Happy birthday, Arnold Schwarzenegger!

scottvondoviakFor Arnold’s 66th birthday, a post by If You Like The Terminator author Scott Von Doviak. Enjoy!

In my book If You Like The Terminator…Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities You Will Love, I rank the Arnold Schwarzenegger oeuvre from worst to first. You’ll have to buy the book to see the complete list (I’ll wait here while you place your order), but in honor of the former Governator’s 66th birthday today, I thought I’d update the list with a look at the two movies Schwarzenegger has made since his return to full-time acting.

The Expendables 2 (2012) — Arnold made a cameo appearance in the first Expendables movies in 2010, while he was still serving at the pleasure of the people of Cully-forn-i-a. He has a slightly expanded role in this follow-up, which once again unites a ragtag band of action movie has-beens and never-weres in a ultra-violent mission seemingly sponsored by the NRA. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, and Terry Crews, among others, are a band of mercenaries forced to work off a debt to shady CIA agent Bruce Willis by retrieving a device containing the location of an abandoned plutonium supply in the former Soviet Union. The flimsy plot is simply a clothesline on which to hang an endless series of high-powered gun battles and brief appearances by even more action stars well past their sell-by dates (including Chuck Norris as “The Lone Wolf” and Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain, hilariously named Jean Vilain). Schwarzenegger, as Stallone’s mercenary rival Trench, is rescued by the Expendables early in the film and then disappears for about an hour. He returns in time for the climactic firefight, wielding an enormous gun and reciting well-worn one-liners. The Expendables movies are meant to recapture the spirit of the Cannon action films of the Eighties, which sounds like a fun idea until you remember most of those movies were terrible. A joyless, bloodthirsty slog, The Expendables 2 fits the bill all too well.

Ranking: #18, ahead of Collateral Damage but just behind Kindergarten Cop.

The Quotable Arnold: “I’ll be back.” Yes, again.

The Last Stand (2013) — Essentially a modern-day Western set on the U.S.-Mexican border, the American debut from South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil) sees Arnold back in a leading role for the first time since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Schwarzenegger stretches casting credibility to the breaking point as small-town sheriff Ray Owens, who is forced to defend the border town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona against a drug kingpin who has escaped the Feds and is fleeing to Mexico in a souped-up Corvette. Jee-Won’s Southwestern visuals are crisp and clean, but the script is hopelessly generic and the action sequences fail to impress. The role does allow Arnold the opportunity to poke a little self-deprecating fun at his advancing years, but that’s something he did better in Terminator 3. Here, the rust is definitely showing.

Ranking: #15, ahead of Raw Deal, but just behind Conan the Destroyer.

Schwarzenegger will re-team with Stallone later this year in the prison break movie Escape Plan, but the real question, now that Terminator 5 finally has a green light and a release date (June 26, 2015), is whether Arnold will reprise his signature role one more time. Are we really ready for an AARP-eligible killing machine, or will extensive CGI be required to restore the Terminator to his prime? Watch this space for further developments.

– Scott Von Doviak

If You Like The Terminator

The Terminator began life as a low-budget B movie seemingly destined for a short run at malls and drive-ins before blossoming into a billion-dollar franchise that launched the careers of director James Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original 1984 film not only spawned three sequels, a weekly television series, and countless novels, comic books, and videogames, it also redefined the science fiction genre with its blend of high tech and film noir.

Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator, as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator… delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminatorfranchise.

From Metropolis to The Matrix, from Frankenstein to RoboCop, from H. G. Wells and Harlan Ellison to Roger Corman and Roland Emmerich, you’ll find them all here – in If You Like The Terminator.

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About HLPAPG

Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group, the trade book division of Hal Leonard Corporations, publishes books on the performing arts under the imprints Hal Leonard Books, Backbeat Books, Amadeus Press, and Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.

Posted on July 30, 2013, in Film & TV and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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