The Barbarian Returns! Schwarzenegger Returns To Conan

Anyone who saw the Marcus Nispel directed mess that was the remake of Conan The Barbarian can agree that the movie was a lame duck. Jason Momoa was not right for the role. He just seemed too nice. He was supposed to be a barbarian after all. Now the good news. They’re not going to make a sequel starring Momoa and they’re not going the straight-to-video Scorpion King route either. Instead they went back to the man who made Conan a household name – Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Rumor has it that they will be ignoring the events of Conan The Destroyer all together. This will be a direct sequel to Conan The Barbarian instead. Warner Brothers tried that when Bryan Singer took on Superman Returns. That didn’t work out well. But, then again, they didn’t have Christopher Reeve coming back for the movie. 

According to the producers this will be like a giant fantasy version of Unforgiven. I don’t know. Maybe the franchise is better off left dead. Should it be revived only to out the final nail in its coffin? Or could this be a sword and sorcery version of Unforgiven? I will reserve judgement until the time comes when the movie happens and is seen by the public. As we all know, there are plenty of times where actors sign on the dotted line and the movie still never happens. Thank God that happens sometimes. I don’t think any of us wanted to see Nicolas Cage as Superman!


You’ve Been Back Enough. Now I’ll Be Back – Expendables 2 Reviewed

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s was a wonderful time for action movies. I loved watching Stallone and Schwarzenegger films. Then Bruce Willis came along with Die Hard. I remembering watching Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, and even Cynthia Rothrock and Jeff Speakman movies and loving them. I even used to imagine my own movie starring all of them when I was a kid. I thought how cool it would be to see them all share the screen together. No matter how late the dream came true with The Expendables it was worth the wait. I had a lot of fun with the first film. Needless to say I was very excited about the sequel.

To get such heavy hitters in the action genre together in a movie is always fun. Stallone, Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Willis and Schwarzenegger all together. Count me in. Plus, this time they added Norris and Van Damme and gave Willis and Schwarzenegger expanded roles. The overall product was decent and fun. Van Damme was a good villain. The story was simple but effective. It worked.

There were a few things, however, that bothered me. First of all, how many stupid jokes where someone is practically winking to the camera do we need in this film? Honestly, I don’t need references to Rambling, Die Hard, and Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll Be Back” catchphrase. The only one that worked had to do with Chuck Norris and a cobra. That was hilarious.

The other thing that bothered me was something that shouldn’t. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it though. They were in Russia at a soviet spy training town made to look like America during the Cold War. The Cold War ended before the American post office changed its symbol. They didn’t change to the new sleeker eagle image until the Soviet Union had collapsed yet in this America Town they were hiding in we see a mailbox on the street with the new eagle symbol on it. I couldn’t stop myself from wondering if the Russians ever stopped training spies. Maybe the FSB took over after the collapse and kept going with it. Maybe it was just an oversight on the production designer’s part. I don’t know. All I could do was think about this and wonder if it was a small hint of things to come in Expendables 3.

Okay, I got way off track there. I am supposed to be reviewing the movie not talking about my anal retentive attention to detail. The movie worked in some respects. The great thing about the first film was the personal journey of the characters. Stallone turned his back on his mission to what was right. Lundgren betrayed his friends and later redeemed himself and was later welcomed back into the fold. Mickey Rourke’s character had an awesome monologue midway through. That is what made the first movie good. This one got close a couple times but never found the magic of the first movie. Instead, it settled on making jokes and amping up the violence.

I still enjoyed in the movie very much. It just fell short of the first. Hopefully they can pull it together in the next one. We will see. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars. It would have been less but I don’t want Chuck Norris to come after me.

What’s In A Name?

At first when I was thinking about writing this I was going to discuss Alf and why he allowed everyone call him Alf instead of his given name, Gordon Shumway. That just seems like an even dumber thing to post on here than some of my other stuff. So instead I would like to talk about professional names.

Michael Keaton is not really Michael Keaton. His real last name is Douglas. Of course, there already was a Michael Douglas in Hollywood. And he’s kind of a big deal. So the other Michael Douglas became Keaton. They tried to have Arnold Schwarzenegger change his name to Arnold Strong. In fact, Hercules Goes Bananas was released with Strong rather than Schwarzenegger.

When it comes time for me and my writing partner to have our names on our films we want to make sure that people don’t confuse us with other people already working in movies or television. My name isn’t so bad. I only found one other person named Jacob O’Neal listed on iMDb. But my writing partner’s name is Brian Smith. That’s too common. There are a multitude of Brian Smiths working in the industry from actors to crewmen. So he’s thinking about changing it. He thought about Brian Everet or Everet Smith.

I guess I’m lucky that my last name can be spelled so many different ways. The only other person on iMDb with my exact name is a child actor with one credit to his name. And, even still, I was considering going by Jake professionally. It’s just a matter of distinguishing myself from this kid. Besides, people call me Jake all the time.

I suppose Brian could consider it both a blessing and a curse if he were to consider that his name isn’t just plain weird. He could have been one of Frank Zappa’s kids, after all, with a name like Dweezil or Moon Unit. Then again, he could have been cool by proxy if he was the spawn of Zappa.

Get Your Ass To Mars – The Original Total Recall Reviewed

The mighty Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoven, king of everything not subtle, teamed up for this 1990 science fiction mind bender. Based on a short story by the late, great Phillip K. Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” the story revolves around a man who might be another man who goes to a place to have a memory implanted and they may have unlocked stuff that was supposed to be erased.

The great things here are Verhoven’s over the top style and Rob Bottin’s amazing effects. The story also holds up well. The not so great things are Arnold’s trademark grunts and one liners that just don’t stand the test of time.

I go to the movies a lot and have seen the trailer for the remake numerous times. Every time I see it all I can think is “that was a shot from the original, that was another one, and there’s a bad one liner coming from Kate Beckinsale instead of Arnold.” Watching the original now it seems there is very little they could do to top it. Sure Kate and Jessica Beil are hotter than Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin but that doesn’t make a good movie. Hell, Beil and Beckinsale have both appeared in Adam Sandler films. That didn’t make them good.

Verhoven has a very distinct style he has always incorporated in his science fiction films, namely over the top violence and humor. Recall has that. What it doesn’t have is the same kind of social commentary that was so prevalent in Robocop and Starship Troopers. As much as I love Total Recall I actually love the other two more for that reason.

Despite the grunts and bad one liners Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lot of fun to watch in this film. The beautiful thing about having him in this movie is his presence. That man, despite his poor grasp of the English language and his bad acting, can make you want to watch him.

This movie gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. I would be surprised if the remake gets such a high mark from me.