Friday, August 30, 2019

Film Review: All Is True

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

I am a huge fan of Kenneth Branagh and have been ever since I saw Dead Again in the theater back in 1991.  I think he is a director who has an eye for big operatic spectacles while capture as much of the beauty found in the visuals and dialogue.  I find that he always swings for the fences.  Sometimes he knocks it out of the park as he did with Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet,  or Murder on the Orient Express.  Sometimes his takes a big swing and a miss like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

All Is True is a big miss.

However I don't really fault Branagh for this mess seeing as how the screenplay by Ben Elton is truly awful.  

The story is about William Shakespeare (Kenneth Branagh) returning to Stratford from London after the Globe Theater has burned to the ground.  He comes home to his wife Anne (Judi Dench), who treats him like a stranger and two adult daughters: Susanna (Lydia Wilson), who is married to a puritan doctor and Judith (Kathryn Wilder), the unmarried "shrew" living at home.  William spends most of his days in melencholy mourning the loss of Judith's twin brother Hamnet.  All the while, people come to see the famous writer, including Lord Henry Wriothsley, Earl of Southampton (Ian McKellen). As this is going on, family intrigue and secrets come to light.

The opening shots are filmed with such beauty that I was prepared for Branagh to open the door and shed some light into this amazing man.  But I came away feeling like I knew Shakespeare even less. The biggest problem with this film is that it is boring and disconnected.  Elton's story really doesn't have a plot to speak of.  It meanders from scene to scene.  Some are so short that they last only a few seconds so that their point seems lost.  He loses characters for huge chunks of time without making them compelling enough retain our interest while off-screen.  He sometimes introduce characters at incredibly odd times.  In the final act, the camera lingers on a woman who looks sad and I remember thinking, "Am I supposed to know her?"  It turns out she is important to the story but we are only meet here after most of the movie is already over.  The movie also has two big revelations, but they are placed awkwardly.  By this I mean when we get to the second revelation, I kept thinking, "Shouldn't they have brought this up before?"  Instead of feeling the weight of the emotion, I felt like I had watched this scene already.

But the movie's other big flaw is that it refuses to take a stand regarding its subject.  Branagh has made a career out of interpreting Shakespeare's works.  He has some very strong and bold takes on the characters and plot.  But when it comes to the man himself, the movie keeps a respoectful distance, too respectful.  A lot of his life is hinted at, such as his Catholic background, his relationship to his wife, etc.  But it doesn't want to delve too deeply into anything that isn't confirmed historically.  Because of that, it feels like we are seeing more of a depiction based on a research paper than the main character of a dramatic story.  The only thing that the movie heavily leans on without commiting to is William's supposed homosexual attraction to the Earl of Southampton.  But even this is layered over with subtext and Shakespearan sonnets.

Besides Branagh's cinematic eye, the performances are the only thing keeping this movie from descending into dreck.  Branagh is every bit the master of Shakespeare as you would imagine him to be.  Dench makes coldness an art while never making Anne a caricature.  Wilson does a fine job of a devoted daughter in a loveless marriage.  But Wilder is the one who carries most of the film's emotion.  She desperately wants her father's approval and love, but she is crushed by a self-hatred that makes her push her father away.  It is a wonderfully complex performance that is more real in its contradictions than less real.

This movie falls into a common trope that I have come to detest where we are supposed to accept the moral shortcomings of the artist because their art is so great.  To be sure, the other characters try to take William down a few pegs because of his flaws.  But there is still this aura of excusability because of his genius.  Perhaps this is why God does not allow more of us to be as naturally talented.  It is a bulwark for our souls against pride.  While the art is admirable, the soul that composed it will exist long after the works are forgotten.

All Is True is a movie that tries to be worthy of its lofty subject, but its poorly structured script only serves to remind us that we should be thankful for the greater writing that the real William Shakespeare left us.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Film Flash: Angel Has Fallen

Angel Has Fallen poster.jpg

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

A B-movie version of the show 24.  Enjoyably cheap thrills.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trailer Time: Joker - Final Trailer

I know a lot of people are up in the air regarding this movie, but the more I see the more excited I become.  I am mesmerized by the snippets I've seen of Joaquin Phoenix's performance (he's come a long way from Space Camp).  Perhaps when it is all put together it won't fly, but his moments in this trailer are so intense that I can't stop watching.

I have no idea what the plot will be, but it seems like its the story of a man who is already unstable, but is pushed beyond the breaking point.  That first moment on the bus where he is entertaining the child is so nice and innocent, but because we live in a dark world it makes complete sense that the mother would be suspicious.

The thing that seems the most tragic about this is it appears as though all the horror could be avoided with just a little human compassion.  We'll see.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Film Flash: The Peanut Butter Falcon

Three people on a raft

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)

Biggest shock: Shia LaBeouf and Dakota Johnson are good actors in this modern-day Huck Finn.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Trailer Time: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker D23 Special Look

Most of this video is older footage, but we get to see some new stuff from The Rise of Skywalker.

The thing that people are talking about the most, obviously, is the vision of Dark Rey.  I'm of the opinion that it will be like Luke's double in The Empire Strikes Back.  But I could be wrong.  This only gives us a small taste, but I do have to say I loved the image of Rey and Kylo fighting on the ruins of the Death Star with the sea raging around them.  It was very reminiscent of the "Battle of the Heroes" from Revenge of the Sith.

The video is smart to try and connect all of the sequel movies into one seamless garment with the other Star Wars films.  The Last Jedi was so divisive, that this movie must restore balance to the Force.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Best: Fall/Winter Movie Season 2019

Now it is time to turn to the upcoming Fall-Winter movies.  This is the time usually when the "important" movies come out.  The reason being that studios want Academy and other awards groups to have their movies fresh in voters minds.

However, some studios realized that this is a good time to release a big blockbuster because there is less competition, even though more people are home watching television. 

Here is a list, with a few brief thoughts of my own, including on a scale of 1-5 stars my likelihood of seeing it in theaters (1 being “Not at all” 5 being “Cannot wait!”).

So here are some of the movies that are coming out along with my level of excitement.  My ability to get out to the theater may be limited this time around.  But I will try to get to the ones that really excite me.

September 6

IT: Chapter 2 (*****)

I loved the first movie and it is the highest grossing horror movie of all time.  I don't expect the sequel to be as good, but I love the cast, especially getting a chance to see the Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafah) stretch his dramatic skills.  I will be there opening weekend.

September 13

The Goldfinch (*)
The Goldfinch (2019 film poster).png
Everything about this movie looks terrible.  Both trailers are pure pretention and have no appeal to me whatsoever.

Can You Keep a Secret? (*)
Image result for can you keep a secret poster
I'm a sucker for a good rom-com, but this does not look like a good rom-com.  That is a shame because the casting looks nice with Alexdra Daddario and Tyler Hoechlin.

September 20

Ad Astra (**)
Image result for poster ad astra
There is a spectrum of space films that range from 2001 to Armageddon.  My tastes tend towards the latter, whereas this movie seems like it is going to be more of the former

Downton Abbey (*)
My wife and I stopped watching the show a long time before it ended, so I have no interest in a feature film.

September 27

Abominable (***)
Abominable (2019 poster).png
This seems like a generic CGI family film, but the trailer had some moments of real heart and magic.  But only moments.  I can't tell if this movie will hold together as a good experience or not, but I am open-minded.

Judy (**)
Everything about this movie looks sad, and not in a cathartic way.  If I saw this, I think I would leave the theater feeling terrible.

October 4

Joker (*****)
Joker (2019 film) poster.jpg
I am probably more excited for this movie than I should be.  What little I have seen of Joaquim Phoenix's performance has me horribly intrigued.

The Woman in the Window (**)

I know nothing about this movie except the basic plot (which reminds me of Rear Window) and the cast which includes Amy Adams and Gary Oldman.  That alone has me interested.

The Current War (*)
The Current War.png
The idea of this movie, about the competition to control the beginnings of electrical technology, should be more interesting to me, but the trailers have been off-putting to me for some reason I cannot figure out.

October 11

Gemini Man (***)
The trailers have been decent and it feels like having the best of both worlds with current Will Smith vs. 90's Will Smith.  Ang Lee is either hit or miss for me, so we'll see if he is able to pull of something very cool or very lame.

The Addams Family (**)
The Addams Family (2019 film).png
I like that they are leaning heavily into the shows original metaphor of an ethnic Catholic family moving into a middle-class Protestant neighborhood.  It could be good.

October 17

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (*)
When I was younger I loved Kevin Smith movies.  Now, I have lost my taste for them (excepting Mallrats).  I would be more interested in this if he went away from his drug/gross out humor, but the trailers make clear that this style is present in this movie.

October 18

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (*)
Maleficent Mistress of Evil (Official Film Poster).png
Didn't see the first.  Won't see the second.

Zombieland: Double Tap (*****)
Zombieland Double Tap teaser poster.jpg
This movie looks to be a great deal of fun.  Sometimes you have to turn off your brain and just watch a bunch of on-screen carnage.  (I especially enjoy Tallahassee's hatred of hippies)

Jojo Rabbit (*)
Jojo Rabbit (2019) poster.jpg
I think I get the satirical tone that this film is trying to achieve, but it just feels like it is in horrible taste and will not age well.

The Lighthouse (*)
The Lighthouse.jpeg
Looks like a very claustrophobic, moody horror movie, but it is not my taste.

The Way Back (***)
The story about an alcoholic coach who is looking for redemption sounds intriguing to me, especially as it is being portrayed by Ben Affleck.  Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but I cannot help but feel that he is working through some autobiographical issues in this movie.

October 25

Black and Blue (**)
Looks intriguing, but hasn't quite grabbed me.

Frankie (*)
Theatrical release poster
Pure European pretention.  No thank you.

October 31

3 From Hell (*)

I did not see the first movie and have no desire to see this one.

November 1

Terminator: Dark Fate (**)
Terminator Dark Fate poster.jpg
This movie looks terrible in every way.  And yet, I think I will end up seeing it, simply because it is a Terminator film.

Motherless Brooklyn . (**)

A good cast, but it feels like it's trying to be a modern Chinatown but with Ed Norton and Bruce Willis.

Harriet (****)
This movie looks excellent and I'm surprised it has taken this long to make a modern major motion picture about it.

November 8

Last Christmas (***)
A man and a woman sitting on a bench at night. Behind them a ferris wheel lights up the sky.
This movie looks like it could have charm.  I'm curious.

Midway (***)
Midway Movie HD Poster.jpeg
It's a good topic, but I'm wondering if the director can pull it off.  If this was Mel Gibson, I would be much more interested.

Playing with Fire (**)
Playing With Fire Movie HD Poster.jpeg
Looks like a fine family film, but I don't think I'll see it.

Doctor Sleep (****)
Against a dark backdrop, the word MURDER is displayed backward. The title DOCTOR SLEEP is displayed at the bottom, also backward.
I thought the trailer was very good and I am curious as to how they are going to take the story in new directions.

Arctic Dogs (*)
Image result for poster arctic dogs
Nothing about this grabbed me.

Honey Boy (**)
Image result for poster honey boy
I am curious about this semi-autobiographical movie about Shia LeBeouf, but it seems more like an exercise in therapy than an entertaining movie.

November 15

Ford v. Ferrari (**)
Ford v. Ferrari (2019 film poster).png
The story idea is interesting, but there is something about the way this movie is shot that is turning me off.

Charlie's Angels (*)
Charlie's Angels (Official 2019 Film Poster).png
I didn't see the other Charlie's Angels movies because they looked bad.  This, somehow, looks worse.

The Good Liar (**)
Image result for poster good liar
Could be an intriguing thriller, but I don't know that I will see it in the theater.

The Lodge (*)
The Lodge poster.jpg
This looks like skillfully made horror film, but not my cup of tea.

November 22

Frozen 2 (****)
Frozen 2 poster.jpg
I was surprised how good the original was (I had originally thought it was all hype).  But they have earned my interest in the sequel.

21 Bridges (***)
An interesting premise, but I need to see a little more to get me excited.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (****)

I hope this movie is good.  I really want to like this movie and I know it has potential, as long as it doesn't try to become a commentary on current society.  I hope Tom Hanks can match the spirit of Fred Rogers.

The Rhythm Section (**)

I need to see more before I decide about this.  The last Blake Lively movie I saw (A Simple Favor) was terrible.

November 27

Knives Out (*)
Knives Out poster.jpeg
While this has a good cast, I feel very burned by Rian Johnson and I am very wary of his ability to tell a good story without his self-satisfied defiance of expectation.

Queen & Slim (*)
Queen & Slim poster.jpeg
This movie looks depressing as all heck.

December 6

Brahms: The Boy II (*)

Didn't see the first one, won't see this one.

The Aeronauts (*)

I need to see more before making up my mind, but these lead actors are not enough to get me into the theater.

December 12

A Hidden Life (**)
This movie looks beautiful and it has great thematic elements about relying on faith to stand up to evil.  But I don't know that I am emotionally ready to see it.  It looks absolutely heartbreaking.

Jumanji: The Next Level (****)
Jumanji The Next Level logo.jpg
I was surprised that the first movie was enjoyable.  Enjoyable, but not great.  However, this movie looks to up the comedy, which I am all for.

Black Christmas (*)
A long peppermint candy cane that comes to a sharp point with blood dripping off the end. It is against a solid black background with the name of the film written below the candy cane in white.
No matter how many times they remake this movie, I have no desire to see this.

Shaun the Sheep Movie:  Farmageddon (*)

I know people who swear by these movies, but they aren't for me.

December 20

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (*****)
Rey and Kylo Ren fighting with their lightsabers on a piece of debris; behind their lightsabers are blue and red lightning and a burst of energy. Darth Sidious looms above them; below is the title and release date.
I know there are a lot of people who are done with Star Wars because of The Last Jedi.  But I have hope that JJ Abrams can turn things around with this film.  The title alone has earned some good will with me.

Superintelligence (**)

Melissa McCarthy's humor has been wearing on me so I don't know if I'm up for this film.  Life of the Party was awful.  We'll see.

Cats (*)
Cats 2019 poster.jpg
The only reason I would see this would be to make fun of this movie, like The Room.

December 25

Little Women (**)
Little Women (2019 film).jpeg
If I didn't know that this was made by Greta Gerwig I would be much more interested, but Lady Bird was awful.  This also looks to be a feminist revision of the story, which it didn't need.

1917   (**)
1917 film poster.jpg
This could be a good movie.  But I can't tell if its going to be ultimately a nihilistic piece about the pointlessness of violence.  World War I movies lend themselves to this.


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Film Review: Hobbs and Shaw

Sexuality/Nudity Acceptable
Violence Acceptable 
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

For those who thought that the Fast and Furious franchise was too grounded in reality, I give you: Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.

This movie is like they took the Fast and Furious formula and maxed out the over-the-top action and decreased any sense of drama.

The movie picks up after The Fate of the Furious.  Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is enjoying a brief break from being the US Government's best tracker.  Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) is getting into all kinds of violent trouble as a sort of underworld James Bond.  However, Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) is part of a British spy team that has just recovered a deadly virus when they are attacked by Brixton (Idris Elba), or as he calls himself "Black Superman."  Her team is killed and she escapes with the virus to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.  Hobbs and Shaw are called in and will have to put aside their differences in order to save the day (I'll give you three guesses if they do or not).

Director David Leitch is no stranger to the action genre with films like Deadpool 2 and Atomic Blonde.  It is clear that his action aesthetic tends towards the outrageous.  And there is plenty of that in Hobbs and Shaw.  If you are simply here to watch things go "boom" while muscly men fight, then this is your kind of movie.  And there is nothing wrong with enjoying some mindless, action spectacle.  The movie is smooth and slick, but lacking substance.  This is not the kind of movie that reaches any depth like Die Hard or Lethal Weapon.  Heck, this movie doesn't even get to the depth of the regular Fast and Furious movies.  But to be fair to the movie, it isn't really trying to be anything other than what it is.

A great deal of the film's enjoyment comes from the chemistry between the leads.  Both Johnson and Statham vie for the alpha-male status, which causes them to constantly seek to one-up the other.  Most of the energy of this relationship comes from their internal competition which inadvertently leads to greater respect.  This movie is at least insightful enough to see that men often becomes friends after being adversaries because the struggle reveals in the other qualities that are admired.  Kirby holds her own very well with these two larger-than-life characters.  She brings a strong feminine quality to the story.  The movie does a good job of tapping into the "rescue the princess" story without ever having her feel like a damsel in distress.  Elba is always charismatic, but he is given so little to work with here that it feels like a missed opportunity.

The script by Chris Morgan and Drew Pearce feels like it was written around the actors' personalities and finds no way to challenge them.  It also feels like Leitch allowed for a lot of improvisation.  There are some surprisingly pleasant cameos that overstay their welcome because the actors drive the joke into the ground.  The film tries to tap into the classic Fast and Furious theme of family, but to less success.

The greatest flaw in the movie has to do with events from the previous in the franchise.


Shaw was introduced in Furious 7 as the main villain and he has now been rehabilitated in this movie as a full hero.  This wouldn't be as big of a problems except for the fact they never address his greatest act of villainy: he murdered Han.

Han Seul-oh was one of the most charming members of Toretto "family."  He was not accidentally killed or caught in the crossfire.  He was the victim of premeditated murder by Shaw.  This is a fact that was resting at the back of my mind the entire movie.  Whenever he grew closer to Hobbs, all I could think was: "He's a murderer."  It would be one thing if this was addressed and Shaw went through some kind of atonement/redemption.  But no.  Thor: Ragnarok had this same problem in making the mass murderer Loki into a hero.  I feel like Michael Corleone at the end of The Godfather walking up his brother-in-law, except I walk up to Shaw and say, "You have to answer for Han Seul-Oh."


If you want to spend your money on some big, bold, shoot-em-up (and I often do), then Hobbs and Shaw will work for you

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Evangelizers Post: Reverence and Protest at Mass

I have a new article up at  
Very recently at St. Francis Church in Portland, Oregon, a group of parishioners thought it would be a good idea to stage a protest during Holy Mass.

The main issue revolves around Fr. George Kuforiji, a priest who came from Nigeria to take over the parish. In the year he has spent there, Fr. Kuforiji has rolled back a number of liturgical practices. He removed the de-gendered language from mass. He no longer used a number of parish vestments and decorations. He discontinued a community commitment that was recited after the Nicene Creed.

I am not here to praise of criticize Fr. Kuforiji’s choices in this article. There could be much more to the story than initial news services have uncovered. However, the issue at hand are not Fr. Kuforiji’s reforms, but the response of some of the parishioners.

During Holy Mass on June 20th of this year, many parishioners entered holding protest signs. They shouted during the liturgy. They recited the banned community prayer. Someone shouted a lecture from the pews. After Mass, this same person went up to the pulpit and gave another speech while Fr. Kuforiji stood in the back, hands folded in prayer, smiling and waiting to greet his parishioners.

A lot of words have already been written online either in condemnation or support for their position. Regardless, these parishioners are not necessarily in the wrong because they protested the authorities.
They are in the wrong because they protested at Mass.

When I was younger, I used to get bored at Mass all the time. After my conversion experience at 17-years-old, I have never once been bored by the Mass. A fundamental Copernican shift in my soul took place thanks to the Grace of God through Fr. Larry Richards. What happened was that my eyes were opened as to what the Mass truly is: It is the great miracle of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. At Mass space and time fold in on itself and we are transported to the Last Supper, Calvary, and the Empty Tomb. In that time, the Lord makes Himself present in the appearance of bread and wine. And the deepest mystery of all is that I get to become one with Him at Communion.

Lumen Gentium states that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian Life.” (LM 11) It is the source because Christ, the source of our life, is present in a substantial way at the Mass. It is the summit, because our lives are oriented towards union with Christ, which is what happens at Mass.

When we enter the Holy Mass, we enter into the presence of a miracle. That is why I have never been bored since. How can anyone in their right mind find miracles boring?

Have I encountered homilies I don’t like? Of course. Have I witnessed liturgical practices that made me uneasy? Yes. But even the masses where something illicit occurred, it was still valid. Therefore, I could not help but show reverence.

The main problem with the protestors is their irreverence.

CS Lewis, who was not Catholic, understood the necessity for for reverence at Liturgy. He wrote, “The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping… “ (CS Lewis, Letters to Malcolm).

The protestors, as demonstrated by their actions, are taking the focus off of Christ and onto themselves. They become the center of the activity. In all of my research, I could find no one who argued that Christ was not made present at that altar. But instead of helping each other reverence the Lord, they attempted to drown out His voice.

How can we possibly see God when we are only looking at ourselves?

You can read the whole article here.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Best: Top Ten Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most unlikely movie stars of all time.  But it is hard to argue that for over a decade he was one of the biggest box office draws in the world.  In that time he made some great movies and some terrible movies.

A friend of mine recently requested that I do a list ranking Schwarzenegger's movies.  Having made around 50 movies, I decided to focus on his top ten movies.  As was suggested, I wouldn't focus on his top ten performances, as some of his greatest movies do not include some of his best acting.

10.  The Running Man
The Running Man (1987) poster.jpg
The concept is better than the execution, but the production design was incredibly creative and the plot is pure action pulp.  Stephen King hated this adaptation, and I understand why.  The movie became a futuristic gladiator film with colorful villains.

9. Conan the Destroyer
Conan the destroyer.jpg
Most people will point to Conan the Barbarian as the superior film, but I disagree.  The first movie is so dark and self-serious and almost feels like being in a nightmare.  Conan the Destroyer is a fun fantasy romp with a rag-tag group of heroes facing unlikely odds.  This movie is so incredibly fun to watch.

8. Kindergarten Cop
Kindergarten Cop film.jpg
I was incredibly skeptical of this movie when my dad took me to the theater to see it.  And yet it works so well to bring his action-movie persona into a family comedy.  At the same time it is actually a decent crime/mystery movie.

7. Twins
Twins Poster.jpg
This was one of Schwarzenegger's biggest risks.  In fact, the story is that the studio had such little faith in it that Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, and Ivan Reitman all had to trade a salary for a percentage of the movie.  It turns out it would be one of the largest pay days for all of the stars.  The movie showed Schwarzenegger's comedic side and allowed him to put on an actual performance.  At the same time, he had heart-felt chemistry.

6. Total Recall
Total recall.jpg
This movie is insane.  I've always said that it is one of the most original films I've ever seen.  Where else could you watch a movie where a midget prostitute is standing on top of bar shooting Martian cops?  The movie is an exercise in extremes while at the same time being a mind-twister as you try to figure out what is real and what isn't.  It is one of his most violent films, but it works incredibly well.

5. Pumping Iron
Pumping Iron movie poster.jpg
I am so glad I didn't see this one until I was older.  If I had seen what a jerk Schwarzenegger was in real life as a body builder I don't think I would have enjoyed his movies as much.  Having said that, this movie is fascinating and insightful into the world of body-building.

4. Commando
I cannot explain how much I love this film.  This is the most over-the-top action film Schwarzenegger made.  It should be B-movie schlock, which it is at some level.  But there is something about the ridiculousness that makes you buy into the movie.  It has some of his absolute best one-liners and builds to Arnold killing an entire island of soldiers all by himself.  My friends and I spent a night doing an estimate of how many people he killed and if you average 10 soldiers per building he blows up, Arnold kills 180 people.  It was a good movie night.  And it is a testament to Schwarzenegger that I did not completely tune out when he ripped a pipe off of the wall and throughout it through a man and a boiler.  Instead of rolling my eyes, I cheer each time.

3. The Terminator
This movie is a low-budget genius.  The story is so tight and the action is so raw.  Schwarzenegger uses his lack of range to his advantage here by creating an intimidating and emotionless machine.  The movie plays out like both an action movie and a horror movie, so the fate of the heroes is constantly in question.  The movie is also incredibly fun on rewatch, as you see how James Cameron was able to craft such a visually arresting story.  It also has the first instance of Schwarzenegger's signature catch phrase "I'll be back."  When you watch the context, you can understand why it became so iconic.

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
This movie is amazing for several reasons.  Some movies are better that their predecessors, but that is rarer still when that first movie is a real masterpiece.  T2 expands the story in fascinating ways so that it follows a great deal of the same familiar plot structure of the first while adding new twists.  The directing is incredible.  Most people point to the special effects (which still hold up incredibly well almost 30 years later), but the stunt work is beyond compare.  And the end is always so strangely compelling to me.

1. Predator
Predator Movie.jpg
This might be a perfect movie.  I read that poll in Bride magazine found that 80% of men preferred this movie to a happy marriage.  Everything about this movie works.  The characters are so well-defined in their roles in a way that most action movies do not.  The film does an incredibly flip from pure action film to horror movie.  The score is powerful and manly.  It is actually one of the best man vs. monster films besides Jaws.  At this time in his career, Schwarzenegger was seen as an almost unstoppable action machine.  This placed him in the vulnerable position where we actually worried he wouldn't make it through.  I can put this movie in and watch it from start to finish without being bored once.  In fact... I think I know what I'm doing when I get back from church today.