3. Conan the Barbarian-1982
Everywhere you go the name Arnold Schwarzenegger is well known. His movies range from comedies to action blockbusters. Back in the day when he started out in the film industry he starred in films that fit a specific role: an action star with a massive build that can crush a small car and look good doing it. He’s made many films in the 80’s and some of them are decent, but there are three films that stand out in my mind that make him a bona fide movie icon: Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, and Predator.
I love the fact that an actor who isn’t born here can make it big in the United States. Born in Austria, Arnold paves his way to the States by competing in bodybuilding tournaments. His massive physique lands him his first ever action role Hercules in New York, a low budget movie that is horribly dubbed for Arnold because of his thick Austrian accent. But it becomes a stepping stone in his movie career that leads him to star in an action packed film called Conan the Barbarian in 1982. He takes advantage of his massive physique and makes a name for himself. Taken from the comic books, this sword wielding behemoth takes us into a world of steel, sex, greed, power, magic, religious zealots, and giant snakes. With the casting of James Earl Jones and Mako; this film delivers a gritty, dark, gruesome version of a world that is both barbaric and wondrous. It is everything that a young boy needs to grow up feeling normal. Arnold doesn’t have that much dialogue, but what he lacks in words, he definitely makes up in his fight scenes. A few years later Arnold reprises his role in Conan the Destroyer. It wasn’t as successful as the original because it comes off as cheesy and heavy on the special effects, plus the storyline doesn’t have the same uniqueness and originality as the first film, but that’s Hollywood for you. If the first film makes a killing in revenue, it is the arrogance of the studios to think that making another one will be just as successful.
In 1987, his next role solidifies his place in Hollywood history. A little science fiction thriller called Terminator. Directed by James Cameron, Arnold stands out with his monstrous build and intimidating look as a futuristic cyborg from hell. Even though his dialogue is very limited, he delivers the ever famous quote that echoes throughout the years, “I’ll be back”. His strong Austrian accent and his deep tone has been imitated, but never perfected by various actors who repeats those famous words in different movies and television series for whatever situation that deem suitable for that quote. Linda Hamilton who plays the main character, Sarah Connor; and Michael Biehn who plays the future soldier, Kyle Reese rounds out the cast in this science fiction thriller that breaks the mold when it comes to artistic originality and prosthetic design of the Terminator T-800. But Arnold steals the spotlight and runs with it. His strong facial expressions and his cold icy stare bring chills down my spine. The special effects are somewhat primitive, but it works. There isn’t a lot of CGI, but the makeup and prosthetics are pretty cool when it comes to Arnold’s character as the futuristic cyborg from hell.
In 1987, his next film Predator gives us a unique direction and imagination in the alien genre. It introduces us to one of the best and baddest looking alien ever to grace the big picture. Aliens gives us the Xenomorphs and now Predator delivers us an alien bounty game hunter that is a cross between The Creature from the Black Lagoon and DC comic villain, Kraven the Hunter. Arnold and his merry band of elite Special Forces soldier are being hunted and toyed with by this alien hunter in the deep forest of Central America. Arnold’s character uses his Special Forces military training to stay alive and figure out a way to kill this creature. His use of the forest as his battleground is pretty impressive, not to mention he can go toe to toe with the alien if he needs to. Other action stars like Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura, and Bill Duke help fill the ensemble in this crazy film, but to be honest, if Schwarzenegger wasn’t in it to play the hero, it would have sucked BIG TIME!!!
These three films offer a wide range of craziness, over the top action sequences that only Arnold can pull off successfully. Arnold takes the characters of each of these films and immortalizes them into icons that we will remember forever. Many sequels have been made to continue the saga of these films, but they can never replace the originals. They can never replace the magic and style of Arnold’s performance and stature. He is the Terminator, he is Conan the Barbarian, and he is the sole survivor of an alien hunting game. Now in his sixties, you think that he is done, but don’t count him out……”HE’LL BE BACK!!!”