John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, Predator, is one of my favourite movies of all time. I don’t say that lightly; I mean, it’s in my personal Top Ten. It’s a perfect movie for me, not only because I’ve seen it countless times and have an unholy amount of nostalgia attached to it, but because it really is a flawless mixture of action and suspense, violence, fun, and casting. Like many original movies from the 1980s, it spawned a franchise which never lived up to the original. However, the Predator franchise has not been overly milked, has not relied on a single star, and has more hits than misses. When reviews for this fourth mainstream entry began to appear, they were fairly savage – even subsequent fan reviews were not positive. Plus, there was all that stuff about that guy and those scenes being cut. A film a dearly wanted to see upon release passed me by, and it wasn’t until a few years after that I finally sat down ready to be disappointed.
You know what? It’s not that bad. It’s the funniest Predator movie by some stretch, and I’ll gladly watch anything written or directed by Shane Black. He’s a Predator original, but he’s consistently one of Hollywood’s most entertaining writers. I wouldn’t go as far as saying this is a family oriented Predator movie, and it does have a strange balance of tone, but as someone who first saw Predator before I was 10, I was more than happy to see some of this movie’s more juvenile aspects.
Look, the autism stuff is ridiculous. It’s by far not the first time such a trope has been abused in media – it’s a trope after all – but it is a little tone-impaired in this day and age. Moreover, it’s entirely inconsequential to the story. Rather than making the lead character’s son (played well as always by Jacob Tremblay) be autistic, why not just make him a child genius? He can be smart and still hit the beats of being bullied/socially awkward/whatever else you want to add to make him more interesting. The key point is that the kid is intellectually gifted and seems to be able to figure out Alien technology.
We come in as a US sniper (McKenna) and his team are in the midst of a hostage retrieval mission. A Predator is there, for reasons we discover later, and it wipes out almost everyone before McKenna is able to knock it out. He steals some of its weaponry and armour and posts it home, before some shady Government officials turn up and take both McKenna and The Predator to some Area 51 type place. It turns out that the Government has known about this race of aliens (and others…) for decades, and their experiments discover that this particular alien somehow contains human DNA.
Meanwhile, McKenna’s booty ends up at his home where his young son begins experiments of his own on them, inadvertently triggering some sort of tracking device alerting the species to his location. The lab Predator escapes, McKenna finds himself leader of a new crew of misfits, and an even greater Predator threat heads to Earth. Groups collide and carnage ensues.
There’s probably one of two ideas too many in the script – even that brief synopsis is a mess. Predator succeeded partly due to its simplicity – a group of soldiers on a jungle mission are pitted against a powerful, almost invisible killer. Done. Each idea is fine in principle – the government stuff clearly there to set up further Aliens crossovers, the DNA stuff enhances the lore, the family stuff is good for character building and humour, and the ‘super’ Predator vs regular Predator thread furthers some of the mythology uncovered in Predators. Thrown altogether, along with the various different characters and it’s a boiling stew too hot for anyone to handle.
It’s a bit of a shame, because Dekker and Black’s writing elsewhere is on point – the usual snappy dialogue and free-wheeling insults we expect. Good cast too – Holbrook is good in everything, but is a little wooden here, Munn is an appropriately sassy foil, Sterling Brown literally chews the scenery, and we have Alfie Allen, Yvonne Strahovski, Thomas Jane, and Trevante Rhodes are fun alongside others. The cast, and the group we see in Predator is another reason for its long-lasting success. We like these guys, we like spending a couple of hours with them, and we’d like to know more about their past escapades. Black knows this, and while his attempts to mould a similar group are a little too reliant on quirks and humour, it’s a good stab at pulling together a diverse group all fighting the same cause. We even get cast nods to previous films, with Jake Busey as the son of Gary Busey’s character from Predator 2, and Francoise Yip from Aliens Vs Predator Requiem. Nothing of consequence, but fun additions.
In terms of action and violence, there are plenty of entertaining scenes and set pieces. I wish they would stop trying to make Alien dogs a thing, but elsewhere we are treated to suburban and jungle based mayhem between man and alien peppered with blood and energy. The best moment is of course when Jacob Tremblay gets hilarious bloody revenge on a couple of bullies. The climax is fun, even if most of the cast are dispatched with too quickly instead of more evenly through the run time, and we’re left with a controversial final scene where we learn what the regular Predator’s purpose was in coming to Earth. It doesn’t make a lot of sense considering we first see the Predator killing a bunch of humans when it seemingly came to help us. Script re-writes and re-shoots decidedly harmed a more cohesive final product.
Apparently there were several attempts at an ending, each hoping to set up various sequels, from Arnie’s Dutch appearing and announcing there’s a looming war between humans and Predators, to Ripley and Newt somehow showing up. Personally, I like the idea of having Dutch come back as that way you could also have tied in the survivors from Predators and even Danny Glover from Predator 2. In any case, any and all sequels are likely dead in the water, especially after Prey’s release has taken the franchise in a different direction.
So, The Predator didn’t deserve its negative reaction, at least not all of it. It’s far from a perfect movie, but when placed alongside other deep-cut entries of long-lasting franchises it’s a hell of a lot more entertaining than the fourth Die Hard, the fourth Alien, etc. It’s fun enough more most of the cracks to be covered in a first watch and it’s loyal to the franchise rules and expectations even if it likely didn’t turn out to be the story the writers originally hoped for.
Let us know your thoughts on The Predator in the comments!
Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!
Yes, you read that right – 1987 is probably my favourite year in Cinema with a ludicrous amount of films that I love and count among my all time favourites – films which have contributed to my love of film and to who I am. I could have gone more than twenty, just like in other years I could have selected more than ten. Basically any year I could pick any number of films that I enjoy, but I’m limiting these lists to the best of the best, the ones I love most, and in 1987 there are just too many of these. I mean, I picked twenty films and hardly any of these were among the top grossers and none were nominated for Best Picture, so there were plenty more great releases this year. Enjoy!
20: A Chinese Ghost Story (HK)
19: Withnail And I (UK)
18: City On Fire (HK)
17: Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (US)
16: Good Morning, Vietnam (US)
15: The Princess Bride (US)
14: The Living Daylights (UK)
13: Lethal Weapon (US)
12: Full Metal Jacket (US/UK)
11: Evil Dead 2 (US)
10: The Untouchables (US)
9: Hellraiser (UK)
8: The Running Man (US)
7: Dream Warriors (US)
6: Citizens On Patrol (US)
5: Prince Of Darkness (US)
4: Near Dark (US)
3: The Lost Boys (US)
2: Predator (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)
1: Robocop (Top Ten Of All Time) (US)
How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three
How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Zero
In this new series of posts I’m going to list ten of my favourite films by some of my most loved directors and actors. While I may not have seen everything that they have done, I’ll catch up to them eventually. For some of the posts, I’ll be adding films I’m not as keen on to ensure a list of ten so be on the look out for your favourites. The ordering of most of these posts will not be strict and in most cases there will not be too much difference between my number 1 pick and my number 5 pick.
Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesdays. Today we’ll be looking at one of the true icons of cinema in the latter half of the 20th Century, and arguably the finest modern day example of The American Dream. Schwarzenegger has conquered in everything he has done, and though will critics will forever mock his acting ability and accent, he laughs at such minor squabbles knowing that he could still break their necks like a chicken’s. Arnie was the second movie star I understood as being an actor – a person who actually works in films as a job and that people pay money to go see a movie purely because he is in it (my first was Bruce Lee). In fact, I can still remember clearly having a conversation when I was no more than seven years old on who would win a fight between Arnie and Bruce Lee (despite the fact that Lee was long dead). We eventually agreed that, if purely hand to hand it would be Lee, but if weapons of any kind were involved that Arnie would be victorious.
Arnie has been busy since he returned to acting, and while he has had more misses than hits in his twilight years, each film has had its merits, whether it be an action sequence, one-liner, or simple weary raised eyebrow from the big man. For now though, I present my (slightly cheating) Top Ten Arnie movies. There are a number of decent movies skipped here, and while they each present some fine action or comedy they don’t compete (for me) with the greatness on display below. Lets waste no time.
10. Kindergarten Cop
Arnie has proven time and time again that he has great comic timing and understands a joke as well as any Eddie Murphy or other famous comedy laughter person. Of course it helps when the surrounding cast are strong, when the story is entertaining, and the Director knows how to play the strengths of everyone involved. Kindergarten Cop is the finest example of Arnie’s comedy, with a stellar support cast of villains, cops, kids, and white collar types. Not only is there a bunch of great one-liners and gut-hurting scenes (all the responses to Arnie’s questions which the kids give are gold), but there’s a perfectly fine plot in there too, with Arnie hunting down a criminal who wants to find his estranged wife and son (somehow becoming a teacher along the way). Some will likely choose Twins over this (and some freaks may even go for Junior) and while both are good I think KC just edges it for me.
9. End Of Days
The best of Arnie’s last few films before he hopped into politics, End Of Days plays well on a number of topical for the time, and still prevalent fears – fears that something apocalyptically terrible is about to happen, fear of loss, loneliness, and of giving up. Throw in some good old fashioned religious fear-mongering and a terrific turn by Gabriel Byrne, and this is one which deserves another look. It was the first time Arnie was not a superhero, instead being a broken, suicidal, alcoholic always one bad day away from blowing his brains out. Who better then to stop the Antichrist from bringing Hell on Earth? This is a grimly gorgeous movie with some superb action and a number of good supporting performances.
8. True Lies
Before Cameron became, “James Cameron, 3D Champion of the Oceans” he used to regularly make awesome movies. This was his final movie with Arnie to date (until Arnie is added to one of the Avatar sequels and immediately makes it awesome) and while it’s the weakest of the bunch, it’s the most fun. Poking fingers at various action blockbuster franchises, True Lies sees Arnie at his most charismatic as a terrorism-infiltrating spy who also must act as the white bread family man to Jamie Lee Curtis and Eliza Dushku. While each piece of action is superbly directed and thrilling, once again props must go to the surrounding cast and their escapades – Jamie Lee Curtis being drafted as a spy and changing from a straight-laced housewife to a super-hot vixen, and Bill Paxton as a slimy, cowardly, predatory pervert provide laughs and memorable moments. Remember the classics Cameron, come on!
7. Last Action Hero
Speaking of remembering the classics, John McTiernan was once one of the finest action directors in Hollywood, but recently he has been stuck in prison and declaring bankruptcy. The Nineties are known for a string of meta, post-modern, self-referential movies, with Scream, Wes Craven’s A New Nightmare being two of the most famous. Before those though, Last Action Hero sucked up the whole action genre – its strengths, weaknesses, its stars, its flops, everything, and made one of the best satires on a genre ever. The film is a treat for genre fans, and should be loved by movie fans as a whole, but for some reason it just didn’t fly with movie-going audiences at the time. Although it was a success, the big budget versus the returns wasn’t as wide a margin as was hoped, and critics were not impressed. It was love at first sight with me, and going back it’s as fresh as ever. Again, Arnie’s comedy chops are on display, making fun of himself and his career with a glint in his eye, and again there is a strong support cast with Charles Dance and Austin O’Brien being memorable. There’s a decent, silly rock soundtrack and a tonne of cameos, as well as wonderfully over the top action and its fair share of new and reused one-liners.
6. The Running Man
A more camp and cheesy retelling of King’s much darker novella, this is a roller coaster ride of violence and fun, with Arnie punching and shooting his way through a series of vicious games and powerful gladiator types. The film still works well today as a satire on entertainment – how we watch, the distance we put between ourselves and the horrors on screen, the increasing level of power networks have, and the money we throw and love we throw at our favourite stars for little in return (I’m aware of the irony in creating this list). But us action fans come for the killings and the stunts, and here we have a tonne of old-school glorious violence, with beefcakes beating the crap out of each other and not a lot of overblown stuff. Much of the action is basic one-man army stuff, but the surrounding visuals, and the inventive arenas breath life into each scene. There’s plenty of strong support too with scenery chewing from Richard Dawson and Jessie Ventura. Again there’s a decent soundtrack and a bunch of immortal one-liners. And some guy’s head blows up.
5. Total Recall
The thinking man’s Arnie film, Total Recall even upon multiple viewings still can catch you off guard and won’t make sense and can be interpreted any number of ways. Arnie plays a dual role, something he has done a few times in his career, and here you don’t know who is good, bad, who to trust, or what is real as Construction worker Quaid has recurring dreams about Mars. There’s a lot to absorb here, with dreams within dreams, planted memories, brain chips, and three-breasted women all creating a visually and mentally stimulating paradise. It’s difficult to separate the action and plot in this one, because the film is so plot heavy, but the violence (as you would expect from a Verhoeven/Schwarzenegger collaboration) is wildly, wonderfully excessive. Throw in the trio of Sharon Stone, Ronny Cox, and Michael Ironside as one group you’d never want to stumble into down a dark alleyway, or on the surface of Mars, and we have a brilliant, unforgettable nightmare.
Possibly the most perfect example of an 80s action movie – big star, one man versus thousands, dastardly villains, one-liner spewing goodie, guns, car chases, Hawaiian shirts, rocket launchers, synthesizers, muscles – it’s the most over-the-top, straight action movie on the list. Over the top for obvious reasons, but straight in that it doesn’t have any pretensions or a complicated plot, or anything that ever deviates from ‘you took something that belongs to me, and now I’m going to kill yo all’. It’s drenched in 80s, but it’s timeless, with a soundtrack so good they stole it for 48 Hours, with a template so flawless they borrowed it for Die Hard and with action so entertaining you could watch this every day and never tire of it. I should know – I’ve worn out several VHS of this, and I’m still waiting for a decent uncut BluRay or DVD version. You know the drill – one liners, Bill Duke, Sully Off a Cliff, let off some steam – Perfection.
3. Conan The Barbarian.
Of the classic era of Arnie movies, this was the last I saw. I was maybe 10 or 11 when I saw it for the first time (by this time I was already obsessed with everything Arnie had done) and again I loved it. It was funny seeing Arnie with a sword instead of a gun, and he had never looked so gigantic. There was sorcery and witchcraft, camels being punched, robbery, giant snakes, more one-liners, and a host of cool characters. It wasn’t until later that I truly fell in love with the film. To the untrained eye, the acting is wooden and the plot is plain, but to the more observant viewer we have strong performances from Max Von Sydow, James Earl Jones, Mako, and an invigorating turn from Sandahl Bergman. The plot may be one of simple revenge, but the script is peppered with gold dust by Hollywood’s finest writer John Milius, who lends the film the same sort of violent kinetic energy as Howard’s original stories have. The film was low budget, but earned over $100 million in cinemas (with home sales it currently sits at over $300 million). There’s also the small matter of it having, unquestionably, the greatest soundtrack ever written – there can be no arguing this fact. Poledouris has crafted a score as epic as any single piece of music ever written, and every piece is spectacular – usually your favourite soundtrack contains at most three memorable themes, but Poledouris has created something monumental. Like many Arnie movies, this is macho male fantasy at its finest, with Conan striving and struggling through a harsh childhood to become the greatest warrior in the known world.
Before making the seminal Die Hard, John McTiernan unleashed Predator upon unsuspecting audiences and proved to be another smash hit for Arnie. Probably the most macho movie ever made, it features the toughest group of marines ever seen on film thrown into a dense South American jungle and pitted against a fierce alien hunter. The action here is second to none, with some truly classic scenes and kills – the team completely mowing down acres of jungle with their weaponry is still breathtaking and hilarious. With wonderful make-up and effect from Stan Winston and co, another good soundtrack, and plenty of macho performances led by Arnie, Predator is another film that you have to watch if you accidentally stumble upon it while channel hopping in the wee hours. It’s also pretty clever too, with a winding plot about military men being expendable, and the fact that the Predator doesn’t show up until later in the movie, with the protagonists instead taking on local drug baddies adds to the paranoia and deception. Along with Aliens, this is the best man versus monster movie ever made.
1. The Terminator/T2
Remember when I told you I would only list ten movies? I LIED <Drops you off cliff>. The argument over which film is superior will rage on forever, and while both are wildly different in tone and budget, if not in execution, story, or style, I’m grouping this as one because it is clearly two parts of the same tale. There isn’t a lot I can say abouth both that haven’t been said already – flawless action, amazing performances, fantastic music, gripping story, emotion, comedy, horror, drama, the only real Terminator films are perfection. We all love Sarah; we all want to be John, we all cry over Reese, and we all want our very own Terminator. If Arnie had never made another film, I imagine that his performance in The Terminator would have been hailed by critics looking back at it. It is the greatest love story ever told. T2 still outshines every big budget bonanza that comes out today from a special effects and action perspective, and the main reason for its strength (outside of Cameron’s vice-grip direction) is that it is all about character. Take a hint blockbuster wannabees – there’s zero reason for me to watch or care about your films and all those millions spent on CG and explosions and crap if your characters are not fully fleshed. Not only are these two films my favourite Arnie movies, they are my favourite movies of all time. I only wish that deleted scene where Reece points a gun at Sarah had been included in the original cut. Hasta La Vista, baby. Hasta La Vista.
Sound off in the comments about your favourite Arnie movie, and let me know if I’ve missed any movie you hold dear!
Hello Gamers and Glancers! Today on The Spac Hole we look back fondly at one of the most successful games of the Arcade Generation, one which was subsequently ported to every home computer and console in existence. Paperboy was released in 1985 by Atari Games, and its blend of fast paced action, dog-avoiding, slapstick humour, camp Batman exclamations, and media delivery was an instant hit.
The Arcade version had a fancy cab to simulate the thrill of riding a bike whilst… sitting down… and featured a lot of humour which didn’t make its way oer to home versions due to hardware limitations. I remember seeing the Arcade version when I was younger, and I’m fairly certain there was a less expensive version which ditched the cabinet and the handlebar controls, but I can’t (be arsed) find (ing) proof of this. A few of my friends and family members had the game on various systems, ranging from Commodore 64 to NES to Master System, but I owned the Spectrum version and can say without any slither of doubt that it was the best port.
Converted by those geniuses at Elite, the Spectrum version provided me with hours of fun and frustration. I’ll be honest here and state that I never completed the game – in order to complete the game you had to complete 7 levels (one per day of the week) of successful newspaper delivery to subscribers, without crashing and losing all your lives. I only loosely grasped this concept when I was young, but I remember struggling to work out exactly who it was I was supposed to be delivering to, and instead simply chucked newspapers at every house – through windows, onto lawns, and otherwise missing wildly. If I’m super-honest, I can’t confidently say I completed a single day successfully, delivering to those who I was supposed to.
But the fun of Paperboy, especially as I wasn’t forever pumping pennies into an Arcade machine, was simply racing around on the BMX, avoiding all manner of obstacles, and causing as much carnage as possible with my newspapers, Rampage style. Getting to the end of your cycle route meant you were presented with an obstacle course where you could rack up extra points – could you win back lost lives here too? I can’t recall, but again back then it didn’t matter, I just enjoyed tearing about on the jumps. You see, as a young boy in the 80s, I had a BMX. I had a skateboard too. Hell, I even had a baseball cap and backwards-wore the shit out of it. This was not only escapism, but it was an extension of those long summer days of freedom, cruising the neighbourhood with friends on our bikes, our only concerns whether or not tonight was bath night. While we may not have been launching weaponized newspapers through exploding tombstones, or decapitating the elderly as we wheelied past, the neighbourhood remained our warzone/play area, our sandbox, our Vice City, and the BMX was at once our Ferrari, our Harley-Davidson, and our trusty steed.
Looking back at my childhood, I can remember a very small number of 2nd and 3rd tier friends (you know, not your best buds, but either ones you sometimes messed about with in school or outside of school if your besties were unavailable, or those in higher or lower years in school, or even those neighbours of your friends who would occasionally get integrated into your group… you know – Gingers) who had a local paper round. I don’t recall any of them ever using a bike, instead logging around a bright orange satchel which seemed to be almost the same size and weight as the kid carrying it. Sometimes some of us would accompany the friends, or meet them unexpectedly at our local garage (Gas Station) where they would be collecting their paper round, and follow them on their route whilst talking about football or Eerie Indiana, or boobs, or Predator.
It wasn’t as exciting as either the game, or Hollywood made out. Furthermore it always seemed like a very American thing to be doing – racing about on BMX in perpetual sunlight, dropping off papers to early risers in their slippers who stood High Noon style surveying their meticulously preened little corner of suburbia, always on the merge of stumbling across some pirate mystery or cute alien orphan you needs your help. Where I grew up, it was dull and wet 80% of the year, there were no cute aliens, papers were always delivered in the evenings, and the only pirate was old One-Eyed McDrunky, who would sooner give you the mysterious treasure of herpes than rubies.
While I’m reminiscing rather than reviewing, another semi-related recollection returns to me – that of our local milkman. Sometimes the paperboy route would overlap with the milkman route at the same time and place (I have no idea why the milkman was still driving around at that time of the day, but anyhoo). As we were on speaking/thieving terms with the milkman, we would often hitch a ride on the back of his truck and help ourselves to cartons of juice. We tried this with the local ice cream man, but he wouldn’t allow it. A warning for any kids reading – it is generally ill-advised to talk to strangers, but even more so to go out of your way to interact with them, especially when they own a multi-purpose getaway vehicle – it’s probably best to stay inside and play videogames than go outside and be exposed to such dangers as living.
Back to the game; I remember that the controls were quite difficult and sensitive, which when coupled with the many obstacles meant that frustration levels were constantly of the joypad teethmark level. The area of the screen which you could traverse was quite small, the pace of the game was high, and the pavement/sidewalk was littered with enemies who seemed hellbent on keeping you from your minimum wage bounty. There were old guys on wheelchairs, drunks wobbling towards you, sentient tyres, kids on karts, and suddenly reversing cars. The pavement would curve and bend meaning you had to slow down to get round the slight bend successfully, and there were sections where you had to cross a busy road too. There was always a lot going on on screen, and I remember it got more chaotic with each progressive day. I’m not sure I questioned why there were so many drunks on the street every day, maybe it’s because I’m old enough to remember armed soldiers walking down streets during the day and thinking nothing of it. I did question why every garden seemed to have multiple tombstones.
The game didn’t have a soundtrack during levels, just some jingles before the start of each level, but there was an assortment of standard computerized blips and blaps to exaggerate the fact that you’d just plopped a paper through someone’s bathroom window. The colour pallet wasn’t too exciting, with only black, blue, and white making up the bulk of detail, yet the screen border was a little brighter. Such things didn’t concern me back then, as I’ve never been much of a graphics fiend – as long as it plays well and looks reasonable, I’m happy.
I thought I would have more to say about it, but the more I thought about it the more I remembered that it was a fairly linear game that I wasn’t very good at and probably spent more time watching others play than actual play myself. So that’s all I have to say about Paperboy – a game that I had a lot of fun with in my youth, and one which I’ve had a lot of fun remembering.
For a cool comparison video showcasing around 20 different versions of the game (with a special WTF for the N64 version), check out Gaming History Source’s channel here:
As always, my screenshots have been taken from the gods at World Of Spectrum.org, and the Spectrum cover has been taken from spong.com.
And finally, if you have any thoughts and memories you’d care to share on Paperboy – which version you played, if you ever finished the game, please drop a comment below. Check out some of my other retro memories here:
Today I introduce the first in a self-indulgent new series nicked from a variety of other sites and blogs. According to my Stats page, most people come here for my music lists (although according to my daily search engine hits, most people come here to see ‘Sigourney Weaver nude’, ‘Scared Kids pics’, and ‘Sigourney Weaver nakdt’…). A lot of people have doing lists like ’25 awesome moments in cinema’ or ’25 favourite scenes from the movies) based off their own favourite films. So, not to left with my pants down, I’ve decided to avoid the Streaker Police and present some of my faves. I created my list of top 150 films on IMDB way back in ‘ought 3’. Although some of those films will likely have been usurped by others since then, I haven’t been arsed to ever change it. So it remains a snapshot of my awesome student self.
I’ve decided to expand the number from 25 to 50, because when I looked at some of the films just outside that arbitrary number, I was missing too many classics. I’ll probably throw in a few bonus moments for films not in my top 50 and some of the films (such as Star Wars Trilogy) are on IMDB as a single entity, so I may split those up. So really, it’s a bullshitty mess, and another way for me to talk about movies instead of going out and doing cool stuff like meeting friends and stalking Sigourney Weaver (seriously, every day that search option appears more times than is normal, and I don’t even know why). While most lists have focused on general terms or several different ‘types of moment’ within one list, I think I’ll spread the love and do a dedicated list for each type, ranging from favourite line of dialogue to favourite overall moment. Feel free to give your choices in the comments, or mock me for mine. My list will follow the order of my top 50 films, not necessarily my top 50 moments. Maybe at some point I’ll get round to doing something for TV and music, for those people who actually read this blog. So, without further Apu, I give you:
My 50 (or so) favourite lines of dialogue… FROM THE MOVIES!
1. Star Wars Trilogy. (1977-1983, Lucas, Kershner, Marquand). Well well, these 3 films combined have probably been quoted more by fans, geeks, people who have never even seen them, and by characters in other films, than any other film in the history of ever. Every central character has at least one great line (even some of the bit players get cool dialogue), and for a trilogy packed with central characters you can be sure there will be a moment of pop culture brilliance every few minutes. I’m sure you have your favourites.
A New Hope: Poor little Admiral Motti is frustrated that LORD Vader does not approve of their new BFG and that has not yet found the rebel fortress. In a public forum his complaints are perhaps valid, but he goes about things the wrong way, flatly accusing Vader of being an old fool. If you didn’t know by this stage in the film that Vader was evil, powerful, and fucking awesome, then after he utters his next line, you will. Making the slightest of motions with his hand, Vader performs a deadly choking trick on Motti, who soon regrets ever being born. Vader coldly, simply adds: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
The Empire Strikes Back: As The Empire tries to rebuild after suffering some huge blows in the first film, Skywalker finds himself training in the ways of The Force and being drawn to Vader. Meanwhile loveable rogue Han Solo has been trying his luck with the feisty Princess Leia. In true tragic form though, Solo is captured by the bad guys due to a bounty on his head. Rather than kill Solo, the bad guys wish to freeze him as a prize for the as yet unseen Jabba The Hutt. As Solo is led to his destiny, Leia finally reveals her feelings: ‘I love you’. Han, always striving for the coolest way to respond simply adds: ‘I know’. Does this make him a dick? Does it make him even more epic? Yes yes yes.
My joint favourite quote from Empire is the little exchange between Luke and Yoda where they discuss coming up against their foe. Luke, having spent at least one montage’s worth of training with everyone’s favourite space goblin is full of fire and optimism: ‘I’m not afraid’. Yoda brings him back to earth though with the immortal: ‘you will be… you will be.’
Return Of The Jedi: ‘It’s a trap!’ That is all.
2. The Terminator. (1984, Cameron): Also known as the Greatest Love Story Ever Told, The Terminator has it’s fair share of memorable one liners and dialogue. Everyone knows Arnie’s ‘I’ll be back’, but what about such other classics as ‘Get out’? When you’ve watched the film 50 million times, a few other nuggets of wisdom stand out. Even nothing characters become immortal. From ‘Hey buddy, did you just see a real bright light?’ to ‘Nice night for a walk’ to ‘Yo momma’ and even ‘You got a dead cat in there, or what?’
My favourite line changes from day-to-day, as it does for most of these films. While Sarah is still a little rough around the edges for most of the film, almost every word Reece utters kicks ass from ‘Pain can be controlled’ to ‘I didn’t build the fucking thing!’ to ‘Come with me if you want to live’. Although the entire exchange between Reece and Silberman is gold and has many classics, it’s Reece’s demented speech to Sarah about The Terminator which stands tall: ‘Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead’.
3. T2. (1991, Cameron). With T2, we have no Reece to rely on anymore, but now that Sarah is bad-ass,Arnie is a good guy, and John is around we have even more great one-liners. I could go on about some of the excellent exchanges involving Arnie ‘I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle’…’Your foster parents are dead’… ‘What’s wrong with your eyes?’… ‘Why?’… ‘Uncle Bob?’ and so on, or some of the madness spouted by Sarah to Silverman, or even some of one-off comedy pieces, from ‘shut up, you worthless piece of shit’ to ‘Your foster parents are kinda dicks, huh?’ and ‘The Galleria?’
But no, my choice is the one line which for over a decade was the over-riding message of the film, which sadly (though inevitably?) became a lie as the movies progressed. It’s one of the two central themes stamped all over T2 (the other being ‘Because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too’) and while Sarah carves it into a table, John is the one to say it: ‘There’s no fate but what we make for ourselves’. Live by it, kids!
4. Predator. (1987, McTiernan): I’m gonna have me some fun with this one. Another Arnie classic, and another movie that I always get drawn into watching if I catch a snippet on TV. A lot of this is down to the action of course, but the dialogue ensures this isn’t just another by the numbers run and gun flick. Shane Black even features, but as an actor, not a writer. While most of the testosterone charged 80s action movies had their fair share of one liners (usually accompanying a death a la Bond), Predator is quotable for most daily situations: waiting for toilet to become available? ‘Son of a bitch is dug in like an Alabama tick’. Someone shows interest in what you’re having for lunch? ‘This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me’. Late for the train? ‘Get to da chopper!’ (particularly good to scream at the top of your lungs to no-one in particular as you race through the crowded station). Anything? ‘Come on… Come on! Do it! Do it!’ My favourite today though comes near the start of the movie as our crack team is trying to take out a group of expendables. Future not-President Jessie Ventura gets hurt and starts to bleed. Poncho tells Jessie he’s bleeding. Jessie replies ‘I ain’t got time to bleed’. I’ll let you think up some appropriate scenarios for usage.
5. Robocop. (1987, Verhoeven): It’s always been my opinion that Robocop is the most quotable film ever. I’m fairly certain I could get through a normal day, inlcuding navigating work, family, and friends, by only using Robocop dialogue. Hell, even the watered down TV versions have their own hilarious twists on the original dialogue- ‘you’re gonna be a baaad mother-crusher’ gets used at least once a week. So picking a favourite quote from Robocop would be like Ron Jeremy picking his favourite boob. On the rare occasion that I swear in public, there’s usually a Robocop twist- ‘Fuck you’ becomes (in Steve Minh’s voice) ‘oh.. (pause for shotgun cocking… ooh-er) fuck you!’ Even my Spac Review (link) of Robocop is simply a list of the best lines given the Spac treatment. So, while I’m not terrifying my daughter when she won’t sit still to get her nappy changed by saying ‘Come quietly or there will be…. trouble!’ or instigating divorce proceedings by telling my wife (invoking voice of Clarence) to ‘just gimme my fuckin phone call’ instead of asking where I put my cell phone, what do I think my current fave line is? ‘Tastes like babyfood’? No. ‘Stay out of trouble’? No. ‘Murphy, it’s you’? No. ‘NANANANANANANANANA!’? Close. Jeebus, I really don’t know. Let’s just wrap it up and say that today, my favourite Robocop line is ‘Can you flyyyy, Bobby?’
6. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 1. (1984, Craven). Wes Craven has a way of being the coolest director, teacher, dad, for teenage audiences. Most of his early films are based around the mistakes of our parents and predecessors and focus on how the kids have to deal with the carnage and aftermath. There is a definite mistrust of the older generation and a cosy, accurate depiction of camaraderie between friends. As a young viewer to all things Freddy, this was a revelation- those whose job it is to protect us may be useless and just as dangerous as those whose job it is to hurt us. So, Nancy, one of the original and best Final Girls remains an inspiration as she turns to her friends, and finally herself to escape: ‘I’m into survival’.
7. Conan the Barbarian. (1982, Milius): Right wing maestro John Milius never seems to get the credit he deserves- writing such classics as Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry, and under-appreciated flicks like Big Wednesday. Conan The Barbarian, in my tiny opinion, is shining moment both as a writer and director. There are right field leanings, obviously, but given the source material that sort of thing can be overlooked. Underneath the general carnage there are plenty of philosophical whispers and posturing, and many opposing ideas on power- how to gain it and how to keep it. The opening quote paraphrased from Nietzche – ‘That which does not kill us makes us stronger’ may be overused and as such weakened these days, but it has never been more appropriately attached as here. The opening massacre leads both to Conan’s growth and fate. While the big man doesn’t speak much himself, when he does it is to answer a riddle posed by another, or to scream while beheading someone.
Obviously there are great liners that everyone knows, from Conan’s ‘To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women’ to Valeria’s ‘All the gods, they cannot sever us. If I were dead and you were still fighting for life, I’d come back from the darkness. Back from the pit of hell to fight at your side’. However, Thulsa Doom gets the best lines (and name) and one of his best gets my vote: ‘Contemplate this on the tree of woe’. It’s not only the way that quote rolls beautifully off the tongue, but the way Jones delivers it with such disdain. Throughout the film he seems so bored with everything he sees, so passive with his power, and so pissed when he sees the strong failing to live up to his expectations.
8. Ringu. (1998, Nakata): The Japanese original Ring film is renowned for its scares, its atmosphere, its performances, and its climax. Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of any real zingers, although ‘Frolic in brine, goblins be thine’ has always haunted me ever since I first heard it.
9. Dumb and Dumber. (1994, Farrelly bros): Like most of my top 10, I quote from this one on a weekly basis, borrowing from main and small characters alike. Unfortunately in this part of the world, beverages rarely come grossly super-sized, so I don’t often get the chance to say ‘Big Gulps, huh? All right!’ but for general annoyance ‘We got no food, no jobs… our PETS’ HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!’ has served me well. ‘Let’s not’ (complete with Austrian accent) gets a solid hearing every so often, ‘suck me sideways’ is regular, as is ‘pretty bird!’ I’ll go for something a little different for Dumb and Dumber and pick, not a quote, but a sound. The most annoying sound in the world apparently. ‘EEEEEHHHHHHHHHH!’
10. Police Academy. (1984, Wilson): One of the original spawners of bad sequels, the original Police Academy remains a glorious snapshot of 80s madness. While there are the usual National Lampoon style visual gags and set pieces, these are offset by plenty of humourous pieces of dialogue. Mahoney gets the obvious dialogue, while Jones gets the laugh out loud noise moments, but there are tonnes of smaller, juvenile lines. ‘Your move, Mahomo’ for some reason always makes me giggle, but it is Lassard who gets the best lines. His many monologues and asides always bring laughter tears, my favourite being his podium speech. It’s not necessarily the quality of the dialogue (immature of course) but the delivery, with my highlight being ‘sliiiiiide!’
Come back soon for the next set of films and some more Booker Prize winning dialogue, and don’t forget to leave your favorites from the films mentioned above in the comments, and throw in favourites from films not mentioned!
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