Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Smackdown!!!
Having been inspired by this fan-made video in tribute to the finest actor I have ever had the privilege of watching . . .
. . . I have decided to dedicate my next humble tournament bracket to his illustrious and critically acclaimed movie career.
Here is what to expect every Tuesday hereafter until we find our winner:
Round 1 -- Since I have yet to watch all of the carefully selected sixteen movies, this round will be Premise vs. Premise: the movie that, on paper, sounds like the better Schwarzenegger movie, will advance to the next round.
Round 2 -- The movie I would rather watch (again or for the first time) will win--because I will be watching it . . . and reviewing it . . . and therefore entertainment value and pop cultural significance are major criteria.
Round 3 -- This round will be Movie Merits vs. Movie Merits. Let's see which competitors best meet my impeccable critical standards.
Round 4 -- Readers get to vote for the final winner!!! Because I really love you guys, even though I pretend I wish you didn't complicate everything for me.
I guess that covers everything! Let the smackdown begin!
The "It's Showtime!" Sixteen
The "It's Showtime!" Sixteen
Red Heat vs. Total Recall
Nooooooo! How could Random.org be so cruel and pit these two against each other??? This choice is really going to hurt me . . . Okay, Red Heat may not be a classic . . . but there's something about casting Schwarzenegger as a Russian police officer who has to find a way to work with a mistrustful Chicago cop (played by Jim Belushi at the top of his wisecracking game!). On the other hand, Total Recall, though best known for its cheesy dialogue and unabashed atmosphere of 80s excess, asks some of the deepest philosophical questions you will ever find in SF.
Winner: Total Recall--because Schwarzenegger movies can be educational as well as fun.
True Lies vs. Jingle All the Way
This is an interesting juxtaposition! Both movies are satires in which Schwarzenegger plays a family man with a nearly impossible mission. In True Lies, he is a secret agent whose job both endangers and saves his marriage. In Jingle All the Way, he is a father who will do absolutely anything to get his hands on a superhero action figure in time for Christmas. (Hey, at least it wasn't Tickle Me Elmo, you know?)
Winner: True Lies--because there are very close ties between saving the nuclear family and saving the world.
The 6th Day vs. Last Action Hero
When I first heard that The 6th Day was about someone coming home and seeing a clone of himself taking his place, I actually thought, "It's Total Recall meets The Island!" And I'm not even a Philip K. Dick nerd! Last Action Hero, on the other hand, is richly, hilariously meta, with Schwarzenegger playing a parody of the typical action hero he is so often cast as. Interestingly enough, both movies have "clone" scenes, albeit very different ones.
Winner: Last Action Hero, because it's an indescribable pleasure to watch an A-Lister like Schwarzenegger take himself lightly.
Conan the Barbarian vs. Commando
Wow. What were the chances of getting this pairing again??? I still kind of regret that Commando beat Conan by a hair in my first Wednesday Night Poll, because the latter is clearly the better movie. I mean, on the one hand, we have a richly scored, gorgeously filmed epic about a hero who solves the "riddle of steel" . . . and on the other hand, we have a B-grade shoot-em-up with every gratuitous 80s cliche in the book. That sounds bad until you remember that the number of B-grade, cliche-ridden shoot-em-ups that people are still happy to watch, quote and reference twenty years later is less than the number of fingers on your right hand.
Winner: Conan the Barbarian--because I'm afraid of what a certain someone will do if Commando wins yet again.
Twins vs. Predator
Notice that Twins is the fourth movie so far to exploit Schwarzenegger's sense of humour, even if he plays only the straight man in one of them. But he also specialises in tough guy characters you'd probably want to help you "get to the choppa" when some evilly ugly monster is on your trail. So you know what? I'm not even going to pretend I'm making a difficult choice here . . .
Winner: Predator--because I don't even have to explain why.
Terminator 2 vs. The Running Man
Most people I've bored to death with my thoughts about the Terminator saga know that I have little love for the second movie in the franchise, but I'm going to try to set that aside for now. Both Terminator 2 and The Running Man have something post-apocalyptic about them: the former is a kind of "prequel" to a post-nuclear world in which men and machines fight for control of the planet, while the latter is set in a future dystopia in which people have been happy to give up basic freedoms in exchange for panem and circenses. Or even just the circenses.
Winner: Terminator 2--because though the future dystopia has been done to death (and done better in other movies), "prequels" to such futures are still a great unexplored land for storytelling.
Hercules in New York vs. Kindergarten Cop
This one is going to be close. I mean, what better
Winner: Kindergarten Cop--and not just because it gives me another chance to plug my live blog of an unexpectedly redemptive film. (You know you want to read it!)
The Terminator vs. Eraser
I'm not even going to pretend there's a contest here. One of these is a time travel movie; the other isn't. One of these was filmed in the 80s; the other wasn't. One of these features guerilla filmmaking techniques that still stand up despite a number of classic goofs; the other has CGI alligators that look fake.
Winner: The Terminator--because it's even more obvious than Predator.