Picking on Terminator Genisys

Okay I’ve picked on Terminator Genisys quite a bit, mostly because I love the franchise and was very disappointed in the movie while appreciating some really good choices they made – almost as if it had been made by a committee.

Today’s rant will be filled with the spoilers I normally never discuss so DO NOT READ this until you have seen the film unless you just don’t care about spoilers.

Terminator Genisys hurts my brain so much, I have to publish these questions. It is okay to have a few things unanswered but you can’t build a movie out of a question mark. As my modern brethren would say, WTF?

SUPER SPOILER ALERT

* Who sent a T-1000 Terminator back in time to kill Sarah Connor as a little girl?

* Who sent an Arnold Terminator back in time to save Sarah Connor as a little girl? This is deliberately obfuscated in the movie.

* How did an Arnold Terminator manage to defeat a T-1000 by himself?

* How did either know to intercept the little girl at a summer home?

* Why does Arnold fight Arnold risking injury when they can just take him out with a sniper shot?

* Who sent the T-1000 to intercept Kyle Reese and how did they know the precise spot and time to do so? Why didn’t the T-1000 just kill him on the spot?

* Why do people float when going back through time while Terminators have to squat?

* If the embodiment of SkyNet can infect John Connor AND kill absolutely every soldier with him with ease, why did it not do so before the destruction of SkyNet? Clearly it had no problems with infiltration.

* Why did SkyNet only activate the one Arnold Terminator to go back in time while John Connor is attacking? Clearly there are dozens that could have been activated to defend the time machine or destroy it after the first went through.

* If they can construct a time machine in 1984 using essentially stone knives and bearskins then why can’t John manage it in 2017?

* If you know that you give birth to the literal savior of humanity in 1984/85, why would you turn your back on that and jump forward in time to try and stop judgment day? It seems to me that you would at least want to birth the messiah at the right time prior to jumping.

* If you know that Genisys/Skynet is going online on a particular day, why would you jump to less than two days prior instead of say a year before to plan things out? John showed up three years before.

* If Arnold was on the work crew for the Genisys location and built in a safe room keyed to Sarah’s biometrics, why didn’t he simply sabotage Genisys then?

* Why wouldn’t John or Genisys know that the safe room was keyed to Sarah Connor and change the locks?

* If Genisys can arbitrarily speed up its development from hours to just fifteen minutes, why not just make itself ready then?

* Doesn’t the post-credits sequence negate the entire ending of the movie? Doesn’t it mean that Genisys is just fine?

* If Genisys is just fine, doesn’t that mean that the moment it connects with the internet, judgement day takes place?

I have plenty of other unanswerable questions but I believe that it is time to let this go

/rantmodeoff

Jurassic World vs. Terminator Genisys – Battle of the Dinosaurs

Jurassic World

What makes Jurassic World so much better than Terminator Genisys? They have the same strengths. Both come from beloved franchises. Both have well chosen callbacks to their original picture. Both have wonderful special effects and a great setting. Each imagines they have a strong female protagonist.

They have the same weaknesses. Both are well past their sell-by date. Both are heavily dependent on those same special effects. Both invest far too much time setting up their future sequels. Neither actually has a strong female protagonist. In fact, Jurassic World, the better of the two, smacks of misogyny but I digress.

Terminator Genisys

 

* In my elder daughter’s words, “duh. dinosaurs eating people.”

* Jurassic World’s action sequences are much better. My wife found them to be genuinely scary. We had to go a second time so she could she what she missed and she still peered through her fingers.

* Terminator Genisys is the fifth film in an old series and is a continuation of that, even if it does ignore almost everything after the second film. Jurassic World pretends to be a sequel but ignores the the second and third films and is essentially a reboot. It even apes specific plot points and character beats from the first film.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger is inextricably linked with the Terminator franchise and since leaving office, he has consistently shown that he is no longer a box office draw (sorry Maya). Chris Pratt, on the other hand, is rapidly rising to become king of the box office.

* While Jurassic World drops a lot of exposition on us to set up the sequel(s), Terminator Genisys never explains where more than one Terminator comes from. Perhaps this is to be explained in future films but Genisys’ box office may be lackluster enough to prevent that. Both features leave several character’s fates indeterminate but only Genisys has you going, “what the..huh..” That is, if you even bother to think of it.

*Umm dinosaurs!

Terminator Genisys Terminated!

Along with umm very few people, I got to see Terminator Genisys last week.

Terminator Genisys

 

Terminator Genisys (2015) – Rated PG-13

John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, but when he arrives in 1984, nothing is as he expected it to be.”

Terminator Genisys is such a missed opportunity. Overall this film is a dud, which is not terribly unexpected.

Parts of Terminator Genisys are simply brilliant. The movie replays two key scenes from the first movie and they are remade in exacting detail with completely different outcomes. Heck, the punk played by Bill Paxton briefly in the 1984 original, here even looks like him in 2015. That is of course quite strange as Emilia Clarke looks nothing like Linda Hamilton and Jai Courtney looks nothing like Michael Biehn. The ideas behind and the orchestration of these two scenes are wonderful.

The central plot twist is also quite intelligent. Hilariously, the trailer gives it away completely, an unintentional revisiting of the Terminator 2 fiasco.

So what is wrong with Genisys? Pretty much everything else.

First, it suffers from Buffy syndrome. Every season the UBG (ultimate bad guy) had to be bigger and badder until, in season five, Buffy had to fight an actual deity. In The Terminator, Sarah Connor had to run from an unstoppable killing machine that could imitate anyone’s voice. In Terminator 2, Sarah and John Connor had to face a newer model of unstoppable killing machine that could perfectly imitate anyone it touched and was made of liquid metal while trying to stop judgement day aka the apocalypse.

The lackluster Terminator 3 had John Connor trying to stop judgement day again, this time facing off against a Terminator that could do all of the things the one in 2 could PLUS control machines. The utterly humorless and Arnold-less Terminator Salvation abandoned the formula to tell a story of post-apocalyptic John Connor. Terminator Genisys tries to up the UBG but how do you top T3’s Terminatrix? The short answer is that they don’t.

The main acting is rather unconvincing. Emilia, who is fantastic, both tough and vulnerable, as Daenerys in Game of Thrones cannot seem to manage either here, in spite of being directed by Alan Taylor in half a dozen GoT episodes. Jai Courtney, the poor man’s Bruce Willis, is a pretty boy with very little screen presence. Jason Clarke is a decent actor but also lacks presence. J.K. Simmons is quite good in his limited role. Matt Smith is fine in what amounts to a glorified cameo.

Arnold, central to all the Terminator movies except Salvation, is just fine here even though he has aged considerably since the 1984 original. They did a good job of crafting the screenplay around his aging. When the original Arnold Terminator is shown, they did some wonderful mapping on an excellent body double. Arnold gets the three biggest laughs of the film – all based around his inability to smile. Sadly, those are pretty much the only laughs.

The action sequences are appropriately noisy but honestly James Cameron, who directed the first two films, was a master of action cinema. Alan Taylor is no James Cameron. As he did in Thor: Dark World, it always feels as if Taylor is sucking the life out of a franchise. The action scenes remind me of Transformers, where you can see that a lot of money and effort went into them but they aren’t actually exciting. I’d posit that I have reached CGI overload but the scenes in Jurassic World are quite suspenseful.

Terminator Genisys also spends way too much time reinventing the wheel and too much effort in setting up the sequel. There is one brief post-credits scene. Thankfully they put it just after credits start so you don’t need to sit through all of them.

Terminator Genisys will only appeal to hardcore fans of the franchise and even then they will likely be disappointed. I know I was.

Sabotage & Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

 

Conan the Barbarian

 

I like Arnold Schwarzenegger as a star. I grew up with him as Conan the Barbarian, one of the best fantasy movies we had in the pre-Peter Jackson era. He was so iconic as Conan that he revisited it two years later in Conan the Destroyer. This version was toned down for the kiddies and mixed with a fair amount of Dungeons & Dragons but still very Arnold. He essentially reprised the role the following year as Kalidor in Red Sonja.

The Terminator

He IS the Terminator. Another iconic role that played to his strengths, the first two are in my favorite films list and the third is at least fun. Predator is another of my favorite films and Schwarzenegger leads a testosterone-heavy cast being stalked by an alien predator. True Lies reteamed him with James Cameron to great effect.

In the 90s, his films became very hit or miss and gradually began to decline in quality and box office receipts. I was looking forward to his return to movies after his detour into politics.

He did nice cameos in the first two Expendables movies. I really looked forward to his return to a starring role in The Last Stand. It was directed by Kim Jee-woon, whose The Good, The Bad, The Weird was a wonderful homage to American Westerns. Sadly while it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t very good either.

His next shot was co-starring with Expendables star Sylvester Stallone in Escape Plan. If you thought The Last Stand was ludicrous, Escape Plan takes it to another level. This brings us to his latest film, Sabotage.

Sabotage

 

Sabotage (2014) – Rated R

Members of an elite DEA task force find themselves being taken down one by one after they rob a drug cartel safe house.”

One Line Review: A world of no or, as they would say, “#%$# my $@%#, #%$^*&^%^$#@”

This time Arnold turned to writer/director David Ayer for a comeback role. David Ayer penned U-571 which, apart from the grievous insult of changing the British heroes who pulled off the actual mission into Americans, was a pretty entertaining World War II saga. He went on to write Training Day which was a gritty and wonderful tale of police corruption. Ayer apparently found that to be his niche and wrote Dark Blue and S.W.A.T. before wiritng and directing Harsh Times and End of Watch.

David Ayer writes, directs, and produces Sabotage so the ummm sabotage to this movie must be laid at his feet. I remember when dropping the F bomb was shocking. Apparently it is so commonplace now that David Ayer replaced the epithet indicating sexual congress with several indicating the act of fellatio. He was so enamored of this that I think at least a half dozen characters in Sabotage use it. I felt like it was on an audio loop.

Ayer assembled a good action cast to back up Schwarzenegger. Sam Worthington (whose leading man career never took off in spite of Avatar, Terminator Salvation, and Clash of the Titans), Josh Holloway (Lost), Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Terrence Howard (Iron Man), and Max Martini (Pacific Rim) all try to out-macho each other as DEA agents. They are out-machoed by Mireille Enos (The Killing) as Lizzy and Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) as Caroline.

The characters are all cardboard cutouts. Poor Mireille Enos must have been told to act something the opposite of her character in the killing. Her portrayal of an addicted DEA agent is so over the top, it doesn’t just verge on parody, it revels in it. Still at least she seems to be having fun, Terrence Howard just seems embarrassed to be in the movie.

I have heard this movie described as an action version of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians (aka And Then There Were None). The truth is that it is more like a bad slasher film until the killer is revealed. The movie is filled with an unreal amount of nonsense and just about the worst dialogue I have ever had to sit through.

There is a big climactic fight/chase scene that should end the movie. Unfortunately Ayer wants to wrap up the loose ends so Sabotage limps on for another quarter hour or so after the end for another action scene and ending. This final ending is just awful and I don’t mean full of awe. No spoilers but this is the most disappointing ending I have seen since Return of the King decided to have about seven different endings.

The Expendables week – Rest of the Cast

Well time to wrap up the week. I’ve covered Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Van Damme and Willis. The Expendables 2 also has Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, and Scott Adkins but Netflix only has a few streaming titles for each of them.

The Cutter (2005) – Rated R

“When a kidnapping rescue mission goes horribly wrong, Detective John Shepherd (Chuck Norris) escapes his guilty conscience by trying to save an aging diamond cutter, Issac Teller (Bernie Kopell), who’s been abducted by an unknown madman. With the help of the Issac’s niece, Elizabeth (Joanna Pacula), Shep unravels his mysterious past … only to find that the cutter perfected his craft years earlier as an Auschwitz inmate.”

The only Chuck Norris streaming on Netflix is not one of his better ones. It is a rather generic shoot ’em up, beat ’em up. For Chuck Norris fans only.

The Terminator (1984) – Rated R

“In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?”

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. James Cameron is actually able to turn Arnold’s limited acting range into a positive. Arnold is fantastic as the unstoppable killing machine and is still a good thrill ride. Look for future Aliens stars Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, and Bill Paxton (sporting a Mohawk).

Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG-13

“While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick, a wacky wizard, a fierce woman warrior and a gigantic bodyguard. But there’s a traitor among the ranks.”

While not as good as the first Conan, Conan the Destroyer is a more family friendly version. It suffers from too much Dungeons & Dragons influence and some rather bizarre casting (Wilt Chamberlain? Grace Jones?).

The Scorpion King 2 (2008) – Rated PG-13

“Employing an all-new cast, this action-driven prequel to The Scorpion King tells the heroic tale of young Mathayus (Michael Copon) and his relentless quest for justice against an evil and powerful villain, King Sargon (Ultimate Fighting champ Randy Couture). Mathayus faces heart-stopping tribulations during his adventurous, odds-defying trajectory toward his ultimate destiny: becoming the formidable warrior king of an ancient desert empire.”

Wow Universal’s reboot of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser was a lot of fun. It made buckets of money so they made two sequels which were nowhere near as good. Here comes the bizarre part. Universal then went and made a prequel to the second film, The Scorpion King starring Duane ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Scorpion King 2 features Randy Couture instead of The Rock. There is even a Scorpion King 3 with Dave Bautista.

Ninja (2009) – Rated R

“An American studying the ancient martial art of ninjutsu in Japan finds his training put to the test when he’s summoned by his sensei to return to New York for a dangerous mission: protect a chest containing the weapons of a legendary ninja.”

Yet another one of those competing movie idea, Ninja came out the same time as Ninja Assassin. Ninja Assassin was originally titled Ninja and starred Korean pop sensation Rain. If you like Ninjas or Scott Adkins then you’ll enjoy this.

Conan the Destroyer

After the utterly disappointing reboot of Conan the Barbarian, I went back to my old pal Netflix. Instant Netflix currently has the original Conan the Barbarian available for viewing but I have already expressed my appreciation for that flawed movie. The sequel, Conan the Destroyer is also currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Rated PG

While on a quest to retrieve a magical gem, muscleman Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) vanquishes mortal and supernatural adversaries with help from his ham-fisted sidekick (Tracey Walter), a wacky wizard (Mako), a fierce woman warrior (Grace Jones) and a gigantic bodyguard (Wilt Chamberlain). But unbeknownst to Conan, there’s a traitor among the ranks. Sarah Douglas, Olivia dAbo and Jeff Corey also star in this rousing, fast-paced sequel.

John Milius and Arnold Schwarzenegger made Conan the Barbarian ooze with testosterone. For the sequel, Richard Fleischer was handed the directors chair. Fleischer took the Conan concept and attempted to turn it into family friendly fare.

The violence, while plentiful, is completely toned down here to, believe it or not, earn the film a PG rating. Also the rise in popularity of Dungeons & Dragons leads the film to be populated by wizards (Mako and others), thieves (Tracey Walter), and warriors (Wilt Chamberlain, Grace Jones) as well as a few varieties of monsters.

The physique of Conan is still awesome but Grace Jones comes across as more of a warrior than Arnold does. Of course this may be because she injured a fair number of the stuntmen on the film.

This is an example of how NOT to do an ensemble cast. Every member of the cast seems to be shouting “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” in every scene. Grace Jones overplays her aggressiveness, Olivia dAbo overplays her cuteness, Mako and Tracey Walter fight for top sidekick status, and Sarah Douglas, Wilt Chamberlain (yes that Wilt – his only screen role), Pat Roach, and Jeff Corey slug it out for the villain slots.

I give this a watch recommendation because in spite of everything I have said, this is a fun, constantly moving Arnold romp. Also it is train-wreck fascinating to watch these “actors” (a bodybuilder, a model, a basketball player, two singers and even two professional wrestlers) step all over each other.

People Watch: Look for an unrecognizable Andre the Giant as the transformed Dagoth.

 

Terminator 2 – Second Verse Same as the First week

This week I have decided to cover the unjustly derided vehicle known as the sequel. This is Second Verse Same as the First week. Terminator 2 – Judgment Day is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) – Rated R for strong sci-fi (not Syfy) action and violence and for language.

“In this sequel, director James Cameron delivers scene after scene of action-packed thrills. A bigger, better Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is gunning for a shape-shifting T-1000 who is out to kill John Connor (Edward Furlong), the son of Sarah (Linda Hamilton), the original Terminators nemesis”

As with Alien/Aliens, Terminator is a better film than Terminator 2 but Terminator 2 is the more enjoyable film. Cameron is a master of wonderful cuts. In the opening he segues from children playing on a playground to a rather stark vision of the future.

As he did with Aliens, Cameron has also interwoven a theme here. In T2, the overall theme is an examination of what it means to be human. This is more pronounced in the extended version which I was surprised to discover this was. This version contains a scene with Sarah talking to Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), an extra scene with Arnie being worked on, an extra scene with workaholic Miles Dyson, and others.

Cameron loves to have strong female protagonists in his films. This is one of the things I love about Cameron as the action film genre often has a “Men Only” sign on it. Here Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) is very buff and capable if somewhat psychologically screwed up. Linda Hamilton does a fine job of grounding many fantastic sequences.

Besides his genius at pacing that I mentioned yesterday, Cameron also excels at injecting appropriate humor into deadly, often grim, encounters. I say “appropriate” because the humor is funny without detracting from the seriousness of the situation.

The opening action sequence where Arnie acquires clothing has great action and humor. Unfortunately if you stop to consider it, the scene makes no sense. For an example of what The Terminator series looks like without humor, watch Terminator Salvation.

Arnold returns as a different T-800 and all jokes aside about his robotic delivery, he makes an excellent Terminator. In the first film he was the ultimate Terminator but here he is practically obsolete next to the new T-1000 model.

Robert Patrick plays the new liquid metal Terminator and the smoothness of his face really lends credibility to the changes. Of course a large part of the new Terminator are the special effects used. It seems with every film, Cameron graphically pushes the envelope of what can be accomplished.

Edward Furlong plays John Connor, future leader of the human race. Unfortunately John Connor at this stage is just a juvenile delinquent. Furlong is pretty good but it is often difficult to see where his leadership qualities will spring from.

Joe Morton has a small but meaty role as Miles Dyson, whose discoveries lead to Skynet and ultimately armageddon.

It can be no surprise that I wholeheartedly recommend one of the greatest action films of all time. The special effects hold up quite well.

Netflix presents T2 in high-definition for those of you with adequate internet connections. The picture is better than DVD quality but a bit shy of the Blu-Ray.

People Watch: Xander Berkeley (Mason in 24) and Jenette Goldstein (Vasquez in Aliens) have brief roles here as foster parents to John Connor.

Red Sonja

Netflix doesn’t have Conan the Destroyer available on instant play so if you need a second dose of sword-swinging Arnold after yesterday’s Conan the Barbarian, try Red Sonja.

Red Sonja

PASS: Red Sonja (1985) – Rated PG-13

“After her family is brutally murdered, a young woman named Sonja (Brigitte Nielsen) sees “red” and becomes a master of the sword — all to seek revenge on the evil queen responsible for the tragedy that snuffed out her kin. Directed by Richard Fleischer, the film co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (in one of his earliest roles) and features Sandahl Bergman as the evil queen.”

This is Arnold’s 3rd outing as Conan in all-but-name. Sadly not only is this not very good but Arnold himself considers it one of his worst films. Production values came down quite a bit from Conan the Barbarian and unfortunately it shows. This also continues the family friendly PG-13 trend started in Conan the Destroyer which seems odd for a Robert E. Howard/Frank Frazetta inspired series. They added Black Belt/child actor Ernie Reyes Jr. to the mix which I found somewhat grating.

Regrettably Sandahl Bergman turned down the title role – opting instead to play the villain Queen Gedren. If you thought Sandahl was a bit wooden in Conan, you haven’t seen anything until you see Brigitte Nielsen as Sonja. They also make Gedren a lesbian. Gasp! An evil lesbian! who wants to destroy the world! How do we know she is evil? Her face is scarred! Examples number 63, 104 and 106 in our series on lazy lazy lazy screenwriting.

All in all there are just too many flaws – most of them significant – for me to recommend this film. If you can check your brain at the door and enjoy a healthy dose of Arnold then by all means go ahead and watch this piece of cheese – otherwise give this a pass.

People Watch: As with my post on Flesh + Blood, look for perennial villain Ronald Lacey as, surprise, a villain.

Conan the Barbarian

In order to narrow down last week’s choices for Swashbuckler week, I eliminated those films dealing with magic. As that is enough to fill another week *surprise*, this week is Sword and Sorcery week. I’ll start with some quintessential Arnold. Conan the Barbarian is currently available on Netflix instant play.

Conan the Barbarian

WATCH: Conan the Barbarian (1982) – rated R

“Catch Arnold before he became a politician! A pure swords-and-sorcery flick, Conan the Barbarian is one of the best and sparked a wave of fantasy films in the early ’80s. When Conan’s parents are killed in a raid, he’s sent to a slave camp where his master trains him to be a warrior and use his skills in high-stakes fights. Once granted his freedom, the muscle-bound bruiser seeks to avenge his parents’ brutal murder and solve the riddle of steel.”

You know when a film opens with a quote from Nietzsche that it’s likely to be dripping with testosterone. Manly John Milius (Red Dawn, Apocalypse Now, Dillinger, Dirty Harry) both directed this and co-wrote it with Oliver Stone. This film overflows with machismo and is well done apart from a bizarre third-act twist. Basil Poledouris’ ponderous bass and drum heavy score is not only fitting and rousing but has been ripped off numerous times for other movies’ trailers. There are many wonderful action pieces throughout the film especially the  big end battle.

While not Arnold’s best film, it is hard to hear the word Conan without picturing Arnold’s incredible physique. Arnold is of course Arnold but that is perfect for this film and without him this film would not have amounted to much. Arnold’s love interest Valeria holds her own and is played ably and very physically by dancer Sandahl Bergman who unfortunately did not receive anywhere near the post-movie boost that Arnold did. They did their own stunts but stuntwoman Corrie Jansen (as a priestess of Doom) took the cake when she set a record by taking a 182-foot free fall plunge.

James Earl Jones oddly plays villain Thulsa Doom. I say oddly because in the books, Thulsa Doom was actually an enemy of Robert E. Howard’s other hero, Kull the Conqueror. Thulsa’s thread runs through the film and he makes a fine villain but in the third act, he becomes the leader of a snake cult that believes in flower power (?!?). The Jim Jones massacre occurred in 1978 and was obviously fresh in the writers’ minds but I’m not sure whether the cult is supposed to reflect them or ‘flower power’ or a mixture of the two. At any rate it seems really jarring especially with the incredibly fake 2nd worst cannibal stew in one sequence – worst goes to the Richard Chamberlain stinker, King Solomon’s Mines. Other than those flaws, the film is very enjoyable.

People Watch: Max von Sydow has a brief but welcome role as King Osric

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger aka The Governator was the king of 80’s action movies (also one of my mother-in-law’s favorite stars). He started off in movies with Hercules in New York (aka Hercules Goes Bananas – 1970) but made his first big impression with Pumping Iron (1977), a documentary on bodybuilding. His physique was ideal for portraying Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian (1982) and again in Conan the Destroyer (1984). Arnold has four movies available on Instant Netflix (one of which I covered under my Batman post).

The Terminator

1. The Terminator (1984) – “In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?”

This is an absolute masterpiece from director James Cameron. The character of the Terminator is ideal for Arnold’s build, accent and somewhat wooden delivery. Look for Cameron regulars Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton (“What is wrong with this picture?”) in small roles.

Last Action Hero

2. Last Action Hero (1993) – “A magic movie ticket gains a young fan (Austin O’Brien) unprecedented access to his favorite action hero (Arnold Schwarzenegger) when he’s sucked out of his seat and onto the big screen. But things really blow up when a notorious movie villain uses the ticket to break into the real world. The all-star supporting cast includes Anthony Quinn, Art Carney, F. Murray Abraham, Mercedes Ruehl, Ian McKellen, Joan Plowright and Tina Turner”

I’m not sure what went wrong here. This should have been a slam-dunk – John McTiernan of Die Hard, Predator, and The Hunt for Red October fame directs from a good story concept. Arnold has good backup from F. Murray Abraham, Anthony Quinn, and Charles Dance though I enjoy Tom Noonan’s performance the most. Much of the movie is fun, there are some hilarious gags but it never quite gels for me – good but flawed. This was my eldest daughter’s favorite movie growing up.

Eraser

3. Eraser (1996) – “U.S. Marshall John Kruger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) erases the identities of people enrolled in the Witness Protection Program. His current assignment is to protect Lee Cullen (Vanessa L. Williams), who’s uncovered evidence that the weapons manufacturer she works for has been selling to terrorist groups. When Kruger discovers that there’s a corrupt agent (James Caan) within the program, he must guard his own life while trying to protect Lee’s”

Arnold is in fine heroic form here and in James Cameron’s hands, the action set-pieces (a fight in and out of an airplane, a shootout at the New York Zoo) would have made for a classic movie but Chuck Russell doesn’t quite have the right touch. James Cromwell and James Coburn have brief roles but it’s nice to see both of them in anything really and there is a great bulletproof glass gag. The railguns used throughout the movie are quite silly – second only to Runaway’s slow-moving bullets as the most useless movie uberweapon in history.

Batman & Robin

4. Batman & Robin (1997) – “Along with crime-fighting partner Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and new recruit Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Batman (George Clooney) battles the dual threat of frosty genius Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and homicidal horticulturalist Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). Freeze plans to put Gotham City on ice, while Ivy tries to drive a wedge between the dynamic duo. With winking jokes and powerhouse action, Batman & Robin makes a great franchise finale “

Where The Dark Knight represents the zenith of Batman movies, Batman & Robin marks its nadir. Arnold and Uma overact worse than the villains on the old Batman TV series (and that series had Vincent Price, Frank Gorshin and Cesar Romero), they gave Batman a nipple suit, noted thespian Alicia Silverstone gets a B&D outfit, and so on. It seems clear that what Joel Schumacher wanted was a big budget Adam West Batman. It’s a shocking waste of money but it is pretty with lots of explosions and shiny things.