There are several so called Hollywood Megastars whose career achievements don’t hold up to much scrutiny. Put this way, if the imdb ‘Best Known For…’ list that shows your four biggest ‘hits’ on your page contains the only decent films on your CV, then – regardless of what Jimmy Fallon says in his breathless and faux fawning introductions – perhaps you might need to reconsider your business card with ‘Hollywood Megastar’ on it in the first place.
Ever the innovator, OGR have devised a simply equation that validates claims to immortality. It’s this straightforward; if you have headlined or made major contributions to ten films that would be widely deemed ‘worthy’, then you can dub yourself whatever the hell you want.
The smallprint erases dubious entries, at the very mention of the film your name must immediately resonate to the average filmgoer – no-one thinks of Samuel L Jackson in Iron Man, BUT Sam Jax’ effort in Pulp Fiction is indelible and lasting. Therefore even though he is but a bit player in a vast ensemble, that film gets him in. Tom Cruise might get a nod for one of his major films, but anyone who felt he ‘made’ Tropic Thunder… is an idiot.
Sequels count – if they are good enough and not a cash in. Critical reception and box-office success is irrelevant.
I have set the ‘worthwhile’ bar at 7 / 10. A 6.5 might have a few moments, but I’m afraid I’m not paying it.
You get the idea… now even for the major Hollywood players with multi-decade careers ten solid films is a fair effort. If you are lucky enough to forge a career in movies then you will likely end up making a few. Some good, some bad. The challenge is to make a few good ones early, or you may never get that long career, at least not a well paid one. If you consider that there might only be twenty bona fide box-office Stars in any typical decade (and that a few failures can drum someone out of the industry) mere longevity isn’t going to get it done.
This list examines the guys n gals that beat the drum and carve out a career. The headliners. The ones that say “yes” to a script and in doing so justify getting it made. The ones that directors ask for. The ones on the poster.
To Recap; Ten OGR Approved Worthwhile films gets you the gong and entry into the just invented OGR Pop Culture Hall of Fame.
So I have scratched out a short list of likely candidates and painstakingly sifted the wheat from the chaff to come up with that individual’s Top 10 films. Then, in descending order, I will run down the films from Great (or thereabouts), through the decent and beyond. Those that hit mediocrity before double digits are relegated to ‘almost’… or less.
For those that make it, immortality awaits.
We kicked off the challenge with the inimitable Steve Martin, who scraped in (deservedly) to the OGR Hall of Fame with a neat ten Worthwhile titles. Next cab off the rank is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the biggest action hero of the 80s and 90s, and a man who has just re-entered the action fray in recent years after a decade long sojourn destroying the state of California.
Anyone between the ages of 30 and 50 knows that Arnie owned the late 80s and early 90s. His CV is packed with classics and above reproach. This doesn’t change the fact that his career fizzled as quickly as it ascended, it was just that we took a few duds to realise just how glum things became, and we were willing to forgive a few clunkers thanks to credits in the bank.
Unfortunately by the time End of Days rolled around, Arnie’s cheques were no good around these parts. So the question is, do the glory days contain sufficient goodness to allow the Governator to complete the challenge?
Most would claim Commando follows the action hero playbook to the letter. I would argue it wrote the playbook. The buff sleeveless hero. The slightly annoying damsel in distress, there only to point out how insane and macho this all is. The ‘tooling up’ montage. The ridiculous kill quips. The explosions that somehow propel the victims toward camera. The bad guy who’s gonna get it so bad, only he’s the only guy who didn’t get the memo.
Commando is about a father trying to rescue his daughter. So is Taken. Both are very different films with similarly unlikely events and high body counts. Both are far more than just a particularly difficult Daddy / Daughter day.
Both are ridiculously rewatchable.
In the early days they experimented with making Arnie the smooth talking, level headed, quick witted leading man. It never really worked as well as the mono-syllabic tough guy stuff, but True Lies and this film proved he at least had it in him.
Arnie infiltrates a Mafia family at war with both the cops and another crime syndicate, gradually tiptoeing and quick thinking his way to the very top. Of course in the end he ignores the whole ‘undercover stealth’ thing, puts on a leather jacket and just blows away the entire gang single-handedly, leading you to wonder why he didn’t lead off with that course of action.
Raw Deal is hardly a classic, but it clearly showed that Arnie was a well muscled ball of clay, just waiting to be moulded into the action megastar that he would soon become.
Action Arnies – 7
Comedy Arnies – 6
Entertainment Arnies – 7
Where Raw Deal at least tried to show a different side of Arnie, Conan the Barbarian spotlighted the most blindingly obvious.
‘Hey do you think the huge muscly guy would look good without a shirt holding a large sword? Do you think young males 14 – 39 would enjoy the big guy carving up bad guys and wandering through a fantasy land full of topless women?’
The only appropriate answer here is FUCK YEAH! *stuffs hand back into Doritos bag*
Of course only a few years later Conan the Destroyer proved that even not trying very hard doesn’t always work…
I remain convinced that Arnie was destined to become an action staple, James Cameron merely fast tracked the process.
The Terminator was originally to be an average looking schmo who would blend in among the population, albeit with a metal endoskeleton and a half-life of 900 years. When Cameron realised that making said nigh indestructible cyborg killing machine a towering mass of imposing flesh topped by the squarest of square jaws, his film was fast tracked to greatness.
The Terminator might have been the film that made “I’ll be back” famous, but the truth is once Arnie uttered that linenhe never went anywhere for the next fifteen years.
I should also point out that even without Arnie, even with a skinny average everyguy, The Terminator would have been great.
Rewatching Predator recently I could only think of two things;
1/ Why can’t Hollywood find room for an ensemble beefcake cast that aren’t all drawing a pension? Surely The Rock plus Statham plus Jason Momoa plus guy from Universal Soldier 4 plus random American ex-football player equals Action Movie?
Guys still like action movies right?
2/ How did John McTiernan go from directing Die Hard to this… to Rollerball?
In any case Predator holds up insanely well two decades on. Something about a good plot, good (meathead) dialogue and incredible leading man and villains works regardless of the period.
I can watch any moment of this film and instantly be drawn back into my teen years sitting wide eyed on my friend’s couch, glancing down at the hard plastic bright red VHS cover and thanking the Gods constantly.
It bothers me no-one seems to have tried to top this in the past decade. Instead we get countless inferior sequels, prequels and eek-uels to Predator, Alien and such.
Still, so long as we have our Terminator and Predator blu-rays, we don’t need anything new.
It only took James Cameron two films to work out how to use Arnie with 100% efficiency. Terminator 2 thrust him into the role of the hero, gave him another impossible foe, and let him periodically point fun at himself and the absurdity of it all, while all around him was nothing less than awe inspiring.
Ironic that a film that proudly announces that the lead destroyer will blaze a path of non(fatal) violence, became the best action film of all time.
Terminator 2 has no less than five immortal action sequences, a villain that still seems like he’d take down every bad guy/gal from any film since, and CGI that holds up two decades on.
If my house was on fire my son would need to show me he was holding my T2 blu-ray before I agreed to carry him through the flames to safety.
I recently read a retrospective review of True Lies that claimed the film aged poorly because of how it treated Jamie Lee Curtis, making her out to be a dopey housewife for not realising her hubby was an undercover spy killing machine.
Ironic given how females such as Miley Cyrus, Lady GaGa and co would like to be portrayed. And how Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles represent what ‘action’ means today.
In any case, moronic statements regarding blissfully unaware housewives aside, True Lies is still the perfect blend of action and comedy. It made Tom Arnold more than bearable, made Tia Carrerre both sexy and dangerous (but wha- what about Jamie Lee????) and made Bill Paxton a wonderfully smarmy and clueless punchline to a great sequence.
Sure the horse running through the hotel was silly, so was shooting a rocket with a man strapped to it. But pause and think for a moment about the alien who wants to phone his family, the blue creatures who can be ‘plugged into’, the countless everyday people who put on a suit and become varying degrees of ‘super’. Many premises sound stupid, great filmmakers provide them with credibility and us with entertainment.
Sure Total Recall is hardly perfect (though wayyy closer than the abysmal remake), but it is hilarious, eye popping and stylish as all hell. Jam packed with great ideas and Arnie’s by now patented one liners (‘Consider dat-a divorce’), Total Recall is a great example of a guilty pleasure done right.
Holograms, arms being torn off, mutants, triple-titties, and some of the best effects work available at the time, this isn’t Arnie’s high water mark, but I’ll defend this film as worthwhile until I am so red faced a bystander says ‘Cohagen give dese people ay-er’.
Not near as bad as you think, and the tow truck fire engine chase was pretty awesome. The film lacked the creativity and punch of the first couple, but the action was OK.
And every guy who watched hoped that the insanely built female Terminator would find new ways to lose the outfits and show the chassis.
At least it wasn’t Terminator: Salvation.
A prime example of how the right pair can be more valuable than the sum of the two individuals. Arnie was ascending to the peak of the T2 and True Lies era, James Belushi’s peak was straight to VHS stuff like Taking Care of Business and K-9 (in which he was outacted by a dog).
But together Arnie’s stoic arrogance and Belushi’s inane yammering represented the perfect mismatch. Something only Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker have since replicated, and the action sequences from Red Heat kick most of Rush Hour to the kerb.
And with Viktor Red Heat had by far the best bad guy going, a vicious gangster who would kill anyone in the way of profit.
For mine Red Heat is Schwarzenegger’s most underrated film by far, and one of the best buddy action films in film history.
In truth I hadn’t watched this for well over a decade, and I just wanted Arnie to crack 10 with a better film than T3.
I had actually pegged this film in the ‘Arnie comedy’ bin alongside Twins, Jingle all the way, and the other ‘comedies’ that he made that I never bothered watching. But Kindergarten Cop is different, rather than just make the comedy about Arnie being big and imposing, it engages him as just another character. Sure a big beefy one, but any adult was always going to be larger than the kindy class he ends up teaching.
As the undercover cop hunting for a witness in a small town, Arnie must first prove to the impossibly cute kindy class that he is the boss, only without cracking heads and filling them full of lead. It’s amusing to see the big guy crack under the relentless questioning and scrutiny of four footers, and you can even imagine Arnie as the romantic match for an in her prime (and underrated at the time) Penelope Ann Miller.
Terminator indeed. Kindergarten Cop was light and breezy, but as entertaining and purely comedic as anything Schwarzenegger ever made.
Worthwhile Arnold Schwarzenegger movies: 10
A squeaker for the Governator. Arnie had charisma to burn and muscles that you could iron a shirt on – while he was wearing it. Unfortunately he willingly over-looked his own strengths and decided he was a pretty funny guy, which lead to Kindergarten Cop, and many, many painful memories.
James Cameron taking some time out to make a film about a sinking boat also hurt, and Arnold’s late career featured way too many mediocre and worse action outings. Still, you can’t argue that Action-Arnie had a great run featuring some of the greatest action titles of all time.
We’re two for two into the hallowed Hall so far, but the road is long. We’ll see how the challengers fare in coming months.