Tag Archives: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Q&A: NECA’s Randy Falk talks vintage movie licenses, SDCC exclusives

Founded in New Jersey in 1996, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA) has not only long been associated with excellent product, but lauded for its ingenuity to produce action figures for films that didn’t get a toy line when they were released in theaters.

Currently, NECA is preparing for its annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic-Con next week to reveal upcoming products and sell exclusives figures from such licenses as “Coraline,” “Aliens” and “Predator.” In the middle of the madness, NECA’s director of product development, Randy Falk, answered a few questions by email about the company’s vintage offerings and SDCC exclusives.

 Tim Lammers: Thanks for your time, Randy. I have to admit, I was so thrilled to hear NECA was going to produce “The Lost Wave” of “Prometheus” figures. What factored into that decision? Was it because of the pending release of “Alien: Covenant” or the continuing success of the your “Alien” line? 

Randy Falk: Thank you! For the “Prometheus” Lost Wave, it was little of both, actually. There was continued interest from a small but vocal fan base that five years on still wanted to see these figures happen, and with the release of “Covenant” on the horizon it felt like the right time to do it. This is really a gift for the loyal fans.

TL: Could this signal the beginning of more “lost waves” being produced? Is there another example of something NECA had in the prototype phase that didn’t make it to store shelves, which you would like to see completed now?

RF: I don’t know if I would go that far… the tooling is the biggest expense in manufacturing figures of this kind, and usually if something does not get produced it’s for a good reason, so it’s tough to justify those costs.

TL: What are the chances of the first waves of “Prometheus” figures being reproduced to compliment the “Lost Wave” of figures?

RF: Slim to none, unfortunately. The audience has not grown much since release and as far as the toys are concerned, the sales were never near the level of our “Alien” line.

MORE: Tim’s articles on NECA for Screen Rant

James Cameron is getting an ‘Aliens’ action figure

Paul Reiser ‘Proud’ of ‘Aliens’ action figure

‘Alien: Covenant’ action figures revealed

TL: I think what separates NECA from so many other toy/collectible companies is their commitment to develop figures on vintage licenses whereas other companies concentrate solely on current releases. What drives that mindset to produce vintage licenses?

RF: Honestly, I would be thrilled to work in what I call the golden era/decade of ’77 – ’87 as much as I could. That 10-year period encompasses all the best in film, music, and video games and the nostalgia factor makes these brands successful 30 to 40 years on, not only with the people who grew up with them but the younger audience that has discovered that greatness on video or Netflix or cable. I love the classics and for the most part there isn’t much in modern entertainment that comes close. There is a reason Jason or Freddy or “Alien” or “Predator” still resonate today, or why a 4-year-old loves Gizmo as much as a 40-year-old who saw “Gremlins” in the theater in 1984.

A Rocky

TL: I’m thrilled that you’ve reissued the “Rocky” figure line (and I especially love the “Rocky IV” Apollo Creed). Given that these figures were popular enough to reissue, is there any desire to expand the line to include Mickey, etc?

RF: Thanks, and these are a lot of fun to create. It is unlikely we would do a Mickey or Adrian because of all the new tooling costs involved, added to their limited appeal compared to Rocky, Apollo, Clubber, etc. We do have a fantastic set of maquettes coming, though, based on the puppets used in an old iced tea commercial. These are great versions of Rocky and Mickey.

TL: Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for exclusives being produced by any company for SDCC is the “Coraline” Display and figure. Is that tied into the 10th anniversary of LAIKA, and, is it possible NECA will be reissuing any of its previous “Coraline” figures?

RF: I can’t elaborate too much on this at the moment, but yes, we are definitely celebrating Laika’s 10th anniversary. We love all of their films and are thrilled to be working with them again. “Kubo and the Two Strings” was one of my favorite movies last year, in fact! We have a lot of things in the planning stage now, but for the moment I can only say there will be new figures and more.

NECA

TL: It’s great to see that NECA is offering the Jungle Briefing Dutch as an exclusive at SDCC. Any chance we’ll get Carl Weathers’ Dillon at some point?

RF: We would absolutely love to produce a Dillon figure and have made many attempts to reach an agreement with Carl for the use of his likeness as Dillon. Fox, which holds the license for “Predator,” does not have any of the likeness rights to the actors within the film. We were able to make a separate agreement with Arnold to include Dutch in the line, but that happened around the 7th series in the “Predator” line, so as you can see it can take a while. This year we celebrate “Predator’s” 30th anniversary, so we have some Dutch figures and classic Jungle Hunter Predator figures back out in the market. We would still love to include Dillon and hope that one day it can happen, but that is still to be negotiated with Carl Weathers.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com.

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Movie reviews: ‘Terminator Genisys,’ ‘Magic Mike XXL’

Arnold Schwazenegger in 'Terminator Genisys' (Paramount Pictures)

By Tim Lammers

“Terminator Genisys” (PG-13) 2 1/2 stars (out of four)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is bigger, bolder, funnier and older (but not obsolete, as he tells us throughout the film) in “Terminator Genisys,” a surprisingly effective reimagining of the “Terminator” movie franchise. It’s far from a perfect movie and hardly original in that it borrows heavily from the first two “Terminator” films, yet, it earns a rightful place in the franchise canon with a inventive script that’s willing to break free from the traditional storyline and in effect, be in control of its own destiny.

“Terminator Genisys” begins in the post-apocalyptic future, where the Resistance, led by John Connor (Jason Clarke) gets ready to strike its final death blow on the machines: a group of Terminators and other deadly weapons made self-aware by the defense program Skynet. Connor, however, discovers he’s a bit too late, as a T-800 (a younger, CGI version of Schwarzenegger) is sent back in time to kill his mother, Sarah Connor (Emila Clarke), to ensure he is never born, and effectively, taught to be the leader he is to become the leader he is today. To thwart the machines’ plan, Connor sends back Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) in time to find Sarah and protect her.

Interview: Jason Clarke talks John Connor, ‘Terminator Genisys’ twist

Arriving back in 1984, Connor arrives to find out that Sarah is not the helpless waitress John said she would be, and has already been trained, in fact, by The Guardian (Schwarzenegger) to be a proficient warrior. Eliminating the current threats by the machines, Reese and Sarah travel forward in time to 2017 to stop Judgment Day altogether, only to encounter a John: who seem to have taken on the form of a Terminator himself – and the protector of Genisys – an all-powerful computer operating system for personal and military devices that will turn into Skynet, and eventually, against the human race.

While the first part of “Terminator Genisys” plays like a mishmash of the first “Terminator” and its first sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment D

ay,” the film eventually forms its own identity by expanding Sarah’s and Reese’s back stories. Also expanded is the story of The Guardian, a T-800 unit sent to protect Sarah as a 9-year-old girl – and a machine that remains tried and true despite its aging technology. It’s human skin and features age, too, which explains how Schwarzenegger can still play the character more than 30 years after the original film.

Despite some muddled, crisscrossing timelines and confusing leaps of logic,  “Terminator Genisys” is far better than the past two “Terminator” installments – and thanks to director Alan Taylor’s intense pacing and employment of spectacular visual effects and sound,  definitely has the tone and feel of the first two blockbuster hits in the franchise. The best development to come out of “Terminator Genisys,” though, is the big twist involving John, a major spoiler unleashed during the film’s second trailer.

The big reveal was a smart marketing move by Paramount, because, quite honestly, the first trailer for the film felt like more of the same.  Jason Clarke is definitely up to the task as the film’s new bad guy, and bring intensity through his performance in both human and CGI form. Emilia Clarke also makes for a likable, ass-kicking Sarah, as does Courtney as Reese in a role far more involved in the plot than the original film.

The biggest winner in “Terminator Genisys,” though, is  Schwarzenegger, who, while embracing his age and his creaky cyborg frame, is completely willing to poke fun at himself. The great thing is, for the first time in years, we’re laughing with Ah-nold instead of laughing at him. With “Terminator Genisys” Schwarzenegger is, for the lack of a better words, back.

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“Magic Mike XXL” (R) ** (out of four)

Channing Tatum is in his element and out of his clothes once again in “Magic Mike XXL,” the sequel to the 2012 surprise hit original starring Tatum and Matthew McConaughey. Of course, you have to enjoy dancing male strippers to fully enjoy Tatum and his fellow beefcake co-stars, which is to say the film was made with the female club-going element in mind. For the poor guys they drag with to the movie, get ready for a dull and pointless two hours of nothing.

Tatum is back as Mike, a hard-working small business owner who after three years out of the stripper game is lured back to the for one last road trip by his buff buddies. Making stops at various public and private strip venues on the way, the goal for the Kings of Tampa (minus McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer’s characters – whose absences are explained), as they are called, with the goal of getting to a big-time male stripper convention in Myrtle Beach.

There’s really no story to speak of in “Magic Mike XXL,” just lots of well-choreographed stripper scenes by the of Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and Kevin Nash (there’s no doubt the guys, especially Tatum, have the moves). Amber Heard, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Andie McDowell and Elizabeth Banks bring a little bit of spunk to the film with supporting roles, but in the end, “Magic Mike XXL” is a slick-looking movie that will have female-dominated audiences hooting and hollering, and all but throwing dollar bills at the screen (at least that was the case in my screening). The movie comes off as more of an eye candy-coated fantasy night out on the town than an actual cinematic spectacle … that is, unless we eventually find out that Tatum and his co-stars’ well-chiseled abs are really just elaborate visual effects. Remember “300”?

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Interview: Jason Clarke talks John Connor twist in ‘Terminator Genisys’

Jason Clarke in 'Terminator Genisys' (photo: Paramount Pictures)

By Tim Lammers

It’s not often that an actor gets an opportunity to take part in the reimagination of one classic movie franchise, let alone two: so you could about imagine how pumped acclaimed actor Jason Clarke was to follow up his role in last year’s blockbuster hit “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” to star in “Terminator Genisys” — and opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, who brought the Terminator to life in the first place.

Clarke, 45, said seeing Schwarzenegger in the first “Terminator” as a teenager growing up in Australia in 1984 was more than about seeing a spectacle on the big screen: it was a transformative experience.

“I remember seeing it early, before all the hype, which is such of a wonderful way to see the movie,” Clarke told me in a recent call from Los Angeles. “I remember coming out of the theater saying, ‘Wow, that was just amazing.’ It created a world and ultimate universe that we kept talking about over and over. The film was like a version of ‘Star Wars’ for me, because I hadn’t seen ‘Star Wars’ when it was originally released. Then along came ‘T2,’ which brought things to a whole new level.”

Opening in theaters and on IMAX screens Wednesday, “Terminator Genisys” is different from the other films in the franchise in that while it maintains key plot points from the first two films from writer-director James Cameron, it also creatively expands the core narrative. So, yes, while “Terminator Genisys” involves John Connor (Clarke) sending Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to thwart the assassination of his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), the time frame and circumstances are broadened significantly.

Perhaps the biggest twist in “Genisys” comes when John returns to the past as his adult self, not as an ally but a deadly threat — something Sarah and her protector, The Guardian (Schwarzenegger) aren’t exactly prepared for.

Jason Clarke said that huge plot twist is what got him excited when reading the script to “Terminator Genisys,” because the creative minds behind the film — director Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones,” “Thor: The Dark World”), and writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier — were

clearly intent on taking the franchise in a bold new direction.

“The twist is the reason I did it. It’s bringing something new to the film, which I think makes it worthwhile,” Clarke said. “The film is a lot more layered than I think people realize … there’s new thought, detail, depth and complexity to it, and it matches the level of filmmaking, action and sci-fi that James and Arnold brought to the original two.”

While Cameron had no direct involvement in the making of “Terminator Genisys,” the filmmakers opted to screen the film for the Oscar-winning director-producer to get his take on the film — which was overwhelmingly positive. And while there were two “Terminator” films between his “T2: Judgment Day” and the latest outing, Cameron has publicly stated that he feels “Genisys” is the true third chapter of the franchise.

“James is a man with a lot of integrity, so it’s nice to hear that feedback on a personal level,” Clarke said. “Plus, he has a very busy schedule (the filmmaker is prepping three ‘Avatar’ sequels), so we’re very happy that he took the time to watch the film, but like it on top of it. It was a lovely gesture. He’s a fascinating man, like Arnold, whose life and legacy is just not about making movies. He’s done some incredible things.”

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While the film finally had its U.S. premiere earlier this week in Los Angeles, Clarke, Schwarzenegger and their fellow cast and crew members have in the past couple of weeks been hopping around the globe to debut the film in places like Germany and Clarke’s home country of Australia. Clarke said it’s been a thrill to see of all the fun Schwarzenegger has been having at the premieres, in what is clearly the biggest “Terminator” resurgence since the release of “T2” in 1991.

“There’s a lot of love out there for Arnold,” Clarke enthused. “It’s nice to see it come back to him because he works his a– off. He’s a phenomenal man and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him and spending some time with him. Arnold’s always in a good mood, and if he’s not, he deals with things with humor and grace.”

Plus, Clarke said, he loves the way Schwarzenegger surprises people.

“Arnold’s got a wonderful way of living his life and is always up to extraordinary things,” Clarke said. “On the weekend he’ll go visit Prime Minister Modi in India or (Chancellor) Angela Merkel in Germany. Arnold is always doing things unexpectedly. The man even wears alligator skin boots.”

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