ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER MOVIES
Four Empire writers dissect the diverse output of The Austrian Oak
Chris: You can break Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career down into three parts. There’s the Arnold The Action Hero part in the ’80s and early ’90s, where he killed everybody on the planet at least twice and became the biggest action star in the world. Then there’s Family-friendly Arnie, where he made a series of execrable comedies, in which his edges are dulled a little bit. Then he takes the break to…
Helen: Be Governor of California, then the world’s eighth-largest economy.
Chris: Then he comes back and makes a whole bunch of movies. There’s a more serious side. He’s trying to stretch himself as an actor.
Helen: I think that’s fair. There’s a bit of overlap between the first two periods.
James: Weirdly, he’s more proud of his comedies than he is of his action films. Twins is one of his all-time favourite films. Nick: Twins is his best comedy. People forget that Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in a Robert Altman movie, The Long Goodbye.
Chris: Starred is a very loose term for what Arnold does in that film.
Nick: So he did have an arthouse phase. It only lasts for ten seconds of screentime.
Chris: He was around for a long time before he hit it big with Conan The Barbarian.
James: It is worth bearing in mind that he came to acting quite late in life. He had already gone to the top of two careers. He had become the most successful body builder in history and then he became a multi-millionaire through his property business before he even became an actor. He puts us all to fucking shame on every level.
Chris: Not physically, pal.
Helen: I’ve been to the gym twice this week.
Nick: And he learned to drive tanks and stuff.
Chris: Another Arnold story I like is that for The Terminator, he decided that because he was a robot from the future, he wouldn’t blink. He went down to the firing range and shot thousands upon thousands of rounds. And taught himself not to blink.
Nick: Has Daniel Day-lewis done that? I think not.
Chris: Here’s one of my controversial opinions: Arnold Schwarzenegger is a better actor than many people give him credit for.
James: I agree.
Helen: I agree.
Chris: That was less controversial than I thought it was going to be.
James: People say he’s a terrible actor, but he’s not. He wasn’t great when he started out. That’s true of many people.
Nick: He has an intensity and gravitas in his more serious films. A lot of other action stars don’t have that. Chuck Norris does not have that.
Helen: I put Escape Plan in my top ten. It’s not a good film but it’s a good Arnold performance.
Chris: I also think that he is brilliant in
Predator. He is genuinely great. In the last 20 minutes when it’s just him and that space beastie, he conveys real fear and cunning. It’s a non-verbal performance. He’s great.
Helen: I agree. I think Predator
Chris: Again, controversial opinion: I think it’s his best film.
James: I agree.
Chris: What the hell is going on with my controversial opinions today?
Helen: It’s really great.
James: It’s a toss-up between this and
Terminator 2. They are both phenomenal films, but everything I love about Arnold is in Predator. He is 100 per cent raw masculinity in that film. It’s gloriously over-the-top. It’s utterly absurd. It’s frightening, it’s thrilling, it’s exciting, it’s funny.
Nick: I think Arnie is unique. Some of his worst films are his best films. Commando
is objectively a garbage film. But I could sit and talk about it all day.
Chris: Commando is a five-star one-star film. It is an objectively bad film.
Nick: It’s all about the gratuitousness of it. Everything it does, it does too big. It’s got too loud an outside voice.
Chris: It has some of the best Arnold kills and some of the best Arnold one-liners. It has — controversial opinion — the best Arnold movie villain that is not played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
James: Not controversial. It’s Vernon Wells.
Nick: Pretty controversial. You’re saying Bennett is better than the T-1000?
Nick: That is objectively insane. One is one of the greatest villains in movie history. The other is an overweight Australian in a chainmail wifebeater.
Chris: I knew sooner or later one of my controversial opinions would actually prove controversial.
Helen: It’s not even controversial, it’s just silly.
James: Everyone should be forced to see
Commando every day.
Helen: No. I saw Commando because you all banged on about it ceaselessly. It is shit. Entertainingly shit, but it is terrible.
James: Nowhere have steel drums been used better than in that film.
Helen: That’s not a recommendation!
Nick: Steven E. de Souza, who wrote
Commando, he and John Mctiernan were two guys who knew how to use Arnie. Not many knew what to do with him. And James Cameron is the ultimate Arnie collaborator.
Helen: I agree. The Terminator, it’s almost unbelievable once you’ve seen it that he was ever thinking of Lance Henriksen for that role.
Chris: He’s terrifying in that film.
Helen: He’s so scary. I think it’s good to use the weight and the height and the enormousness of him like that.
Nick: I’m not a huge fan of the first one, to be honest. Sorry, that is a controversial opinion. It’s fine, but it’s not a film I pull out and watch very often. If I want to watch a Terminator film, I go for
Chris: I thought you were going to say
James: They’re different genres.
The Terminator is a flat-out horror film. Terminator 2 is an undeniably better film than The Terminator. It’s an absolute masterpiece.
Chris: Right, enough squabbling. Let’s vote!
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER’S BACK CATALOGUE IS AVAILABLE ON DVD, BLU-RAY AND DOWNLOAD
To listen to the full Schwarzenegger debate as a podcast, go to www.empire online.com/podcast