A beautifully preposterous man…
For some people, childhood is defined by camping trips and adventure. For others, team sports and athletic achievement win the day. But what of those of us who spent most of our childhood in darkened rooms staring slack jawed at a television screen? In the absence of any kind of physical motivation, we were forced to turn to our onscreen heroes for a chance to live vicariously through them. When I should have been out riding bikes with my friends I was more likely to be found staring aghast at a ridiculously muscular man from Austria. Ladies and gentlemen… Arnold Schwarzenegger.
10. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
Terminator 3 is not terrible. Honestly, it isn’t. Following the greatest sequel ever made was always going to be difficult, but when viewed as its own entity, Rise of the Machines is undoubtedly the third best Terminator movie and the last sequel to capture the spirit of the first two movies. It also marked the end of Schwarzenegger’s long career as a Hollywood movie star. Not a bad way to sign off.
9. Commando (1985)
Perhaps the most ridiculous movie villain of all time. A protagonist named John Matrix. What more could you ask for? I watched this recently so full review to follow shortly.
8. Twins (1988)
Arnie gets a lot of stick for his robotic acting style but his various forays into comedy show that he is perhaps more versatile than we give him credit for. Having said that, Danny DeVito is the main source of laughs in this buddy comedy and having Ghostbusters head honcho Ivan Reitman on directing duties surely contributes as well.
Twins is the kind of movie that you don’t really see in 2019. Madcap but simple concept. Well meaning but ultimately goofy co-stars. Yet another insight into the golden age of cinema that was the 1980’s. Take me back.
7. True Lies (1994)
Perhaps the most overlooked and underrated film of Arnie’s career, True Lies was a massive hit when it was released back in ’94 but has since been kind of forgotten about. This is a shame because not only does the cast feature Jamie Lee Curtis, Bill Paxton and noted piece of shit Charlton Heston, but True Lies is also directed by James Cameron. James bloody Cameron.
6. Kindergarten Cop (1990)
Kindergarten Cop is perhaps more of an indicator than Twins that Arnie is capable of carrying a family comedy without the need to rely on a more traditional comic actor. Despite not being held in the same esteem as other family fare such as Gremlins or The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop is in the same ballpark as those beloved classics and must therefore be viewed as a huge success.
5. Total Recall (1990)
Arnold Schwarzenegger is a name synonymous with science fiction. Director Paul Verhoeven is also a bit of a sci-fi legend having gifted the world RoboCop and Starship Troopers. The combination of the two yields one of the best movies from either of their careers in the shape of Total Recall.
Like all the best sci-fi, Total Recall still feels timeless and futuristic despite taking place a mere 65 years into the future. It also boasts an impressive cast, with a never better Sharon Stone flanked by Arnie and Michael Ironside – a man who was contractually obliged to appear in every single action movie in the ’90s. In short, Total Recall is a classic of ’90s sci-fi.
4. The Terminator (1984)
The film that started it all. Until the autumn of ’84, Arnold Schwarzenegger was best known for his faintly ridiculous portrayal of Conan the Barbarian. A film that I attempted to watch in research for this article and had to turn off halfway through. The Terminator changed all that.
As well as announcing director James Cameron to the world, The Terminator combined jaw dropping special effects with a villain who was as emotionless as he was monosyllabic. A role that was perfect for Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. And just like that, a star was born.
3. The Running Man (1987)
Childhood and adolescence is a unique time in anyone’s life. In terms of pop culture, you are introduced to loads of films, music and TV without any real context into what the wider world makes of it all. In a way, I miss that innocence and totally unbiased point of view. Having no preconceived notions about what is ‘good’ allowed me to buy and enjoy the seminal album Smurf’s Go Pop, and surely nobody could argue that is a bad thing?
This peculiar phenomenon also meant that up until re-watching The Running Man, I always assumed that it was beloved by critics and audiences alike. Upon reflection however, the film was a mild failure at the box office, received a lukewarm response from critics and is currently the proud owner of a 6.7 rating on IMDB. Not terrible but just… average. Surely everyone loves The Running Man though?? Has my whole life been a lie? Did that Thomas the Tank Engine scarf I received for my sixth birthday actually look good on me? Well, did it mum?!
I digress. The future presented in The Running Man is actually scarily prescient (the film is set in the strange world of 2017). Financial crash. Government controlling the media. Riots for food and shelter. Sadistic TV game shows. It is all depressingly accurate. For this, Paul Michael Glaser’s film deserves more credit than it receives. Sure it is camp and a bit silly, but there is also a brain hidden in there somewhere as well as a fully functioning heart.
2. Predator (1987)
If you had to pick one film to sum up the ’80s then it would probably have to be Predator. Massive haircuts, ridiculous plot lines and a whole dumpload of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Forget the many, mostly terrible, sequels and instead concentrate on Dutch and Dillon. On Blain and Poncho. On a time when action movie characters only needed one name and ‘get to the chopper’ could become a viable catchphrase. Halcyon days…
1. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
Best sequel ever? Best sci-fi film ever? Best ’90s movie? T2 could potentially be all of those things. But is it the best Arnie film? Definitely. 100%
James Cameron took everything that made the original so special and added some Hollywood stardust to create one of the most celebrated and genuinely terrifying movies of its era.
In another 100 years when Arnie dies in a nuclear explosion, the obituaries will read: ‘Terminator 2 actor and president of the world Arnold Schwarzenegger has passed away.’ And on that day, the human race will have lost one of its brightest sons.
And there it is. We laughed. We cried. We punned. Here’s to another three Terminator sequels…