Thursday, June 28, 2007

Schwarzenegger Sunday: Roundup, Part I

For an overview of Schwarzenegger Sunday, check out the Marching Orders above. Note – there will always be spoilers.

I am sorry to announce that for reasons that will soon be obvious, we’ve gone through our 2007 allotment of Schwarzenegger films. I certainly wanted to tackle Kindergarten Cop, Red Heat, Last Action Hero and of course Jingle All the Way, but unfortunately we have to wrap things up for now. However, the good thing about taking a break at this time is that we can review what we’ve accomplished so far. We have eleven movies under our Sunday belt. Let’s see how things break down.

We’ll start with our standard categories and determine which movie is the leader on each one.

Quality of “Ahnold” lines: We’ve seen a ton of wonderful Arnold quips. Here are some of the best ones:
“Conan! What is best in life?” “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!”
“Remember Sully when I promised to kill you last?” “That’s right Matrix, you did promise!” “I lied.” … “Wadja do with Sully?” “I let him go.”
“The most satisfying feeling you can get in a gym is ‘the pump.’ It’s as satisfying to me as coming is.”
“I drink no milk. Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer.”
“This is Vincent’s car, can I help you please?” … “I’ve only been driving an hour!”
“You’re fired!”
“Hey light-head! Hey Christmas tree!”
“You should not drink and bake.”
“Consider that a divorce.”
And of course, “Hasta la vista, baby.”

In what can only be described as a shocking upset, Terminator 2 ekes out a win over Commando for this category. I call it an upset because he’s a friggin’ robot and is supposed to be stoic and not the least bit cheeky. However, Arnold was at the peak of his career and the scripted lines found the right notes between subtle sarcasm and deadpan humor. The only line that really fails is towards the end when Arnold improvised a Kindergarten Cop reference, blurting out, “I need a vacation.”

Plethora of “Ahnold” lines: Some of the films were clearly overstuffed with lines and not all of them worked. Here are the lousy, corny, or just plain stupid lines:
“Why don’t they just call him Girl George? It will cut down on the confusion I think.”
“Just trying to get a closer look at Beavis and Butthead.”
“You bastard! Drop dead!” “I don’t do requests.”
“Now when I was a boy and Rock N Roll came to East Germany, the communists said it was subversive. Maybe they were right…”
“What a hothead.”
"This must be what they mean by 'poetic justice.'"
“OK, Marines. It’s time to kick ass.”
“Here lies Subzero. Now, plain zero!”
“Yeah, he was a real pain in the neck!”
"Do you own a calendar, Max? I bet it's a Jewish holiday."
“I eat Green Berets for breakfast. And right now I’m very hungry.”
"Max, if you're the best there is, the wheel would've never been invented."
“Let off some steam, Bennett.”
Goodness are those terrible. But this category isn’t about “lousy” lines, it’s about which movie stuffs the most of them into its script. And in that case, Commando is the clear winner. Raw Deal came close, with nearly all the lines being horrendous, but at times Commando has Arnold practically doing standup while he hunts down his enemies. Even though he’s tossing those lines about, his expression remains taught and determined throughout.

“I’ll be back.”: We’re going with the originator here, The Terminator. Though Commando and The Running Man both have brief back and forth between Arnold and an adversary. You just can’t beat this: Smarmy Villain: Oh what an array of jerks we’ve had. It’s an extremely difficult decision here as to who is the smarmiest and the most villainous. I’m going to have to go with Thulsa Doom over Milos Cohaagen. Man, this is a tough call. Both men are after power and indulgence. Cohaagen seems to enjoy it less, but I’m not going to count that against him. He gets major points for trying to kill off an entire sector of Mars solely for the sake of sending “a good lesson to the others.” However, not only is Thulsa Doom engaged in cannibalism, he decapitates Conan’s mother to satisfy his bloodlust, he tries to murder his own fiancée after she is kidnapped just for the sake of appeasing his anger, and he has a woman throw herself off a cliff to show Conan how powerful he is. He is pure evil, but a conniving, self-interested evil. The same could be said of Cohaagen, but he just didn’t have as much of an opportunity to show his sinister side. An honorable mention goes to Richard Dawson as Damon Killian, but he’s not on par with these two. Rough and Tumble Henchman: Here we have another incredibly difficult call, and it’s between the same two movies again. In Conan, there are two featured henchmen, both of whom are gigantic men, ready to do anything for their master’s bidding. Total Recall sports Michael Ironside’s Richter who is insubordinate, but carries his own bloodlust towards Arnold’s character. I’m going with Richter here. He’s not as terrifying as Rexor or Thorgrim, but his passion for the destruction of Quaid is unmatched. The yell he gives after Quaid escapes on the subway is destined to be in the top ten of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Angry Shouts retrospective next summer. We must give honorable mention to Robert Davi as he was the only remotely quality thing about Raw Deal. Diminutive Sidekick: It is hard to be more diminutive than Danny Devito. It’s hard to be more of a sidekick than Vincent is to Julius. With all due respect to Edward Furlong and the fact that he is a child in T2, Danny takes this one in a runaway. Rejected hot love interest: This was the only category which was wrapped up as soon as it was defined. Yes, Conan throws the witch played by Cassandra Gava into a fireplace, but she’s not as hot as Sharon Stone, and she is not shot through the forehead before being told, “Consider that a divorce.” Just an astonishing turn of events, no matter how much they were messing with his brain. Not nearly hot enough love interest: I feel like I may have underrated Sandahl Bergman’s Valeria. And by underrated, I mean that I didn’t give her fair credit for not being hot enough. I’m sure she’s upset. But somehow, Valeria seems right for Conan. He should be with someone who can kill with impunity and Valeria certainly fits the bill there. So the winner here is Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies. Part of the issue is that she’s opposing Tia Carrere at the end of her prime. And yes, she does a superb job on her strip tease, but I still can’t get over that grandma underwear photo. It’s unforgivable.

Arnold yelling: Total Recall wins this in a romp. The category was really meant to highlight a specific moment in a movie where Arnold lets out a yell. If you want to talk about one, single yell, it’s hard to beat the one in Predator where he calls his adversary to battle. However, that is not a spontaneous outburst, and that’s really what we’re seeking. He yells throughout Total Recall, but no moment in the history of cinema has a more profound, intense, and hilarious yell than when Quaid uses a mechanical drill to impale his former cab driver while hollering, “SCREWWWWWW YOUUUUUU!!!”

Arnold cursing: Remember that we’re looking for a poignant expletive here, and nothing beats the end of Predator when the alien hunter takes off his helmet to reveal his disgusting face. Dutch immediately blurts out, “You’re one….ugly motherfucker.”

Arnold crazyface: The shocking winner here is Twins. I can’t believe it. However, his expression when he lifts a car to shut its alarm off barely beats out the Total Recall reprogramming scene and my personal favorite, the Conan showdown battle scene. But feel free to judge amongst the three for yourself. Superfluous Explosions: Wow. This category really delivered. I mean a ton of kaboom. Nearly every movie we reviewed has potential to win this category. But the champion has to be Terminator 2. Commando and True Lies gave valiant efforts, but none of those movies blew up as much stuff as big as T2. In fact, I didn’t even include the shots of the Judgment Day nuclear fest in my recap. Just incredibly over the top. Director: Special thanks to James Cameron for helming three of the films reviewed. I'm sure he's reading this. It’s time for him to start making real movies again…

Franco Columbu: Franco didn’t show up as many times as I hoped he would, but he did have a somewhat starring role in Pumping Iron. It would be fair to call him the costar of that movie. Plus, he picks up a car and moves it out of a tight parking spot and has a ridiculously wide lapel. Sven Ole-Thorsen: This is another tough decision. The fact that his character in The Running Man is called "Sven" and the fact that he has an acutal line are compelling. However, in Conan, he raises gigantic snakes and hits people in the head with a gigantic hammer. So we're going with Thorgrim. Shirtless Arnold: We had three tens and a nine in this category. Clearly Arnold is averse to wearing a shirt. Unfortunately, in many of these films he was also somewhat averse to wearing pants. While he’s often oiled up in Pumping Iron, he’s actually shirtless for almost the entirety of Conan. So it’s Conan by an areola.

Severely brutal killing of rough and tumble henchman: There is no question that this is Total Recall. Richter's arms are ripped off before he falls to his demise from an elevator in an alien mine. That’s awfully brutal.

Even more severely brutal killing of villain: Again, Total Recall wins this severely brutal category. Paul Verhoven really turned things up in that movie. Cohaagen’s bloating-to-death sequence was some gross-ass shit.

Plausibly implausible plot: I’m tempted to give Total Recall the threepeat, but the original Terminator has to take this one. Seriously, Skynet takes things over and people are reduced to human cockroaches, scurrying around, wishing for minor victories in armed combat versus machines? I don’t see how humans stand a chance. Then there’s the time-travel thing, and all the rules contained therein. It’s a lot to accept. But we buy in to that movie better than any Arnold’s ever starred in. As previously mentioned, Michael Biehn deserves much of the credit for the success in this category.

Ambiguous ending: While many of the films are intentionally ambiguous at the end, none are as overtly undecided as Total Recall. We don’t even know if any of the movie actually happened or merely occurred within Douglas Quaid’s head because of a problem at Rekall. The decision to toe the line between fantasy and reality is a brilliant one – even if I may have gathered enough evidence to determine that he was lobotomized and never left Rekall to begin with.

Whew. Is that everything? Well, not exactly. All of these categories were determined ahead of time, but in viewing all of these films, there were a few categories that probably should have been included.

“Trust me.”: Arnold throws this one out frequently. I can’t remember off the top of my head how many of his movies include this line, but I think it’s about half of the eleven we’ve Sundayed. For some reason, this doesn’t get the renown that “I’ll be back” does, and possibly with good reason, but whether he's promising John Connor that he won't kill any people, or convincing Vincent that their mom wants to see them, it's a brief sentence he's relied upon many times.

Arnold running: He is “The Running Man”, after all. In almost every non-terminator movie, there is at least one scene featuring an Arnold run, whether it’s sprinting away from the explosives he set off in Commando, fleeing the self-destructing Predator, or jogging to a random house trying to find his mother in Twins. Who knew he was so into cardio?

Arnold painting his skin: In at least Commando, Predator, and Conan (twice), Schwarzenegger paints himself to prepare for battle. One could argue all that baby oil used in Pumping Iron would qualify as well. This probably should have been tracked and rated.

Tune in tomorrow when we will finish the SS roundup, giving you the raw data I know you desire as well as addressing previously unanswerable questions. Note that while this is the last real Schwarzenegger Sunday of 2007, we'll be doing a very special one in a week and a half. It should be very fun, but I'm not tipping my hand yet...

All the Schwarzenegger Sundays:
The Terminator
Raw Deal
The Running Man
True Lies
Pumping Iron
Conan The Barbarian
Total Recall
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Last Action Hero
Roundup, Part II
The George W. Bush Administration


Anonymous said...

according to imdb, franco columbu is only in 3 schwarzenegger movies: running man, terminator, and conan.

i'd vote for arnold's crazy face in total recall. his face is messed up in the opening sequence as well when he falls off the cliff in mars and his helmet gets cracked. classic arnold!

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the whole thing yet, but you consider "Max, if you're the best there is, the wheel would've never been invented." a bad line?

It's awesome, I love it. Although I don't even know what movie it is from.

~meichow said...

Amazing blog man ... true gold - well done.