And he'll still be back

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He's completed his second term as governor of California.

He's said ''Hasta la vista baby'' to wife of 25 years Maria Shriver - not to mention a reported $240 million as a divorce settlement.

And, he's finally fessed up to fathering a child 15 years ago with the family housekeeper.

Now Arnold Schwarzenegger is back. On the big screen, that is.

At the ripe age of 65, the former Terminator is trying to revive his movie career with his first starring role in a decade.

In The Last Stand, which opened this week in Australian cinemas, Schwarzenegger plays the ageing sheriff of a sleepy Arizona border town tracking down a drug cartel kingpin who has escaped FBI custody and is headed for Mexico.


The action-drama, which marks the Hollywood debut of South Korean director Kim Jee-woon, is Schwarzenegger's first lead role since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

But even 10 years ago, Schwarzenegger was a long way from his heyday.

It was in the 1980s and early 1990s that Arnie truly ruled the box office, with his bulging biceps, colossal chest and dynamic deltoids doing all the talking between monosyllabic punch lines delivered in that clipped Austrian accent.

The youngest man to win the Mr Universe title, he first parlayed his beefcake status into the title role of Conan the Barbarian in 1982.

Going on to star in such blockbusters as The Terminator, Commando, Predator and Total Recall, Schwarzenegger became - along with Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis - one of the action movie genre's macho A-team.

Whether he was playing a mechanical cyborg, a battle-hardened soldier or a vanquisher of killer aliens, Arnie delivered action movie fans the ideal blend of biff, bullets, body count and cornball banter.

Then he quit the screen for politics and became ''The Governator'', passing the he-man baton to the likes of Dwayne ''The Rock'' Johnson (The Scorpion King) and Jason Statham (The Transporter, Crank).

But just when it looked like no one could possibly fill the giant commando boots of those '80s megastars, Stallone dusted off Rocky Balboa and John Rambo and found unexpected success at the box office, leading to macho movie throwback The Expendables (and a sequel) and, up next, the Walter Hill-directed Bullet to the Head (out April 18).

Bruce Willis also joined the '80s action rehash, reprising his Die Hard hero John McClane to "kill a helicopter with a car" in 2007's Die Hard 4.0. Inevitably, Die Hard 5 (A Good Day to Die Hard) is coming soon - it's in Australian cinemas on March 21.

Though he dipped his toe back in the water with cameos in The Expendables movies, now it's Schwarzenegger's turn to muscle up again as a leading man.

With Jackass prankster Johnny Knoxville co-starring to lend him some cred with today's teens, The Last Stand - rated MA for what the censors describe as ''strong bloody violence'' - has earned a mixed reaction from film critics overseas, with the Rotten Tomatoes reviews compendium site scoring it a middling 59 per cent ''rotten'' rating.

Not that critics have ever stopped Schwarzenegger - already he has reportedly signed up to reprise his role as Conan the Barbarian, is rumoured to be attached to sequels to both Terminator and Twins, stars opposite Sam Worthington in drug-bust actioner Ten (due in early 2014) and later this year teams up with Stallone for the prison escape thriller The Tomb.

Only time will tell whether Arnie is as successful as Stallone and Willis in extending his use-by date in the action genre.

To help you get reacquainted with all things Arnold, we present the Schwarzenegger Selection - the best and worst Arnie movies to seek (and destroy) on DVD.

Arnie's best moofies

1. Total Recall (1990) Despite leaving some big questions unanswered at the end (is he a spy or isn't he?) and brushing over a couple of major details in order to drive the plot forward, RoboCop director Paul Verhoeven's adaptation of the Philip K.Dick (Blade Runner) story We Can Remember it For You Wholesale is compelling, twist-filled sci-fi viewing complete with Arnold action set-pieces and three-breasted prostitutes.

2. Terminator 2 (1991) Having seemingly spent the 11 years between films eating teaspoons of cement, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) becomes one of the toughest female characters to ever grace the screen (just behind Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Aliens). While Arnie returns as a T-800 Terminator reprogrammed to protect the good guys, it's the enemy T-1000 that is the true star of James Cameron's thrill-ride, with mind-blowing special effects that still hold up today.

3. Predator (1987) This one just oozes testosterone - big guns and even bigger biceps being the order of the day. How Dutch (Arnie) greets Dillon (Carl Weathers) remains - hands down - the manliest handshake ever. And the dreadlocked alien still looks cool. But the final showdown suggests Arnie learnt a trick or two watching Rambo.

4. True Lies (1994) Succeeding both as action flick and comedy, James Cameron's espionage caper boasts an amazing opening sequence as Arnie shows off unlikely skills as a suave Bond-like spy. And nothing seems too far-fetched in this film. No, not even horses in elevators.

5. Terminator (1984) The logic of a robotic cyborg-killing machine that resembles a hulking great Austrian bodybuilder remains elusive even now (er, surely a physical design that's a little more discreet would have been more effective). But Terminator remains one of the finest action films of all time - time-travel paradoxes and all.

Arnie's raw deals

1. Batman and Robin (1997) Reviews for this film were colder than the rays from Mr Freeze's chill gun. But, for Arnie fans, this superhero caper falls into the ''so bad it's good'' category. That said, you definitely get the feeling the villainous Mr Freeze put more effort into his decidedly uncool puns than his actual evil plan.

2. Junior (1994) In the Mel Brooks classic The Producers, the two main characters make money by producing a sure-fire Broadway flop. Sound familiar? Here, Arnie reteams with Twins co-star Danny DeVito and director Ivan Reitman. Hard to believe there was a Hollywood executive who thought audiences wanted to see one of the most bankable stars in action movies pretending to be pregnant. Groan.

3. Last Action Hero (1993) With its tongue-in-cheek tone and action genre self-awareness, this reality-warping action-comedy co-scripted by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon) and directed by Die Hard's John McTiernan would have been more much fun if Arnie weren't saddled with a forgettable brat of a teen sidekick (Austin O'Brien). Nice cameo by Jean-Claude Van Damme, though.

4. Terminator 3 (2003) The problem with Terminator 3? It's a sequel to Terminator 2. Sure, it's a tough ask to follow such an awesome movie (at last count T2 was No. 36 on IMDB's top 250 films of all time) but it's not just that our high expectations weren't met. For one, why is Arnie the protagonist? And, second, who knew that a cyborg's synthetic skin could age?

5. Collateral Damage (2002) This one is so underwhelming you forget it before the closing credits have finished. Schwarzenegger plays a grieving firefighter seeking to avenge his family's death at the hands of a terrorist. The film was delayed, and recut, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But that doesn't explain how fireman Arnie manages to get more intel than the CIA as he ventures to South America, tracks down those responsible and then throws an axe. The end.