Why were Schwarzenegger's movies so popular? And why aren't they now?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Paul_D, Apr 12, 2002.

  1. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    Apart from Predator and possibly Terminator 1/2 (though I'm not a fan), what's to like in Arnie's filmography? Just a long line of absolute stinkers IMO. So why did they do such great business? And why was he such a popular leading man. Nil charisma. Monster pecks. No acting talent? Doesn't sound like a winning forula to me? But it was. What gives?
    And what has changed about the cinema-going public in the last decade (for the better)? Why aren't Schwarzenegger/Stallone/Snipes/Segal box-office draws anymore? Is it simply a case of enough is enough?
     
  2. Mark Hobbs

    Mark Hobbs Stunt Coordinator

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  3. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    That doesn't explain the shift in tastes. Have they stopped being fun?
     
  4. Todd Phillips

    Todd Phillips Second Unit

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    It was the thrill of seeing a really buff guy with a funny accent say semi-witty one-liners to his opponents before he takes them out (you know...like "the trash").

    The thrill has worn off.
     
  5. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  6. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    I was originally going to go into an in-depth analysis of why Schwartzeneggar appealed to the world at the right time, how his performances were 'ironic' etc.

    But I think it's simpler than that. His movies were escapist fun. Popcorn flicks. His movies (Raw Deal, Commando, Total Recall, Running Man, even the Conan series) all followed a formula which was undeniably 'Schwartzeneggar.' Those movies exploited his physical presense, his 'brawn.' These movies didn't ask Arnie to flex his acting muscles... just his muscles. We saw these movies because we knew he was going to spout off a bunch of one-liners, penned to be stupid. We like his stupid lines "Stick around; I gave him a hand; If it bleeds we can kill it" and his deadpan delivery of those lines. It was all so stupid, but that was the whole point. It's why the Schwartzeneggar prank calls and quote-programs are so popular right now. There is something so stupid, and appealing about his movies, about the creative ways he dispatches of the bad guys against all odds. He is presented as an 'everyman' and yet here is this sheer hulking mass of fortitude. For chrissakes he is feeding a deer in the beginning of Commando, playing the loving and gentle 'family man!' It's absurd, but that's his appeal.

    Joseph
     
  7. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    I'll tell you why many of his recent films have flopped. Because all of these movies are nothing more than cookie cutter action films. After a while, people grew tired of seeing the same film with different characters. Yes, many of his early movies were fun, and even good. Terminator, T2, Predator, Conan, and a number of his other early actions films were good and fun. But after more than a decade of the same thing over and over, people have grown tired of it. The same can be said of Sylvester Stallone. I personally think the typical action star ala Arnold and Sly are dead.

    I use Bruce Willis as an example. Here was a man that started off in films as an action star. But unlike Arnold and Sly, he branched off into more dramatic and serious films. Bruce was also not afraid to take a backseat, or a lesser role instead of being the center of attention. I'm not sure if Arnold and Sly want to do that. They need t branch off like Bruce. Maybe they can't get those type of roles. Bruce is a better actor than either of them. But Sly should do more roles like Cop Land, if he can get them. He was terrific in that, and showed he is a very good actor when given the right role. Arnold needs to try something new as well. But then I'm not sure they could pull off roles like Bruce did in Unbreakable, 12 Monkeys, and Sixth Sense. Here's hoping they can try and succeed at something entirely different.
     
  8. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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  9. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  10. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Oh yes, they have stopped being fun. Let's go through a few highlights (and lowlights) in his career:
    Conan the Barbarian - while primarily offering a wonderful action/adventure movie, it also plays well with his physique and accent. He was born to play this role.
    Terminator - high concept, wonderful execution, and it plays well with his physique and accent. He was born to play this role.
    Commando - One of his 'pure' action movies. Not high concept, but just one long series of action scenes and one liners. He plays it in the same vein as you would find any '80s movie, just with more. This one works becuase everyone just goes along. No irony, no pathos, just quips and clips (so to speak).
    Predator - High concept, but buoyed by great action and effects and good use of his physique. Again, all action and good execution keep this one afloat.
    Running Man - Also high concept, but with a good balance of action and comedy. Very little falls flat, and they keep everything moving well.
    Total Recall - High concept, but with little comedy, more focused on sci-fi and action. Works well becuase of a good script and good use of technology and sets.
    Kindergarten Cop - Primarily a comedy, which make good use of havig an action figure (in the guise of a cop) deliver lines. His delivery of normal lines is what makes it so funny. This is what is would be like if Arnold tried to 'act' - it would be unintentionally funny.
    Terminator 2 - Again, a high concept film with good execution and good use of Arnold's physique and accent. Many consider this one of the best sci-fi/action films around.
    Last Action Hero - An attempt at self parody that fails quite miserably. The problem is that the genre itself is already self parodying and not overly serious, so trying to poke fun seems pointless. It would be like parodying the "College frat comedy".
    True Lies - Back to form, with excellent execution.
    Eraser - the first big mistake. Perhaps there was a shift in the audiences tastes regarding action films, maybe it was the over dependence on special effects that weren't required by the script (does a witness protection movie need railguns?), and the movie didn't make good use of Arnold himself (what scenes was he really needed?). The comedy was also sparse and uninspired ("You're luggage"?). The trend begins.
    End of Days - Arnold tries to 'act' in a depressing movie that has almost no comedy (just watch him try to cry). High concept, but completely pointless in it's use of Arnold. Anybody could have had his role. The action was also pretty bland. Heck, the only one who does well is Gabriel Byrne, because he gets all the humor in the movie.
    6th Day - High concept to be sure, and this one almost gets it right. Although the action is sparse, it does use Arnold in the right ways when it can. There are some mistakes here and there, and they certainly don't play it for laughs, but for the most part it works.
    Collateral Damage - Far too serious for it's own good. The humorless approach really kills any fun that this movie could have, and asks to much of Arnold in the 'acting' realm.
    Those are all based on my opinion. I think the tone of the movies is what determines the success or failure of the movie. Those with dark themes that treat Arnold as anything but a robot just fail. Anything that asks him to act (even act as a parody of himself) fails. Anything that doesn't take the tongue-in-cheek approach to the action really fails (with a few exceptions).
    That he has True Lies 2 and Terminator 3 are probably good signs. I wish him the best, because he has done so much right in the past and he tries so hard that I really want him to suceed. He, and his directors/casting agents/scriptwriters, have to know the boundaries.
     
  11. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Easy now. Arnold is 10 times better than Hogan could ever hoped to be. Arnold is not bad at all. He's pretty good. He's improved so much since he entered the business. He doesn't have the range of a Russell Crowe, but he has some range. He just hasn't used it. Many said the same about Sly. That he couldn't be believable in a dramatic or more serious role. I give Cop Land to you as an example. He was very good in that. Rocky and Rocky II were roles that showed he was a good actor. Now I'm not building him up to Crowe or Pacino standards, but I think when in a role that demands more, he's good.

    Now, maybe sequels to previously popular and successful films will do better at the box office. But I believe that has more to do with the name of the movie than them being good or original. The cookie cutter action movie has grown stale.
     
  12. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Many of Arnold's original action movies were new. How many films have been made since then? And look how much they've deteriorated. Arnold's last good action movie was True Lies (I don't believe he's made a movie which has made as much money since then).

    He did try branching off into more humorous roles (Twins, Kindergarten Cop, Junior, Jingle All The Way) and some of these were pretty successful. However, I think we've just reached a point where he's done about everything good he can do. I think they've run out of good scripts to do.

    I do recommend everyone seeing Pumping Iron. I do believe it is getting released on DVD this year (you should be able to rent it on VHS right now at some video stores). This was made in 1975 just before the Mr. Olympia contest (the top bodybuilding contest in the world). It's a very good documentary (you also get to see Lou Ferrigno).
     
  13. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  14. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    I saw Pumping Iron. A great documentary. Arnold is more charismatic, and has a better overall physique, but Lou just dwarfs Arnold. Lou is up there about 6'5" and 300+ pounds Arnold was about 6'2" and 240-250 pounds. But Arnold had a more aesthetically pleasing physique. That's one thing that made him more successful. That and his charisma. Now, bodybuilding is all about mass.
    Well, let's don't bring Hogan into this. He's laughable at best. Arnold doesn't have a lot of range, but Hogan doesn't have any. Arnold can do comedy effectively. All I'll say about Hogan is Santa With Muscles and Mr. Nanny. [​IMG]
     
  15. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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  16. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  17. Paul_D

    Paul_D Cinematographer

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    I agree Sly was awesome in CopLand. Truly excellent performance. But correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't it halt his career for 2 years? I read that he just couldn't get any roles after that. Strange, but apparently true.
     
  18. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Well, I don't remember about Sly after Cop Land. You may be right. I agree Holadem that Sly's comedies were complete failures, mainly because he wasn't funny. Although I did laugh when he said "Stop! Or my mom will shoot."

    As for Arnold, a few of his comedies were genuinely funny. And he was funny in them. And they were successful. Twins and Kindegarten Cop were funny. And I can't remember, but I think they were successful. As for the one where he gets pregnant, that was stupid concept anyway. But I thought he was funny in that. Arnold can truly do comedy. Sly can't.
     
  19. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Everybody has their prime. Schwarzenegger's was just back a long time ago. I like most of this action movies True Lies and anything before it. I think his best work is either Terminator or Predator.
     
  20. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    If Stallone had trouble getting roles after Copland, I might because of the weight he gained.

    The reason that Arnold's appeal has gone is because his movies were once the leaders and groundbreakers of the action genre. Terminator and Predator set the standard for other action flicks. Now, a new Schwarzenegger movie would be just another in a long chain of action flicks which got their influence from older Arnold movies.

    It's the same reason that jazz musicians die poor, that lots of people groan when Stephen King puts out yet another horror book, and why Iron Maiden will never be as popular as they were in 1985.
     

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