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The Good, the Bad & the Badass: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Mar. 24, 2014by: Chris Bumbray

Last week, we took at the career of legendary badass James Caan. An icon of the seventies, in the eighties we had a different kind of badass, and this week’s subject is arguably the most iconic of these larger-than-life heroes.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


It disturbs me when the younger generation of fan boys look at Arnold Schwarzenegger like some kind of “camp” icon. Let's get one thing straight people, Arnold ain't Chuck Norris. He's as legit as they come. While someone like Norris slaved away in a series of B-actioners – the vast majority of which don't hold up today – Arnold made more than a few classics. Even the lesser movies he made during his peak period (from about 1982's CONAN THE BARBARIAN to 1996's ERASER) are pretty outstanding.

In his prime, Arnold was the biggest star in the world. He worked with huge budgets (both TERMINATOR 2 and TRUE LIES set records when they came out) the best directors (James Cameron, John McTiernan, Paul Verhoeven), top-notch supporting casts (like last week's badass subject, James Caan in ERASER) and often really good scripts. He even excelled (for awhile anyway) with comedy, in 1988's TWINS (my first theatrical Arnold experience) and 1990's KINDERGARDEN COP (“it's NOT a too-mah”)

After 1997's BATMAN & ROBIN, Arnold seemed less interested in movies, and focused on his political career, becoming the Governor of California for two terms, before eventually returning to films. Perhaps as a result of his polarizing political career and advancing age, Arnold's struggled somewhat to reestablish himself as an action hero, but even at sixty-six, he's still giving it a go, with this week's SABOTAGE (from David Ayer) looking like his most intriguing film in years.

His Best Role
 

 

To me, the T-800 is the ultimate Arnold Schwarzenegger role. Together with James Cameron, Arnold took what could have been a two-bit b-movie villain, and made him something really transcendent. Arnie was so popular in THE TERMINATOR (which – we should remember – was a modestly budgeted indie) that when it came time for the blockbuster sequel, the T-800 went from being an iconic figure of terror, to one of pure goodness in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, with his absolute devotion to John Connor, and his touching self-sacrifice, which still brings a tear to the eye of many a jaded action fan.

His Most Overrated Role
 

 

It would be easy for me to pick one of Arnold's lesser films, most of which were made in the post-ERASER/pre-TERMINATOR 3 era, but where would be the fun in that? In his heyday, Arnold rarely went wrong, with two exceptions, RED SONJA, and the watered-down sequel CONAN THE DESTROYER. As those movies are universally reviled they don't apply. But one Arnold movie that's really doesn't hold up is RAW DEAL. One of the few true “quickie” actioners he made Arnold is an odd choice to play a small town sheriff (well, former FBI at least) who goes undercover in the mob. For three-quarters of the movie, it's curiously short on action. Worse still is the fact that after seventy-odd minutes of Arnold building a case against the mob, rather than – I dunno – actually using the evidence, he pops The Rolling Stones 'Satisfaction' into his car stereo and goes on a rampage. Even worse, the rampage is so awesome you resent the rest of the movie for being so dull, even if it doesn't make a lick of sense. It's not a terrible movie (it's fun in a cheesy way) but it's one of Arnie's few missteps during his peak period.

His Most Underrated Role
 

 

Arnie's done a lot of movies that were underrated. One that people mostly ignore is ERASER. A slickly-made actioner, it marked the end of Arnie's golden period with it “under-performing” at the box office ($100 million in 1996 dollars, which would be a blockbuster nowadays). Directed by Chuck Russell, it's a pretty solid film, with a smarter-than-average story, and great direction by Chuck Russell. While the CGI has aged badly, and some of the one-liners are cheesy (“you're luggage”) ERASER is full of great set-pieces, such as the scientifically impossible but insane air plane shootout and the finale with Arnold's two railguns. It's a great flick.

His Most Memorable Scene

Well this is certainly a no-brainer. Truly, what else could this be but the police station shootout in THE TERMINATOR, which gave us Arnie's immortal trademark, “I'll be back.”

His Top-Five Films

5. TRUE LIES
4. PREDATOR
3. TOTAL RECALL
2. THE TERMINATOR
1. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY

Up Next

Arnold's got lots in the pipeline, from TERMINATOR: GENESIS, to his first zombie movie, MAGGIE, potentially due out later this year. Bring it Arnold!

Source: JoBlo.com

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7:32AM on 03/25/2014
1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
2. True Lies
3. Last Action Hero
4. Kindergarten Cop
5. The Last Stand
BEST SCENE: "Bar Brawl" in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
WORST SCENE: "Bear Brawl" in Hercules In New York
1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
2. True Lies
3. Last Action Hero
4. Kindergarten Cop
5. The Last Stand
BEST SCENE: "Bar Brawl" in Terminator 2: Judgement Day
WORST SCENE: "Bear Brawl" in Hercules In New York
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6:30PM on 03/24/2014
Loved this guy's films in his prime. Sure, he's a pretty terrible actor but he has found a niche for himself, he managed to make his many drawbacks his strength. And what's most importantly he knew which movies he fit and picked not only good material but good crews. His action films are all-time classics and one of them is an absolute masterpiece of the genre - Terminator 2. Another is probably the most awesome guy movie ever - Predator with Commando not trailing far behind. Total Recall is
Loved this guy's films in his prime. Sure, he's a pretty terrible actor but he has found a niche for himself, he managed to make his many drawbacks his strength. And what's most importantly he knew which movies he fit and picked not only good material but good crews. His action films are all-time classics and one of them is an absolute masterpiece of the genre - Terminator 2. Another is probably the most awesome guy movie ever - Predator with Commando not trailing far behind. Total Recall is till this day an underappreciated gem and he made other solid movies at that time as well - my favorite being The Running Man and Last Action Hero.

He was also really successful in other genres: fantasy (Conan), horror (Terminator), comedy (Kindergarten Cops, Twins and yes, Batman & Robin. By now I love that flick)

He's a legend, no doubt about it.
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1:04PM on 03/24/2014
Still love
Junior
Red Heat
The Sixth Day
Collateral Damage
End of Days
and Last Action Hero (hate the kid though)
Still love
Junior
Red Heat
The Sixth Day
Collateral Damage
End of Days
and Last Action Hero (hate the kid though)
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11:51AM on 03/24/2014
True Lies will always be my favourite Schwarzenegger movie!
True Lies will always be my favourite Schwarzenegger movie!
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11:15AM on 03/24/2014
I was about ten when I first saw one of Arnold's movies (True Lies). Being a scrawny, non-athletic kid, I grew up mocking the meathead persona of guys like Sly Stallone, and particularly Arnie for his Austrian accent. True Lies changed that for me. A surprisingly tongue-in-cheek action movie, it proved that Arnold Schwarzenegger was only too aware of how ridiculous his persona can be. While Stallone still comes off as too self-serious (not always on purpose), Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Clint
I was about ten when I first saw one of Arnold's movies (True Lies). Being a scrawny, non-athletic kid, I grew up mocking the meathead persona of guys like Sly Stallone, and particularly Arnie for his Austrian accent. True Lies changed that for me. A surprisingly tongue-in-cheek action movie, it proved that Arnold Schwarzenegger was only too aware of how ridiculous his persona can be. While Stallone still comes off as too self-serious (not always on purpose), Arnold Schwarzenegger, like Clint Eastwood before him, showed he likes to play around with his image (and no one can deliver a bad one-liner like him). He's still a ridiculous hulking mass who butchers his English, but that's part of the charm of watching one of his movies (the Terminator movies being exceptional in this respect, he is, after all, playing a literal killing machine).
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10:29AM on 03/24/2014
Conan the Barbarian deserved to be in Arnie's top 5.

If that movie had failed it would have killed Arnie's career before it got started. It's a fucking masterpiece and Basil Poledouris' score is one of my all time favorites.
He will always be the greatest action star of all time and I'm going to see Sabotage on Friday.
Conan the Barbarian deserved to be in Arnie's top 5.

If that movie had failed it would have killed Arnie's career before it got started. It's a fucking masterpiece and Basil Poledouris' score is one of my all time favorites.
He will always be the greatest action star of all time and I'm going to see Sabotage on Friday.
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10:42AM on 03/24/2014
He didn't say that. He said Schwarzenegger's peek period BEGAN with Conan the Barbarian.
He didn't say that. He said Schwarzenegger's peek period BEGAN with Conan the Barbarian.
11:30AM on 03/24/2014
LOL

Sorry, I misread that. Editing my original post now.
LOL

Sorry, I misread that. Editing my original post now.
7:56AM on 03/24/2014
Still the greatest action hero of all time.
Still the greatest action hero of all time.
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4:50AM on 03/24/2014
Thanks for giving Eraser a shoutout! I didn't see it until recently-ish and thoroughly enjoyed it. The sequence with the alligators and the mid-air parachute action sequence are both really impressive, and I like how a romantic connection wasn't forced between Arnold's character and Vanessa Williams' character.
Thanks for giving Eraser a shoutout! I didn't see it until recently-ish and thoroughly enjoyed it. The sequence with the alligators and the mid-air parachute action sequence are both really impressive, and I like how a romantic connection wasn't forced between Arnold's character and Vanessa Williams' character.
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7:32AM on 03/24/2014
yeah good point about the romance connection. Even though Arnold was very good at romance in Twins and Kindergarten Cop.
yeah good point about the romance connection. Even though Arnold was very good at romance in Twins and Kindergarten Cop.
8:30AM on 03/24/2014
Action movies tend to have a shoehorned-in designated love interest, and I totally thought Vanessa Williams would fulfill that role so I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed the filmmakers thought that just wasn't necessary. I think Arnold was a great romantic lead in True Lies, too. Very good chemistry with Jamie-Lee Curtis, and the relationship had this genuine "aww shucks" quality to it.
Action movies tend to have a shoehorned-in designated love interest, and I totally thought Vanessa Williams would fulfill that role so I was pleasantly surprised when it seemed the filmmakers thought that just wasn't necessary. I think Arnold was a great romantic lead in True Lies, too. Very good chemistry with Jamie-Lee Curtis, and the relationship had this genuine "aww shucks" quality to it.
2:40AM on 03/24/2014
Even though the film was terrible, he absolutely owned and was entertaining as hell as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.
Even though the film was terrible, he absolutely owned and was entertaining as hell as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.
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11:33AM on 03/24/2014
Your a fucking clownshoe!
Your a fucking clownshoe!
12:13PM on 03/24/2014
Van-damage82 you have been warned about this type of abuse in the strikebacks. We will not tolerate it and you have been summarily banned.
Van-damage82 you have been warned about this type of abuse in the strikebacks. We will not tolerate it and you have been summarily banned.
1:46AM on 03/24/2014

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA??

Arnold in a Zombie movie?
Sold!
Plot dont matter.
Arnold in a Zombie movie?
Sold!
Plot dont matter.
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1:11AM on 03/24/2014
Arnold has been my favorite actor since my childhood. Terminator is his best and most iconic role. I'd say his most underrated movie is The Last Stand. It's all been-there-done-that but Arnold proves to us he can still kick ass.
Arnold has been my favorite actor since my childhood. Terminator is his best and most iconic role. I'd say his most underrated movie is The Last Stand. It's all been-there-done-that but Arnold proves to us he can still kick ass.
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1:05AM on 03/24/2014
He is probably my favourite movie star.
He is probably my favourite movie star.
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