Don’t Call Schwarzenegger an Old Fogey

In the era of aged action stars, it is often hard to take a movie seriously when the hero is clearly passed his prime and looks like has might pass out at any minute. Stallone, Ford, and have all suffered. (It seems Liam Neeson is the only except to this rule.) Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to understand this and does what he does best- mix action with humor.

The Last Stand MovieIn his prime Schwarzenegger was kicking ass and taking names. He was chosen as best villain and best hero for playing the same character. He worked with Cameron, stared in the fabulous movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Running Man, and showed Colin Ferrell what a science fiction movie should really be like. He has never had trouble making fun of himself (see Around the World in 80 Days for example). In fact, my favorite Schwarzenegger film, True Lies, combines great action with dry, witty humor.

As a child, I grew up watching Schwarzenegger, I was so excited about his return to film. But at the same time I was apprehensive; I had seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So it was with trepidation that I went to see The Last Stand.

The Last Stand is the story of Sherriff Owens (Schwarzenegger) who moves from L.A. to a small town on the Arizona border to get away from the bloodshed. When the majority of the town leaves for a football game, Owens and his deputies settle in for an easy weekend. These plans are promptly destroyed when a cartel leader breaks out of custody and heads to their sleepy little town. With the FBI one step behind, it’s up to the Sherriff and his deputies to save the town.

The Last Stand supplies plenty of action with gun fights and car chases. Like every other action movie before it, it includes beyond reality stunts that get viewers fired up. But it balances the over-the-topness with humor. The film knows that it’s got a humorous side and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Owens even cracks jokes about being too old for this. But Schwarzenegger proves he still has it.

The cast includes Johnny Knoxville and Luis Guzmán adding to the humor. I hate to say it, but Knoxville is hilarious as the eccentric weapons collector that has everything down to Conan’s sword. the-last-stand-whysoblu-8The deputy team is also peppered with young attractive guys and girls to balance out the “old fogey” feeling.

Despite large pot holes, The Last Stand is an entertaining romp that gives the same hometown love you get from watching Red Dawn. No one is going to come into our home and destroy it. Viewers easily cheer on the deputies as they go against the cartel boss and outsmart the FBI.

While not a great movie, The Last Stand is fun and contains lots of action. It’s better than most of the “old fogey” movies release lately.

Action Movie Throw Down

A beloved franchise goes up against the remake of a ‘80s classic. Which comes out on top?

Skyfall Falls Flat

Skyfall has all the hallmarks of a James Bond film: insane stunts, impossible missions, familiar characters, and an epic theme song. But the movie tries to become too self aware and muddles past and future.

The third installment staring a boring and uncharming Daniel Craig as James Bond has more faults more than just the main character casting. Like most Bond movies, there are plot holes and story lines that don’t quite add up. But in this installment, there are many moments where the audience puzzles at the actions of the characters.  It seems no one in the movie knows the simple answers. Plus, it seems they also like to shoot at things they can’t see. Everyone just starts shooting blindly.

Skyfall delights fans by brining in Q and Moneypenny. But the time spent with these characters is minimal.  The movie spends too much time with Bond and his John Malkovich knock-off villain. The sibling rivalry/ homoerotic scenes are painful to watch.

The movie is at its best when Bond is chasing or being chased. As always, the action is suspenseful with mind boggling stunts. But the action is slowed with tepid romances and enemy soliloquy. The best performances come from Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw as Q.

The biggest issue isn’t with the cast or the story line; it is the overt self awareness that drags it down. The movie constantly states in its characters’ dialogue how old is not good, and we cannot move forward while being stuck in the old. An occasional line mentions the merits of the old, but with so much time spent on bashing the past, the movie takes a lot from the old franchise. If old is so bad why is Q finally introduced? Why borrow plots from two other Bond movies? It’s this contradiction that confuses me the most, and the preachiness of “out with the old” is overdone.

Faught with flaws, Skyfall pales in comparison with an underdog, the Red Dawn remake.

Red Dawn Rising

I didn’t have big expectations for the remake of the 1980’s communist ass kicking movie, but was pleasantly surprised by the action flick. It stars a pre-Avengers Chris Hemsworth and a pre-Hunger Games Josh Hutcherson. This Hemsworth vehicle is probably the best movie he has done to date.

For those of you who haven’t seen the original, a foreign government takes over pockets of the United States leaving a group of teens to act as a resistance. Hemsworth does a magnificent job as the Marine leading the gang of rag tag high school kids in a rebellion in Spokane, Washington. Hutcherson is once again fabulous as a scared kid who turns into a warrior. Only Josh Peck’s performance leaves something to be desired. I image Liam Hemsworth playing the role; the chemistry between the two would be awesome.

The great thing about Red Dawn is that it doesn’t take long to get to the action started and it very rarely stops. There is small lag in the middle for character development but you are moved by these kids’s journey into adulthood. I shed a tear on several occasions including the shocking ending. It is amazing to see what theses teens accomplish against the North Koreans.

The movie has had difficulty after difficulty. First, was getting it into the theaters, and the second was recasting the villains. Originally it was Chinese that overtook the United States, but with CG and voice over work, the North Koreans are now behind this siege. In today’s political climate it is a wonder that North Korea was not the original choice. But it seems they wanted to make sure the “red” of Red Dawn apparent.

A Red Dawn fun fact: the original staring Patrick Swayze and Lea Thompson was the first movie to be rated PG-13. The 2012 version makes efforts to keep this rating.

Full of thrills, patriotism, and spirit, Red Dawn excels at thrills while Skyfall entertains momentarily. Maybe 007 should stick to some of its old tricks.