Before anything else is said, let’s admit it: Arnold Schwarzenegger is not a great thespian. He tries, he REALLY does, but unfortunately the “Real” Arnold leaks into the “Movie” Arnold. But Arnold’s acting career is not what is at point here (but it is on my next article). This is about “remaking” or “re-envisioning” his films and the problems/successes that have come of it. The title is no joke, when you try to mess with something Arnold built, it is indeed a conundrum! Let’s get to the first, 2009’s “Terminator: Salvation”!
Terminator: Salvation (2009)
Even though this movie is a reboot of sorts, it’s “Terminator”…we HAVE to have Arnold in it somehow! So what happened, they paste Arnold’s head on a body double to have the epic final battle to end the film. Problem is, it looked SILLY! The film in and of itself, isn’t horrible, and has some genuinely good ideas that add to the mythos of the “Terminator” franchise. Plus the film had some really good (bordering on great) performances in it, Sam Worthington and Anton Yelchin are definitely of note in this category. Critically panned and commercially “OK”, “T4” could have been much, much worse. The problem with this film is just because of the title, it felt the need to have Arnold in there, it didn’t, at least not how they did it.
Conan The Barbarian (2011)
As I have stated, Arnold isn’t the greatest actor, but sometimes you can’t separate the man from the role. Conan is definitely that role, after both films, “Barbarian” and “Destroyer”, you really can’t see anyone else as Conan. Enter 2011’s “Conan The Barbarian”: The film itself is a pretty consistent and by-the-numbers Conan story (it beat the hell out of 1984’s “Conan: the Destroyer”). But as much as I thought the film was above-average, Jason Momoa just wasn’t Conan. Arnold was a very stoic and SILENT Conan, Momoa couldn’t keep his damn mouth shut, and ultimately, it took me out of the film. I’m not saying NO ONE other than Arnold can be Conan…but they are rather large boots to fill.
Total Recall (2012)
Probably the more infamous and notable to these remakes, “Total Recall” is honestly closer to the source material than Arnold’s 1990 version. PLUS, Douglas Quaid is supposed to be a normal everyman, which Arnold is incapable of doing. This film failed critically and financially, and I think was unfairly treated by critics and audiences. If I could take Paul Verhoven’s style with the cast and technology of the 2012 version, it would be almost a perfect flick. BUT there is one thing the 2012 is absolutely guilty of…WHERE IN THE BLUE HELL IS RICHTER???? They combine Lori and Richter into one character…*BANGS HEAD ON DESK!* that is really the cardinal sin that the remake committed, but overall it is the superior film (when it comes to the source material).
Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the greatest personalities of the 20th Century. But his films aren’t untouchable relics of the past that should go untouched. I do think Hollywood needs to lay off the remakes/reboots and get some original ideas flowing again, but every once in a while, show a new version of an old classic, just don’t remake “The 6th Day”….please god no.