13 April 2010


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!

Round 1
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 chariot vehicle for a man best known for winning the title "Mr. Universe" than a movie about a legendary demi-god and hero? But twenty years later, his "Mr. Universe" title was a mere footnote in what he had done with his career; and when it came time to cast a movie about a tough inner city cop brought to his knees by suburban kindergarteners, could they really have found anyone tougher than Schwarzenegger?

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.


Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

What a fun post :)

christopher said...

I never thought I'd say this (and I never thought I'd contribute to an Arnold Bracket) but I actually agree with every single one of your choices! We'll see where this goes...

Enbrethiliel said...


Juju: Thanks! =D I hope you come around next week for Round 2!

Christopher: Wow. If you never thought you'd say it, I never thought I'd read it. I think I'll go out and buy a lottery ticket, just to check whether all the odds are on my side today . . .

Paul Stilwell said...

I have my vote all ready. Because I am presumptuous enough to know/guess which two are going to be the final contenders.

Yet I have a feeling I'm going to be surprised.

I will "stick around" for the final review (live blog?).

christopher said...

I have my top two already also but knowing Ma'am here, invariably she will choose the one that is filmed in Astoria, Oregon.

The Mike said...

Love this! I agree across the board, though I'd nearly pick The Running Man over T2 for the amount of cheese involved.

I have an extremely soft spot for Last Action Hero, so I'm very glad to see it get a vote.

Looking forward to more!

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

Oh, I admire your decisiveness! I love Arnold movies and agree with your choices. I remember the action films better than the comedies so I know my favorite 3-4 but don't know if I could settle on one!


Enbrethiliel said...


Paul: Your guess about the final two is probably correct inasmuch as they are my two favourites; BUT I'm planning to randomise the movies again for the next round, which means the risk that they will face off at that early point! So even I'm not confident about the future at this point. =P

Christopher: If that is your way of using reverse psychology to get me to bump Conan up some more . . . it might just be working. Curses!

Mike: I love cheese so much that my blog is named after it! ;-) The Running Man may not have had much luck this round, but I knew I couldn't have a proper Schwarzenegger Sixteen without it!

Lesa: If you had seen me when this post was in draft form, you wouldn't think I was decisive! ;-) I look forward to your vote in a few weeks' time.

Dauvit Balfour said...

It's a shame The Running Man had to go up against T2. I'd have really liked to see it go a little farther... probably because I just watched it a couple days ago on Blu-Ray with my roommate (because that's what roommates do, watch awesome movies and drink beer). Also, TRM gets my vote for having Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa. But it's not my arbitrariness that gets to pick, now is it :)?

Interested to see how this turns out. Apparently I don't follow you closely enough, or haven't for long enough, to know for sure which two will square off on the end.

Enbrethiliel said...


A shame indeed! I would have liked to see all the 80s movies advance to the next round, cameos and cheese notwithstanding. ;-)

Anyway, how is it on Blu-Ray? I'm not sure, but I think I've only seen it on Betamax.

Jessica said...

wow you deserve some kind of reward for sitting through all those films. Thank goodness there are kind, strong, brave people willing to do this so that I dont have to (kinnda like the man himself) ;)

Enbrethiliel said...


Hi again, Jessica! Would you believe me if I said watching these movies is its own reward? ;-)

Connie said...

What an excellent idea. I'LL BE BACK to see what happens!! :)

Enbrethiliel said...


It's not quite Jane Austen, but I'm glad that you approve! =)