Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Expendables 3 (2014) Review

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross
Mel Gibson as Conrad Stonebanks
Jason Statham as Lee Christmas
Harrison Ford as Max Drummer
Antonio Banderas as Galgo
Wesley Snipes as Doctor Death
Dolph Lundgren as Gunner Jensen
Randy Couture as Toll Road
Terry Crews as Hale Caesar
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trent “Trench” Mauser
Jet Li as Yin Yang
Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte
Ronda Rousey as Luna
Kellan Lutz as John Smilee
Glen Powell as Thorn
Victor Ortiz as Mars
Robert Davi as Goran Vata
Director: Patrick Hughes

Years ago, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) co-founded the Expendables with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). After Stonebanks became an arms dealer, Ross was forced to kill him — or so he thought. Now, Stonebanks is back and he’s on a mission to end the Expendables. Ross decides that the way to fight old blood is with new blood, so he assembles a team of younger, faster, more tech-savvy recruits. The battle to topple Stonebanks becomes a clash of old-school methods vs. high-tech expertise.

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It’s been so long since I’ve watched the 3 Expendables movies. I seem to remember that the first was an okay but rather forgettable action movie, and the second was noticeably better and rather fun throwback flick. However, the 3rd movie really doesn’t work, and its surprisingly because the filmmakers somehow forgot the purpose of these movies to begin with. It’s not even entertainingly bad, it’s just middle of the road flat and average.

The movie starts off well with an entertaining opening action scene (it involves Wesley Snipes breaking out of prison). After that though it’s rather weak, even as a standard action flick, and on the whole still manages to be quite boring. Expendables 3 doesn’t seem self aware like in the 2nd movie and its worse than in the first movie. The Expendables was meant to be this throwback to 80s action movies but instead this movie is about getting a new team, in fact this movie spends too much time with recruiting the new Expendables. I’m also not expecting some kind of compelling story, but even on the level of trashy action movies, this falls pretty flat. Even some of the sillier aspects aren’t entertaining this time, its just incredibly hard to get into the movie. It does improve in the third act as it gets into the climax but it’s not worth sitting through the entire 2 hour runtime to get to that point.

The whole thing about Expendables is that part of its appeal is that it had 80s action stars all together (except Jason Statham for some reason). Expendables 3 forgot that, Stallone is very much the lead but much of the original cast of the first two movies is sidelined for the younger cast. The younger cast includes Ronda Rousey and Kellan Lutz, and the younger cast really don’t add anything to the movie at all and just end up being annoying more than anything else. The older cast fare a little better, the returning Expendables cast with the likes of Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger do well enough but again, sidelined. Harrison Ford in this movie pretty much replaces Bruce Willis’s role (since Willis didn’t return due to some disagreements between him and Stallone), having a few scenes and all. It’s nice seeing him here but unfortunately doesn’t elevate the movie enough. Wesley Snipes is also a nice addition. Antonio Bandareas is a good actor and on paper him being in the Expendables movies sounds really great, but his character is really annoying, so it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Mel Gibson was a good villain for the movie, the best villain in the trilogy by far, in fact he’s probably the best part of the whole movie. There’s particularly a standout scene with him in a truck like halfway through the movie.

The first Expendables was directed okay by Sylvester Stallone and the second was much better directed by Simon West. The third movie is directed by Patrick Hughes and unfortunately wasn’t all that done well. There is a lot of cuts and shaky cam during the action scenes, its like it was directed like an average modern action movie. Unlike the previous movies in the series, The Expendables 3 isn’t given an R rating. My problem isn’t necessarily that it’s not rated R (since you could just remove the blood from the other movies and they’d work almost as well, if not better), the problem is that it feels like it was shot to be R but then they changed to PG-13, resulting in some things looking different. For example, instead of blood spurting out when people are shot, it’s just lots of dust bouncing off them. There is some really poor CGI here, I know we shouldn’t be expecting much from it, but it even feels poor compared to the previous movie. The climax is entertaining enough, however the Stallone vs Gibson fight should’ve been more than what we got, doesn’t even touch the Stallone vs Jean-Claude Van Damme fight at the end of the second film.

The Expendables 3 is not awful but it’s rather average and somehow pales in comparison to the previous 2 movies, which weren’t even that great. It feels watered down, the new cast mostly don’t add much to it, and it’s just rather boring. Pretty much the only part about The Expendables 3 that is good enough that might be worth watching is Mel Gibson, who makes for an effective villain and the best out of the trilogy. Really the only movie in this trilogy that I’d say is worth watching is the second movie. Even if you’re a fan of the first two movies, I’m not sure that you’ll like this one.

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) Review

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Strong violence & offensive language
Cast:
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Terminator T-800 (Model 101)/”Carl”
Mackenzie Davis as Grace
Natalia Reyes as Daniella “Dani” Ramos
Gabriel Luna as Terminator Rev-9
Diego Boneta as Diego Ramos
Director: Tim Miller

In Mexico City, a newly modified liquid Terminator (Gabriel Luna) — the Rev-9 model — arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). Also sent back in time is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), a hybrid cyborg human who must protect Ramos from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin. But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies — seasoned warrior Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the T-800 Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger).

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I was cautiously optimistic about Terminator: Dark Fate. The first two Terminator films are absolute classics, and for very good reason. The next 3 instalments on the other hand received a mixed to negative response, I actually liked them, but they were quite the significant steps down from the other movies and had a lot of problems. Instead of continuing the new bizarre storyline created by Terminator Genisys, the 6th movie would essentially only acknowledge the first two Terminator movies and act as a Terminator 3, a bit of a ‘soft reboot’ like Halloween 2018. On top of that, not only were they having Deadpool director Tim Miller helm the movie, the likes of Mackenzie Davis and Gabriel Luna starring, and especially Linda Hamilton returning to the role of Sarah Connor, but James Cameron would also be a lot involved with the next instalment. There was a lot of potential, but I kept my expectations in check. Dark Fate definitely isn’t on the level of the first two movies, but I actually thoroughly liked it, flaws and all.

Now something to get out of the way, this movie makes a bold decision in the different direction it’s taking the Terminator story, especially with the opening scene. This new direction will either work for you or won’t. I’m on the side of liking it, without revealing too much I think it’s at least trying to keep things fresh. I’m being as vague as the trailers and not going into too much depth about the set ups. The movie is very fast paced and action packed, with action scene after action scene, it can feel a little overwhelming at times. At the same time there are moments to breathe with the characters, and it give them just enough for you to be invested in them. It seems to take a very Mad Max: Fury Road/Mission Impossible: Fallout approach to the story (although not being quite as good as those other movies). In the third act though they really just go all in with the large action scenes, probably a little too much, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. There are obvious choices made to shift the focus towards a female driven story (with the 3 leads of the movie being women), and I think they handled that well. The movie definitely leans into that and it felt earned and genuine. Complete side note but that’s made even better considering how this movie got so much backlash for being “too woke and just pandering to SJWs” for merely having women be the focus of the story. It seems like the writers almost sort of knew that was coming and you can tell in the writing they kind of wanted to piss those people off, and needless to say I’m glad for it. I guess Dark Fate was a little too much like the first two Terminators at times, with the types of action, certain plot points, setups and revelations that we’re used to seeing, but that was also the case with Rise of the Machine, only this movie did it better. There was a reveal at a point later in the movie that it was trying to conceal and build up to but it was kind of obvious where they were going with it, I was more than fine with the decision though. Here and there, there are some silly or poorly written lines that took me out of the movie but only just a bit. They definitely plant the seeds to have more sequels if they choose to do so, but it works well enough as the final movie I guess too, it doesn’t leave the story on a massive cliffhanger or anything. With that said, the Terminator series really needs a definitive ending to the story, and given the unlikelihood of seeing a follow up to Dark Fate, part of me kind of wishes that it found a way to end it here.

In terms of cast and characters for Terminator sequels post Judgement Day, I’d say that it’s the best. I’ll start with the newer cast first. Mackenzie Davis is really good as an enhanced soldier sent back in time to save Natalia Reyes’s character from a new Terminator. She sells the action scenes and is quite convincing, I really hope that this puts Davis on the map as someone to pay attention to her because she deserves it. The only annoyance I have with her character Grace was that I was hoping for a little more delving into her. Sure her backstory is touched upon but it felt like there was a lot more to explore, especially with the augmentations that she has, which are in themselves just explained very vaguely. Everything else about her was great. Natalia Reyes is the one being hunted throughout the movie, she’s pretty good in the role but for the majority of the movie is sort of a plot device and doesn’t get a lot of time to shine as a character. Gabriel Luna plays the Rev-9, the new Terminator that our main characters are up against, and he did serve well as a difficult adversary. It’s a little more advanced than the T-1000 liquid Terminator from Judgement Day, but just at the right level and not like what they did with the T-X in Rise of the Machines. Essentially the Rev-9 is a bit like a liquid Terminator, except that it can split into two. Luna could appear very charismatic and natural passing off as a human when he needs to but also feels very much like a machine, and he’s got a very threatening screen presence. Now for the two returning actors, starting with Linda Hamilton who is fantastic here reprising her role as Sarah Connor. She’s even more experienced and hardened than the last time we saw her, and I really liked how her story played out (won’t talk about it in depth here). Hamilton’s Sarah Connor was the centre of the first two movies and was a big part of what made them work, and the same is the case with Dark Fate. This is the first time in a present day set Terminator movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t one of the main leads, you don’t actually see him for much of the movie. Without spoiling anything I really liked how they handled his character here. The only issue is that after Judgement Day, they kept trying to add comedy to Arnold’s Terminator and a lot of the time it just comes across really goofy and forced. Thankfully most of the jokes involving him in Dark Fate are genuinely funny and aren’t as embarrassing as those in Rise of the Machines and Genisys, but there are a few lines which were too silly for their own good.

Now Tim Miller is no James Cameron but he definitely did a good job at directing this. This is the first R rated Terminator movie since Judgement Day, and it definitely benefited from the lack of restrictions. On top of being able to show a lot more graphic violence than the past few movies, there is a level of intensity and impact in so much of said violence that added so much towards making the action better. I really liked the action overall, I don’t think I need to sound like a broken record and say that they don’t reach levels of the first two Terminator movies, but on its own it worked well. Unfortunately like with Genisys, some of the action is filled with a lot of CGI and often have set pieces that were a little too large. The CGI is also a bit overused, to mixed results. With the Rev-9 it kind of needed to use a lot of CGI, sure it looked a little bland at times but it personally didn’t bother me too much. Junkie XL’s score as usual really adds to the movie, especially during the action scenes.

While a lot of people consider Dark Fate to be the 3rd best Terminator movie, it’s quite apparent that not everyone is a fan of this movie, especially with some of the decisions it makes. There’s also the very low box office, I get the feeling that Genisys for many was the final straw for a lot of audiences, and so they don’t really want to see yet another potentially mediocre Terminator sequel. I’d say that if you were fine with the Terminator movies after Judgement Day, I’m pretty sure you’ll like Dark Fate as well. All the same, I thought that this movie was relatively decent, the cast and characters were great (with Mackenzie Davis and Linda Hamilton being the standouts), Tim Miller handled the direction of the movie well, and I personally liked where they took the story. I guess the series could possibly end here but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t somewhat interested in seeing a follow up in some format.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) Review

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Robert Patrick as T-1000
Edward Furlong as John Connor
Joe Morton as Miles Bennett Dyson
Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman
Director: James Cameron

In this sequel set eleven years after “The Terminator,” young John Connor (Edward Furlong), the key to civilization’s victory over a future robot uprising, is the target of the shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a Terminator sent from the future to kill him. Another Terminator, the revamped T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), has been sent back to protect the boy. As John and his mother (Linda Hamilton) go on the run with the T-800, the boy forms an unexpected bond with the robot.

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Just before Terminator Dark Fate rolled around, I decided to re-watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Terminator back in 1984 was such a hit, and became an instant classic upon its release. 7 years later however, James Cameron made a sequel which not only was at the level of the original (and for some surpassed it), it also became one of the best iconic action movies of all time. Nearly 3 decades later it still holds up rather well.

If you don’t know anything about this movie, I’d recommend stopping reading this review right now and watching this movie (of course watching The Terminator beforehand if you haven’t seen it already). I remember when I saw this movie on DVD around the age of 13 not knowing much of the plot, and it was definitely better for it. The Terminator from 1984 was more of a thriller, Terminator 2: Judgement is more of an action movie. Despite this, it’s not just an action movie with explosions, there’s also lot of time spent with the characters. I’ve seen the movie multiple times and I’ve seen both versions, the theatrical cut and the extended cut. The extended cut adds more character development and story, and so I’d recommend that version. Also the ending of the extended cut works if you count Judgement Day as the official end of the Terminator series. On top of the entertainment and thrills, Terminator 2 also has an emotional payoff at the end. So all around, Judgement Day handles its plot very well.

Arnold Schwarzenegger reprises his role as the Terminator, this time as not the antagonist he initially became known for in the first movie. As I said, I went into the movie not knowing for sure that he’d be protecting John Connor, so that was quite a surprise. He definitely was convincing as a terminator fighting this time on the side of the main characters. Edward Furlong is the young John Connor and his acting is a little mixed. The worst is early on when he’s just being a kid on his own, and occasionally in some of the scenes where he’s showing emotion he’s underacting, overacting or is coming across a little forced. As the plot continues on he gets better. He’s great when paired with Schwarzenegger, those scenes where the two of them interact are amongst the highlights of the whole movie, especially with the Terminator learning more about being human. Linda Hamilton also returned from the first movie as Sarah Connor, she was good in that movie but she’s great here. She’s a lot more hardened and experienced and she gets to do a lot to do here. Can’t wait to see her again in Dark Fate. Robert Patrick this time plays the Terminator antagonist as the T-1000. After the success of Arnold’s Terminator, it would be easy to just assume the next model would be just an even larger Terminator. This time they decided to go with a smaller liquid metal Terminator and he worked very well. He can definitely blend into a crowd and certainly acts more human than the T-800. Yet you can still feel through and through that he’s a machine and he’s very threatening. He’s a strong challenge for the Terminator, John, and Sarah Connor.

James Cameron directs this, and once again his work here is absolutely stellar. Direction-wise, Terminator 2 certainly moved from a thriller with the slasher feel (with the terminator as the killer), to a much more action movie feel. The visual effects are very effective and have certainly advanced from the first movie from 1984. The effects with the T-1000’s liquid metal may be a little dated now, but you can definitely tell that for 1991 this was something special. Despite the use of CGI, there’s still quite a lot in the action scenes that’s practical, and all the action scenes are fantastic. They go much larger with the action and it is great, from the chase scenes to gunfights to Terminator on Terminator action, all of it was filmed very well and still holds up well today. The soundtrack was also solid, though I certainly remember the synth score from the first Terminator a little more. The main theme for Terminator 2 however has cemented itself as the absolute main theme of the series.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day is fantastic and still holds up after all these years. The cast are mostly great, James Cameron directed it excellently, and it definitely deserves its recognition as one of the greats. Whether you like this movie or the first more, I think it’s generally accepted that both of these movies are excellent and essential viewing.

The Terminator (1984) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains violence, offensive language and sex scenes.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 “Model 101”
Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese
Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor
Paul Winfield as Ed Traxler
Lance Henriksen as Hal Vukovich
Director: James Cameron

Disguised as a human, a cyborg assassin known as a Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). Sent to protect Sarah is Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), who divulges the coming of Skynet, an artificial intelligence system that will spark a nuclear holocaust. Sarah is targeted because Skynet knows that her unborn son will lead the fight against them. With the virtually unstoppable Terminator in hot pursuit, she and Kyle attempt to escape.

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With Terminator 6 coming later in 2019, I thought that I should rewatch and review the other Terminator movies leading up to its release (aside from Genysis, which I reviewed already), even though the first two movies are the only ones relevant to the upcoming movie. James Cameron’s The Terminator and its sequel Judgement Day had a massive effect on cinema, especially for the sci-fi genre. While the sequel is generally praised more than the original, the first Terminator still deserves a lot of praise, with both standing the test of time as being fantastic pieces of science fiction cinema.

When it comes to The Terminator, plotwise, it’s perfectly crafted. It feels like everything that needed to be in the movie is here, there’s never a scene that feels unnecessary, and it doesn’t feel like there needs to be anything more added to it, its all fits well. It’s a pretty straightforward story, cyborg goes back in time to kill one of the protagonist and the protagonists need to survive from said cyborg. Even all the time travel elements and all the information about what happened (or in this case, what will happen) are explained sufficiently enough and aren’t too complicated. All the pacing is done very well, it’s under an hour and 50 minutes long and it never feels like its moving slowly. It feels heavily in the 80s and I guess there’s some aspects that you might call a little dated (some of which is to do with the way some scenes are written or directed) but it doesn’t get too distracting.

Sarah Connor in the first Terminator is… well, she’s not the Sarah Connor of Terminator 2. Her character here is not the greatest but Linda Hamilton nonetheless does a really good job playing her. Although her character gets much better in the sequel, it wouldn’t have been as effective if it wasn’t for what they did with her here. She is given a good character arc here, she develops over the course of the movie and it has a very satisfying ending. Michael Biehn is also really great as Kyle Reese, the soldier from the human sent to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator. Hamilton and Biehn also have good chemistry together. It wouldn’t be a Terminator review if we didn’t talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is great in the titular role. Before he played more heroic versions of the Terminator in the sequels, Schwarzenegger here is really convincing as an intimidating, emotionless and literal killing machine. It’s not just that he can talk like a robot or anything, the way he moves, the way he looks at everything, he just doesn’t seem human. The film does a great job at making the Terminator a seemingly unstoppable force, and Schwarzenegger also contributed to that.

James Cameron’s direction is nothing short of excellent. The second movie is more of a big action blockbuster, but with the original movie, Cameron does a fantastic job creating a quieter and more suspenseful movie, with the atmosphere playing a key part in this. The atmosphere is a big part about why The Terminator works so well, it’s not quite a horror movie or anything, but the way certain scenes are filmed are reminiscent of a slasher movie. The third act in particular is all suspense, with the sequence taking place in a factory being a standout. The practical effects are outstanding, especially on the Terminator itself. The only time where it doesn’t quite work is some of scenes with The Terminator when Arnold is clearly replaced by a literal robot made to look exactly like him. Granted for the 80s it is impressive, but you can clearly tell the difference when it goes from one shot of real Arnold, to one shot of fake Arnold and then back again, even if it is a pretty good recreation of Arnold’s face. It is absolutely perfect for the third act as the Terminator at that point received a massive amount of body and facial damage, but before that point it’s a little distracting. Aside from that, the practical effects are flawless. The action scenes aren’t as iconic as those in Terminator 2, but they are still done really well, relying mostly on practical effects and with most of what you’re seeing on screen being really what’s happening. Some of the visual effects aren’t the best like the lightning effects when both The Terminator and Kyle Reese appear but its not too much of a problem, its from the 80s anyway so there’s only so much that visual effects at this point could do. Something that I found effective is that the actually Terminator in robot form, we only see the true appearance towards the end, which seemed to be achieved through a mix of visual effects and practical effects, and its movements are so unnatural that it actually makes it more scary than the robotic forms of the Terminator in later movies. We do get a couple of scenes taking place in Judgement Day are all fantastically done, making it feel really gloomy and nightmarish. The score by Brad Fiedel is quite effective, which was composed and performed on the synthesizer. It gives the movie an eerie and menacing feel to it, yet being somewhat melodic. I guess the only bummer is that the iconic main theme that The Terminator is known for is still pretty early stages here, but the sequel fixed that.

The Terminator is a classic for a reason. With James Cameron’s fantastic direction, good work from its cast and a perfectly crafted plot, it really gets everything right. The two Terminator movies are different enough from each other that there’s no clear film which is better. Whether you prefer this movie or the sequel, there’s not denying the impact that they have made, both well worth the watch if you haven’t seen them already.

Commando (1985) Review

Time: 90 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Matrix
Rae Dawn Chong as Cindy
Alyssa Milano as Jenny Matrix
Vernon Wells as Bennett
James Olson as Maj Gen. Franklin Kirby
David Patrick Kelly as Sully
Bill Duke as Cooke
Dan Hedaya as Arius
Director: Mark L. Lester

Retired Special Forces soldier John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives with daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in isolation, but his privacy is disturbed by former commander Franklin Kirby (James Olson), who warns him that his fellow soldiers are getting killed one by one. After Kirby leaves, Jenny is kidnapped by former Latin American dictator Arius (Dan Hedaya), who wants Matrix to restore him to power. Instead, Matrix sets out to take down the rogue leader and rescue his daughter.

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In the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger established himself as an action star with The Terminator, and he increased his action icon status with movies like 1985’s Commando. Commando is a very silly over the top Schwarzenegger flick, it’s not one of his best films (even when just considering the action genre) but it is one of his more well known over the top action movies. Completely ridiculous, it has a real self awareness and charm to it that actually elevates the movie and makes it work.

This movie is very straightforward, Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to get his daughter back and is going to kill a lot of people along the way. That’s all that this 90 minute movie consists of. If you want some form of compelling story or character development, you won’t find it here. The characters are very standard and basic, with nothing special about them. However, what makes Commando work as an Arnold flick (over some of his other action movies) is that Commando knows that it’s a stupid and goofy action movie. It’s full of cheesy one liners that seem to be written specifically for Arnold. You don’t really get much tension, you never feel like Arnold is really in any danger, anything that he goes up against doesn’t pose much of a problem for long. The closest thing to being that is the final fight but even then you know he’ll be fine in the end. You’re just watching Arnold kill a bunch of people on his way to rescue his daughter. I will say that it’s really the third act that’s the complete action filled flick that you’d want. Before that, as over the top as it could be, it really wasn’t as large as you’d think it would be. With that said, it is worth staying around for the third act because it is really something completely nuts and entertaining.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in this movie is playing pretty much a basic version of all the action heroes he’s played and would continue to play, the character really doesn’t have much to him. His character of John Matrix is a former killing machine who has a daughter and that’s all that there is to him. It’s not a great performance but it’s not really meant to be. Schwarzenegger is a good actor, whatever role he’s given he does the best with what he’s given and usually delivers what is expected (at the very least), his role here is no exception and he does the best he can with it, even if it’s a pretty generic character. There’s not much to say about the other actors. I guess Alyssa Milano and Rae Dawn Chong are good enough. The villains are all pretty one note and don’t really pose a threat to Matrix at all but their performances all fit their generic bad guy roles. The standout of all of them was Vernon Wells, who was quite entertaining as an crazy over the top villain who’s the only one who seems to be at the level of John Matrix on a physical level.

As far as 80s action movies go, Commando is pretty well directed by Mark L. Lester. It is filled with all of the over the top 80s action clichés and the movie is far from realistic but they are entertaining nonetheless. The action is actually well shot, you can actually see what’s happening. Some of the action scenes are more entertaining than others, as I said it’s really the third act that gives you the goofy and over the top action you’re looking for. The third act is purely action sequences after action sequences with Arnold plowing through countless enemy soldiers like nothing and also has a pretty solid end fight.

If you like silly and cheesy action movies from the 80s, Commando is honestly a must watch if you haven’t seen it already. Arnold Schwarzenegger effortlessly delivers as always, the action is entertaining but most of all, this movie knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything more than that, which is why it works so well. As I said earlier, it’s not the ultimate over the top action flick, really its just the last act that goes absolutely nuts with its action. However it’s probably one of the best examples of 80s action movies (Arnold Schwarzenegger flicks particularly), especially when it comes to all the tropes and clichés. So give Commando a watch if you want a silly action flick.

Predator (1987) Review

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer
Carl Weathers as Al Dillon
Elpidia Carrillo as Anna Gonsalves
Bill Duke as Mac Elliot
Richard Chaves as Jorge “Poncho” Ramírez
Jesse Ventura as Blain Cooper
Sonny Landham as Billy Sole
Shane Black as Rick Hawkins
R. G. Armstrong as Major General Homer Phillips
Kevin Peter Hall as The Predator/helicopter pilot
Director: John McTiernan

Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a soldier of fortune, is hired by the U.S. government to secretly rescue a group of politicians trapped in Guatemala. But when Dutch and his team, which includes weapons expert Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA agent George (Carl Weathers), land in Central America, something is gravely wrong. After finding a string of dead bodies, the crew discovers they are being hunted by a brutal creature with superhuman strength and the ability to disappear into its surroundings.

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With the latest Predator movie coming in under a month from now, I decided to check out the original film again. Predator was a pretty big hit upon its release and would lead to 2 (now 3) sequels and a couple of crossover films with the Alien franchise. While the reaction to Predator upon it’s release was mixed, it become more beloved over time. Watching Predator for a second time, I have to say that it is still a really entertaining 80s action movie. It may not be one of my favourite action movies of all time but I still really like it and it does have its place in action cinema.

Predator is a rather straightforward action movie that is rather thin on plot. The first third is a seemingly standard action movie, and the rest is a survival against a mysterious killer who’s picking each of them off. The highlight of the film without a doubt though was the third act with Arnold Schwarzenegger and The Predator facing off. It’s glorious to watch, and I like how Arnold has to go to ‘primal’ tactics to fight the Predator instead of just using all the guns that they have in most of the movie. One effective thing about the Predator in this movie is that the movie doesn’t just show it in all its glory (of course its not quite as impactful now that we all know what it looks like). As I said earlier, there isn’t a lot of depth to the story or the characters, and it’s not that unpredictable. However for the type of movie it’s trying to be, it works well enough most of the time. With that said, there is a death halfway into the movie that is lingered on for too long and it feels stretched out. It’s not like it left any emotional impact, we don’t feel much for the character’s death because we didn’t particularly learn much about said character and weren’t given any particular reason to like him. So really it would’ve just been better to move past that death scene reasonably quickly. Outside of that segment, Predator is pretty consistent in its hour and 46 minute running time.

The cast with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill Duke, Richard Chaves, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham and Shane Black do a good job in the movie. As I said before, none of these characters get any characterisation or depth and so they don’t really get to do much with their roles. Arnold Schwarzenegger does quite well once again in an action role, there’s no real depth given to him here but he is believable enough in his role and is great in the action scenes, particularly in the third act.

John McTiernan is a very good action director with Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October and Die Hard with a Vengeance and Predator is yet another solid action flick from him. The gun battle (there’s really just one in the first act) and all the action scenes are really done well. The locations really works, it makes you feel like you’re in the jungle and it doesn’t feel fake for at least most of it. It really feels like an 80s action movie, with the sound effects, CGI, explosions, sparks and music by Alan Silvestri, which could really work for you or not, but you do need to go into it expecting an 80s movie. Some of it can look really dated, such as the cloaking effects, also some of the POV shots from the Predator’s perspective in the third act were kind of messy. On another note, the design of the Predator itself is quite great, it feels effective and while we don’t learn the background of these aliens (I don’t know if we ever get to learn in the movies) it works well for this movie.

Predator is a really solid action movie and watching it you can really see why it made such an impact when it was released. Not all of it has aged well, it has a very thin plot with thin characters, and I’m not sure if I’d personally put it on the best action movies of all time list, but it is still essential viewing for anyone who loves action movies.

End of Days (1999) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jericho Cane
Robin Tunney as Christine York
Gabriel Byrne as Satan’s host/The Nameless Banker
Kevin Pollak as Bobby Chicago
Rod Steiger as Father Kovak
Director: Jerry Jameson

On December 28th, 1999, the citizens of New York City are getting ready for the turn of the millennium. However, the Devil (Gabriel Byrne) decides to crash the party by coming to the city, inhabiting a man’s body, and searching for his chosen bride, a 20-year-old woman named Christine York (Robin Tunney). If he bears her child between 11:00 PM and midnight on New Year’s Eve, the world will end, and the only hope lies within an atheist ex-cop named Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who no longer believes in God because of the murder of his wife and daughter.

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When you hear the premise “Arnold Schwarzenegger vs the devil himself” its easy to get hyped. By the late 90s, Schwarzenegger was a huge star. So it seems only natural that he would eventually be pitted against the devil. Unfortunately End of Days doesn’t quite live up to its potential. It is entertaining however and as long as you have an idea what sort of movie you’re getting into, it should be fine.

I think the main problem with End of Days is that it’s neither completely ridiculously over the top or serious, nor is it a mix that works. On the whole, End of Days takes the story seriously but it does have its fair share of ridiculous moments, some of them unintentional. There are certain aspects which are meant to be taken seriously but are kind of silly. For example, there’s a moment where a priest says that when you flip 666 it becomes 999 and since the film is set in 1999, that means that’s the year that the devil returns, which is a really big stretch. On the whole though, the story was acceptable enough, it’s goofy at times and I wouldn’t exactly call it good, but for a simple supernatural action flick it’s fine enough.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the clichéd alcoholic cop with a tragic past, nothing really special about his character. Schwarzenegger always does his best with the material that he’s given and this is no exception, he does a pretty good job at the action and even some of the scenes that require a little more emotion. Gabriel Byrne is playing the devil and to his credit, Byrne seems to be having a great time playing him. I’m glad that he’s clearly enjoying this role because otherwise there would be nothing to offer with this character. The devil here isn’t a cliched take over the world devil but for the most part he doesn’t feel powerful and he’s not very interesting either. A lot of the time it feels like the Devil isn’t that threatening, he’d get incredibly injured and than just re-appear totally normal, he’s more the T-1000 than the actual Devil. Other supporting actors like Robin Tunney and Kevin Pollak are fine, they aren’t bad but they aren’t anything special either. It doesn’t help that they have no characters to work with.

Some of the action is entertaining but at times there are action sequences that have way too many cuts. Also some of the CGI is really dated and doesn’t hold up from like 30 years ago, so whenever big visual effects moments happen, it looks bad (however that could just end up being more entertaining in a guilty pleasure way). The direction overall isn’t anything that good but its competent enough that the movie can be enjoyable.

End of Days is by no means a good movie but it is very entertaining. I wish it committed to either being a dark and violent supernatural action film or being a purely cheesy and ridiculous Schwarzenegger vs the devil film. We really don’t get neither and instead we get a mildly entertaining flick. If you love over the top Arnold Schwarzenegger action flicks, give this a go. It’s a guilty pleasure for me and I had a fun time with it, even if it’s not one of Schwarzenegger’s best or even most entertaining flicks.

Sabotage (2014) Review

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Sabotage

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence, Drug Use, Offesnive Language and Sexual Material.
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as John “Breacher” Wharton
Sam Worthington as James “Monster” Murray
Mireille Enos as Lizzy Murray
Olivia Williams as Investigator Caroline Brentwood
Terrence Howard as Julius “Sugar” Edmonds
Joe Manganiello as Joe “Grinder” Phillips
Harold Perrineau as Investigator Darius Jackson
Martin Donovan as Floyd Demel
Max Martini as Tom “Pyro” Roberts
Josh Holloway as Eddie “Neck” Jordan
Director: David Ayer

A DEA special ops unit becomes involved in a large scale bust involving tens of millions of dollars. The bust becomes interesting when the group decides to take 10 million dollars for their own use. Things go sour when the money which was hidden turns out to be missing. The group eventually recovers from an internal investigation with another chance to salvage their reputation. But which organized drug group would forget about 10 million dollars? The bigger mystery is where did that money go?

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David Ayer is a filmmaker known for making great movies with his very realistic style. I was initially curious for Sabotage, it’s an action movie directed by David Ayer and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately Sabotage was a tremendous let down. It does have some decent action and Arnold Schwarzenegger does give a great performance, however the writing was pretty bad and didn’t really give much Ayer to work with.

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This film was co-written by Skip Woods who previously wrote Hitman, X-Men Origins Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard. I have a feeling that’s the reason for a lot of the flaws in the movie. The plot for Sabotage is quite convoluted and for a large portion it wasn’t moving fast enough and not a lot was happening. Also, according to David Ayer, the film was heavily cut by the studio in favour of having more of an action based film rather than a mystery thriller. The original cut of Sabotage was rumoured to be close to 3 hours. After hearing about that fact, it all makes sense. The only parts of the writing I liked was Arnold’s character and his past. Nearly all of the other characters are completely unlikable and annoying.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger actually gives one of the best performances of his career. He plays a much darker character and it shows that he can actually do quite well in dramas if he’s given the right character to work with. This is more than I can say for the other characters. Aside from Arnold, almost everyone else is completely unlikable, Olivia Williams was the only other person in this film that was likable. On top of that, only Arnold’s character is given any history, nothing is given about the rest of the team. So when a lot of these people are being killed off, I didn’t really feel much sympathy because that’s what I’ve been waiting to happen for a while.

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I liked the action but sometimes the hand held camera really didn’t work for me. This film, like Ayer’s other work (End of Watch and Fury) tries to have a realistic style. Sometimes in the movie it really does that and sometimes that’s effective. But the gruesome and over the top violence really felt out of place. I understand that violence can be bloody and gory but this was at an unbelievable level. There’s one death where a person is found nailed to the ceiling with blood dripping down. It was the cartel who did that and it’s hard to imagine them killing that person and then taking the time to nail him up there. It felt like a completely different movie and it got ridiculous at times.

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Sabotage for the most part is a dragging movie with unlikable characters and a plot that’s impossible to follow. It was Arnold and some of the action scenes that made me give this a slightly higher score than most people would give. Despite Sabotage, I still really excited for David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, especially with the latest trailer out. As for Sabotage, this is David Ayer’s weakest work and it’s disappointing. It’s hard to see how this film with so much talent behind it could’ve ended up like this.

Batman and Robin (1997) Review

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Batman and Robin

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Cast:
George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin
Uma Thurman as Dr. Pamela Isley/Poison Ivy
Alicia Silverstone as Barbara Wilson/Batgirl
Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth
Director: Joel Schumacher

This superhero film finds Batman (George Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O’Donnell), attempting to the foil the schemes of a deranged set of new villains, most notably the melancholy Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who wants to make Gotham into an arctic region, and the sultry Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), a plant-loving femme fatale. As the Dynamic Duo contends with these bad guys, a third hero, Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), joins the ranks of the city’s crime-fighters.

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Despite mixed reviews of Batman Forever, it did well enough and so Joel Schumacher returned for the sequel. Batman and Robin killed the Batman franchise for about a decade before being picked up again by Christopher Nolan. Even though Batman and Robin is one of the worst superhero movies ever made, out of all the bad superhero movies this is actually kind of enjoyable. It is absolutely a movie that’s so bad it’s entertaining.

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If Batman Forever was cheesy, Batman and Robin takes it to a whole new level. The tone is completely corny and it tries being a really bad cartoon, there’s even a scene where Batman has a bat credit card. This film is extremely over the top, a great example is Batman’s introduction. The dialogue was terrible, for example there are so many puns, most of them ice puns from Mr Freeze. It’s actually hard to summarise everything wrong with the movie, all of that can only be seen if you watch the whole movie.

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George Clooney had the potential to be a great Batman but due to bad direction and writing he wasn’t good at all. The worst part about him is that his Bruce Wayne and Batman identities feel exactly the same with no distinction between the two. The best performance had to be by Michael Gough, who plays Alfred. Throughout all of these four Batman movies he’s been credible, even the Schumacher movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger is Mr Freeze and I have no idea why he was chosen. I have a feeling that it was because he was a big name because he does nothing but deliver bad puns. The most over the top performance was Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Uma Thurman is actually a good choice for Poison Ivy but just look at her performance. She acts like a pornstar obsessed with plants, and it’s honestly one of the most cartoonish performances I’ve seen in a movie.

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A good example of how over the top the action is, is shown in the first minutes: Batman and Robin are skating over ice and are using hockey sticks to get a diamond. The production design is also terrible, there’s a moment when a frozen car door opens and the ice on it wobbles. There’s also some obvious and over the top wire work, at time it felt like a puppet show. The costumes are worse, not just the Batman and Robin nipple suits. Mr Freeze’s suit is a giant neon lit ‘costume’ that just looks plain ridiculous. Fun fact, this movie was made to sell toys and you can see that everywhere. There’s even a scene where Batman, Robin and Batgirl change outfits between scenes without going to the Batcave to change.

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Batman and Robin is a bad movie and is the worst Batman movie. It’s cheesy, over the top, doesn’t make sense, isn’t Batman and it should be watched. I’m not kidding, it’s actually worth watching, more than Batman Forever even though that movie is a better movie. This movie is such a disaster, gets everything wrong and decades later it’s become this fascinating movie that could honestly be watched over and over again. Just know that the movie is absolutely terrible before watching it.

Terminator Genisys (2015) Review

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Terminator in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

Terminator Genisys
Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Guardian/Terminator
Jason Clarke as John Connor
Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor
Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese
J.K. Simmons Detective O’Brien
Dayo Okeniyi as Danny Dyson
Matt Smith as Alex
Courtney B. Vance as Miles Dyson
Lee Byung-hun as T-1000
Director: Alan Taylor

When John Connor (Jason Clarke), leader of the human resistance against Skynet, sends Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back to 1984 to protect his mother, Sarah (Emilia Clarke), from a Terminator assassin, an unexpected turn of events creates an altered timeline. Instead of a scared waitress, Sarah is a skilled fighter and has a Terminator guardian (Arnold Schwarzenegger) by her side. Faced with unlikely allies and dangerous new enemies, Reese sets out on an unexpected new mission: reset the future.

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I love the first two Terminator films, they are classics in their own right and have made a big impact on cinema, so naturally I was hyped for the fifth instalment to the franchise. I was initially worried when I heard that a lot of people really didn’t like this film, it currently holds a 27% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite the hate, I still decided to watch it and I surprisingly enjoyed it. It’s not without its faults (mostly with the plot) but I still managed to enjoy it nonetheless. It’s nowhere near the level of the first two terminators but it’s still better than 3 and 4.

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Before I talk about the film, I should mention first not to watch the trailers. The trailers show way too much and might actually affect your viewing. I will say though that the plot twist in the trailer I actually liked, even though there are some things that didn’t really make sense. The fault in the film is mostly due to its story and script. The problem with time travel movies is that it can get very convoluted and confusing. Genysis is trying to do an X-Men Days of Future Past but here there are some things that don’t get addressed. The film does have some continuity issues and plot holes, for example the T-1000 from Terminator 2 isn’t addressed. I didn’t notice a lot of problems on my viewing but I know that there’s a lot there that I haven’t noticed yet.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger slips effortlessly back into the role of the Terminator after many years, he was for me the best part of the movie. He wasn’t acting as just Schwarzenegger in another action film, he was the Terminator. Most people really didn’t like the rest of the cast but I found most of them to be fine. I bought Emilia Clarke as a younger Sarah Connor and the connection between her and the Terminator I thought really worked. I also thought that Jason Clarke was decent as John Connor. One casting however that I didn’t really like was Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese. He really didn’t seem like Michael Biehn in the original Terminator and didn’t honestly convey enough emotions. I think Jai Courtney is good in certain roles but Kyle Reese wasn’t the best choice for him. I really liked Matt Smith’s role but I would’ve liked it if the film had more of him in it.

Emilia Clarke plays Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR GENISYS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions.

The action were pretty good though not as memorable as the scenes in the first two films. The CGI for the most part was pretty good but like Jurassic World, it hasn’t gotten that much better than the original. Occasionally there was an explosion or two which really did look CGI and a little fake. The soundtrack I thought was also decent and did add more to the action scenes.

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Terminator Genisys is at times a little messy with its plot but I still managed to be entertained by what I saw. I can’t say that you will definitely enjoy this film but I think it’s a good idea to check it out and see for yourself. James Cameron gets the rights for the franchise back in 3 years and even though I liked this film, I do think that he should direct another Terminator film in between his many planned Avatar sequels.