Last week’s viewing of The Last Stand got me thinking about Arnold’s movie career. It’s hard to believe he was in his first movie over 40 years ago (1969′s Hercules in New York), and it’s hard to believe his career path in general. He’s made some huge movies, but if you weren’t a teen in the 80s and 90s, it’s likely you don’t enjoy his movies as much as you should. Nobody did big explodey action movies quite like Arnold.
Here are my top ten favorite Arnold movies, with series being grouped together.
10. Conan the Barbarian (1982)/Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Kind of the perfect movie to kick off Arnold’s superstar career. Sure, he’d had movies before Conan the Barbarian, but this was the first real Schwarzenegger movie. Sure, the less said about the sequel the better, but who doesn’t remember learning what is best in life from Conan? “To crush the enemy, to see them driven before you, to hear the lamentations of the women.” Sesame Street never taught better.
9. Commando (1985) – In a world full of cartoony action movies, this one just might be the cartooniest. Arnold’s character’s name is John Matrix, and it only gets better from there. Historical note: this is the movie that made every guy my age want to throw circular sawblades like ninja stars.
8. The Last Stand (2013) – I really, really liked this one.
7. Total Recall (1990) – 23 years later and I still remember the outcry over this one. “He uses a human body as a bullet shield!!!” is the one I remember the most. I still can’t figure out the ending, making this one of the most thought-provoking entries on the list, which is weird, considering this is also the only movie on this list that has a mutant Resistance leader popping out of another dude’s stomach.
6. Predator (1987) - Best arm wrestling handshake ever? I think so.
5. Eraser (1996) – I don’t know if those railgun rifles are physically possible, but they were super sweet, and James Caan was exactly the right kind of bad guy.
4. Last Action Hero (1993) – I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is I like so much about this movie, other than how it looks at the action movie genre from within an action movie. The movie is a bit overlong, but I love the way it plays with the standard action movie formula.
3. True Lies (1994) – James Cameron and Arnold should have made a lot more movies together, and who among us hasn’t wanted to dream-punch Bill Paxton in the face?
2. Kindergarten Cop (1990) – Honestly, depending on the day, this movie is #1 for me. Without Arnold’s history of action movies this one wouldn’t work so well, but taking the persona he had crafted and putting it in this movie with a bunch of kids was just about perfect.
1. The Terminator (1984)/Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)/Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) – I can’t even come up with something to say here, because I love the Terminators. I even like 3, and I know that makes me less of a man in your eyes, and I’m okay with that. Some day we’ll talk more about it.
I’d love to see him keep making movies, but I know I’m probably one of the few.
Written by: Mark