Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

James Cameron

For Cameron’s expertise in atmosphere, research, and camerawork, he certainly lacks in characterization and storytelling. His weakness in that area was hidden in his early movies that focused almost solely on action, at which he’s a master. But with Titanic and (from what I’ve heard, Avatar), he really is in over his head.

True Lies: The first time I saw this I had a temperature of 104 and thought I was going to die. From strep throat, not the movie. There’s some good action here in the vein of Die Hard, and Jamie Lee Curtis is just about perfect. But Tom Arnold is pretty obnoxious and the scene with the horse lost me completely. I wish it had gone for either complete farce or complete seriousness.

Grade: D

Titanic: DiCaprio and Winslet are amazing actors but not even they could save one of the worst romantic plots I’ve seen. It’s a tragedy, since Cameron does a fantastic job with the actual ship and the actual people on the ship. He is able to evoke a decent amount of emotion with the stories of the crew and those in the lower classes. But the script for the added characters is a complete hatchet job. Billy Zane is so sneeringly evil you wonder why he wasn’t given a twirly mustache.

Grade: C

Aliens: I don’t like this as much as Ridley’s film as I prefer a more slowly building tension, but it’s still an example of a good action movie. Good acting and shot well.

Grade: B

The Terminator: The perfect role for Schwarzenegger, and good casting with Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton. It’s nice to have a heroine who is strong but actually seems like an every day person. Good tension. I love the way Cameron keeps things dark and generally slower-paced for most of the movie. Special effects lack at times. I’m also crazy about the soundtrack.

Grade: A- 

Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Much like the sequel to Alien, T2 is less about suspense and more about action. When I saw this in 1991 I was blown away by the special effects and they still hold up every well to this day. In fact, “liquid metal,” instantly became a new thing in the vocabulary of most people I knew. Exceptional casting with Robert Patrick; he absolutely kills it as the villain and the movie isn’t the masterpiece it is without him. Eddie Furlong’s first acting experience, and despite some troubles with projecting, I think Cameron directs him well. I believe this kid and his emotional turmoil. And talk about a transformation for Linda Hamilton.

Grade: A+

Other James Cameron Movies You May Have Seen

The Abyss
Piranha Part Two: The Spawning

Ivan Reitman

It looks like Ivan Reitman does mostly light throwaway comedies. Casting Schwarzenegger in the lead role three times makes it obvious he doesn’t take his movies too seriously. Looking at the list of movies I haven’t seen yet, I really have zero desire to see any of them.

Kindergarten Cop: Schwarzenegger is a cop who has to pretend to be a kindergarten teacher to find a drug dealer. The lame premise mostly leads to a lot of unintentional comedy as Arnold tries to be funny. A few laughs, and it’s eminently watchable, but far from good.

Grade: D+

Twins: There’s surprising chemistry between Schwarzenegger and Devito beyond the lame premise that these two are fraternal twins. Like the previous movie, some laughs, but nothing all that memorable.

Grade: C-

Ghostbusters: I can’t say I like this as much as most people, but it definitely has cultural significance and great nostalgia in addition to great acting. The scenes themselves are as inconsistent as any other Reitman movie, but the casting was perfect and these guys play off each other so well. But there’s only a few laughs in there for me.

Grade: C+

Dave: If you care at all about political accuracy this movie could easily annoy you as the satire that’s attempted is childish. However, Kevin Kline is great as a fish-out-of-water who must pretend to be the President while the real chief is in a coma. He’s a dead ringer for the real guy, but lo and behold he’s a lot more friendly and goofy than the guy he replaced. Perhaps the best part is that the first lady (Sigourney Weaver) is also not let it on that her husband has been replaced. Very likable cast.

Grade: B

Other Ivan Reitman Films You May Have Seen

No Strings Attached
My Super Ex-Girlfriend
Six Days Seven Nights
Father’s Day
Ghostbusters II
Legal Eagles

Paul Verhoeven

Verhoeven seems to really like exaggeration, both in visual effects and story elements. Directing actors does not appear to be his strong suit, but each film has a definite vision and consistent atmosphere. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve seen by him, though none of it has out and out wowed me. I also haven’t seen Showgirls, which is wowing in that it’s considered one of the worst movies of all-time.

Robocop: Peter Weller, police officer, gets killed during an arrest. Well, almost killed. The Detroit police force is able to turn him into a cyborg who kicks some royal justice ass, makes witty remarks, and struggles with faint memories of his former life. Lots of fun.

Grade: B-

Total Recall: Arnold Schwarzenegger is a construction worker who’s having trouble memories about life on Mars, so he visits a memory implant corporation to investigate if he’s currently living out implanted memories. Naturally, a bunch of shit goes down and there’s a lot of questions over what’s real and what isn’t. Like Robocop, some over-the-top situations that are mostly fun, as well as the witty one-liners. I love the visual and philosophical representations of late 21st century Mars colonization.  Loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story.

Grade: B

Basic Instinct: Michael Douglas is a detective investigating a murder. The prime suspect is a socialite author (Sharon Stone) who recently released a bestseller which details a murder that is virtually identical. Did she use the book as an alibi or is there a copycat killer? The movie sets up both possibilities really well. Sharon Stone is really good, playing the sexy but emotionally cold psychopath role to a tee. Michael Douglas, unfortunately, never quite comes across realistic. Some will hate the ambiguous ending, though I’m a big fan. Graphic sex scenes broach gratuitousness, but sex is a heavy part of the plot. Your mileage may vary.

Some LGBT supporters were very angry when this film came out, as every suspect in the movie is gay or bisexual, while all of the “good guys” are straight. I have a hard time getting worked up about that, since there is little in the way of emotion in the movie (and I never got the feeling that the sexuality of any character was being judged) and all of those involved, even the “straight” characters, have loose sexual morals.

Grade: B+

Other Movies By Paul Verhoeven You May Have Seen

Hollow Man
Starship Troopers
Black Book
Soldier of Orange
Turkish Delight
The Fourth Man

John McTiernan

Focusing mainly on action flicks, John McTiernan had a fairly successful run of average to above-average movies that were generally well-received by fans and critics. It’s been ten years since he’s directed, and while I don’t know all the details, I imagine an ongoing trial related to lying to the FBI limited his ability to work in this capacity. He began serving his one-year sentence in April of this year.

It’s hard to say McTiernan gets the most of his actors, as pretty much everyone below I’ve seen do better elsewhere (with the possible exception of Alan Rickman). But he’s obviously skilled at directing stunts and special effects and it’s rare to be bored while watching one of his films.

Predator: Great sets, special effects and camerawork, along with the occasional good one-liner, help this action movie that really lacks in the acting department. The cinematic shining moment for my state’s former governor, for whatever that’s worth.

Grade: C

Die Hard: With A Vengeance: I saw this when it came out in 1995 having not seen any other in the movie in the series. I was underwhelmed. I felt the action scenes didn’t slow down long enough for me to enjoy them. I’d be willing to give it a second shot now that I’ve seen the first two.

Grade: C

The Hunt For Red October: The first of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, The Hunt for Red October is a fairly gripping Cold War submarine story. Shortly, Sean Connery is a Soviet submarine captain who is heading directly for America, but to attack or defect? Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) is desperately trying to find out in time. Rough around the edges, but well-acted and suspenseful.

Grade: B

Die Hard: An evil group of baddies led by Alan Rickman take hostages in a skyscraper, including Bruce Willis’s wife. Willis spends the whole movie trying to save everyone and himself. The action is good, and unlike the third movie, there is room to breathe. Obviously some implausible moments, and the chief of police (among others in authority) is pointlessly obnoxious to make Willis and his sidekick look good, but it’s all made better by Alan Rickman, who plays a deliciously evil antagonist. One of my favorite action flicks. Yippy-ky-yay!

Grade: B+

Other John McTiernan Movies You May Have Seen

Medicine Man (I fell asleep halfway through and had no desire to finish it)
Last Action Hero
The 13th Warrior
The Thomas Crown Affair