Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.
The big story this week to me is the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the world of cinema with The Last Stand, a return to the sort of R-rated action fare that made his career in the ‘80s. It’s one I’m genuinely excited for, as well, as it’s a full-fledged return to the Schwarzenegger era of action film-making. No more little pansy girly-men saving the world; now it’s time for the Austrian Oak to return to his rightful prominence as king of the action film.
It’s the one thing that’s bugged me since the era of the comic book hero has replaced the plucky everyman in action films; you don’t have to actually be any sort of tough guy or action-oriented person to be an action film star anymore. All it takes is for you to throw on some tights followed by working with a trainer (and some steroids) for six months and you can be someone out of a comic book. It’s the one thing that’s always bugged me about the comic book film; you have actors who don’t have to have that badass factor anymore to save the world. You have guys like Matt Damon, while a fine actor, looks like he’d try to steal candy from a baby and lose.
Schwarzenegger’s return is like a balance to the Force. This is one of the original badasses of American cinema back; at age 65 I’d still take him in a fight over most of the guys who’ve played action heroes in Hollywood since he left to become Governor of California. It may be a relic of a Hollywood where they looked for unconventional talent instead of pretty boys who a stiff wind bowl over, of course, but part of cinema’s history is in stars who were different than the rules of the day otherwise dictated. Meredith Brooks may have wondered where the cowboys had disappeared to and I often wonder where the action hero went. That’s another rant for another time, though, because this weekend the man has returned to claim his throne.
Schwarzenegger returns this weekend and I think there are three big storylines we need to follow with the film.
1. The Box Office
Much ado is going to be made about the box office and it’s an important, but not critical, factor in Schwarzenegger’s return. He’s returning in January, with lowered expectations, on a film that doesn’t have a massive budget (estimated at $30 million or so). So if the film only makes $80-100 million between domestic and international grosses, a number that should be a near automatic, everyone’s made money.
The opening weekend number will be pretty crucial in terms of judging Schwarzenegger’s comeback. So far he hasn’t had to be the man to bring in crowds; he’s just been a surprise cameo in Expendables films. January tends to be a month where a big box office gross will go somewhere between $15-25 million and anything more (or less) will tell us a lot. Throw in the fact that the film isn’t in 3D and there won’t be records broken. But a good $20 million opening in the U.S is possible, if a bit more difficult because of the film’s rating.
2. Arnold’s performance
Acting is like anything in life; if you don’t it in quite some time there could be some rust. Much like a fighter who’s spent time away from the ring, or a footballer who hasn’t been on the field, what Arnold are we getting will say a lot. Is this “Cashing a check Arnold” ala Terminator 3 or vintage Arnie?
3. Film quality
Arnold picked a familiar type of film, the unapologetic action film, but did he pick a good one? Arnold’s got a library of some of the most influential films ever made and turning in something that isn’t all that good … well … isn’t all that good.
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This Week’s DVD – Gone
What happens when you change the police procedural formula but insert a civilian into the mix instead of a private eye or a cop? You get Amanda Seyfried’s criminally overlooked Gone.
Jill (Seyfried) was kidnapped by a crazy psychopath and left to die, escaping from his clutches. Problem is no one believes her story and thinks she’s all sorts of crazy herself. When the same psycho kidnaps her sister no one believes her, either. So what does she do? She keeps it real, grabs a gun, and does some kick ass detective work on her own to find her older sister before something bad happens. It’s a race against time and the cops as Jill, who’s been tracking this guy for years, is on the hunt to kill a hot girl killing lunatic.
The other interesting thing about the film is that it has Nick Searcy, whose day job is on Justified, who might have the single most amusing Twitter feed of a working Hollywood actor out there. Seriously, check it out right here. Who’d have thought Timothy Olyphant’s boss would be such a … interesting … guy to follow on the Twitter?
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club
Broken City – Evil mayor Russell Crowe hires Mark Wahlberg to spy on his hot wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Shenanigans ensue.
See It – So far it looks like a serviceable crime thriller. It’s in January, as well, so you can’t expect anything brilliant. But you can expect something solid from a cast this deep.
The Last Stand – A drug kingpin wants to escape through Arnold Schwarzenegger’s town. Arnold don’t play that.
See It –There are two types of people in this world: those who love Arnold Schwarzenegger … and assholes. Don’t be an asshole.
Mama – Two kids have been living alone in some cabin or something. They come back to civilization and it gets all crazy. Jessica Chastain also wears a wig in it.
Skip It – I thought this was a comedy the first time I saw the trailer. I laughed my ass off when I saw it the first time and people glared at me like I just cheered for the Packers in a dignified manner. Apparently it’s a horror film. Who knew?
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Monday Morning Critic, The Last Stand