A thought occurred to me while I was watching a few of Arnold's later duds: I may very well never watch some of these movies again in my lifetime. I've never really looked at it like that before, and it's both a sobering and empowering thought. There's nothing stopping me from watching The Villain again, but isn't there something I'd rather do instead? I don't look back at watching any of these movies as time wasted, it was fun to look at each of them in a different light. Okay, I could have done without rewatching Batman & Robin, but for the most part, it was an enriching experience to bury myself in these movies and question my existing views and memories of Arnold's movies. How soon would I want to watch some of these again now that I've so comprehensively OD'd on them?
A ranking of some sort is unavoidable, but tacking a specific grade or number onto each seems pointless. What does it matter if one is incrementally "better" than another? They're a remarkably diverse set of experiences and I couldn't really tell you which of Predator, Twins, Conan, Terminator, Batman & Robin, or True Lies is my favorite. Ultimately, I don't feel the need to figure that out. It's far more relevant to look at whether or not I like one enough to watch it again and how often. They seem to shake out into some reasonably clear brackets, so without further ado, here are my completely random thoughts on how interested I am in another go, having so recently chewed through all of them:
Conan the Barbarian
All excellent films to let my inner Ahnold run free and I would happily sit down and watch them any day. None of these really have an upper limit on how often I'd enjoy watching them and many of them are the sort I want to immediately watch again, run through the extras, and listen to the commentary as soon as I finish them. No surprises here other than having a renewed appreciation for Predator. I know it's fun to bash Arnold's apparent lack of acting skill, but each of these features a legitimately good acting performance by him and are excellent pieces of filmmaking, Arnold or not.
The 6th Day
The Expendables 2
Pumping Iron/Raw Iron
The Running Man
I very much enjoy these, but not sure I could sustain interest in were I to watch them every day. Interestingly, only Commando and Kindergarten Cop were really in this category ahead of time. I had retroactively applied Batman & Robin to The Running Man and was judging that far too harshly, it's a great time and a clever bit of over-the-top satire. Happily, I've now added three new movies into my upper tiers of Arnold movies!
Conan the Destroyer
Jingle All the Way
Last Action Hero
The Last Stand
These are mostly guilty pleasure movies I'd be happy to sit down and watch again in the near future. I must have sustained some severe trauma while running through these as I'm completely flummoxed by my current thoughts on Conan the Destroyer and Last Action Hero. Conan is probably here largely because of how much I like Arnold in that role, but the movie wasn't remotely as painful as I remember. Last Action Hero is a puzzler. I'm oddly drawn to it, yet repulsed at the same time. A few more rewatches may skew that one way or the other, but much as with Conan, the fact that I'm interested in doing so at all isn't something I would have anticipated ahead of time. Another viewing of The Last Stand will be necessary to be sure of it's rewatchability, but I had a blast the first time last night and look forward to trying it again soon.
End of Days
AKA - The rest. These aren't necessarily bad or anything and I won't rule out watching these again, but I'd not actively seek them out. It was almost painful to man up and add Red Sonja to this list, but compared to the dregs in the next tier, I could see myself watching it again. Stay Hungry I may even intentionally watch again soon, but doubt I would come back to regularly. Any of these would be perfectly acceptable if someone else wanted to sit down and watch with me.
Batman & Robin
Hercules in New York
Ugh, ick, and blargh. Either openly offensive or so blah I can legitimately claim I have no interest in ever watching them again. It's almost unfair to put Hercules in with this lot as it means well and I really didn't mind watching it, but unless I was just wanting to see someone else's reaction to it, there's not much point in going there. These are the sort of movies you'd have to question what else you could have done with the time spent on them. While you're still watching them. It's highly unusual for me not to finish a movie I start, but with any of these, that's really the only smart play.
Yes, Batman & Robin remains my single least favorite Arnold film. Red Sonja had a chance to take the title away, as did Raw Deal, and The Villain seemed a dead lock for taking the crown. All it took was a few minutes into Batman & Robin again to cement its place in my heart as truly, gut-churningly awful. It is from the very depths of my soul that I wish Batman & Robin a sincere "Fuck you" and very much hope to never see any of it again.