Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Hello, Old Friends

Terminator: Dark Fate

by George Wolf

I know it’s sounds about as insightful as “feel good movie of the year,” but Dark Fate really is the Terminator sequel we’ve been waiting for. Its fast- paced and thrilling, surprisingly funny, and manages to honor our investment in two classic characters while it carves out a damn fine blueprint for updating a warhorse.

After re-connecting us with T2: Judgment Day via some crazy good de-aging technology that apparently wasn’t shared with Gemini Man, Dark Fate gives us a future savior that must be protected.

She’s Dani (Natalia Reyes from Birds of Passage), a Mexico City factory worker being hunted by the latest and greatest Terminator, the Rev 9 (Gabriel Luna). But Dani has Grace (Tully‘s Mackenzie Davis, terrific), an “augmented” human from the year 2042 to protect her, plus a new friend with a long history of battling Terminators.

With the most badass entrance since Ripley wore the loader, Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor, instantly giving Dark Fate enough juice to send all the sequels without her to a time of wind and ghosts.

But director Tim Miller is just getting started. The action-filled set pieces keep coming, each one surpassing the last and bursting with the stylized energy he brought to Deadpool.

Need to catch your breath? Oh, look it’s Arnold.

We knew he’d be back, but we didn’t expect him as a T-800 model living a quiet family life as “Carl,” and selling high quality draperies at rock-bottom prices. He’s a stone-faced hoot, and when Carl and Sarah get back in their guns blazing, side by side saddles, just try to keep the nostalgic smile off your face.

But even with all this surface level fun, the film’s secret weapon is a script from David S. Goyer, Justin Rhodes and Billy Ray that’s heady enough to wonder if they got an early look at Rambo: Last Blood and thought a 2019 franchise revival that wasn’t offensively tone deaf might be nice. Each character has an arc to anchor it, and while the film is always mindful of how the future can be rewritten, the topical nods to border security and valuing women as more than birthing vessels are unmistakable.

OK, fine, there are a few clunky spots, some lower-grade CGI on the hyper-jumps and an (understandable) overconfidence in how much we want this to work.

But we do, and damn near all of it does, enough to make you hope they won’t be back.

Schwarzenegger’s Aftermath Premieres at Gateway

He said he would be back, and he is – onscreen, anyway. Open fan of Columbus Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in Aftermath, a movie filmed and set in central Ohio.

Based on the real-life mid-air collision of Danish airplanes in 2002, recast as an American disaster, the film follows the merging paths of a grieving father (Schwarzenegger) and the air traffic controller he holds responsible (Scoot McNairy).

Greater Columbus Film Commission and Gateway Film Center celebrate the release with a premier this Friday, April 7. Local cast and crewmembers will share the excitement, which begins with a mixer at the film center at 7:30 pm and a screening at 9.

Schwarzenegger delivers one of his best performances in a role that contrasts with the type that made him an icon. He’s thoughtful and understated in a film draped in a haze of sadness and regret.

He’s joined onscreen by Columbus native Maggie Grace in a film written by Javier Gullon (Enemy), produced by Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler), and directed by Elliot Lester (Nightingale).

Add to that cameos by former Mayor Mike Coleman and shout outs to local media Sunny 95 and Channel 6 – not to mention locations you’re sure to recognize – and the whole thing feels just darn homey.

Tickets for this special opening night event are $15 each ($5 for myGFC members).

Standard showtimes and pricing also available at www.gatewayfilmcenter.org.

Back, Just Like He Said

Terminator Genisys

by George Wolf

It would be nice if Terminator Genisys put the final ribbon on the iconic franchise. Not because this fifth installment is that bad, but rather because it’s just good enough to leave you with more satisfaction than disappointment.

Much of that comes from the blast it generates rehashing the pasts of parts 1 and 2 – hugely popular films that have earned a permanent place in pop culture – and conveniently dismissing 3 and 4. Smart move.

To get there, though, we have to wade through a script overloaded with time-hopping threads requiring repeated explanations that still can’t quite keep the head scratching at bay.

In 2029, Resistance forces led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) have won a critical victory against Skynet, but John knows there is still work to be done.

His goal is the destruction of their time machine. He finds it, but too late to prevent Skynet from sending a terminator back to 1984 to kill John’s mother Sarah (GoT‘s Emilia Clarke). John’s right hand man, a certain Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers to go back and protect her. Sound familiar?

So Kyle basically drops in on the first film, but things have changed. Sarah knows what’s up, the original terminator is met by an “aged” model (Arnold) already serving as Guardian, and then the “liquid metal” version from T2:  Judgement Day wants to play, too!

Screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier set a nice hook (young Arnold fights old Arnold!) but when the altered timelines and memory fragments keep coming, you may need to choose between keeping up and giving up.

The saving graces are the moments of fun that do cut through, usually via Arnold and his “old, but not obsolete” machine on a mission. Director Alan Taylor (Thor: the Dark World) gives him some impressive, if not entirely original set pieces, but others don’t seem worthy of the blockbuster budget. It’s a hot then cold scorecard the film can never shake.

It wants to do so much, but is never able to sustain any solid momentum. Snappy dialogue sours, action is derailed by more exposition, and sci-fi complexities mount. In short, the polar opposite of what made the first two films such a hoot.

But that steel, hard-to-kill heart still beats in Terminator Genisys, just enough to use every ounce of good will it earns.

So is this really hasta la vista? Check box office totals for the final answer, but stay past the credits for a pretty big clue.




She’ll Be Back


by Hope Madden

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in the zombie flick Maggie, but Conan the Zombarian it is not.

Forget the set pieces, explosions, pacing and quips generally associated with the big Austrian. Here he plays an anxious Midwestern father in a time shortly after the zombipocalypse. His teenage daughter (Abigail Breslin) is a member of the infected and he is more interested in protecting her from the outside world than in protecting the outside world from her.

Director Henry Hobson’s feature debut upends expectations no matter what they may be. By blending genres and placing stars in very different situations than their norm he’s opened the audience up to accepting some odd turns. The film itself does not always deliver on this intriguing promise, but despite the slow pace and quiet tones, it keeps your attention because you can never be sure what will happen next.

Breslin, already the star of one of the best zombie comedies of all time (Zombieland), proves a nuanced performer with this pensive turn as a teen awaiting the inevitable. Schwarzenegger has never offered as dialed-down and somber a performance, and while the film is absolutely Breslin’s show, his support is tender and unexpected.

Maggie is a character study, and a gamey twist on the coming of age film as father and daughter wait – not for that impending dawning of womanhood, but for her imminent death, and what comes after. Hobson and screenwriter John Scott 3 are not in it for exploitation. Although the film inevitably gives over to sentimentality, the filmmakers’ restraint throughout allow the proceedings a little dignity.

The film may have a tough time finding a niche. Schwarzenegger’s fans may hope for something a little flashier while genre fans may be left unsatisfied. But Maggie has something to offer. It’s a small film that explores something relatable and intimate, even if it chooses an unusual setting to do it.


He’s Back. Again.


by Hope Madden

At 67-years-old, Arnold Schwarzenegger is having a career resurgence of sorts. Sabotage is his 3rd film to be released in the last 12 months, and he has 5 more in development, including sequels to Expendables, Conan and Terminator. That’s not to say he’s exactly found an audience for his return to the big screen, but he’s certainly trying.

Truth is, neither Escape Plan or The Last Stand – his last two efforts – made at the box office even half of what they cost to produce. You’ve got to hope that his sequels do a little better, or that he’s put away some cash for retirement from somewhere else, because Sabotage is not likely to please a wider audience than his last two flicks.

It’s a darker film that you might expect, with mercifully few jokes about Arnold’s age. As Breacher, a legendary DEA agent whose career has taken an ugly turn, the big Austrian leads a team of unhinged misfits whose last bust corrupted their trust in the team and in Breacher.

Sabotage was co-written and directed by David Ayer, whose resume is littered with ill-conceived, gritty cop dramas (and the first Fast and Furious flick – so thanks for that). It’s a winding tale of double crosses that betray the worst in everybody, but Ayer can’t find a clean path through the story and Arnold can’t begin to shoulder the emotional weight required of his should-be complex character.

Points for a couple of unusual casting decisions. Mireille Enos cuts a sketchy figure as the team’s sole female agent – a role that could easily have fallen to (and seems to have been written for) a shapely babe pretending to be a badass. Instead, Enos looks like someone who could be mistaken for a meth addict (a plus in the world of covert DEA ops). She chews scenery, but at least she’s memorable.

Likewise, Olivia Williams has talent, and her ease with the material allows some genuine chemistry and natural humor to invade an otherwise stiff, by-the-numbers action flick. What she can’t do is handle a southern accent. Ouch.

Some decent red herrings are thrown about as Williams’s good cop works with Breacher to figure out who is picking off his team one by one. This generates decent tension as the investigation leads us through otherwise obvious territory. It’s when Ayer tries to throw an actual curve ball that things get sloppy.

He’s not aided by his lead’s performance, though. The twisty, secret-riddled script required a performance with a modicum of range. And yet, Ayers cast Arnold Schwarzenegger. Curious.






The Weight


Generation Iron


by George Wolf


“We can do what 99.9 percent of people can’t do..lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.”

“We” refers to the best bodybuilders on the planet, and Generation Iron reveals their world in thoughtful, compelling fashion.

In fact, after nearly forty years, we may have the perfect companion piece to 1977’s Pumping Iron. That film, or course, gave young Arnold Schwarzenegger a big push on his path to icon status, as it followed his attempt to defend the Mr. Olympia title in 1975.

Writer/director Vlad Yudin crafts Generation Iron in similar fashion, focusing on the 2012 Mr. Olympia competition, as champion Phil Heath prepares to takes on several challengers, most notably Kai Greene. But, while parts of Pumping Iron were scripted, Yudin plays it straight, presenting a fascinating look at bodybuilding and the athletes who devote their lives to the sport.

Yudin’s instinct for pacing is spot on, as he moves between the different competitors and their training regimes. We get to know them, and their honesty (well, except about steroids) makes us care. Bodybuilding is not only their sport, it is their job, and the amount of devotion it requires can come with a high price.

The presentation of the film also holds your attention, even for those who may not have an interest in bodybuilding. Yudin follows competitors on a trip to the zoo (creating a nice contrast between the animals on display and massive physiques out in the real world) and a casting call, as the shadow of Arnold’s superstardom continues to loom large.

As it builds toward the showdown competition, a certain philosophical nature envelopes the film, though it comes more from the athletes themselves than from Mickey Rourke’s whispered, often melodramatic narration.

Generation Iron not only informs and entertains, but leaves you eager for a sequel focusing on female bodybuilders.







Tonight There’s Gonna be a Jailbreak!


by George Wolf


As nonsensical, potentially offensive and completely ridiculous as it is, Escape Plan does enough things right to render it more entertaining that you might expect.

Think of it as residing in the Face/Off neighborhood, where a film embraces its outlandishness so convincingly you eventually surrender under the weight of the escapist fun to be had.

Of course, that film had two of the all-time greatest hambones, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, operating at maximus overacti. Escape Plan has Stallone and Schwarzenegger, two aging action stars trying to prove they still have box office juice.

To its credit, the film doesn’t even address the age factor, even though it is very easy to imagine stars such as Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg in the lead roles.

Sly is introduced as Ray Breslin, the leading expert in structural security. He routinely puts his skills to the test by assuming the identities of inmates in various prisons and then going full MacGuyver to expose security weaknesses by busting out with little more than toilet paper and a used carton of chocolate milk.

Breslin’s firm gets an outlandishly lucrative offer to test the limits of a…cough, cough…”off the grid,” black-ops type prison in an undisclosed location. Despite concerns from his co-workers, Breslin goes in, realizing almost immediately he’s been set up, and must enlist the help of a mysterious new friend on the inside (Arnold) to break out for reals.

Director Mikael Hafstrom (The Rite/Derailed) wisely chooses to keep matters focused on action and away from any cheesy attempts at tongue in cheek humor. Less successful are his depictions of Muslim inmates and scenes of enhanced interrogation.

Giving the film a “Blackwater” setting may have been an attempt by screenwriters Miles Chapman and Jason Keller to address a timely topic. Instead, they toss the dark realities of torture around so flippantly the film comes dangerously close to making light of the entire issue. Muslim stereotypes don’t help either.

Still, there’s action aplenty amid some clever twists, an effective supporting cast (Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio and a surprisingly emotive Jim Caviezel), and Arnold, at least, seems to be having a blast getting back in the saddle.

Maybe they’re not too old for this shit.