Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review: Damien: Omen II (1978)

Director: Don Taylor
Starring: William Holden, Lee Grant, Jonathon Scott-Taylor

I'm just going to come out and say it; I don’t really like the Omen series. Even the first one is pretty overrated. These movies aren’t the worst out there, but they’re just so played out and so trite that there’s no point in watching them more than once. The first movie had its moments, but even then it didn’t really captivate, and it was really just a tamer and dumbed down version of the other two Satanic horror bigwigs of the time, The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby. And the series as a whole just doesn't provide any tension or danger – we already know Damien isn’t actually going to be killed, we know there will be mysterious deaths that mostly look like accidents or suicides, and we know people will start getting suspicious by the end. So what’s the point? Maybe if the writing was better it would be okay, but if the first one can’t even keep my interest these days, the sequel sure doesn’t have a chance. This…is Damien: Omen II.

The movie opens with the credits, which are delivered over the soundtrack, which I think is farting at us the entire time. We see the character Bugenhagen from the first movie showing some newspapers from all over the world to a colleague of his. They all have the story about the US senator and his wife from the first movie dying on the front page, and even though you’d think they would put a picture of the senator and his wife there, every article only has a picture of little Damien. I don’t know, that just strikes me as strange. Bugenhagen tells his buddy that Damien is the Antichrist, and that he needs to be destroyed.

So the colleague agrees to go to this underground ruins with him so that Bugenhagen can prove what he’s saying is true. They poke around for a bit until they find a picture of a young boy surrounded by snakes and fire and other evil things painted on the wall. They…somehow know it’s Damien, even though it could just as well be any other boy, and then right when they realize it, the ground starts shaking. Even though this kind of thing probably could have happened anywhere in this volatile underground room, Bugenhagen says it’s the Antichrist at work, and they promptly get buried underneath sand and rocks because the Antichrist presumably didn’t like their acting.

Then we cut to 7 years later, where frankly the movie could have started in the first place and not lost any momentum. But I guess they really needed the extra bit of hokey mysticism. Two boys named Damien (gasp!) and Mark are leaving to go to military school, glad to be away from their crazy, mean old aunt. The family has a discussion at the table where it’s revealed that the crazy aunt hates Damien for some reason, and the rest of the family will have none of it. So later that night a big black bird gets into her room – the family has an infestation of them this time of year, I gather – and the soundtrack becomes so ridiculous that it gives her a heart attack.

After some political garble and some history lessons, we see that the Thorn cousins are initiated into the new drill sergeant’s little regime. The drill sergeant is probably intended to be menacing and strict, but really it’s more like he’s reading his lines off a cue prompter. Oh and his name is Neff. That’s…just silly. Then we see Richard Thorn, the father and brother of the senator from the original movie, meeting the journalist who he was told was going to talk to him, a woman named Joan Hart, who we were told is a professional working on a big project about archaeology. They start to talk until she reveals that Richard’s brother met with Bugenhagen for the purposes of an exorcism, and she starts talking faster and crazier with each new development, at the end reducing to nothing but screaming at him to “Believe in Christ!” Yes, this professional, well known reporter sure does have a great method of interviewing, doesn’t she? She’s so persuasive! I wonder how anyone could turn her down.

Ugh. So after some more brilliant journalism in which she pretty much just shouts at and alienates everyone who could possibly help her or listen to her, her car comes to a stop on the road and she’s killed by one crow while the soundtrack goes on a rampage again, sounding like it’d be more credible if it were composed by a cat with Down’s syndrome.

Then we switch to the winter time at home, where it’s Mark’s birthday. Damien talks to one of the politicians from earlier in the movie about initiation, and the guy tells him that Damien’s 13th birthday will be his ‘initiation’, and his ‘time to set aside childish things and face who he is.’ Uh…maybe if this were the year 1903 it would be. But I don’t think that’s really quite how it works in the 1980s, you morons.

The next day we see everyone playing ice hockey until the oldest member of their group, the president of Thorn’s company, falls under the ice and gets pulled away by the current until he dies, thus making the other guy, who wants to set up a progressive plan to make more money, the acting president. At the military academy, we see Damien facing off with his teacher, who accuses him of not listening in class only for Damien to get the answers right to every single question. Kid, nobody likes a show off. Just sit back down and draw some more funny pictures instead.

But no, then we see Sergeant Neff pulling Damien out of class and telling him to look in the Book of Revelations in order to find out who he really is. Pfft, I hate these military academies. They always have to try and push the same old conformist beliefs on everyone! But ooh, then Damien looks in the book like he was told and finds out he’s the Antichrist! Yeah, I remember when school teachers used to guide me on my anti-Christian path to global human domination, too. Those were the days.

Oh, and can you believe that upon discovering the classic 666 sign on his head, Damien actually runs out to the sea and shouts “Why? Why me!?” Dude, I thought that was one of those clichés that was so old that nobody ever actually used it. But hey, who am I to argue with the franchise that brought us the psychic fair in Omen IV? I must not understand the complex inner workings of this brilliant story. Yeah, that’s it.

Ocean = Dramatic; it's practically a rule.
So while Damien, Mark and some other kids are taking a tour of their father’s company workshop, something goes wrong and radioactive smoke floods the room. Every kid except Damien suffers minor side effects, and the doctor reveals that Damien’s cell structure is different. So…the Antichrist has different cell structure from regular human beings, and nobody noticed that until now. Even though the kid has been living a perfectly normal and happy life, probably going to the doctor for check-ups routinely, nobody noticed anything different about his bodily makeup until now. Yeah, right. And I’m the prince of Ecuador.

The doctor dies a horrible, bloody death, and then the next day one of Richard’s friends comes to tell him of Bugenhagen’s warnings, which he mysteriously found…Richard doesn’t believe him, but he does start to admit that something seems strange. Mark is killed in the woods after a talk with Damien, a funeral is held, and Richard becomes more and more inclined to go searching for the mysterious wall with Damien’s face on it that will prove everything, which his friend also saw. Let’s see…yup, everything expected is here. We get ominous shots of Damien looking cold and unfeeling, we get a few more mysterious deaths and then we get a rushed climax where it’s revealed that the mother was working for Damien the whole time, too. She kills Richard, and then…is burned in a fire herself, because I guess she figured out that this series sucks, and didn’t want to be in the third movie. Smart move!

So that’s Omen II, and it’s just a chore to sit through. The acting is pretty mediocre, the directing is nothing special, the music is too over the top and silly, the characters are boring and the story just isn’t that great. The entire Omen series is pretty much hack work anyway, with little to offer any seasoned horror fan. I guess this isn’t a terrible movie or anything, but it’s just so unimpressive and so droll that I can’t recommend it. Moral of the story, being the Antichrist gets you chicks.

Lucky bastard.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Happy Tree Friends (2006 - present)

Director: Aubrey Ankrum et al.
Starring: Animals dying mostly.

Do you like seeing little animals get brutally slaughtered in the most ridiculous and over the top ways? I’m not talking about some kind of seedy, cheaply made exploitation film from Croatia, but rather Happy Tree Friends, a cartoon which has mysteriously gained widespread appreciation among young people everywhere. Probably just as a way to rebel against their parents for not letting them go to the latest Nickelback concert, though.

I mean, I don’t even see how this has any fans at all. The basic premise is nothing more than little cartoon animals getting killed. And I know I’ll get flack for that: “Ooh, you’re just a prude! It’s just comedy, it’s not real! Don’t be so uptight!” No; that’s no excuse for this, it’s completely horrible. Short, plot-less episodes with cutesy animals making cutesy noises without any real dialogue, and then they all get dismembered, ground up or impaled on sharp objects. So what?

The animation is pretty nice, I’ll give it that. But there’s just no substance. There’s nothing here that you can really sink your teeth into and remember. It’s all one note comedy that blows everything it has on the first shot, nothing to go back to at all. These people can’t even get the fundamental basics of comedy down. There is no thought put into this, no effort, nothing except for ‘hey, how do we kill off some more cartoon animals today?’ The pacing and flow of things is asininely simple and rushed, often ending without any real climax or anything that indicates an actual story with actual humor or wit.


I’ll just lay down one specific episode for you, since they are all about exactly the same old crap anyway: This weird squirrel thing and his baby son are strolling along in the park when the son gets catapulted out of his stroller and lands in some mud beyond a field of cacti. The father bathes his son in the sink (…even though it’s clearly shown later that he has a bathtub he could have used instead…) and the son gets stuck in the drain, because…well, because they need to make room for more gore. The father gets under the sink and unplugs the drain pipe, spilling out a bunch of garbage and also a bone. He clips the bone off, and it’s revealed that it was the kid’s leg. Then we get an example of his brilliant intellect as he ties a rope around his son’s neck and attaches it to his car to try and yank him out. What follows is a massacre of bloody proportions that leads to the son being reduced to just a head, nothing else. He drowns in the bathtub and the episode ends.

Why would you willingly watch this? Why would anyone even spend time to watch it on the Internet for free? Has everybody lost their minds? The only way I could possibly find this funny is if I imagined the creators of this show in place of the little animals constantly getting killed. That would be a little bit of an improvement.

I haven’t even mentioned the music in the show, which is so cheery and so sugary-sweet that it’s like it’s mocking the viewer. This kind of bubbly, bouncy cartoony music matched up with the show’s content is absolutely vomit-worthy. And the way the animals talk, too, ugh. They only grunt and squeal without any actual words or dialogue, and it really grates on my nerves after even one minute of listening to it. If I have to hear that retarded blue moose with one of its antlers upside down do that dumb voice one more time, I will go on a bloody rampage myself.


The trick of disguising an incredibly obscene and graphic cartoon with such kidlike animation and bright colors has been a trend for a long time, and it worked for things like South Park, for example. But even mentioning South Park in the same review as tripe like Happy Tree Friends is a travesty. I actually think this show is so unfunny that it becomes a kind of weird, black-hole-esque anti-comedy, sucking the life out of anything that crosses its path with a voracious tenacity. This is pretty much worthless, talentless garbage, and you should avoid it at any cost.


This review was originally written for www.manofthehourmagazine.com

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review: Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)

Director: Kaos
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Lucy Liu

“Some women buy shoes.”
-Sever

Well, they did it, you guys. They finally gave action movies the fatal enema to end all enemas. That’s the only way to even describe this. I mean…what the hell do you want from me? This movie is pretty much a tube up the ass of the genre and a subsequent explosion of everything that made it good or even slightly tolerable. And that doesn’t even really begin to describe how bad this actually is. It’s just the tip of the iceberg!

I have no idea where to even begin with this. This movie…was a joke. That has to be it. This is some kind of huge practical joke on Hollywood, or on the producers, or on the people who wasted their money to go see it. It’s so inept and so badly written and directed on every single level that it’s…flat out impossible to suggest that anyone would ever let it out of the gates once they saw it. Maybe there was blackmail involved. Maybe the director got the Hollywood producers drunk off their asses before they let them watch this movie. I don’t know, but I sure hate whoever unleashed Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever on the world. This is one of the big ones, people. This movie was voted the number one worst movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, and pretty much got panned universally across the board. Is it really that bad? Frankly, I think that’s a stupid question to even consider at this point in the review, don’t you?

Okay, our movie starts off with our credits laid over an overly long pan over a lit-up city at night with a crappy rock song underneath. We then switch to a woman named Vinn taking her son home, when she is suddenly called up by some guy who demands that she bring her son to his father, who is a rich tycoon of some sort named Gant. Gant’s lackey gives her a few seconds to process this and protest the seizing of her son right after he got back from his vacation (which is never explained), and then he promptly forces the kid out with his bare hands and takes him into another car.

The other car goes down the road and is then subjected to a flurry of big explosions in this very populated city area by a mysterious woman dressed like a rejected Sith lord or something. After a lot of really hokey, unbelievable stunts, she kidnaps the kid to her little Batcave in a hidden location, where she puts him in a cage. This is the titular character Sever, played by Lucy Liu…astonishing what kinds of roles some actors’ agents get for them, isn’t it?

We then switch to our other main character played by Antonio Banderas. His name is Ecks, and he is currently drinking in a bar, presumably to forget his parents’ horrible choice of a name for him. Seriously, Ecks? Sever? Gant? This is sounding like someone played a Crossword puzzle the wrong way to pick the characters’ names. Anyway, he fights a few goons who approach him, and then sits down with an old guy named Martin, who he apparently knows from his past. Will any of it ever be explained? No! That’s giving this movie too much credit.

So this Martin guy brings Ecks in to give him a job to hunt down the woman who kidnapped Gant’s son, because apparently, she might have a clue as to the whereabouts of Ecks’ missing wife…yeah, that one came out of nowhere, didn’t it? There’s some really rushed bullshit about this missing technology they have to get back before Gant uses it to make the perfect assassin, or something, but who cares about that? WE HAVE ANOTHER HORRIBLE ACTION SCENE TO SHOW!

Yes, the action scenes in this movie are quite a spectacle. Just watch as they take the old ‘improbable action hero manages to outwit and out-fight three dozen mooks who are all shooting at her but yet she emerges without a scratch’ idea to its utmost stupidity and most enraging nadir ever. I am serious; there are numerous instances in this where Liu is standing around that the bad guys could have easily captured her or rendered her immobile. But I guess they’re just…in so much awe of how awesome she is that they can’t do anything! This action scene is just all kinds of wrong. The angles make all of the fighting look boring, they put a bunch of shitty rap music behind the action and there’s just no tension to it. Why should I care about this character? What reason do I have to care if she makes it out alive? Nothing. But of course she’s always going to anyway, because she’s invincible. Why? Because this movie sucks. That’s the only reason.


The basic “plot” of this segment is that Gant’s men are trying to bring her in without killing her, to find out where her son is. At the same time, Ecks is on her trail to try and find his wife, and also get back that important piece of technology from her, too. God, this is so tangled that I’m not even sure the actors themselves know what’s going on. Seriously, when your actors look confused as they deliver the dialogue, it’s time to get a fucking new script, guys.

So we drag out the unnecessary and bland action scenes for a long time before it finally ends with Martin getting shot by Sever and Ecks fighting her on the roof and getting his ass royally handed to him. Ecks goes through a pointless scene with his Asian partner who is apparently in the movie for no reason as he does nothing throughout the entire duration, and nothing is established in this scene except that Sever and Ecks know one another. Which was kind of established before when they fought on the roof a few scenes ago, wasn’t it? If you think you’re going to get any explanation for how they know each other, why they’re supposedly rivals or what their history is, well, you’re wrong. The movie just…continues on and leaves the audience in the dark.

Was there some kind of a prequel to this movie that we missed? Is this the sequel to something else that we never saw? No? Then start making more sense, movie, before you drive me crazy!

And even when you think that the one thing that could possibly save this mess of plot convolutions and nonsensical action, the dialogue, could possibly clear any of this up…it doesn’t. Like this scene, where Gant pulls his crony aside to talk about Ecks’ escape from prison. He asks Gant why Ecks is so dangerous, a fact which I don’t think the audience knows either, and Gant just tells him he can’t ask that. Vinn asks him how he knows that the mysterious kidnapper (Sever) won’t hurt their son, and he just says “Trust me.”

…there’s no communication! Talk to each other, you morons! Exchange vital information! What’s holding you back? What’s the big deal? What kind of horrible writer could actually put together a script like this? What kind of hunchbacked inbred could possibly think this script would work?

No, you know what? I got it. I know what happened here! Some fat slob dropped his pork taco with extra bean sauce on the pages of the script, ruining half of them forever. Instead of taking the time to rewrite the script, they just decided to go ahead and film a movie without half of the script. Everything in this movie is so vague and so in the dark about every element of the plot that I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. They just cover up every potential lead to a plot with a character waving it off with one hand and going, “No. We won’t let you discover anything that might let you relate to the characters or enjoy this movie. We’re just going to let you keep suffering as we hide any kind of plot from you!” Insert evil laughter here.

The pattern of this movie pretty much goes: action scene, dramatic scene, action scene, dramatic scene. Rinse and repeat like you just swallowed crocodile piss, because it never gets better. There’s one scene where Ecks has been arrested for allegedly shooting Martin (…they arrested him because they thought he shot the guy who employed him in the first place? Huh?), and he’s being transported to another location when Sever gets up on a bridge and blows up the prison bus with a rocket launcher. Ecks escapes from the bus and somehow gets hold of a tommy gun which was apparently stored on the bus for its good storage room? More lightheaded action ensues. Sever seems to pull out new guns from every possible opening in her clothes, to the point where you wonder if she has some whole new dimension under there, an infinite storage space.


In another scene, Ecks finally reunites with Vinn, who was his wife all along…coincidental? Yes. Yes it is. The movie…seems to be trying to show us their back story, but honestly I just don’t get it. So they were together but then Ecks had to go undercover, so she married Gant instead? Gant…found out and tried to kill Ecks by blowing up some cars in the middle of their yard? And now they can’t be together anymore? Huh? What is this movie trying to get across? Storytelling, writers! Use coherent storytelling. It’s ad-libs; that’s what it is. They want us to just…fill in our own blanks to make sense of their garbled mess of a movie. Also, before I move on, can you believe that the two of them reunited in an aquarium, with blue lighting and the sea animals swimming around them and everything? Isn’t that just so magical? Ugh.

So after that they run into Sever, who tells them to get in her car, where they trade some more ambiguous dialogue that reveals nothing…surprised? “How do you know about Michael?” Ecks asks about the kidnapped son. She just looks at him cryptically and says nothing. Need I repeat? COMMUNICATE. And why are they suddenly on the same side? I don’t know; just go with it, it’ll be over faster that way. She takes them to – get this – the underbelly of a state park, where her hideout has been this whole time. So this rogue governmental agent, who apparently has total control over everything and knows every right move to make, decided to hide out this whole time in a place that any random bum could stumble upon? I don’t know; it’s not explained very well. And it turns out that weapon device to turn people into the ultimate assassin, which was only given about a minute of explanation way at the beginning of the movie, was hidden all along underneath the skin of Vinn and Ecks’ son, who was on vacation with Gant in Europe, who used him as a vehicle to transport it to America. That’s…just stupid. This was never detected by anyone at either airport? How does Gant live with himself at night for doing this to his son? If you're wondering the answers to these questions, well, keep wondering, because we have MORE ACTION SCENES TO FUCK UP!

What follows is quite possibly the worst action scene ever laid down on film. You will be amazed as you stare in awe at the numerous huge, enormous explosions that occur in this old boiler plant place. All of our main characters press buttons as if they’re taking turns at a Nintendo game and things randomly blow up, sending explosions in mushroom clouds soaring sky high above the area. After about the fifth or sixth explosion in less than five minutes, you start to wonder how exactly they haven’t completely leveled this whole area to the ground yet, or at least seriously injured most everyone there. These people should in all rational logic be cinders right now, but I don’t think even one person meets their demise in these disastrous balls of flame and devastation. No bloody dismemberments, nobody on fire and certainly no deaths. I guess they set the explosions to safe-mode.

And they spend so much time focusing the camera on these explosions that it becomes deeply hilarious that even the troopers running around don’t even take a look at them anymore after a while. Once Ecks gets up after being piled on by a collection of steel pipes that must weigh more than him, I was too far gone to even care anymore; what’s the point in pointing out plot holes in a movie that has more of them than actual sound plot threads? This is hopeless; it’s completely insipid. And you know they end on a happy note anyway, with everyone re-uniting, Gant getting killed and juuuust the right touches of mysticism as Sever disappears and leaves Ecks an origami swan to remember her by. Again, magical…and again, ugh.

Heinous, absolutely heinous. How did this get green lighted? What was the intended audience? I don’t even think this movie would work even for the people who make up the very lowest common denominator of movie fans. Not even the fans of the dumbest action movies or the sleaziest comedies could find worth in Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever. I can see why this movie is considered the worst ever – no coherent story, no good action, no character development, a boring pace and a metric load of plot holes. It’s not even enjoyably bad. It’s just plain old bad. A zero star rating is too good for this piece of bloated hack.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Movie Trailers: "The Other Guys" edition


As most of you may know, we here at Cinema Freaks have established a new segment where we show you trailers that we see in theaters, and then give you our take on them based on what we see. In this post, I will review the trailers I saw when I went to see 'The Other Guys". You can follow the link onto YouTube; sorry, I am just too lazy to post every single video onto here.


Yeah, this movie looks like it sucks. People being trapped on an elevator, end up trying to kill one another, and the Devil is involved somehow? Not exactly a plot that sends shivers down my spine. M. Night Shyamalan produced it? When is the last time he made a good movie again? If he was going to a project with a tile as generic as "Devil" he should have done everything in his power to make an unbelievably epic film, not...this. I am not an expert on these types of films, but this looks like a clunker to me. I will pass on this one.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

I really do not know how this is going to go. I liked the first "Wall Street" film, but something about this sequel rubs me the wrong way. It might be because of Shia LaBeouf? Probably. He just does not seem fit into this picture. It might be because the publicity for it has be relatively light, though that will likely change in the coming weeks. It might just be because I am afraid that Oliver Stone is going to use the movie simply to get vent about his political beliefs as opposed to telling a really good story, though I admit that one of the criticisms of the original "Wall Street" was lacking in that department. Oh, and since when does Gordon Gecko have a daughter? I only remember him having a son in the first movie. Is this going to be one of those times where the producers try to invent a character and say they actually existed all along and that they just were not mentioned in the original film? God, I hope my memory is wrong or something. Still, I like the character of Gordon Gecko, I like Josh Brolin (even though his last collaboration with Stone was "W", which I hated), and I like the subject matter (which is obviously mirroring real-life events), so I am going to have to wait to hear more about it before I make a final decision to see it or not.


The American

The plot of this movie looks pretty cool and I have yet to see a George Clooney movie I disliked ("Batman and Robin" does not count; it never counts). In fact, I just finished watching "O Brother, Where Art Thou?". I will be looking forward to this one.


RED

This movie looks awesome! I mean, the cast alone is very impressive, but I mean...Helen Mirren with a sniper rifle?! John Freakin' Malkovich blowing up a live missile with a gun?! Is that Ernest Borgnine?! How I really hope this movie is good. I predict that it is going to be absolutely ridiculous, but it will be amazing. It...will be.


Jackass 3D

Ha ha, wow. If anyone predicted a decade ago that there would be a...well, let me just move on. To be honest, I have never watched "Jackass", either the TV show or the previous two films, and I do not think I am going to watch this one. But, if you are a fan, you are probably going to enjoy it. How old are most of these guys now, anyway? I looked up Johnny Knoxville; he is closing in on 40. Eh, whatever suits them best...


Due Date

I like Robert Downey Jr., I like Zach Galifianakis, and I like liked the previous works of director Todd Phillips. That being said, I am skeptical about this film. The trailer just does not seem as funny as it should be. I am still probably going to see it, but I am keeping my expectations in check.


The Social Network

I hate this movie! I have never seen it, I am never going to see it (hopefully), and yet I hate it! Why? First of all, look at what you see in the trailer: Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, the somber, emotional overtones. It has "white-adolescent melodrama" written all over it. Wait, I just found out that the screenplay is adapted by Aaron Sorkin and it is being directed by David Fincher! What the f***?! What made these guys sink to this level?! Do they have no shame.?!
But that is not my biggest problem with this project. No, it actually has to do with the timing: it is just too soon. It is not so much because it is about events that took place only seven years ago, though I have always had an issue with films that do that, even good ones. I just think that if you are going to do that, it should be about a story that has already unfolded for the most part, not about something that has barely begun. In the year 2010, do we really need a fictionalized film to tell us about how Facebook came about and what founder Mark Zuckerberg had to do in order to get his way? No. If this story is to be told, they should do what was done for "Pirates of the Silicon Valley": wait until more time has passed until you have enough material to make something worthwhile. Until then, this movie can go to hell!

The Other Guys (2010)

Staring: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes

Directed by Adam McKay

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1386588/

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_Guys


"The Other Guys" is a pretty funny movie. It reunites Will Ferrell with director Adam McKay, and Mark Wahlberg is also along for the ride to deliver some laughs. Granted, there are some problems with it, but overall it is a good flick.

It starts off with Samuel L. Jackson proving that he is one of the greatest people who ever lived. He is in high-speed pursuit of a bunch of bad guys along with Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson, who I guess would be also awesome if he had not just stared in "The Tooth Fairy". Anyway, Jackson's car gets stuck in a bus, he frees it and he goes flying at the bad guys, shouting a bunch of stuff I could not understand, blows up a bunch of stuff, and somehow survives. YEAH! Unfortunately, both of them are killed in a separate incident shortly afterward (the poster above is a bit deceiving; they have a total of about five minutes of screen time). This occurs when, in order to stop another bunch of bad guys, they jump off of a building that is about 10-20 stories high in order to land in a bunch of bushes that were not there, and even if they were, they would not have prevented them from dying or at least critically injured them.

Ummm...okay.

Anyway, with both of them out of the picture, who will take their place as the big shot of the department? That's right, the Other Guys! We have Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who plays a jerk cop who is haunted by a tragedy from his past: he shot Derek Jeter in the leg during the 2003 World Series, costing the Yankees the championship. This a bit ironic since in real life Wahlberg is from Boston, so I suspect a Red Sox conspiracy. Anyway, he gets stuck with Allen Gamble (Ferrell) who is basically Bob Saget's character Danny Tanner from "Full House". He is just incredibly bland and lame, though in this instance the character is actually funny (yes, we all loved “Full House” when we were 5, but it’s time to move on). The two of them come across a suspected financial cover-up involving a famous investor named David Ershon (Steve Coogan), which leads them on a wild goose chase that leads them to meet some interesting characters, and includes a number of gags such as Allen having some unfortunate things happen to his Prius, and both of them having their shoes stolen...twice. There are a number of good quotes involving peacocks and other things throughout the feature. Oh yeah, and Michael Keaton plays their boss who, among other things, keeps quoting TLC songs, though he insists that he is not... Well, its not "Batman", but at least Keaton is still working, right?

I guess he biggest problem that this film has is that it gets extremely distracted. True, when Ferrell and McKay did "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights" each had random scenes that did not really progress the story but were still funny. In this movie, the same thing happens, but they take way too many detours, and it gets to the point where its 1 hour, 47 minute running time feels like 2 and a half hours. Do not get me wrong, the stuff they put in there was usually funny, but they could have condensed the material a little more so that it felt more it had a more cohesive story arch.

There is also this weird part during the closing credits that shows the differences in the income between American employees and their super-rich bosses, as well as making references to TARP and other aspects of the recent financial meltdown. Admittedly, some of the stuff they mention is kind of interesting, but they play off of a part of the plot which is ultimately insignificant; the information would feel better served if it were shown at the end of the upcoming "Wall Street" sequel. If Ferrell and McKay want to get political, they can save it for their "Funny or Die" website, not try to shove it into a film where it does not belong.

Despite its flaws, "The Other Guys" is a feature that made me laugh more often than not. While it is not as funny as "Anchorman" or "Talladega", it is the best movie Will Ferrell has done in years, which is good news for him given the sub-par quality of his recent work. Either way, it is worthwhile, and I recommend it.

P.S. If you stay until the end of the closing credits (and the populist rant), as Ferrell/McKay fans may expect, there is an extra scene with Ferrell and Wahlberg. It is nothing much, but you can check it out if you want.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Network (1976)

Starring: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, and Robert Duvall

Directed by Sidney Lumet

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074958/

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_(film)

 

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!!!”

-Howard Beale (Peter Finch)

 

“Network” is an excellent movie. Pardon the cliché, but this is one of those films that get better with age. This is good news for itself, not so good news for our society. The great Sidney Lumet’s satire on the modern media predicted what was eventually going to come: a world dominated by a media that produces cheaply produced garbage where people can say or do anything they want with it having any sort of factual, artistic, or in anyway meaningful value. Many of the elements of the film have eerie similarities to “contemporary” cable-news programs and reality shows; this can also be extended to the content on the radio and Internet as well. In other words, it is so relevant that it is scary.

The film starts out with a brief to the struggling United Television Network, which is taken over by a major corporation. When the evening news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is fired, he announces that he will kill himself on his final broadcast, causing a sensation around the country. As events unfold, Beale not only finds himself keeping his job, but also becomes the centerpiece of a new programming schedule set up by Diana Christenson (Faye Dunaway), a new producer at the network. These new developments worry the UTN News president Max Schumacher (William Holden), who not only thinks that his friend is being taken advantage of, but that the fate of his entire profession is at sake.

Terrific acting and writing hold the intriguing plot of the film together. Holden and Dunaway play excellent as their respective contrasting characters, the old guard who wants to keep the dignity of broadcast news and the new up-and-comer who is only concerned with making a profit. At the same time, both of them admit to having flaws, which brings a certain human element to their roles. However, the best character of this whole thing is Beale himself, in what would be Finch’s last role in a feature film (he died not long after it was released in theaters and became the first posthumous Oscar winner for Best Actor, which he rightfully deserved). As he descends more and more into his own madness (he has a mental disorder which is never disclosed, though if I had to guess I would say he has schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) as well as the madness created by those around him, he makes the transition from anchorman, to prophesier, to corporate hack all within relatively short period of time. This is mostly thanks to a number of “well-crafted” rants, brought to the screen by Paddy Chayefsky (who also won a rightfully-deserved Oscar for his work on this movie, in his case for Best Screenplay). As a matter of fact, all of the dialogue that comes out of everyone’s mouths in this film is memorizing and really takes the picture to a whole new level of sophistication. Some of the speeches go on a long time, but it is all worth it.

So there you have it. “Network” is a film that remains vivid reminder of the dangerous path that a society can take when it starts to lose track of its ideals and humanity, a path that we may be lead down right now. In today’s hostile environment, it is a little hard not to watch Beale’s now-famous (or rather infamous) “Mad As Hell” speech without being a little disturbed by the idea that feelings held by those in the film are still being echoed almost thirty-five years later by many of us in real life who feel that we are losing control over our own lives and our whole world in general…and that we do not want to take it anymore. Nonetheless, this is one of my favorite movies of all time and I strongly recommend it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Ed Wood (1994)

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray, Jeffrey Jones, Lisa Marie

"I just want to tell stories. The things that interest me."
-Ed Wood

You know, I don’t get Tim Burton. It’s been a while since I’ve seen his much lauded The Nightmare Before Christmas opus, but the ones I have seen recently are all messed up, quality wise. He puts out a great movie like Batman, then the awful pile of hack that was Batman Returns. These days he puts out dreck like Sweeney Todd and then entertaining flicks like Alice in Wonderland, defying all expectations. I hate some elements of his style, but even I can’t deny the power of some of his best films. Like Ed Wood. Yup, that’s all you’re gonna get for a segueway.

Ed Wood is just masterful. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a film like this…oh wait, it was when I watched The Big Lebowski a few days ago; scratch that. But this is still a very accomplished and well done flick. It’s about the life of Edward D. Wood Jr., one of the worst film directors of all time, and it chronicles his journey to attaining that wonderful honor. It’s even shot in all black and white, just like films back in Ed’s time were! Guess who the lead actor is?

a)     Nic Cage
b)     Dennis Hopper
c)     Johnny Depp
d)    Keanu Reeves

If you guessed “c”…well, duh! It’s a Tim Burton movie! But he does a very good job as our energetic, quirky director, even cross-dressing on camera. Yes, that’s right. Johnny Depp cross dresses; you have to see it to believe it. His acting here is really good though, capturing an innocence that is usual for the characters Burton has him play, but also a certain subtlety that seems to escape both of them in their later days. I think my favorite, though, is Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. He really does a spectacular job, channeling all the hopelessness of an old washed up celebrity and making him totally likable and amiable. Just watch the first scene where Ed is over at his house, where they watch the old re-run of one of Lugosi’s films on the Vampira show. He starts doing this thing with his hand that apparently, all vampires have to do to seduce women. And the look on his face when the trick-or-treater isn’t scared by his Dracula get up is priceless. This is the best character in the film by far, but that isn’t saying much, as the others are all still very good, too.

Jeffrey Jones as Criswell is hilarious with his stoic expression and calm tone. Bill Murray as “Bunny” is a smaller role, but every scene he’s in, you can tell he’s having fun, and you will be laughing along with him. Sarah Jessica Parker as Delores is pretty damn solid, too, and she shows a wide range of emotions and moods that are just hysterical combined with Wood’s happy-go-lucky act. And Lisa Marie as Vampira is priceless…hell, I could go on listing every member of this cast; it’s really phenomenal. What a great cast.

The story chronicles the haphazard adventures of the making of three of Wood’s much storied films, from the ‘true to life’ story of Glen or Glenda, in which he turned a contract from a porn studio to put out a sex-change movie into a rambling, incoherent mess of his own personal demons, to the making of Bride of the Monster, where he and his crew stole materials from a bigger studio but did not actually have the equipment to make them work right, and finally to Plan 9 From Outer Space, which…well, I’ll go into it later. With every quickly-filmed scene, every messy execution and every mistake, Wood just repeats the words “That was perfect!” and moves on, eager to keep filming. He just loves telling stories, and he doesn’t care how sloppy he gets. “Nobody will notice that,” he says indignantly, shooing off any criticism. What’s going on in his head? I don’t know. But that good natured smile and those wild eyes are poised to succeed no matter how bad he ends up sucking. He’s just unstoppable, even when the rest of the world hates him.

This movie is mostly pretty funny, but I have to admit it gets pretty sad at times, too, like when Bela is committed to the rehab center, and spends his first night awake, screaming his head off. And his final scene out in the yard, being filmed staggering around and smelling flowers…well, just try and watch that scene and tell me you weren’t touched.

But he passed away, as he did in real life, before the filming of Plan 9 ever started, and life went on. How does Ed deal with it? Just like in real life, he hires some guy who looks nothing like him to walk around with a cape in front of his face, obscuring the fact that it isn’t really him. Some of Ed Wood’s best scenes occur in this last segment, the filming of the infamous crown jewel of B movies, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and that’s quite a feat. I think the scene where they all get baptized is my favorite in the entire film. And Ed’s explosion in front of the Baptist sponsors is classic, his voice hitting a squealy high that is really funny.

“Do you know anything about the art of filmmaking?” asks one of the Baptists, to which Ed replies, “I would hope so!”

That pretty much sums up the entire movie right there. Ed Wood is a vivid, hilarious, witty and extremely clever look at a very strange man. I haven’t seen all of Tim Burton’s movies yet, but of the ones I have seen, this one is the best, by far and wide. And that’s saying a lot, considering how much I loved Batman. Ed Wood encapsulates a number of things that make film so great – artful, stylish directing, comedy that goes between subtle and overt, great acting and casting choices and it’s just all around entertaining as hell. What more could you want? Go see this movie; especially if you like Burton’s later, more over the top work. It’s worth a viewing by anyone.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: Waterworld (1995)

Directors: Kevin Reynolds, Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeannie Tripplehorn, Dennis Hopper

“…like a turd that just keeps floating.”
-Dennis Hopper about this movie (may be taken out of context...)

I have heard so much about this movie, this Waterworld. People panned it globally, but then of course there were also the chosen few who had to step up and claim, “Oh, it really isn’t that bad! People are being too harsh!” Well I can safely say I won’t be listening to any of those people again, because this movie is so bad it makes me want to drown everyone involved in it!

So it starts off with some narration:

“In the future…the polar ice caps melted, flooding the Earth with water. Those who survived…have adapted…to a new world.”

Well, gee, that was a quick run-down. What, no other explanations or back story? Why the hell even bother doing that if you’re just going to give us two sentences before you jump into the story? Imagine if Star Wars did that.  “In a galaxy far far away, stuff happened. There were aliens and they were at war.” Then cut to the first scene. Yeah, doesn’t hold up very well, does it?

Well, then we cut to our first scene, appropriately involving a man urinating into a cup and then pouring it into this weird filter-machine so that he can drink it. Yup, this science fiction epic opens with a guy drinking his own urine; I couldn’t even make that up if I tried. No doubt a fitting metaphor for the movie though. So our main character played by Kevin Costner is out on the open sea, dressed in a tattered uniform that looks like something out of…well, any other post apocalyptic film, really. He finds a bag of dirt and has to protect it from a bunch of other bandits and then he takes it to trade for supplies at a nearby town. It’s revealed that he is strangely enough, part fish…how that happened I don’t know, but at least they’re trying, I guess. Of course, like every other dime-a-dozen post-apocalyptic movie with terrible writing, the humans in the future have reduced seemingly solely to caveman-esque idiots who can’t be rational about anything, and so they sentence him to be “recycled” the next day.

Then we get some talk with a little girl who has a tattoo on her back that can supposedly map a path to “dry land” and an old guy who is watching her. She says maybe Costner can help them find it…woo, this movie is on a roll, isn't it? Goddamn, this is boring. I mean, what the hell, you couldn’t even provide us with one thing that is in any way exciting, interesting or thought provoking about this incredibly novel concept? It takes a lot of anti-talent to do that. And have you noticed that Kevin Costner is just completely ugly looking in this? I’m not asking for him to be a Casanova, just…a little bit cooler looking. He just looks like crap, as it is. It’s a terrible design.

So the old guy puts on a hat with a windmill spinning on it for no reason, and goes to talk to Costner, asking him to tell him about dry land. He doesn’t. The next day they try to kill him, but are very conveniently stopped by a bunch of other bandits attacking the fortress. They’re led by Dennis Hopper, who is bald and dressed in…well, it looks like a tuxedo with cheap carnival coins sewed on and bell bottoms; it’s just fashionably retarded. Yes, the world is now rid of any kind of coherent government, any kind of rational logic, but Dennis Hopper survives; someone kill me now. The fight scene that follows is full of all kinds of wacky stuff, ranging from cannons to machine guns to spears to WATER SPORTS VEHICLES!

Yes, you can tell these guys are the BEST water skiers Dennis Hopper could find. Such articulation, such balance, such TALENT!

Yes, the post apocalyptic world that is full of people with dirty hair, skin and clothes fighting to survive is full of jet-skis; go figure. Hopper and his motley crew destroy the whole city, the woman and her daughter with the map on her back free Kevin Costner and they try to make their escape in the midst of all the chaos around them. When Costner’s boat gets stuck, the little girl has to show him how to operate heavy machinery and open the gates to the city wider, because I guess he really couldn’t figure that out by himself or something…

Dennis Hopper gets blown up and loses an eye, but quickly recovers enough to start a new search for the girl with the map on her back, who is with her pretty young mother and Kevin Costner in a boat that has already gotten safely away. Costner says they have to kill her daughter, since the boat can’t handle too much weight anyway, and they would die either way. But instead, the mother bargains him with sex while the daughter goes below and finds out that Crayola crayons have not gone extinct in this very distant future. Costner turns down the beautiful naked woman in front of him because she was so rude to him before, and now only wants to be with him because he can get her out of the city. That’s right, you alien-fish-man-thing. You go right ahead and teach morals, you bland character, you.

Then we get…


Ahhhh! AHHHHH! Jesus, what the hell, movie? Did you really have to show us that? It’s bad enough Dennis Hopper is in this movie, but then you’ve got to go and do this shit? He doesn’t even wear it for that long, so…why even show it? And then we get to see his whole crew, and I think I just found the biggest problem with this. It’s not just the fact that this movie has no memorable dialogue, no likable characters and nothing original about it, but it’s just got no style. It’s not even a good looking movie. The costumes are bland looking and often even silly, the settings are drab and dull and nothing about it looks impressive at all. It’s like The Fifth Element except from the bargain bin; it’s just insipid.

 After a shockingly dull attack by some idiots in fighter jets and…one man planes from the 20s…Costner finds that the woman has damaged his boat while he wasn’t looking. He pins her down and cuts her hair off, and is then promptly scolded by the little girl for being mean when the mother already apologized. Great, so now we’re trying to teach the fish man morals instead of the other way around. Wonderful. He cuts the little girl’s hair too because she used too many Crayolas to color the boat against his will, and I guess the movie thinks this is important for some reason? And then we get, surprise surprise, another dull, overly long action scene! God, can’t these morons make anything exciting, just a little bit? How can they make action scenes so irrevocably dull? How is it humanly possible to make explosions and gun fights SO BORING like in this movie?

But then we get something even worse: the dreaded ‘sappy bonding moments’ scenes, where, like in every movie like this, the big tough guy finally chisels his heart out of the rock it’s encased in by having a lot of cutesy, touchy-feely moments with the innocent and childlike character. Except here it’s sugarcoated with gag-worthy hippie moralistic crap about finding yourself and being one with the Earth…UGH. This is just so worthlessly, insipidly awful that I’m not even going to spend any more time describing it. It’s like torture! Choose between a poorly done action scene and a melodramatic sequence of mushy, over-sentimental drama; it’s like choosing which one of your parents you want to murder first.

Oh, god, it's like a Hallmark card by a rejected PR guy from the lost city of Atlantis.

And wouldn’t you know it? Another droll, clumsily done action scene, this time with Dennis Hopper and pals on a boat full of dead people used like puppets...pretty elaborate set up when all they did before was shoot at them. And all they do this time is shoot at them too! Then Costner confronts the woman about the marks on the girl’s back, since it’s obvious they were after her this time. Costner says there IS no dry land, and then the woman gives one of the more hammy and over the top performances in this movie…just embarrassing really. It turns out that the remains of the Earth’s dry land have been submerged under the water for centuries, all but forgotten.  But while they’re on their whimsical journey of discovery, leaving the little girl alone, Hopper and his crew come to attack! Gee. Maybe you should have been, I don’t know, WATCHING THE SHIP, you retards. Maybe then Hopper wouldn’t have been able to kidnap the girl and take her for himself, hmmm?

On the ship, as she’s now their prisoner, Hopper comes in to talk to her, wearing some sort of patchwork baseball cap, as I guess the movie is still trying to look ‘out there,’ and then he invites the little girl to come sit on his lap and smoke cigarettes. Real role model right there, that Dennis Hopper. Real upstanding citizen. She refuses to help him, saying that Costner and the woman will come for her.

So, are they?


…I think their priorities could use some work.

After that, Costner finds some National Geographic magazines below deck…wait, what? National Geographic magazines? We’re…hundreds of years into the future and somehow National Geographic magazine has withstood the test of time, aging and…being submerged in water? I guess they must have found some kind of special indestructible, super-recyclable paper or something; I don’t know. It makes about as much sense as anything else.

So they get picked up by the old guy from the beginning of the movie on his weird flying contraption, but Costner leaves again soon after to track down the girl. And, I just have to say…it’s really, really lame to do what they do here, and have the little girl narrating how cool Costner is to one of the guards while Costner takes out all of the other guards. That’s just bad directing.

Long story short…Costner blows up the entire ship with one firecracker down the oil tank hole, yet he isn’t hurt, nor is Hopper or the little girl. He saves the little girl but Hopper keeps coming after them, shooting the flying contraption and knocking her off down into the water. Hopper and his goons are about to get her when Costner jumps and saves her, causing them all to run into one another and explode, like the Looney Tunes if they weren’t ever funny. Then our heroes travel on for a long time, judging by the amount of fade-ins and -outs, until they find dry land. This just ruins the only potentially good moral this movie had going for it, about peoples’ deluded hopes and dreams in dire situations (say, if the dry land really had been the myth Costner had thought it was). But no, they all just live happily ever after. Except for the woman and the little girl, who are sad about Kevin Costner, who leaves them to go back to the water, thus making all their vomit-worthy emotional connections throughout this damn movie completely pointless. Hooray!

This movie is wretched! The direction is cheap, the acting is mediocre, the plot has been done a million times before and it’s just boring, boring, boring and LONG AS HELL, too. I think the worst thing about this movie is just the way it expects you to really care about these characters and this situation. It sets up all of these situations where it seems like they’re trying to draw you into the characters with emotional appeals and awful pseudo-hippe-type philosophy, but then the writing is just so dull and so faceless that it’s flat out impossible to do that, and you really wonder how they ever thought any of this was compelling. It’s seriously infuriating. This movie didn’t make me care one iota about any character in it. And for a movie that focuses so much on its characters in such a desolate environment, to have a flaw this big is just unforgivable. I hate this movie, it could have been written better by any given fifth grader and I never want to see it again as long as I live! Keep your heads above the water, audience, and do not support dreck like this.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Theater Experience With The Expendables (2010)

First, I would like to introduce you to a new segment called Looking at some Trailers. Which I will find a better name for eventually, but for now, bear with me. Here are some of the movies showed in the previews for The Expendables, and what I thought of them based on the trailers:

Buried

Oh, hell yeah, this looks awesome. I mean, what more could I ask for out of a movie? A race against time, a dark, claustrophobic motif, and characters distressed and not knowing what to do. Just pure bliss for a thriller fiend like myself. I feed off things like this, and seeing a new one really gets my blood boiling. Will definitely be seeing this on opening night.

The Town

This sent chills down my spine. First of all, directed by the guy who made Gone Baby Gone? Sign me up! But it just looks really cool. The espionage, the dreary, drab settings, the off kilter and creepy Halloween masks…this just looks like a really cool movie. I can assure you this will be on many top 10s for the year, and I’ll review another horrible Japanese horror remake if I’m wrong!
…please, please don’t let me be wrong…

The Green Hornet

Alright, somebody needs to fire Seth Rogen’s agent. What’s the deal with this guy? Can’t he ever appear in a movie that is an actual film, and not just some cheap-ass bucket of “awkward” laughs and hammy acting? It’s insufferable. Also, “let’s act like villains so nobody knows we’re the real heroes”? That’s retarded, get this off my screen and never bring it back. Phew.

There were also trailers of The Last Exorcism, which looks so lame that I’d rather bash my head against a wall seven times than watch it, and SAW 3D, which if anyone thinks it’s really the end of the franchise, you need to get a reality check. But I’m not going to post those trailers, because I’m better than that, and this segment is going on too damn long already.

So, without further ado…drum roll please…THE EXPENDABLES, directed by Sylvester Stallone and starring more people than you can count!


Yes, this was all set up to be the action movie extravaganza of the summer, and did it live up to those expectations? Well, let’s just say it had an unfair disadvantage. But it’s still a hell of a ride. This movie is so jam packed with explosions and so completely action packed that your head will just about explode even just thinking about it! Of course the main draw was all the big names. I mean, they got Bruce Willis, they got Jason Statham, they got Jet Li, they got Mickey Rourke, they even got Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold Schwarzenegger, back on the silver screen at last! What a treat.

I’ll just go ahead and tell you that the best scene of this movie is sadly one of the shortest, and it’s where Schwarzenegger, Willis and Stallone meet in a church. Willis does his typical latter-day role where he plays an almost mobster-like character who keeps in the shadows and intimidates through words rather than through guns and punching people like in the old days. Schwarzenegger is a pompous older mercenary who doesn’t have time to help out Willis’ cause, and it results in one of the best lines in the movie – I won’t even spoil it for you, it’s that good. This scene is just great. Seeing all three of these huge icons on screen together even for a few minutes is a ton of fun.

But the rest of the movie doesn’t slack off too much, either. The plot is pretty simple – a bunch of ragtag, weathered mercenaries are hired to go take down a governor in South America (who is played by Angel from Dexter…). One of them, Lee (Jason Statham), is having troubles with his girlfriend. Which means…he finds out she cheated on him because she didn’t know what he did at work even though they had been living together for a year and a half. Got that? Good, because it doesn’t come up very much again, even if they do try to shoehorn in a positive message about how he’s trying to find himself. It doesn’t really take any kind of precedence over the main story with Stallone, though. Speaking of Stallone, he’s trying to fight his way to save a pretty girl who he got the hots for the second he saw her. A noble cause, and I will ignore the clichéd nature…sometimes that’s just what you need after a long day’s work.

And the explosions, oh, man, the explosions. They’re all over the place here. They’re so abundant that by the end they’re even happening on top of one another; it’s flat out ridiculous. But it’s also really awesome. It’s like Stallone just went, “Hmm, we need explosions in action movies. Okay, put in about fifty times the usual amount. That ought to do it.” I love every second of it.

If I had to pick out any real problems with it, it’s not so much about what the movie did wrong, but more about what it could have been. This movie is a lot of fun, but with the pedigrees of acting involved, it should have been a real epic as opposed to a short, quick film like this. This should have blown us away and given us a transcendent work of action masterclass. But the fact that it did not really live up to our expectations doesn’t mean much, because this is still a pretty solid film.

The Expendables uses a lot of action movie clichés, but it never actually feels dated or trite for all that, and its quick, snappy pacing and huge doses of explosive fun are really enjoyable. It’s clear that Stallone really loves action movies (and I would hope he does a lot, for what he does for a living), and I really enjoy the earnest, balls-out way The Expendables executed its foray of action-packed goodies. It’s an action fan’s action movie. I can’t picture any fan of the genre hating it. This is Stallone’s latest contribution to the genre he loves, and if you want an explosion-filled action flick, I can recommend this with no caveats.