Friday, July 22, 2011

The Five Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies Ever

This post is inspired by a movie review I wrote today for one of my other gigs, writing movie review/recommendations for The Zombie Club website.  While the site is under construction, I'm writing a weekend movie recommendation for their facebook fan page, which you can join by clicking these words!

So, today I recommended Conan the Barbarian as my movie pick for the weekend and it got me thinking, even though Arnold is pretty bad at not having sex with his maid and fathering bastard children, he's pretty good at making legendary action movies, and some of my all-time favorite movies are Arnold films.  As such, I decided to list what I consider to be the 5 best Arnold movies ever made.  Feel free to disagree, you'll be wrong, but I won't judge.  So, without further ado!

5.  Total Recall

"Get your ass to Mars!"  My number 5 pick is kind of controversial for me, because my top 4 were pretty easy to pick, I just thought about all the movies Arnold had made and 4 of them were just undeniably amazing, but there were a lot that I felt kind of competed for the number 5 slot.  For example, by picking Total Recall here, I'm forced to completely drop the original Terminator from my list altogether, even though that's an amazing movie.  You know what... I can't do it, I can't pretend that the original Terminator isn't one of the 5 best Arnold movies ever made, I'm going to include it with this one, hang on...

5. part II - The Terminator

Ok, now I don't feel like such a heathen.  Now, where was I?  Oh yeah, Total Recall made the number 5 slot because it's a pretty crazy and fucked up movie.  I mean, there's a super-genius Siamese twin baby thing growing out of a dude's chest, there's Arnold spending the entire movie thinking he's a good guy only to find out he's a bad guy at the end and having to decide whether he wants to go back to being a dick or be a hero.  And, most of all, there's Sharon Stone back when she was still way hot.  Oh yeah, there's a hooker with 3 tits, there's tons of blood and violence, and all kinds of the "Blarrrgh, yearrrgs, yaawwwrrrgh!" dialog from Arnold that always lets you know he's in pain. 

As for the Terminator, what can I say that hasn't already been said?  This is the movie that started the franchise.  I really would be remiss not to include it in my list, but I'm putting Terminator 2 in here and at first I didn't want to have 2 of the 5 spots taken up by the same movie series, but really it does deserve to be here, probably more than Total Recall... scratch that, definitely more than Total Recall, but in the interest of variety I'm giving Total Recall maybe a little more credit than it's worthy of, or Terminator less props than it deserves, by tying them for 5th place.  Compared to Terminator 2 though, the first Terminator is kind of lame.  It's a great story, and definitely darker and more of a sci-fi horror film than the action blockbuster that T2 was, but cheesy mid-80's hair, Kyle Reese acting pretty much like an insane psycho the whole time, when he probably could have rationally explained the whole situation to Sarah Connor and had a lot less conflict, and the fact that, in spite of basically being kidnapped by a crazy guy and attacked by an even crazier guy the whole movie, she still has sex with him to give birth to John Connor... I mean, no wonder she's in a loony bin in T2, she's obviously a bit out there to begin with.  Still though, The Terminator has to be on this list, if for no other reason that because it gave the world "I'll be back." and "Fuck you, asshole."

4.  Commando

Get mad if you want, but Commando kicks ass.  Yes, I know that this movie is Arnold at his non-stop, cheesy one-liner delivering best (or worst), but that's half the reason why I love this movie so much.  He elevates the catch phrase to an art form in this movie, while also racking up an impressive body count and some creative ways of taking out the opposition.  So, first of all, he's a bad ass, living up in the mountains like all retired bad asses do, with Alyssa Milano as his daughter, back when she was in her Sam Miceli phase, where you knew she was gonna be hot as shit, but she wasn't quite legal yet.  Of course, we're almost the same age, so it was perfectly ok for me to lust after her the entire time, and that I did.  But, I digress, before I fill a sweat sock thinking about Alyssa riding me out angrily, I have to stick to the script here.  Arnold plays John Matrix, retired commando ass kicker, who is being targeted as part of a plot to kill off his old team and kidnap his daughter to force him to help a would-be dictator assassinate the president of a Latin American country, you know, that old story.  Of course, Arnold has other plans, and what ensues is a non-stop race against time to kill as many people as he can, find out where the bad guys have his daughter, get there and ruin their shit before they realize what's up and try to kill her first.  After pulling a Kyle Reese on Rae Dawn Chong, kidnapping her and acting like a psycho before finally convincing her to help him after a bunch of escape attempts because she sympathizes with his plight as a desperate father, the two of them fly out to the island where the bad guys are all based up, and Arnold becomes a one-man army, killing the fuck out of everything that gets in his way.

Highlights of the movie - Holding one of the bad guys by the ankle over a cliff he says "Remember, Sully, when I said I was gonna kill you last?  I lied" then dropping him.  Punching another bad guy so that he flies back and impales himself on a broken piece of furniture, he says "Stick around."  Finally, after throwing a hollow pipe through the chest of his former teammate, that then penetrates a steam line, so that steam is passing through the pipe that is sticking out of dude's chest, Arnold says "Let off some steam, Bennett."  I mean, come on, how can you fuck with that?

3.  Predator

The start of another great franchise, albeit one that has been dogged by the ridiculous and frankly stupid "Alien vs. Predator" crossover.  Some movies should just be left as a video game, you know?  At any rate, The Predator is pure balls.  Arnold is doing what Arnold does best, putting his penis into Latin Americans!  Of course it's a figurative penis of lead, and the only thing they give birth to is their own intestines spraying all over the place, but you get the idea.  In the midst of all this gung-ho ass-kickery, Arnold and his team realize there is something else in the jungle with them and they quickly go from being the hunters to the hunted.  Lots of cool visual effects, Jesse Ventura with a chain gun, limbs blown off, heads exploding all over the camera, spines with skulls attached being pulled out of the backs of dead men, skinned dudes hanging upside down from trees... this movie has it all.  It's also got another great Arnold line.  After the Predator removes his helmet and shows his face, Arnold says "You're one, ugly, motherfucker!"  Even when he's getting his ass kicked by an intergalactic killing machine, Arnold still talks that shit!  I gotta say, Predator 2 and Predators are also great movies, this franchise holds up a lot better without Arnold in it than the Terminator series did.  Not even Kristanna Loken's insanely hot ass could save Terminator 3 from being mediocre as all hell, and while I did like Terminator: Salvation, and thought the inclusion of Arnold at the end was clever, if a little silly, they still can't hang with the first two.  The Predator series though, it's solid all the way through, just ignore the "Alien vs." shit.

2. Terminator 2:  Judgment Day

In my opinion, one of my all-time favorite movies, period.  I saw T2 in the theater and I was blown away by it.  James Cameron knows how to make blockbusters, that's all there is to it.  I mean, look at the guy's resumé - Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, True Lies, Titanic, Avatar - Dude could fart on camera and make $300 million off it.  Terminator 2 just nails it on every level.  It's got action, a solid storyline, decent acting and the ground-breaking special effects that changed all movies made after it.  Just like he did in The Abyss and Avatar, Cameron created a special effect just for this movie that became a staple for a lot of films made afterwards, including a Michael Jackson video.  The effect was "morphing" and it's what created the visual effect of a liquid metal newer model terminator that could assimilate the appearance of any person it came into contact with.  The effects were insane at the time and, much like the 3D effects in Avatar, changed the way special effects were done in movies afterwards.  Long before the Wachowski brothers came up with 360-degree stop-motion photography to make those awesome slow-motion scenes in the Matrix, Cameron was influencing a ton of hackey film makers to try and make everything morph into shit in an attempt to copy what he did on T2.

But enough about all that technical shit.  Terminator 2 kicks ass, not just because of the great special effects and directing, but because Arnold is a good guy in this one, and shows how bad ass a terminator can be when you capture it, reprogram it to be your bodyguard and send it back in time to protect yourself as a kid.  The interaction between Arnold and Edward Furlong is great in this movie, and it always bummed me out that Ed didn't have more of a career than he's had.  I always liked that dude, he deserved better really.  The concept of a reprogrammed, bodyguard terminator inspired the underrated, and unfairly short-lived "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" television series, featuring the insanely cute Summer Glau.  Just as that show was starting to get good, they canceled it.  Fucking Fox man, they always screw over good shows before they get a chance to come into their own.  They did it with the Terminator show, they did it with Human Target and I think they just canned Lie to Me too, I haven't seen a commercial for it recently.  Ah well, point being, Terminator 2 rules and I think I might be getting a little ADD here, time to wrap it up with my number one pick!

1.  Conan the Barbarian

The movie that inspired this blog post.  This wasn't Arnold's first acting role, but it was his breakthrough performance, his best-reviewed and highest-grossing film at the time (still one of his highest-grossing movies) and it firmly established him as a popular action movie leading man.  This movie has everything that makes a good sword and sorcery film - action, violence, naked witches, snake gods, decapitation and an epic movie score, courtesy of Basil Poledouris.  The screenplay for this movie was co-written by Oliver Stone.  Fun fact:  When Stone originally wrote the screenplay, he wanted to do a "re-imagining" of the Conan story, where he was in the future, fighting mutants and shit.  Due to concerns about special effects budgeting and the movie ending up a total piece of shit, the producers decided to stick with the Hyborian-era traditional ancient setting instead.  Arnold's accent was still thick as shit and so his dialog was limited in the film because of it.  As a result, much of the movie is driven by the amazing soundtrack.  That didn't limit the effectiveness of the film in any way, however.  If anything, it only made Conan seem like an even darker, more troubled and brooding figure, which lent to his overall macho bad-assness.  You don't expect a guy who was taken from his village as a boy, watched his family slaughtered in front of him, forced into slavery and spent his formative years pushing a giant grist mill wheel until he was a muscle-bound behemoth, then sold into gladiator fighting to be a chatty Kathy.  This is where they dropped the ball with Conan the Destroyer.  I mean, besides not letting that hot princess chick get naked, having a bunch of cheesy 80's effects and not letting that hot princess chick get naked.  They had Arnold talking too much in it, and Conan shouldn't be all talky, he should be kicking ass, fucking bitches, burning witches, killing snitches and stealing riches.  Just like he did in this movie, which is why it's the best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of all time.


  1. I'm so glad you did this blog. Conan is my all time favorite movie ever. I know every line, every nuance, and it's one of the best sword and sorcery movies ever made. I could probably guarantee that it's the only one with a cannibalistic orgy scene anyway. I have seen this movie literally HUNDREDS of times, and own the DVD with all the deleted scenes.

  2. What's funny is, I thought about Conan today because it was on AMC last night I believe and I was bummed because they cut out some of the best scenes and just thinking about how epic that movie is, and then I saw a commercial TODAY for a remake of Conan and I immediately thought "Even if this is an incredible movie, it's going to suck simply because Conan the Barbarian did NOT need to be remade!" If they try to do a remake of the Exorcist, Scarface or The Godfather, I'm boycotting Hollywood.

  3. What boggles my mind is that the cast of Predator had not one, but *two* future governors!

    As a fellow child of the 80s I think you nailed this list. I'd like to see a "Top 5 Worst Arnold Movies" topped, of course, by Last Action Hero.


  4. 5 worst would be pretty easy:

    5. The Running Man
    4. Raw Deal
    3. Collateral Damage
    2. Junior
    1. Last Action Hero (of course)

  5. I would throw in "True Lies" in as a contender. I did enjoy "The 6th Day," also. Not top five material, but a lot of entertaining sci-fi goofiness.

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