed then why do we still have to worry about the 1997 Judgement Day because they destroyed the technology that Cyberdyne used to create … see my point?  The story of wiping the old timeline and creating new one gets bogged down in questions that go beyond the realm of being answered.  It definitely brings the movie down.

emiliaclarkeThe biggest enjoyment I had in watching this film was watching actress Emilia Clarke.  While Linda Hamilton will always be THE Sarah Connor, Emilia was a joy to watch taking on the iconic gritty roll of Connor.  Maybe it has been her years as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones that has given her practice as a tough as nails yet still feminine beauty that she portrays in Terminator Genisys but whatever it is she has become a favorite of mine.  I can only hope that she continues to do films and that she will continue to refine her craft and start getting some larger roles, after G.O.T. is over of course.

Arnold is approaching 70 years old and that is hard for me to fathom.  I mean I know I get older every year but that doesn’t mean I want my child hood heroes to do the same.  Much like Bruce Willis doing John McClane, Arnold doing Terminator is as natural for him as breathing is too us.  He never gives a bad performance as the Terminator, even if the films are God awful, so he is never the weak link in these films.  Sometimes its hard to imagine that he has been doing this character in one form or another for 32 years.  I have no issues with him in this film either but I am biased.   He may be almost 70 but I would argue that he is still in the top 5 or 6 action film stars still today, which says more about the state of non-comic book action movies and stars than it says about Arnold.  Speaking of other action stars I have no real issue with either Jai Courtney or Jason Clarke’s performances in this film.  I can’t put my finger on it but there was something unnerving about Jason Clarke’s look in this film.  I haven’t really seen any of his other films but there is something just odd about him.

There is some humor spread throughout the film because this is an Arnold Schwarzenegger action film and that happens a lot.  Most of it is standard Arnold as the Terminator trying to act human and not being good at pulling it off with his awkward full teeth smile and his politeness.  There is a scene that is downright hilarious and that is when Sarah, Kyle and the guardian are arrested and have their mugshot taken.   Unfortunately I can’t find a good set of pictures or the scene on the internet but it’s funny to watch them go from the 6’1 Jai Courtney to the maybe 5’2 Emilia Clarke and then back up to 6’2 Arnold.  Emilia’s expression is priceless as if she knows how silly the three of them will look in the scene.arnold emilia

I am a fan of this film although I will say it isn’t the best.  Doesn’t come close to the first two Terminator movies but is miles ahead of the rest of the Terminator movies.  I will own this movie I have decided which says more about me and my fanboy attitude about Arnold than anything else.  If you haven’t seen it don’t be afraid to rent it on Netflix, you can do a lot worse.

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around the worldSo this is the movie that was the beginning of the end of Jackie Chan’s movie career in the US. I always wondered where it started.  Actually back in 2004 I originally wanted to see this film in the movie theater because it had the great one, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in it, while he was the Govenator of California.  It was a cameo appearance but still I had miss seeing Arnold by that point.  However I had missed it and then forgot about it.  After seeing it now for a movie review challenge from Benn Farrell I am glad I missed it back then.  This movie is not very good.  It reminds of the Disney movie’s in the mid to late 70’s like Escape to Witch Mountain, and the Cat from Outer Space.  They were fun when I was 6 but not as an adult.  This movie is a remake of the 1956 “classic” of the same name starring David Niven.

Lau Xing, played by Jackie Chan (Rumble in the Bronx,) is on the run from the London Police as he has stolen an artifact from the Bank of England that was in fact stolen from his village in China.  While he is hiding from the Police he sees inventor Phileas Fogg, played by Steve Coogan (Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian,) who is lamenting the loss of his valet.    In order to hide from the Police Lau takes on the job telling Fogg his name is Passepartout.  Fogg then goes to the Royal Academy of Science to meet Lord Kelvin, played by Jim Broadbent (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,) who has nothing but disdain for Fogg which Lau notices.  Lau takes advantage of their contempt for each other by starting a rumor that eventually turns into a bet between Fogg and Kelvin that Fogg can travel around the world in 80 days (forgot to mention that this movie takes place in late 1880’s,) and if he does so successfully Kelvin must resign as the leader of the Royal Academy of Science and give it to Fogg, and if Fogg fails, he must tear down his invention shop and vow to never invent anything again.  Fogg doesn’t know that Lau plans to use this bet to travel to China and return the artifact to his village.  What Fogg and Lau don’t know is that Lord Kelvin hired a Chinese war lord  who stole the artifact in the first place and now will be sent to kill both of them during the trip.

So there is a lot going on and yet the movie is every bit of the two hour running time it is and slower than it seems.  The reason why it reminds me of the Disney movies of the late 70’s is the ludicrousness of the story as a whole and the complete lack of any desire to want to make it real. A man peddling hard enough to keep a flying machine in the air is as believable as a cat from outer space talking but I would guess a six year old wouldn’t care.  Also the attention to detail was lacking.  The movie starts in London with a British inventor and he is measuring speed in miles per hour.  A British scientist would NEVER measure speed in miles per hour because the United States is the only country using that measurement for speed.  All the other countries use kilometers per hour.  Little things like this are spread throughout the movie.

While I like most of the actors in the movie it would seem the director gave all of the actors the direction that the phrase over acting shall not be worried about in this movie.  I know it’s a comedy but they all seem to be playing a parody of a parody.  I am used to it with Jackie Chan and humor only added to his martial arts films in the late 90’s but here it seems out of place, as is the rest of the over acting in this movie.

It was also odd for the story in that in the original the lead character was Phileas Fogg while this movie the character lead is split between Fogg and Lau. I found it to be another reason that the movie was slow because since Lau was just as important as Fogg the story had to not only detour to China but stop in the village and have one climatic fight scene between the good guys and the bad guys.  Which it is always fun to watch a Jackie Chan fight scene because the choreography is a wonderful mixture of action and humor, but it slows the movie down.  This can be said about all of the fight scenes in this movie, fun and funny but unnecessary.  As for Fogg’s character not only do we have the wager to think of but Fogg is given a love interest named Monique La Roche, played by Cecile De France (High Tension.)  But there is no real tension in the love story as at no time did I feel that they would not end up together.

I mention the martial arts in the film and it was very tame as it’s PG rating would imply. And that is a PG rating not a PG-13 so the action is so tame a 12 year could see it.  Another thing is that by 2004 we have seen all of Jackie’s moves by now but it is still fun to see.  The big fight scene in the village, which I have said above, is pointless, is classic Jackie Chan fighting so I enjoyed it.

As for the reason why Mr. Farrell had me watch this film, the cameo appearance of the Great One, I can say that I am glad that it is a brief one for Arnold. He plays Prince Hapi who tries to force La Roche to stay in Turkey as one of his seven wives.  Being in this film is by far the worst mistake he has made since his appearance in Batman & Robin.  It’s hard to believe the man with a thick Austrian accent can be a Turkish Prince.  And the wig that Arnold had to wear is God awful.  This movie was a very bad choice for the brilliant man from Austria.

To be honest I don’t know how any children over the age of seven can like this film.  It will forever be, to me, associated with the bad Disney movies of the 1970’s.  But at least I know now what happened to Jackie Chan.  After this he made Rush Hour 3 and the remake of The Karate Kid.  Yuck.

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maggieWhen I first heard of this movie I was very excited to see it. It has Abigail Breslin in it and she is a much respected young actress and an absolutely manly and totally awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger in it and he was actually forced to act, like in a drama.  Seriously.  So I was counting down the days in early spring 2015 as I saw the release date of May 8th pop up.  Unfortunately as we got closer to May 8th it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get a wide release.  I live in the Chicago metro area and it had a showing at the large downtown theater, and that was it.  It was released to Video On Demand on the same day, so I made sure to order it not knowing what I was going to get.  I personally think it deserved better than a one weekend release and is much better than most of the crap that has been released this year.  Now it’s not the best film, truth be told it isn’t a good film, but it’s adequate and the problem doesn’t have anything to do with the actors involved.  But I do see this through biased eyes.

Maggie, played by Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine,) is a teenager in the Midwest that has become infected by an outbreak of a disease that over time slowly turn the living into cannibalistic zombies.  After initially running away from home, her father, Wade, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan the Barbarian,) brings her back determined to look out for her until the end.  Given an eight week time frame before she turns, Maggie, Wade, and Maggie’s step-mother Caroline, played by Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,) attempt to enjoy the time they have together.  However, as Maggie slowly starts to show signs of the virus taking over, Wade is put in the difficult situation of wanting to protect her daughter while his wife, doctors, and the local police, try to pressure him into sending Maggie to quarantine and the danger she may start to become.

This is not a horror film at all.  The TV show The Walking Dead has more scares in a slow character development episode then this movie has from beginning to end.  There are a grand total of 3 zombies, 4 if you count the flashback attack on Maggie although you really don’t see much at all, and we do get to see Wade kill 2 of the 3.  The third one he does kill but it is a four year old girl so we don’t see him actually do it.

I see this movie as an attempt to talk about the struggles of parents dealing with the slow death of a child by some sickness.  Now this movie takes the odd approach of having it being a Zombie outbreak which takes away from the message.  The movie is also a discussion about euthanasia.  But the writing of the film really provides no direction and so the messages get lost in this unique way of showing these issues. Plus there are a lot of scenes with no dialogue where we are watching the story take place with the back drop of some very lovely but very sad music.  It gets to be a little overkill because it’s constant music and constant sadness and we don’t need it all the time.  I will say that there are a few scenes that are appropriate but in general it’s too much.

Now, don’t laugh, but I felt the acting was a strong point of the movie.  Abigail was wonderful as this lost teen who is trying to cope with the fact that she is dying and there is nothing she can do.  It would have been nice if we could see more of the struggle that she was going through.  But the writer didn’t write enough of it into the story.  Arnold did the best he could in this dramatic roll.  At no time did I feel he was over acting and he made an honest attempt at trying to portray how a father would feel as he slowly watches the death of his daughter.  Now we are never going to confuse him with Tom Hanks, but as this being his first real attempt at a roll that requires emotions that aren’t anger and violence.  I may be biased but I liked it and there was nothing wrong with his performance.

This movie could have been so much more but the director and the writer failed at this movie because they couldn’t make this idea work.  This isn’t the worst movie in the world and it deserved a fate more than a one week release.  It had a very small budget and I feel it would have made it back if it had a minimal advertising and larger release.  But the producers of the film chose not to do it and so this stays hidden, which is a shame.  Don’t be afraid to rent this film, I think it will be worth the money.

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conanThe granddaddy of all Arnie films.  This is where the magic began.  It’s hard to believe that this little action movie in 1982 would have created the greatest action movie hero all time and probably the greatest living naturalized American.  I watched this movie when I was a teen and I wanted to be muscle bound like Arnold.  Alas my love of jelly beans and candy corn did me in.  But that didn’t mean I didn’t dream.  Oh I dreamed all right.  Dreamed big.

               As a young boy, Conan, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (End of Days,) witnesses the murder of his parents and entire village at the hands of Thulsa Doom, played by James Earl Jones (Star Wars,) and his band of warriors.  As an adult Conan and his band of adventurers were hired by King Osric, played by Max von Sydow (The Exorcist,) to find and rescue his daughter from the snake cult.  This snake cult is led by Thulsa Doom so Conan goes out to capture the princess and get revenge for his family.

               One of the first things I remembered about the film that people talked about was the fact that Arnold didn’t have a lot of dialogue in the movie, especially for the lead of a movie.  It was counted that he had only spoke 700 words in the movie.  I have some friends who said that was still too much but they have no clue about the greatness of Arnold.  One of the interesting things about this script is that one of the writers on it is non-other than Academy Award winner Oliver Stone.  He and director John Milius made a very good action movie with a decent story as Conan is actually based on the comic book.  There is a line in the film that is often quoted, “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and here the lamentation of the women.”  Pure poetry.

It’s pretty surprising to me that both Max von Sydow and James Earl Jones were in the movie.  Jones was a household name by this time in early 80’s not only because of his Academy Award nomination for a movie called The Great White Hope, but most people knew him as the voice of Darth Vador.  Sydow had been nominated for a Golden Globe for The Exorcist so he too had been a prominent actor.  This movie even won a Golden Globe award for best newcomer for an actress by Sandahl Bergman (All That Jazz.)  For what is known as a cheesy action movie there are a lot of quality actors in the film. 

The action is, of course, what makes this film and there are lots of good scenes.  The action is quick and fast paced but one thing I do like is that there is no gratuitous violence in the film.  There is lots of violence in the film and lots of blood, but I feel that it wasn’t unnecessary.   From the beginning the violence was used to drive the characters or the story so I didn’t think it was over the top.  The two action scenes that stand out for me is the fight in the orgy room and the one on the hill.  The movie has some wonderful music in that makes the fight scenes that much better.  That and the sword fights between Arnold and the henchman were fun because almost all of the henchmen where friends of his from his body building days. 

A funny thing about this film is that Arnold portrays a character that shows him hooking up with three women in the film.  I only mention it because it because I have seen all but maybe 4 of his movies and I can’t remember him hooking up in any of the other films.  I just find it humorous that his action films are really void of females after his first one.  It’s as if to say that we should avoid all talk of women while we enjoy or action films.  Heck even in this film one of the ladies he has sex with ends up being a demon of some kind trying to kill him.  So women are bad!

This movie won my heart as a child and many children my age.  This movie created a permanent movie going audience that Arnold would have for 20 years before he became the Governor of California.  When he came back to acting he is older and action movies are harder for him, but his fans, like me will always be loyal.

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In thinking about 80’s movies I have a hard time thinking about the best. Unlike my cohort, Benn, who was able to quickly put a list together, which you can find here, I have a difficult time because so many of my favorite 80’s movies are period pieces or science fiction movies.  If we are to talk about favorite 80’s movies that are in and around 80’s culture or lifestyle or technology, then my favorite Star Trek movie or 2nd favorite Star Wars movie do not qualify and neither does Raiders of the Lost Ark.  So I have to think about favorite movies that embrace the 80’s life.  The good thing is that some of the best action movies are from the 80’s because they embrace violence, language, and nudity.  In fact for me 80’s movies must have some sex, drugs, and rock and roll in it to be a good 80’s film.  A good teenage 80’s movie will have some adolescence hijinks as well.  So here is my attempt at this Top 5 list, we will see if Benn flags any of these.  Oh and here is Benn’s list for comparison.

 

 

No. 5 – The Last American Virgin (1982)

LAst American VirginThis is a movie that not many people have heard but made a lasting impression on me when I was a pre-teen.  I remember seeing this movie on HBO when I didn’t have a bedtime on weekends when it was just my dad and I.  He would go to bed early and I would stay up watching whatever movie would come on HBO hoping for some skin flick or finding the blurred Playboy Channel and clicking on and off of it really fast for the half second of clear picture you would get before it would go blurry.  Back in the early days of cable they had all the channels on but just screwed up the signal so you couldn’t watch it.  Anyway this movie was awesome for the 12 year old me because it was all about three friends in high school trying to find ways to loser their virginity and the hilarious situations that would ensue.  It also had some drama in that two of the friends, Gary, played by Lawrence Monoson (Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter,) and Rick, played by Steve Antin (The Accused,) fall for the same girl, Karen, played by Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead.)  This splits the two friends because while Gary genuinely cares for Karen, Rick is just playing the game so he can hook up with her because she is a virgin.  Karen picks Rick despite Gary’s best attempts of showing how honorable a guy he can be.  Rick does end up sleeping with Karen and of course knocks her up.  Rick then breaks up with Karen when she tells him and when Gary confronts Rick about it, Rick says that it probably isn’t even his and an almost fight ensues, severing the friendship forever.  Gary takes in a distraught Karen, sells most of his possessions and borrows money from his boss and pays for Karen’s abortion.  As Karen recuperates at Gary’s grandmother’s home, Gary continues to wait on her hand and foot and then confesses his love to her.  They embrace in a passionate kiss and she invites him to her 18th birthday party next week.  Well fast forward to the party and…well look for yourself:

 

Ah… the lyrics of that song, “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” The lesson here is that no matter what you do for a woman, if she doesn’t have feelings for you, there is nothing you can do, no matter how nice of a guy you are, that will change her mind.  The ending with that kid crying with the music going made me afraid to fall in love.  If I had only remembered this movie it would have saved me lots of heartache later in life.

 

 

 

No. 4 Better Off Dead (1985) –

Better off deadNo 80’s movie list can’t be complete without a John Cusack movie in the offering and while most people would pick the classic Say Anything… I choose the lesser known but equally as awesome Better Off Dead. In this movie Lane Myer, played by John Cusack (The Raven,) is dumped by his girlfriend Beth who has fallen for the far more popular ski team captain Stalin.  Every time Lane tries to do something to impress his ex-girlfriend he would end up failing miserably in front of her and her new boyfriend which would cause Lane to think there is nothing to live for and try to commit suicide but would fail at that in hilarious ways.  While he is trying and failing to get his old ex back he fails to realize until the final moments of the film that the French foreign exchange student, Monique, played by Diane Franklin (The Last American Virgin,) who has been helping him gain confidence in himself is actually the perfect girl for him.

I like this movie because the music is all 80’s and awesome and ridiculously over the top.  This movie is known mostly for the angry paper boy chasing Lane screaming, “I want my $2.”  Lane also has a few dream sequences that are legendary, at least in my mind, one of them being the one with the hamburger meat with the Van Halen song Everybody Wants Some.

Other notable funny situations are the Chinese guy who speaks like Howard Cosell from Wide World of Sports.  The mother and son combination of Ricky Smith, played by Dan Schneider (Good Burger,) and Mrs. Smith, played by Laura Waterbury (Honey I Shrunk the Kids.)  Those two provided the comic relief in many scenes portraying a widowed mother who is overbearing and forces her overweight son to wear his father’s clothes that are right out of the 1950’s as is Mrs. Smith.  Lane’s father Al, played by David Ogden Stiers (TV’s MASH,) is also quite humorous as the straight man to his crazy wife, Lane’s mom Jenny, played by Kim Darby (True Grit.)  Why is she crazy do you ask?  Christmas presents for Lane and the rest of the family that year, Swanson’s frozen TV dinners.

The moral of this 80’s story is that don’t be so caught up in trying to win the love of a woman who doesn’t love you that you completely miss the better woman that does love you for who you are as a person.  A running theme for 80’s teen romance movies but still good none the less.

 

 

No.3 Commando (1985)

commando88.  That is a fine number. It’s the number of many of a Dallas Cowboy wide receiver that I cheer for. It is also the number of guys killed in this totally awesome action movie brought to you by the 1980’s and its glorious body counts and rated R movies. This is also brought to by the Austrian Oak, The Governator, Arnie, the man, the myth, the legend, and the greatest living action movie actor in the history of Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

arnie180’s action movies were awesome because they had incredible strong men doing incredible things with guns, knives, and their bare hands.  Also the bad guys could shoot about as accurately as most Storm Troopers in the Star Wars films.  They also had a damsel of some kind in distress but not always a love interest.  The plots were basic for the most part and that’s what makes action movies great.  We had a bad guy doing bad things to innocent people and good guys show up and kill all the bad guys and save the person or people.  We didn’t need to know the motivation of why the bad guy was bad.  I don’t care that he came from a bad home where he was beat up by his day, or that they lived in a country that had dictators commit horrible human rights violations.  I don’t care.  I am happy to know that the bad guy is a bad guy because he wants to make money selling drugs, human trafficking or whatever.  I want a horrible bad guy because I want to embrace the glorious revenge that the good guy will give.  I also don’t want a good guy who is in touch with his feelings.  Sorry no tears shall be shed by my good guy.  If he loses a loved one, he instantly turns his sadness to rage and the vengeance begins.  The good guys most also have glorious one liner’s.  Something that makes you laugh as you see the good guy throw the bad guy off a cliff, balcony, pool of molten lead.  Sarcasm, thy name is 80’s action movie hero.  The 80’s, glorious, bloody, senseless violence and boy did I love it.

arnie2Commando is not Arnold’s best film in the 80’s that would be Terminator, maybe Predator.  But it is very 80’s.  Arnie is an ex commando with the US Army who is being framed by a pseudo Central American general who wants to rule is own country and wants Arnie to kill the current President. To force Arnie to do this, the general uses one of Arnie’s former subordinates kidnap is sweet, innocent lovely daughter, played by the equally lovely, sweet, and at that time innocent, Alyssa Milano.  This move has all the violence you could want in a 90 minute film.  In the first hour Arnie kills guys by gun, kicking a man through a wall to land on a broken piece of wood, dropping another bad guy off a cliff, and more guns.  Then there is the final 30+ minutes of the film where he takes on the general’s entire security force, at least 50 to 60 men, and kills them all.  He kills the general of course.  And then in a glorious one on one action, Arnie takes out his former subordinate by throwing a large metal pipe through the subordinate, and into a pressurized water heater, and, of course, steam starts coming out the pipe.  Arnie looks at his dying subordinate and says, “Let off some steam, Bennett.”  Oh and the name of Arnie’s character, John Matrix.  The name sound bad ass, as it should.  So Arnie, kills the bad guy, saves his daughter, and get the girl he had to kidnap and convince to help him. arnie3

 

 

 

 

 

This isn’t the best action movie in the 80’s, but it is one of the best 80’s action movies not only in the 80’s but ever.

 

 

 

No. 2 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

ferris“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” Is one of the many quotable quotes from this fine 80’s movie.   Ferris Bueller’s Day Off was one of the best lessons in life that I could only appreciate about 10 years after graduating from high school.

I would guess that most people have seen this movie and almost all over the age of 35 have seen this film.  The story is that a high school senior named Ferris Bueller, played by Mathew Broderick (Glory,) fakes a sickness so he can have his own senior skip day.  He then goes on a day long adventure into the big city of Chicago with his girlfriend Sloan, played by the very 80’s hot Mia Sara (Legend,) and his best friend Cameron, played by Alan Ruck (Twisters,) and hijinks ensue.

One of my favorite things about this film is how the writer/director and 80’s movie legend John Hughes is that he has the character of Ferris break the 4th wall in the film as if the audience is part of the trip.    This allowed me to get sucked into the film right away as well as the fact that even though I was only a sophomore in high school when this movie came out I could relate to what Ferris was saying completely.  There are so many quotes from this movie that lasted with me for so long and have come part of the Generation X culture.   One of my favorite lines is the end of the faking out the parents monologue.

And its not the line I quoted at the top here, but like high school, it’s a little childish and stupid. Enjoy some more!

 

The reason why I appreciate this and is in my 80’s list is the fact that, for me, this movie is a lesson in that you should enjoy your youth because the minute you leave high school, life gets serious and you have to take on responsibility.   You go to college and/or work and the level of stress constantly goes up.  Even if you are doing something you like the stress level you will have the minute you go out into the real world will change who you are and what you do in life.  At least that is my feeling for this movie.  In Ferris’s joy of his day off he is realizing that it is probably the last pure day of freedom he will have.

 

 

No. 1 – The Breakfast Club (1985)

breakfastWe have reached the Zen of all 80’s films from the master of 80’s films, John Hughes.  This is the quintessential 80’s Gen X film on life as a teenager in high school and growing up in the 80’s in general.  The movie revolves around 5 students who had to show up to detention on Saturday (yes that used to happen.)

I liked this movie because I feel that teenagers in the 80’s had some if not all of bits and pieces of each character in the story.  For me I felt that I could relate to on a few levels with Andrew the wrestler, played by Emilio Estevez (Bobby,) and the nerd Brian, played by Anthony Michael Hall (The Dark Knight.)  My parents were very strict with me when it came to school.  Sunday thru Thursday nights I was not allowed to go out unless it was for work or if it was for football practice.  I remember when I was in elementary school I was expected to study hard and do all of my work and I was told that I was going to go to college when I got out of high school.  No real question if I wanted to do it, I was going to do it whether I wanted to or not.  In high school my grades were never good enough and no matter what I did I always had to do better.  When it came to sports I the pressure wasn’t as great on me by my parents as it was for school but I always had the feeling that if I could get a scholarship it would make my going to school better for them financially.  Now I don’t want to make it seem like my parents were monsters, they weren’t but I could relate to the characters in this film. Of course this is the theme of the movie and the final scene has the principle reading the essay that states they were all a mixture of each other.  It’s obvious but it’s true.

As for some of the other things that make this an 80’s movie there is the music, the drug use, sex although its all talk in this film, and the rebellious attitudes towards authoritative figures as well as a little fear.  The music though is what I remember most and the main song from the film was a top billboard hit for years and will almost always show up on the radio during an 80’s weekend or 80’s station of satellite radio.

Chances are if you have never seen the movie you have heard the song.

This is probably the least I have to say about all of my top five 80’s movies but for me it’s the best that represents what 80’s movies are for me.  For the most part they were stories about dealing with life changing at a rate faster than it had in previous years, being brought up by parents who grew up in the 60’s and dealt with life during the Vietnam War, and all the excess that money created during that time.

 

Best of the rest (in no particular order) –

Top Gun (1986) – For me its almost sacrilegious to not have a movie in the top five that dealt with the USA going against its nemesis for 50+ years , the Soviet Union. Communism is bad, mkay!  And we got lots of movies to prove it.  This movie is basically an advertisement for joining the US Navy and becoming a fighter pilot, which I wish I could have done.  Many of my theater friends, aka pinko communist sympathizers, will say that this is just one big homo erotic movie on the scale of Batman and Robin, but I say…maybe.  But who cares because Communism is bad and we need to destroy it.

 

Teen Wolf (1985) – This movie is really only on the list because of the music and the ridiculous principle that a werewolf is basically a hairy human with minor anger issues. The entire concept of a teenager turning into a werewolf and not only not causing an uproar but being able to continue his day to day life as a high school student and basketball player is ludicrous and wonderfully 80’s.   There are messages about being yourself and looking for love in the right people that are all better shown in other movies.  But the main reason is because…it’s a teenage werewolf…playing basketball.  Awesome

 

Red Dawn (1984) – Communists are really bad and we need to wipe them out. That is what this movie tells us.  That’s all.  The concept of a bunch of high school students becoming guerrillas in the Colorado mountains is borderline ridiculous but not implausible.  I was living in Colorado at the time this movie was released so it was a favorite of mine.  Kill Commies!  This concept is very different in today’s America in that many people are voting for a Socialist to become President.  Socialism is one step below Communism.  In 30 years we have gone from Kill Communists to Socialism is good.  Generation X are horrible parents for creating these damn spoiled Millennials.

 

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) – This movie almost made the list in my top 5 because this movie addressed sex a lot more than any of the other movies save American Virgin.  But because Virgin had more real life cause and effect of what love and sex does to the individual I put that in the top 5 and not this one.  But this is a classic 80’s movies with one of only two times I think I can tolerate Sean Penn as an actor.  Also I think Ray Walston should have got an Academy Award for his portrayal of Mr. Hand.  He was awesome and I had a few teachers like him in school.

 

Die Hard (1988) – I could make the argument that this is the best 80’s action movie of all of the 80’s action movies. Actually it is just a damn good movie. But since I decided to go a certain direction with my top 5 list I chose to leave this out.  But this is a great movie and I will do a review eventually and put a link to it here because no brief statement can describe how awesome this movie is and will always be.

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PredatorI am an Arnold fan, or is it a fan of Arnold.  At any rate Schwarzenegger is my favorite action star of all time.  I know he will never get an Academy Award but that’s ok, there are a lot of people who have gotten the award and didn’t deserve it, James Cameron comes to mind.  Anyway, Predator is an outstanding action movie that doesn’t try to push any message, because it’s an 80’s movie and that means high body count and cool sayings.  This also may be the first movie ever to have two future Governors acting in the movie, Schwarzenegger, current governor of California, and Jesse Ventura, former Governor of Minnesota.

The outline is pretty simple Maj. Schaffer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Red Heat,)  and his band of Special Forces are asked by the government to go after a group of diplomats that were shot down in the jungle of some enemy territory in Central America, the countries are never named.  So Schaffer’s group goes in with a CIA weasel named  Dillon, played by Carl Weathers (Rocky, ) and tries to find the missing diplomats.  While they are looking for the diplomats, they come across a bunch of dead men who have been skinned alive.  They turned out to be Green Berets from Fort Bragg.  So the group works extra hard to find the men who did this.  Little do they know that they themselves are being hunted by an alien, what has become called a predator, in the jungle.  It has a nearly invisible defense mechanisms and a handful of cool killing devices.  Eventually the Special Forces and the predator run into each other and the guys start losing, one by one, until its Arnold vs. the Alien.

The movie was directed by John McTiernan who has done other such action movies as Die Hard, The 13th Warrior, and The Hunt for Red October.   He is a master at cinematography and always finds way to allow the setting to set the mood.  In Predator, he uses the jungle to give the story a dark unnerving feeling even though the majority of the scenes are shot in broad daylight.

The action hero’s in the movie are of course headlined by Schwarzenegger and Weathers.  Jesse Ventura was a couple of years removed from wrestling when he made this movie.  Other prominent stars are Bill Duke (Commando) and Sonny Landham (48 Hours) who always seems to play guys named Billy in movies.  Kevin Peter Hall is the guy in the Predator suit and returns in the second Predator movie but passed away in 1991.  I mention him only because he also was the Bigfoot Harry in the movie Harry and the Henderson’s.

This movie is one of the many that made Arnie an action star in the mid 1980’s.  This movie won’t tell you about saving the rain forest or the plight of third world countries and their people, but sure will make you enjoy watching them get blown away as they burn down the forest.  It’s fun and would never have been made in the 1990’s.  If you haven’t seen it, get the new DVD it’s loaded with tons of new material and it coincides with the release of the god-awful Aliens vs. Predator movie.  See where the origins of the predator begin by watching this movie.  It rocks!

 

Brian – The Naked Gun

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