Schwarzenegger Month: Pumping Iron

A person doesn’t have to have a massive ego to be a bodybuilder, but it helps. Pumping Iron is the most personal film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared, because the only character he is playing is himself. Throughout the film, a documentary on bodybuilding featuring Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and many others, the question of Arnold’s authenticity hovers over everything. Early on, he describes his life as a constant state of euphoria. Between sex, the feeling he gets from working out in the gym, pumping up before a show, and posing in front of people, he is, in his words, “...cumming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific, right? So you know, I’m in heaven.” These are the words of enthused youth, maybe ignorant, maybe indifferent of how bizarre it is to equate one’s life with a never-ending stream of orgasms. What this part of the film, such a graphic picture of his happiness, says to me is that he thinks he is the greatest man on the earth, certainly better than anyone he has ever met. Later, he talks about his desire to be one of those rare individuals that history remembers. He even cites Jesus Christ as an example. Wow. What a massive, walloping, over-indulgent sense of self. It’s hardly an endearing trait, but in combination with his work ethic, it created quite a return on investment. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Pumping Iron”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This is it. The penultimate film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month. I have one more film in mind, but Terminator 3 is the perfect film with which to conclude the chronological portion of reviews. Terminator 3 is the last film in which Arnold starred before he retired to become governor of California. After his time in Sacramento was over, he returned to acting, but so far, it’s been all coda (for reviews of two of these post-governorship movies, click here and here). There would have been no shame at all if this were the last Arnold film. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”

Schwarzenegger Month: Collateral Damage

This is one dark film. Which may explain why it failed at the box office. In Collateral Damage, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Gordy Brewer, a Los Angeles firefighter who loses his wife and son in a terrorist attack. Firefighter, terrorism, innocent victims. Considering this movie was released in February of 2002, only weeks after ground zero in Manhattan stopped smoking, there is a strong possibility the film’s subject matter kept people away. Not only was terrorism a touchy subject back then, the 9/11 attacks were not completely over yet. Not as long as they were still clearing debris. That’s some bad timing. But it could have been worse. The original release date for this film was less than a month after the attacks. I wish I could say I was sympathetic to the plight of the filmmakers and everyone else involved in this project, but tough shit. A film flailing at the box office was the least of the country’s concerns back then. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Collateral Damage”

Schwarzenegger Month: The 6th Day

Time is not treating The 6th Day well. Released late in 2000, the movie opens with an XFL game. The XFL, for members of the Loyal Seven who do not remember, was a winter/spring professional football league founded by the WWE’s Vince McMahon, which began play in real life a couple months after this movie’s release. The league managed to limp through one season of play, but that was it. Hardly anyone was watching. Its appearance in this film was an inspired, and probably expensive, bit of product placement, but seeing it did nothing to make me think I was about to watch a good movie. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: The 6th Day”

Schwarzenegger Month: End of Days

I blame David Fincher, Andrew Kevin Walker, and Arthur Max for End of Days. Had those three not done such stellar work on the movie Seven, Fincher directing, Walker writing, and Max doing the production design, there would not have been a flood of pale imitations that hit the market. End of Days is not about a serial killer, but it has a drained, desolate look and feel that just didn’t exist in film before Seven. And the thing is, this movie is a bit of a laugher, but it looks so bleak that at times I felt like I was laughing at a funeral. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: End of Days”

Schwarzenegger Month: Batman & Robin

Ah, Batman & Robin, the movie that killed the Batman film franchise. I get it. After the Batman comic books took on a darker tone in the late ’80s, it was only natural that the new films that began with Tim Burton’s Batman would become more serious and less campy. Batman, his character and his fictional world, had changed. I also get what the director of this film, Joel Schumacher, was trying to do. He understood the character of Batman from a different era. When he chose to craft a Batman movie he chose to do so in the form of a costume ball. Bright colors, festive music, outrageous outfits — its participants are all out for a wonderful night on the town, and all seem to be in on the joke. This was the Batman from the comics, just not the right Batman comics. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Batman & Robin”

Schwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way

I was not sure I would be able to get through this movie even before I began watching it. I try to wipe my mind of all preconceptions before viewing a movie, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out this is a squishy family movie. I do not like family flicks, and I’m not that much of a fan of Christmas movies, either. But, I like Schwarzenegger movies. What to do? Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Jingle All the Way”

Schwarzenegger Month: Eraser

Here I am, just a day after publishing a review where I excoriate the film industry for producing anonymous gobbledygook, and the next film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month is more anonymous gobbledygook, action-style. But what makes Eraser such a bland, unoriginal action story as compared to, say, something like Commando? How does Eraser have any less value compared to that film? I think it has everything to do with panache. Commando revels in its cheapness, but it was also designed to be excessive. Its rough edges give it character. Whereas a film like Eraser, which has been polished to within an inch of its life, lacks character in comparison. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Eraser”

Schwarzenegger Month: Junior

Sometimes, being typecast isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was typecasting that brought audiences a decade of classic action films from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Breaking out of that mold brought more financial success, to be sure, but crossover Arnold never felt like the real thing. He felt sanitized for mass consumption. This is an oversimplification, of course, but the Arnold that was in Junior, the anonymous and final film he worked on with director Ivan Reitman, could not have been more out of place. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: Junior”

Schwarzenegger Month: True Lies

A quick sampling of the directorial career of James Cameron is in order. In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1994, True Lies was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1997, Titanic was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. Two other films he directed, The Abyss and Avatar, were both wildly expensive, massive productions for their times. I’m sensing a pattern here. Put simply, James Cameron spares no expense. Continue reading “Schwarzenegger Month: True Lies”