Let's be honest - we all know that the A in Action Movie stands for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Who else could it be? Who else can drop bad puns with a delivery like dry ice? Who else can intimidate the bad guys with a mere lift of his eyebrow? Who else can deliver the hard hits with such ferocity? Arnold Schwarzenegger is synonymous with the action movie boom of the 1980s and 1990s. Even his earlier work in the genre is worth a review, whether you're a serious student of film or just a big fan of big action. And, of course, any review of a good movie is only made better when you can watch it on the big screen - the big inflatable screen, that is. At Open Air Cinema, we are devout followers of the cult of Arnold - so we thought of the best examples of The Governator in action that you can enjoy at your next night of cinema under the stars.
Conan the Barbarian
(John Milius, 1982)
In spite of the fact that Arnie was still - ahem - getting a handle on that thick Austrian accent of his, this movie has one of the most quotable Schwarzenegger lines of all time. If have any friends who don't know what is best in life , then you are obligated to erect the inflatable screen and treat them to a larger-than-life bout of classic sword-and-sorcery. Plus, James Earl Jones makes an incredible sinister villain in Thulsa Doom - even in spite of how cute his bangs might be!
The Running Man
(Paul Michael Glaser, 1987)
The Running Man
not only features some of Arnold's most ridiculous fight scenes, but also a plot that feels vaguely prophetic of the era in which we live. We may not live under an oppressive dystopian government, but viewers will certainly recognize the tropes of modern-day reality television in the movie's eponymous game show which forces convicts to run through a deadly gauntlet in order to earn their freedom. Predictably, Arnold kicks butt, beats the game, and takes down the Man. But, you'll also be presently surprised at just how hard the satire of modern media really bites in this film - as well as the sardonic performance from real-life game show host Richard Donner.
(John McTiernan, 1987)
A lot of so-called sci-fi/action movies fail to deliver from either of their supposed inheritances - the sci-fi elements often feel like weak excuses for action sequences that don't quite deliver on the adrenaline. But Predator
, like Mary Poppins
, features a captivating visitor with other-worldly powers and is practically perfect in every way. The creature doesn't look like cheap practical effects (or worse, terrible early CGI), and the supporting characters deliver on the action and the slick lines almost as much as Arnie himself. We dare you not to mouth along with Jessie The Body Ventura's scene-stealing famous line.
The Last Action Hero
(John McTiernan, 1993)
John McTiernan proves with
The Last Action Hero
that high-stakes energy can entertain both children and adults alike. He also proves that even a big budget action movie can feature some pretty cerebral postmodern themes. One part The Purple Rose of Cairo
and two parts Terminator 2
, Schwarzenegger plays beleaguered cop Jack Slater with just the right amount of comedic exasperation, and of course navigates the actions sequences with aplomb. Amid the fiery explosions, there are plenty of entertaining nods to the films of Schwarzenegger's past and to the action film genre in general.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
(James Cameron, 1991)
What can we say - it's the E.T.
of action movies. After all, what child wouldn't be thrilled to find out that the big scary cyborg with the Austrian accent is actually a personal bodyguard sent from the future? In almost every case, Terminator 2
is one of those rare sequels which actually supersedes the original. The action is more epic, the bad guy is way more intense, and there's actually a lot of room for some good laughs among all the cyborg-on-cyborg fight scenes. Also, we dare you not to shed a tear in the movie's final moments. More than any other film, Schwarzenegger will be remembered for this one.