I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Let’s overanalyze the EXPENDABLES 2 teaser

tn_ex2BruceBy now most of us have seen the teaser for next summer’s EXPENDABLES 2, directed by Simon “the remake of THE MECHANIC was okay at least although the action scenes sucked” West. Of course it’s a teaser, it doesn’t show much, and it’s a movie that most of us feel guilty for having any glimmer of hope that it might be good. But those are not good enough reasons to stop my from going through it pretty much shot-by-shot so we can discuss it. Sorry.

First of all, here’s the teaser if you haven’t seen it or need a refresher:

countdown2disappointmentWell, this teaser does a good job of tricking me into thinking I care about these characters and can’t wait to see them again. The truth is I’m more excited to see them get a second chance at doing something. Sure, Stallone’s Barney Ross and Statham’s Lee Christmas had storylines, but some of the other Expendables were pretty much just background characters. Maybe since they came back for another round they’ll be rewarded. Maybe.

We know that Bruce’s part is at least slightly expanded, because he’s shown in more than one location. The reunion of Stallone’s character Barney and Bruce’s “Church” is full of menace this time instead of winking and nudging. Actually seems kinda dramatic.

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It’s a nice looking, moody sort of lighting too. Seems like a better looking movie than the first one.

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I like this shot of Barney listening to Church’s threat. He doesn’t look quite as beaten up by life as Rocky Balboa in ROCKY BALBOA, but he looks kinda sad. I hope Barney gets a little more going on inside in this one. Maybe.

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So they bring back the skull-winged-with-weapons logo, but this time stabbed in the eye sockets. Get it? Two knife handles. Part II. Think about it. It works.

Has anybody else noticed how many trailers use weird electronical bass noises like that ever since they started advertising the TRANSFORMERSes that way? If you want your trailer to be dramatic you gotta have a logo flipping around going BEEEEEEEEeeeeeyoooooowwwwwTTCHZZZZZZZKKKKKKKKZZZ!!!! That’s what audiences demand.

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I guess Barney still likes wearing the beret. That’s his thing.

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Oh wait, Christmas wears a beret too. That shows that those two are best buds. It also means they’re still the two main characters. Or maybe I just think that because I noticed the end of the trailer was copyrighted by “Barney’s Christmas Productions.” (No joke.) I like that they got Lee manning a gun on a turret again, since that part on the seaplane was the highlight of part 1.

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Uh oh. Jet Li is the only one that doesn’t get a cool walking-toward-the-camera or holding-a-gun shot. This confirms the rumors that he’s not in this one very much. I’m thinking he must be the one that dies and they have to get revenge. But I guess not having an action shot implies that he doesn’t even go on the mission. Maybe he doesn’t need the money anymore, or just got sick of all the comments about being small. Even though he made most of them himself. Maybe he finds out that his character’s name is “Yin Yang” and quits on the spot.

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Now that’s more like it. Dolph as Gunnar looks pissed. The turmoil of drug addiction and guilt for having betrayed his friends boils inside him, or whatever. There is actual debris involved, that means some action is going on. You don’t get ceiling debris while standing around talking. Gunnar better not be the one that dies at the beginning, that would be sort of a waste of his miraculous resurrection in part 1. But it would explain Jet Li not going on the mission. He hated that dude, why would he help avenge him?

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The biggest icon new to the sequel cast is Chuck Norris. I am not the biggest Norris fan, but I think he’s earned his place in the movie. I can’t really tell if this is a villainous pose or just an “I’m awesome so I wear sunglasses” one. My hope is that he’s playing an arrogant asshole like he did in the best movie he will ever do, WAY OF THE DRAGON. He doesn’t seem to be wearing American flag pants, which would be my second choice for him.

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This shot of course gets you excited for the return of the most beloved character in THE EXPENDABLES. Also pictured: Terry Crewes as Hale Caesar.

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My personal favorite Expendable is Washingtonian and UFC Hall of Famer Randy “The Natural” Couture as Toll Road. He had that monologue about the origins of his cauliflower ear, and there was that part where he was on the plane reading a book. Okay, he doesn’t get jack shit to do in the movie, but I think the combination of his demonstrable badassness, his unconventional looks for a movie star and his regular-guy-but-intelligent speech make him a really compelling screen presence. So far his best role was in an episode of The Unit, so his full movie potential has not been reached. And probly won’t in this movie. But this shot I like because it just screams “Randy Couture is in at least one shot of this movie!”

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A young actor named Liam Hemsworth plays the surprised-they-didn’t-pull-this-shit-in-part-1 “young rookie who joins the team” character. According to IMDb his character is named “Billy the Kid,” which is kind of a let down considering some of the other crazy character names. It should be something like Rench Greasestain or Rocket Bluntside.

My old Ain’t It Cool colleague Drew McWeeny says that Hemsworth getting “last-name-only status” in this trailer is a sign that “Lionsgate is feeling good about the prospects of HUNGER GAMES,” which is apparently another movie that he’s gonna be in that people are excited about because it’s based on some books that the kids like and all movies based ona series of books change the world forever. I don’t know anything about that so maybe I’m wrong but I disagree, I definitely think it’s what we’ve already been discussed in the comments, it’s an attempt to make you confuse him with his brother who plays Thor. It’s this:

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Squanderers are people who would never squander the opportunity to take advantage of their famous last names. (Surprisingly not named at the top of this VHS tape: Estevez. Joe Estevez.) And for the record, some of us here did say “I don’t know Chris Hemsworth was in this” when we first saw it on a poster.

Speaking of weird credits:

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Mark me down as a fan of the “ALSO VAN DAMME” credit. I don’t remember ever seeing an “ALSO” credit before. That’s just how packed this cast is. If they do a part 2-knives-in-the-eye-sockets-and-one-in-the-nose-hole it’s gonna be “INCLUDING VENTURA,” “ALONGSIDE GRUNER,” “FURTHERMORE, YEN” and “MEANWHILE, JAI WHITE.” They’ll save the “OH SHIT, I ALMOST FORGOT” credit for part IV.

I love picturing Van Damme’s management sitting down with the Millennium Films team of lawyers trying to agree on a special credit that denotes a higher ranking than just being named but a lower ranking than the “WITH” that Bruce gets and the “AND” that Schwarzenegger gets. I think they got it right. Van Damme deserves an “ALSO.” He earned it both with his career as a whole and with having the balls to turn down THE EXPENDABLES the first time so he could spend more time on a way better movie about reanimated corpses fighting each other in a nuclear power plant.

Harry Knowles recently debuted a new EXPENDABLES 2 poster and he said “that poster that made the rounds a couple weeks back, according to Lionsgate, that wasn’t their poster and they don’t know where it came from.” Yeah, you know how the fans are, they’re real sneaky about getting ahold of unseen pictures of all the cast members wearing the same costumes from the trailer and then correctly predicting that there would be credits for “HEMSWORTH” and “ALSO VAN DAMME.”

(I’m sure Lionsgate is just covering their ass after pissing off one or more of the actors – Jet Li wasn’t pictured, Couture wasn’t named, etc.)

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Anyway here’s JCVD himself, brandishing a knife. I’m excited to see him playing a bad guy, I think he’ll do a good job. And hopefully IMDb is not lying about his name being “Jean Vilain.” But the most important thing about this shot is that UNDISPUTED 2-3’s Scott Adkins is standing behind M. Vilain on the right side of the frame. It should say “ALSO ALSO SCOTT ADKINS.”

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Here’s the proof that CIA-connected mercenary-mission-giver Mr. Church actually gets in on the action this time. This is my favorite shot in the trailer. Actually his name isn’t Church, he just suggested that as an alias while meeting with Barney in a church. I can’t really tell from this trailer what the room is where he meets Barney this time. Maybe he’ll go by Mr. Abandoned Warehouse in this installment. Whatever his name is, I hope he miraculously turns good guy like Dolph in part 1 or reluctantly teams up like The Rock in FAST FIVE.

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There you go everybody, Arnold Schwarzenegger as Trench firing a gun. Looks like the same scene as Bruce, so we’ll either see them shooting at each other or shooting with each other. Either one would be historic. Or, I guess they could show up in the same room at different times and shoot in separate conflicts. There are alot of possibilities here. We got until next summer to figure it out. Or we could not think about it again until we get to watch it. Either way.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

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116 Responses to “Let’s overanalyze the EXPENDABLES 2 teaser”

  1. “This shot of course gets you excited for the return of the most beloved character in THE EXPENDABLES. Also pictured: Terry Crewes as Hale Caesar.”

    Ok, I don’t get this. Are you referring to the gun? I don’t recall the camera being held still for long enough for me to recognise the guns when they were being fired in the original one…

    It says a lot about the original Expendables that when the credits came up, I was suddenly struck by the thought: “Holy shit, that was Randy Couture!” Admittedly he’s not as instantly recognisable as Chuck Liddell or B J Penn, but still, for a self-confessed MMA fan to not even realise who he is… that’s some measure of couldn’t-give-a-shit right there.

    Maybe #2 will surprise me. I’m hoping so but I got no plans to see this one in the cinema.

  2. Vern breaking down the EXP2 teaser: as good as it’s going to get where EXP2 is involved. It’s all downhill from here, folks. Lap it up while you can.

  3. I am still trying to be optimistic.

    THE MECHANIC remake was pretty enjoyable in my opinion. So lets hope Simon West doesn’t screw this up.

  4. I got to admit I’m looking forward to this

    judging by the trailer I’m gonna say it’s a more urban setting instead of a tropical island, maybe it’s some Eastern European city?

  5. I gave letter grades to all the members of The Expendables on the most recent poster. I wonder how controversial it is: http://demonsresume.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/decembers-most-unfortunate-movie-posters-so-far/

    Would love to see you take on the GI JOE trailer in the same manner as this article, by the way.

  6. I’m sure it’ll be a thoroughly mediocre movie that coasts into being pretty good by the sheer wattage of its cast.

    Same thing I felt about the first one, really. That had badly shot action, crappy CGI blood and a throwaway plot, but I still enjoyed just being along for the ride with the guys.

    Of course I’d love for the sequel to be a genuinely great movie, but with this cast, I can settle for it being an excuse to throw these dudes together and blow shit up.

    By the way, have you guys seen the first production photo of Stallone’s BULLET TO THE HEAD? Anyone else think it looks like the finale of COBRA?

  7. The second pic of Bruce looks like it might be in an airport to me. Goes without saying, but I’ll need a full trailer before I get excited about this, because I’d like this movie to really deliver on deliver ACTION, and not just a collection of Action Stars doing whatever.

  8. If a movie had an, “Oh shit, I almost forgot!” credit, I would buy 10 tickets. Even if the almost forgot in question was Jennifer Aniston.

    As for Hemsworth, I don’t see him as a faux-movie star. He was rising through the ranks at the same time as his slightly-more-famous-but-not-actually-famous-if-you’re-gonna-be-honest-about-it brother. Sure, he probably got his big break on that Australian tv series that I’ve never heard of and will never watch because his brother already had a role, but he kept booking jobs. And, “The Hunger Games” is a very big deal. Lionsgate is leveraging that potential franchise into a merger with Summit Entertainment. They’re betting the farm on it. If Hunger Games underperforms, the studio better hope there’s a big break dancing competition or they could literally go out of business.

    It seems unfair to put Liam in the, “Other Baldwin brother” category. He didn’t book his Hollywood gigs because of Chris because Chris wasn’t yet Thor when Liam got the jobs. Plus, Liam played the romantic lead in the legitimately successful American romance film, “The Last Song.” That film did 4.5x its’ budget worldwide, so if you wanna get technical about it, he has a better ROI than does his brother and I think ROI is a better gauge of financial success than total gross – mainly because I understand basic economics – so you could easily argue that Liam is a *bigger* star than Chris.

    No one went to see Thor *because* of Chris Hemsworth, but I bet that a good number of young girls went to see The Last Song because of Liam’s pretty boy face and impressive physique. That actually matters in a romance film whereas Thor was basically a sequel to three movies that grossed about a billion dollars each.

    I have no idea of Liam can act, (though I think Chris really added a lot to Thor), but there is no reason to assume that he couldn’t be a legitimate star in his own right and possibly a bigger star than Chris.

  9. The whole premise seems weird. I guess they’re counting on most people not remembered the first movie’s story. Didn’t Barney wind up doing what “Church” wanted FOR FREE?? What’s he so pissy about?

    ALSO VAN DAMME is the main thing I’m excited about. I hope he gets a ton of screentime and gets to chew a lot of scenery. He deserves it! Same thing with Scott Adkins. If he’s just the guy who stands behind Van Damme and doesn’t get a lengthy fight in this, I’ll be pissed.

  10. I really hope Sly plays up the badassness Van Damme pulled off in Assassination Games – it’s a grossly underused trait of Mr Van Damme.

    Also I second Chuck Norris in American Flag pants.

  11. I’m in for this just so they make Expendables III, and then I’m in for that just so they make Expendables IV. As we know, it’s always part 4 when Stallone stops fucking around and delivers the goods.

  12. nabroleon dynamite

    December 18th, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    The 1st one was alright. This one won’t have to do too much to be a better flick.

    Whatever you do, don’t follow Terry Crews on Twitter!! That guy is so far to the right it’s insane!!

    Son is literally Herman Cain on steroids!!

  13. I didn’t much like the first one but found it interesting both as a failure and a novelty. I don’t have monstrously high hopes that this one will be better but I probably enjoy Con Air more then the average Stallone joint so there’s that. Throw in some Scott MFing Adkins and a little Bruce and damn if they don’t have my ticket money again. I’m a sucker.

  14. The Hemsworth credit is hilarious. Most people have no idea who Chris is let alone Liam. If anyone should have gotten the oh shit I almost forgot credit, it should have been him. The addition of Chuck Norris does nothing for me, the only movie he ever did that I actually liked was Code Of Silence. That was mainly good because he didn’t say much and they kept the focus on the story and not him. Why not get someone with some actual acting chops like Kurt Russell. Norris is as stiff as they come, I just hope his role is small. I was there first day for the original Expendables, but this one is looking more and more like a rental.

  15. I never would have guessed Terry Crews for a right winger

  16. but then again, it seems like big musclemen’s politics tend to lend rightward, I wonder why?

  17. Stallone wrote this to the “Stallone Zone” websight during the filming of the first EXPENDABLES:

    “I know that many people on the site have asked for Kurt Russell. I asked for him too. Actually, I was taken aback when asked to put the request in a letter and send it to his agent. Subsequently, I was called back by the agent several days later after refusing to send a letter and he said Kurt Russell is not interested in ‘ensemble acting’ at this time.

    So, People, I came, I saw, I failed.”

    http://stallonezone.com/wordpress/?p=1260

  18. With Russell onboard the set would have been so far right it would have tipped over…

  19. I still don’t think Hemsworth should be in the trailer, at best he deserves a “also starring”. He’s just…not what people were looking for in The Expendables. People didn’t go see Expendables 1 to see “fresh young faces” or “rising Hollywood stars”, they went to see a bunch of old school action stars, musclemen, and martial arts dudes fighting and blowing shit up, and Hemsworth…just doesn’t fit. Seagal? Sure. Russell? Of course. Danny Trejo, yeah, fit right in. Some other former WWE or MMA guy like Dave Batista or Chuck Liddel, yeah, why not, they might fit. Chow Yun Fat or Donnie Yen, bring em on. But some relatively unknown pretty boy whose biggest movie role to date was opposite Miley Cyrus? Just not feeling it.

  20. Still cannot quite believe that this film exists in, y’know, reality and not just in a fever dream.

    Analysing this trailer (great work, Vern) has really got me wanting August to arrive as soon as possible. Over all other films that are on the way, I NEED to see this one.

    For some reason I keep thinking Arnie’s character shoots Bruce’s. Not sure why, just a gut feeling.

    If so, hope Arnie references that dick sucking gag Bruce dared to make at his and Sly’s expense in Exp 1.

    Suck THIS, he might say. Or, It’s your turn to suck. Or some such.

    I get the Hemsworth controversy (aka Hemsgate.) As Vern says, it’s clearly a bit of bait-and-switch: “You know it’s the THOR dude, right? Yeah, yeah…oh, sorry, no, it ain’t.”

    And am I the only one who thinks his character sounds very much like “Schoolboy” from RAMBO? (also played by an ex-soap star. Weird.)

    Love the ALSO VAN DAMME. I wondered if it was some “broken english” gag at first.

    In addtion, they should’ve gone with AND INTRODUCING SCOTT ADKINS.

    Think about it. We all know on here that it’s not his first film but the general populace don’t know who he is yet.

    Hey, it worked for Jim Kelly.

  21. Maybe Stallone felt he had to have something for young girls to look at too?

  22. Just a gutshot of a feeling, but this is going to be lame, they better get Carter Burwell to do the score, to raise the qualityfactor to 7 outta 10!!!

  23. I think sadly Liam Hemsworth is more famous for being Miley Cyrus’ on again-off again boyfriend than any of his acting. I did watch The Last Song, and he’s perfectly fine it though. I suspect his role will be kind of like the sniper guy who helped Rambo in Rambo IV, i.e. you’ll kind of forget he’s in it after it’s over.

    Maybe this has been answered before – remember when Forest Whitaker and Sandra Bullock were both supposed to be in The Expendables? I think I heard Whitaker was supposed to be Crewes which I just can’t see, but who the hell was Bullock supposed to be? Certainly not the native girl or Statham’s girl. I still think it would have been neat for her to be in the movie since Demolition Man started her big break in Hollywood.

  24. Bullock and Whitaker were supposed to be stateside CIA agents involved in that island. There was a whole office subplot about politics that got cut out after the script moved on from the first draft.

  25. I bet Bullock and Whitaker were “attached” in the same way that Danny Trejo was “attached,” i.e., as marketing tags that appealed to certain demographics that Sly used to secure funding but never intended to put in the movie.

  26. As far as I know, Bullock was never attached, but Sly mentioned in an interview that he would like to have her in that movie. And if I remember right, Whitaker was supposed to either play Eric Roberts’ role or the Dictator.

  27. In the first script that Vern reviewed there was the two CIA agents called Diane Lickson and Will Sands, and I think they both where rumored for does role. Also in that script Munroe was a woman, which was a little interesting.

  28. Wait, Sandra Bullock was actually attached to the Expendables at one point?

    When I brought up that she’d upstaged so many action stars in their own films, she should be given a role in “Expendables 2” herself, I was definitely being facetious. (About the role, not about the upstaging.) Can’t believe there’s actually a basis of truth to that. Shades of “can’t make it up” come to mind… except I did…

    Chitown – I agree with Vern on Norris and “Way of the Dragon”. Best movie I’ve seen him in. Mind you, the only other movie I actually remember seeing him in is “Sidekicks”… make of that what you will.

    HT – regarding this: “Same thing I felt about the first one, really. That had badly shot action, crappy CGI blood and a throwaway plot, but I still enjoyed just being along for the ride with the guys.”

    Couldn’t disagree more with you there. Not only about “The Expendables”, but also about the principle in general. My view is that “action stars” NEED great direction, dialogue and action sequences in order to do what they do best. Actually “The Expendables” is probably the best example of this that I can think of. Stallone directed himself in that one, and also gave what I still regard as the worst performance out of all of the ones of his that I’ve seen (and I’ve seen “Judge Dredd”). I should’ve been so excited to see all those great action stars in one film at the same time, but I just… wasn’t. Basically they had nothing going for them – the dialogue was terrible, the scoring was both generic and annoying, the action sequences were a mess. I love Bruce, Arnold, JCVD et al as much as the next heterosexual male, but there was nothing they could do with this.

  29. “Rench Greasestain or Rocket Bluntside” – awesome, Vern.

    Wasn’t the Russell thing from the first Expendables too?

  30. Whatever else, Sly comes up with the GREATEST character names in his movies….

  31. It’s true. Every character sounds like a ska band from the late 90s.

  32. I didn’t know Kurt turned down the original Expendables. Turning it down because he wasn’t interested in ensemble acting is kind of strange. Especially since he’s now going to appear in Django Unchained. I would think that most all of Tarantino’s movies would be considered ensemble movies. I’m guessing that was really his way of saying I’d rather not appear in your retread of 80’s actions movies. What a shame, he would have fit Expendables perfectly. I guess I’ll just have to look forward to seeing him in a non-action slave beating role in Django.

  33. @Undead Paul- I only said that Code of Silence was Norris best film for me because he’s the star. I don’t consider Way Of The Dragon a Chuck Norris movie. Although in retrospect, after all of the shitty movies and Walker Texas Ranger,it sure is nice to watch the ass kicking Bruce gave him.

  34. Chitown:

    While Tarantino most certainly makes large ensemble pieces, his work is distinct because each member of the ensemble could also be the main character.

    Think about True Romance. Yes, that is a story about Slater and Arquette, but every time you meet a new side character on their journey, he/she feels like the new focus of the film. Oldman shows up and the movie feels like it could be about the battle between an comic nerd and a violent pimp. Then Dennis Hopper shows up and suddenly the movie feels like it might turn into a family road trip of some kind. Walken’s big scene with Hopper could be the climax of its own film. The Hollywood guys feel like main characters too, even though they don’t show up until the 60 minute mark. Hell, even Brad Pitt’s stoner is incredibly memorable even though he only has a few lines and no *real* arc.

    For all his faults, Tarantino is a writer’s actor, the first 20 minutes of Inglorious Bastards is a magical thing. I would watch an entire feature about that farmer. And it’s a great and subtle, just-how-evil-is-he? sequence for Christoph Waltz. But the entire thing is actually a character introduction for the girl hiding underneath the floor boards. It’s a very long and seemingly self-indulgent scene, but it actually sets up the vast majority of the film with incredible efficiency.

    Compare that to the whole of The Expendibles. Vern’s joke about Terry Crewes is funny because it’s pretty much true. Crewes’ GUN has as much personality as his character.

    There’s nothing, “Odd” about Kurt Russel signing on for a Tarantino ensemble while turning down a Stallone ego-fest. One is gonna give him a meaty part in a film by a generational talent while the other would be been a second fiddle role in service of another man’s Napoleon Complex.

    Plus, there are dozens of stories I could tell you about what it’s like to work with Stallone. A friend of mine spent a year and a half trying to write a movie for Stallone and John Frankenheimer and it just doesn’t sound like fun, or like a rewarding artistic experience, even though I will forever be pissed that I never got to see the film that might have resulted.

  35. @Tawdry- I get your point but I’ve also read the script for Django which is readily available on the net. Ace Woody is not what I would consider a “meaty” role. It’s more of a role against his usual type more then anything else. At it’s core it’s an evil henchman role.The “meaty” roles went to Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, and Leo DiCaprio. My original comment was actually sarcasm, and if you saw the retread 80’s movie comment afterward maybe you would have guessed that. I think it’s pretty obvious why he didn’t do the Expendables and did choose to do Django.

    As far as using True Romance as an example, he didn’t even direct that movie. For the most part Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Inglorious Basterds were all pretty much ensemble movies. I would even include Jackie Brown in that because it focuses on other characters for long stretches of the movie. My whole point of the original comment was that it was an obvious “fuck you” to Stallone. Next time I’ll just say that instead.

  36. Sorry, I’m an idiot with subtext…or even just text sometimes.

  37. Guys, I’ve been thinking (if I stopped here this would of course be news in itself, but I have more), and I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve been giving the first Expendables too hard a time. I’ve seen it 4 times now, and it is what it is. We can nitpick about every single detail as much as we want, but as a hommage to the direct-to-VHS action films of the 80’s (and lets be fair, most of them are rubbish), it’s bloody cool. I’ve always liked Stallone, but come on, it’s either good or bad with that guy. And in that respect The Expendable’s one of the good ones (along with Nighthawks, First Blood and Cop Land, to name but a few).

  38. Does anyone else now want to set up a retro ska band called “Thunderlips”?

    You have to applaud “Jean Vilain”. It literally translates as “John Villain”. That’s the action movie equivalent of when art movies call their main characters “He” and “She” instead of proper names.

  39. I think a band called THUNDERLIPS should be all female. But maybe it’s just me.

  40. I wrote an extended piece about why I think E2 will be better than E1 but my laptop died and I lost it all so I’m going to give an abridged version:

    1. Better cast. The original that everyone on the internet was so excited about was supposed to be Arnold, Sly, Van Damme, Snipes and was slowly whittled down and we were left with second tier action guys like Crews, Couture, Stone Cold, etc. And even then it really ended up being Sly and Stath running around while the other expendables disappeared for an hour at a time. Now they have legit 80’s action icons like Chuck Norris (which, granted, will probably be a cameo only), extended roles for Arnie and Bruce, a REAL villian in Van Damme, not Eric Roberts, and the addition of Scott Adkins who, if used properly, should steal the show.

    2. Budget. The budget on E1 was a modest $60 mil and as popularity grew during filming they were given an extra $10 mil to play around with. Now they have $100 mil to put towards bigger action set pieces and more expensive shit to blow up.

    3. Rating. E1 was shot not being known if it would be PG-13 or R, so we were left with a bunch of CGI post-production blood which just looks horrible. Now they are fully aware it will be R, and apparently Sly even made them reshoot some scenes because they weren’t violent enough. So hopefully we get some squibs.

    4. Script. I haven’t read the E2 script but I do know that Sly was constantly rewriting E1 on set and the result was a jumbled mess. I mean honestly, who gives a shit about Lee Christmas and his relationship problems? At least this one had a script ahead of time that everyone could work with during pre-production.

    5. Camera work. As Vern mentioned above the film itself just looks better. And while the footage we have is extremely limited, it does look like mostly smooth camera work and slow motion shots. And one thing I do know is that it is god damn near impossible to shake the camera around during a slow motion shot.

    And on a personal note I’d like to see these guys get fucked up a little bit. Sly got beat up a little by Stone Cold but everyone else escaped unscathed. It’d be cool to see how tough these guys are, get shot/stabbed/blown up, end up a mangled mess like Bruce at the end of Die Hard 1.

  41. CJ re. Thunderlips – someone give Louis Walsh a call….. dunno how Irish-centric that reference is. It’s certainly not outlawvern.com-centric…..

  42. It’s an early trailer, so I’ll try to stay upbeat, but I’m getting that same not-so-fresh feeling I had when I watched the trailer for the first one.

  43. Tawdry – I absolutely agree with you 100% on Tarantino. Come to think of it, if you exclude “Mission: Impossible” sequels from consideration, there isn’t much I can recall disagreeing with you on. Not too sure what to make of that…

    Cobra – I also agree with you on the E2 trailer, which is kind of frightening when you consider the implications of Point 5. To wit:

    I know I’m the rank amateur on this site when it comes to action editing; and most of what I DO know, I learnt from you guys. But that said… does anybody else think it’s a really bad sign of how low action movies have stooped, when the introduction of lots of slow-motion into an action film franchise can be considered a serious improvement to what came before? I speak as somebody who was around as a teenager when slow-motion was generally supposed to be killing off action-movies in the same way that shakycam is doing today.

    (Never let the people forget those dark times, guys. As bad as shakycam’s overuse has become, it would be just as bad to go back to a time when every single action movie that came out felt like half of it had been shot at a quarter of normal speed.)

  44. Has anybody else ever heard of this time “when slow-motion was generally supposed to be killing off action-movies” that Paul talks about? Paul, you are literally the only person I’ve ever heard of that has a problem with slow motion. But I dedicated one of my CLiNT columns to the topic just in case there are any others out there.

  45. Maybe in the few years post-MATRIX, where every action movie, from the very big budget ones to the DTV stuff, seemed to consist of people in dark trenchcoats, kung-fuing it out in heavily timeramped fights. But apart from that, I don’t think so.

  46. Maybe after John Woo became famous and lesser directors copied his trademark slo-mo style in the ealy nineties? I can`t actually remember any titles, though.

  47. DNA – you got it. Early American John Woo and his imitators.

    And there’s a REASON you can’t remember any titles. A lot of these movies starred basketball “stars” or C-list ex-soap stars like Scott Adkins. (Ok, SOME good came out of the era.) The amount of horrible action movies from that era, often DTV crap that you only saw on Channel Five at midnight… “Gridlock” starring David Hasselhoff anyone? That was pretty typical. In fact, if anything, it was probably better than most of the movies I’m thinking of.

    I recall a few movies starring Dolph and maybe one or two by Chuck Norris, but I’m damned if I can remember any titles. In my defence, this was fifteen or sixteen years ago.

  48. Actually, more likely this was before Woo’s American jaunts… I can’t remember the exact dates here but I’d think we’d be talking pre-“Face Off” / “MI:2”. Heck, I remember seeing the original “Mission: Impossible” later than this, so it’s gotta be pre-MI:2.

  49. And Vern, if you think I’m the only person who has a problem with overuse of slow-mo, you’ve obviously never read any posting on the Internet about Sean Bean’s death in “Lord of the Rings”. Or “The Patriot” (Mel Gibson / Heath Ledger version). Or “300” apparently (I’ll have to trust the Internets to that one as I’ve never seen it, people complaining about it just kept popping up when I was searching). Hell, just do what I did and google it.

    And maybe this isn’t the best example but I saw “Face:off” with a group of boozed-up students who cheered their way through most of the film but groaned at the bits I still think don’t work – the first and last action sequences – where it seems like every other shot is punctuated with slow-mo. And I fucking LOVE that film. I just wish the action in the set-pieces at the very start and end is as well-edited as the action in throughout the majority of the film. This is literally the only complaint I have with “Face:Off”. And I know I’m not the only one.

  50. Oh come on, Sean Bean’s death has a GREAT use of slow motion. It makes the scene so much more powerful and horrifying.

    (And 300 doesn’t count. That was maybe the worst use of time ramping in movie history, so it’s unfair to blame other movies for Snyders inability to use it right.)

  51. Sean Bean-The Human Pincushion.

  52. CJ – THAT was the worst use of time ramping in movie history? Admittedly I’ve never seen the film and have no plans to, but I can’t believe it could be any worse than some of John Woo’s Hollywood-era over-indulgences.

    And for the record, the only thing “horrifying” about Sean Bean’s death in that movie is the make-up job on the orcs. Sorry, but that whole scene is ridiculous. Over-the-top death, over-the-top scoring, over-the-top editing, over-the-top everything. It’s impossible to take seriously. In fact, if you’re looking for examples of unintentionally hilarious moments that are supposed to be tragic in otherwise serious films, you got a pretty good one right there.

    Shoot McKay – Hehehehehe. That made me smile.

  53. Sorry, Paul. If you don’t believe me, you really should watch 300. And usually I would never ask someone to watch that movie! Because it is awful! At least John Woo knew at some point how to use that technique to full effect, but 300 uses slow motion without rhyme or reason.
    Okay, apparently it was made to show the geeks in certain moments, that this one moment looks exactly like that one panel from the comic book, but every “action” scene is like “Spartan runs two steps in normal speed, followed by 10 second slowmo shot of step #3, he jumps in normal speed for a second, flies for something like 20 seconds in slow motion at his enemy, two seconds of how he stabs his enemy in normal speed, another 10 second shot how the sword goes through his body in slow motion, short normal speed sequence of Spartan pulling the sword out again, 10 seconds slow motion of him swinging at his next opponent” and so on.

    Oh, and you are wrong about the one particular LOTR moment. Was it painted in broad strokes? Yes, but it totally worked. Especially for it, being part of the climax of part one.

  54. I have absolutely no idea what Paul is talking about. There have been some talent-less directors who completely overused slow-motion action shots, but there was never a time where every action movie had as many slow motion action shots when compared to the complete overuse of shaky-cam shots. Personally, if that time existed, I would rather be in that time then in the shaky-cam era. Slow motion shots at least allow you to know what the hell is going on.I’m tired of having no idea who is fighting who. I’m tired of directors who use it in place of actually choreographing a damn fight or car chase.

    One of the best things about older action movies was that moment where the hero actually overcomes the villain. You could actually see the thought process and the counter moves. Now, you see a bunch of shaky camera work and then, if your lucky, you’ll see the hero strike some kind of pose as the villain dies. At first i thought maybe it was the fact that I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and I was just turning into one of those guys who’s always talking about how things were better back in the day. That was until I took my 13 year old son to see Transformers 3 and he complained about not being able to tell what was happening during certain scenes. Unfortunately for me, Transformers 3 made something like a billion dollars. I’m completely resigned to the fact that it’s not going away anytime soon. You can thank Michael Bay and hacks like McG for that. As long as they bring in the dollars then the Hollywood producers are going to keep asking for it.

  55. Slow motion were “invented” by Arthur Penn and Sam Peckinpah in the 60’s because they, as Peckinpah stated; “wanted to show what the hell it felt like to be shot”. Stallone’s (just to link this to subject at hand) use of this gimmick in movies like Paradise Alley and the Rocky saga, where he shoots mainly water in slow motion, is acceptable, but right on the edge. There really should be a film maker law that allows the use of slow motion only if there’s guns and blood involved. The most perfect slow motion scene ever filmed is the shoot out at the end of State of Grace!

  56. When you’re as old as I am, you’ve seen a lot of trends come and go in the movie industry, some good some bad. The only thing that’s always been there is the feeling that every thing was better in “the good old days”. Sure some of these new action movies are too hectic for their own good, but not more so than some of the Hong Kong movies we loved in the 80’s. Maybe we just to old for this shit?

  57. Yeah, I’m not convinced. I can understand why you might not like some of those specific instances (except Face/Off – that’s just nuts) but I see no evidence that there was ever a widespread slow motion menace or that it’s something alot of people have a problem with.

    And Chitown, I want to defend McG’s good three-letter name. Say what you will about him but he is not responsible for the degeneration of action filmatism. In fact I think his action sequences are really well put together – ridiculous Matrixy ones in the C’s A’s movies and more grounded ones in Terminator Salvation.

  58. I’m just hoping nothing bad happens to Crewes’ character… Arnie is firing his gun in that shot. Unless they had a mercenary special on AA12s, that might not bode well for Ceasar…

  59. @Vern- Your right about McG to an extent. I think his name just popped into my head as I was thinking about directors who I feel are bad action directors but he doesn’t extensively use shaky-cam. I can’t agree about his action scenes being good though. My feeling about him is that he started out as Michael Bay light with his extensive use of matrix type action. In my mind, any matrix action scenes that didn’t take place in the matrix were terrible. In fact, I would go as far as saying that matrix action was just as overused as shaky-cam action for awhile. Luckily, audiences got tired of actors jumping 15 feet in the air while triple kicking and dodging a bullet at the same time. Any director who can make Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore action heroes gets no love from me. I will give him some credit for shooting actual action scenes in Terminator Salvation, but I’ll take that credit right back for making a shitty Terminator sequel. To be fair, it’s not completely his fault that nobody but Cameron should ever be allowed to touch the Terminator series.

  60. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this doesn’t make it past 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. We’re getting a bit more screen time from Arnold and Bruce, but I think just like last time, that’s a ploy and we actually won’t see more than 10 minutes from either of them. That’s probably triple their screen time from pt 1, but still kind of a con.

    Does anyone know whether the Chuck Norris appearance is more than a cameo?

  61. “There was never a time where every action movie had as many slow motion action shots when compared to the complete overuse of shaky-cam shots. Personally, if that time existed, I would rather be in that time then in the shaky-cam era.”

    Yeah, I sort of agree with that. Things were never as bad with slow-motion as they have been with shakycam these past few years or so. Although there was definitely an era when it seemed every single film seemed to be filmed in glorious slow-motion with triumphant trumpets and soaring violins to paraphrase just how IMPORTANT and EPIC these moments were. My point is that we don’t want to get out of the shakycam era, only to go back to that one.

    CJ – dayum, you actually make a pretty good case. I feel like I’ve seen so much horribly misused slow-motion filmatism, I MUST have seen the worst of it at some point; but from what you describe, 300 may definitely be “up there” in the rankings.

    Vern – clearly I am insane by any normal meaning of the word; but in the case of “Face: Off”, as much as I love the film, try watching the opening and closing sequences again. Then imagine you had a pathological hatred of misused slow motion shots (which I do, born out of long and grim experience). Finally try to imagine how much those sequences would piss YOU off.

  62. @ Vern:

    “I see no evidence that there was ever a widespread slow motion menace or that it’s something alot of people have a problem with.”

    The thing is, everyone mentions specific instances of stuff. Only websites like this link it all together. So you can find people having a problem with 300 or a problem with LoTR or whatever, and it’ll be down to the slow motion, but they won’t necessarily link them all up and say, “Wait a second, this is a more widespread problem!”

    That said, I’ll give you this: I can’t recall a single instance of a major critic analysing the slow-motion technique and all of its misuses in detail. Whereas with shakycam, it’s practically expected that you comment on it as a critic nowadays. That said, I think that a large part of that is because the kind of movies that feature shakycam nowadays are more “acceptable” to take seriously than the ones that featured an over-abundance of slow motion shots back in the days of the likes of “The Patriot”. When I was growing up, “serious” critics didn’t write about action films or horror films or genre films apart from the absolute mainstream or interesting indie examples. Anything that wasn’t at one extreme or another got maybe a paragraph in the Sunday Times, and was then quickly forgotten about. At least that was my impression.

  63. Undead Paul:

    So we’re like the peer review of the cinematic arts, doing meta-analysis of the data? Or, since shaky-cam makes no sense, maybe it’s meta-analysis of the dada.

  64. Tawdry – I prefer to think of us as contextual synchronisers of convergant trends in a media that is both acutely interactive and critically data-saturated.

    Or, to put it another way, our collective intelligence is the most profoundly significant thing to happen to the Internet since that video of a cat playing with a desk-fan.

  65. I remember Braveheart was criticized for all its slow motion shots. The joke was if there were no slow motion, the movie would be a clean 90 minutes long. It might have been a mid-90s era thing, which would coincide with the Wooification of Hollywood.

  66. But to be clear I will take 1000 300/Matrix knock offs before a single shakeycam mess.

  67. Why all the negativity towards a movie that hasn’t even been released? It’s just a movie, as George Lucas would say. The first one was okay. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but who in their right mind thought it would be. If the second one’s equally good or even better, it will be worth checking out. But that’s not good enough for us. No way. We “know” it would have been a lot better with someone else in the director’s chair and a whole bunch of other has-beens in front of the camera. We will on a daily basis rave on about some piece of shit from the 80’s that most people just want to forget, but if someone tries to entertain us today with something light and fun we’re on him like a ton of bricks. How dare he make this movie without placing the camera on the moon and not having Paul Koslo as the bartender and Billy Drago as the old priest! This is not a critisism of anyone in particular. I’m just as guilty myself (I’m watching Shaker Run with Cliff Robertsen as I’m writing this, for f**k sake), but I think we have to draw the line somewhere. Someone told me on this site some time ago (I forget who) that it’s an American thing to be very vocal about things you don’t like, and I can appreciate that. But, like, come on. In the spirit of the yule tide can we please try to be a little more positive towards Sly and his latest pension plan? At least untill it comes out.

  68. Looking back, the “Wooification of Hollywood” (Love that, Fred T) seemed three-fold in the mid to late 90s:

    An abundance of action films that aped Woo’s style (or rather, the superficial aspects thereof), Woo himself being courted by Hollywood to make films in the US (and eventually – sadly – aping his own style), and then the short-lived attempt to go beyond Woo and plunder the Hong Kong film industry as a whole for other talent (i.e. Kirk Wong, Tsui Hark, Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, et al).

    I’m not really sure as to how much of the above truly worked, if any of it did, at all.

    Did it leave much of a lasting impression? It’s interesting to note that all of the names stated above are back in Asia now, making films, just like the good old days.

    Hell, even Jackie Chan’s latest trailer more or less apologises for his US films.

    Also, in regards to the discussions on wirework (and after watching the so-so TRUE LEGEND), if you’re name isn’t Yuen Woo-Ping, the answer is clear: don’t fucking bother.

  69. Pegsman – well, yes to more positivity, but let’s also not lower our standards. I enjoyed Expendables okay but it could and should be a whole hell of alot better, not only because of its importance to action movies but just considering Stallone’s recent track record with ROCKY BALBOA and everything.

    So I agree with you that whining and nitpicking is annoying, but let’s not pull a “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare.”

  70. I hear you, Vern. I wanted to end the year on a positive note, and went a bit overboard in the process. Too much glüwein perhaps? But I still think the movie’s better than just okay. Have a nice weekend.

  71. Pegsman – the first one SHOULD have been a masterpiece. The elements were there, the talent was there. If you have a line-up of all the best action stars from the last few decades, “The Expendables” is not the film that you make.

    And FTR I don’t WANT the second one to fail. I didn’t want the first one to fail. I’d be astonished but very very happy if Expendables 2 came back and knocked the socks off Expendables 1. I hope that it does.

  72. Question:

    Are you guys *actually* confused by shakycam and its’ editing style? Because I can follow it just fine, I just don’t think it looks cool. Is there a generation gap where Griff and I can actually follow the editing/cinematography just fine but prefer the old style while some of you slightly older gents literally cannot follow the off the wall stylings of the nu-action genre?

    Cause, like, I have pretty significant ADD and grew up on nu-action and the internet.

  73. Tawdry, the thing is that there are different versions of post-action style. There is this completely unwatchable, hyperactive, totally confusing, did-anybody-ever-watch-that-movie-before-they-sent-it-to-theatres shakycam and editing style, where you don’t even have any idea what the fuck is going on, even if you rewind it and watch the scene in slow motion. Like in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, the 3rd BOURNE movie or that low budget horror movie SPLINTER.
    And sometimes it’s more of the not-that-horrible kind, which still doesn’t look pretty, but is (especially on TV) still pretty easy to follow and you can at least understand what happened and why, even if it’s not always clear to see. Like in the 2nd BOURNE movie, THE A-TEAM (movie) or…well, I would even put Michael Bay’s movies in that category. There. I said it.

    So it’s not that we old farts just get all confused, as soon as the camera starts movin. It all depends on how it is done.

  74. Vern, Paul, friends, Romans, countrymen, if you were expecting the new Heat, then I get why you’re disappopinted. Me, I was expecting the new Wild Geese, so how could I be disappointed? In fact, The wild Geese is a very good comparison piece. With all the talent involved – director McLaglen, actors Burton, Harris, Moore, Kruger – it should have been a masterpiece, right? It isn’t. But it’s a bloody cool little movie, where most of the fun lies in seeing those big names talking and moving together on the screen. Moore gets to smoke his cigars and raise his eyebrow, Burton hollers his lines like he’s doing Shakespear and Harris whispers like he’s got the worst hangover ever (actually both Burton and Harris drank soft drinks during the whole production). That’s what I wanted from The Expendables, and that’s what I got. If that’s lowering my standards, so be it. A few days ago I watched Michael winners Firepower with Sophia Loren, James Coburn and O. J. Simpson. What a piece of shit! BUT, it’s the most fun I’ve had in front of the dvd for a long time. I don’t really know where I’m going with this anymore, but I think the idea was to say something about adjusting your expectations to the material at hand.

  75. So, the appeal of these movies is just seeing famous people in the same room together? Can’t you just watch the Oscars or something?

  76. Tawdry – the only time I’ve ever thought shakycam made it impossible to see what was going on was in two movies: “The Expendables”, and “The Bourne Supremacy”. I actually thought Bourne 3 was a step up in this regard.

    I have a much bigger problem with bad action editing, like the final fight between Trejo and Seagal in “Machete”, or the scenes where the heroes are being stalked by a helicopter / Vatican guard in “Mission: Impossible 3” and you can’t tell where they are in relation to the people stalking them. Compare that to the heist in the original “Mission: Impossible”, or the horse race scene in “Mission: Impossible 2”, where it’s clear and obvious what the situation is and where everybody is in relation to one another. Hell, “Bourne 3” is criticised for its shakycam, but watch the railway station scene in that movie, where everyone is converging on one another, or the chase in Tangiers. It’s clear what’s going on from start to finish.

    I don’t think there’s any excuse for bad action-direction, because so many films get it spot-on. “Jurassic Park” was perfect in this regard. “Enter the Dragon” might be the ultimate example. “The Usual Suspects”, “Terminator” and “T2”, the original “Halloween” (yeah, I know I’ve got a reputation for disliking this movie, but that’s only because of the unlikeable victims; I don’t have a single problem with Carpenter’s direction of it), pretty much anything by Tarantino – to the point where you can have lightning-fast shootouts that last for literally a second or two and it’s immediately clear what’s happened and who shot who, something that’s happened in at least three of his movies that I recall – “The Poseidon Adventure”, “Descent”, “The Matrix”, pretty much anything by Romero. More recently, “Drive” was great. “Fast Five” was pretty good although there were definitely points that could’ve worked better (the much-vaunted Rock vs Diesel showdown being a particular example that I recall).

    But I think my point is made. With SO MANY films getting this aspect of things right, it’s actually pretty noticeable when things do get screwed up. “Machete”‘s action direction, for example, really bothered me – it was bad to the point that it was noticeable and detracted from the film. I remember noticing during the final Trejo – Seagal fight that you never actually see a blow land. There’s not even the illusion of it. Don’t get me wrong, I thought “Machete” was ok, but that was unforgivable.

  77. And sorry, Pegsman, we’ll have to agree to disagree on the original “Expendables”. I wasn’t expecting or hoping for “Heat”. I did at least think we’d get something akin to Van Damme’s “Bloodsport”, but no such luck.

    Let’s at least hold out hope together that “Expendables 2” is a lot better.

  78. I’m with Tawdry. I don’t LIKE shakycam, but it sure didn’t make it impossible for ME to see what was going on in Expendables 1…

  79. I think shakycam in general is bad, but with EXPENDABLES specifically it didn’t hamper my comprehension that much. What was more of a problem was the camera was too close up to things some times.

  80. @Pegsman- So by your thinking we all should have went into The Expendables with low expectations and been happy once we found out it was a mediocre action movie. Hmmm, I don’t think so. I, and I’m sure most people, didn’t into this movie expecting Heat. What I went into it expecting was a good throwback to 80’s and 90’s style action. I was basically looking for a fun time at the movies with some ridiculous action, a few good one liners, and a good men on a mission tale. What I got was no good one liners, action I couldn’t see, and a story that made no sense. While I still enjoyed some of the movie, I had to admit that it was not a success.

    I’m not sure if you know this, but people come to sites like this to discuss the good and bad about movies they have enjoyed, hated, or are indifferent to with like-minded people. In the course of that conversation there’s going to be some negative and some positive comments will be posted. that’s usually what happens in a debate or conversation. It’s strange to me that people come to these sites and get mad when they think everyone is being negative about a movie. What exactly do you expect? It’s not a fansite, it’s a movie review and discussion site. If you want purely positive comments with absolutely no negativity, I’m sure you could easily find it on a Twilight fan site or something. There should be lots of love for Bella and Edward and the blank faced werewolf guy that was in Abduction.

  81. Problem with the first EXPENDABLES was you brought in alot to that movie, but you little to nothing from leaving it.

  82. I can see that it bothers some people that I’m not one of the “like-minded”, but that’s the story of my life. My movie philosofy is that there’s three kinds of movies. Group A is the huge blockbusters that get a lot of attention and make a lot of money. The movies “most people” want to see. They’re all alike, but that doesn’t seem to bother “most people”. In group B you have your Charles Bronsons, your Bud Spencers and your Jason Stathams. A bit cheap, but really fun action pictures. If one is bad, you just know there’s another one coming along any minute that might be better. In group C you have your porn, all he student projects that’s not really proper movies and the helpless attempts at art. Basically all the shit that’s not meant to be reach a wider audience. I tend to stay firmly within group B.

  83. I’ll admit I can get a sense of the Dolph/Jet fight even though it’s poorly shot. But on several viewings, I still can’t see the fight or car chase in BOURNE SUPREMACY. ULTIMATUM improve things but that’s my line between artistic difference and incompetence. Then there’s GREEN ZONE flat out going out of focus.

    Interesting that tv uses handheld to get more cinematic shots on a limited schedule. It can’t go overboard like movies do so it just looks more like the mediocre but inoffensive movies, still a step above typical “tv.” Though revisiting old shows like A Team and Macgyver, the pull off still and steady cinematography.

  84. @Pegsman- What your saying makes no sense. In one sense your saying that “most people” all want the same thing while arguing that all you want is Jason Statham action is all you want. Last I checked, most Jason Statham movies, with the exception of The Bank Job, are all the same. Personally, I love straight forward action movies and Jason Statham is one of the few actors who still do them in the raw straight forward way I like. With that said, my whole point was to sat that there’s no need to complain about people being negative because they don’t share your opinion. Instead of complaining about other people’s comments, bring something to the table. Let us know your side of it. Just commenting that people are being too negative isn’t going to make anyone see your view of these movies. Keep in mind that just because you state your view doesn’t mean anyone will see it your way either. It seems to me your view is pretty limited if all you like are “fun” action movies.

    I’m a huge fan of 80’s and 90’s action movies. I was middle row center in the theater for movies like Lethal Weapon, Above The Law, Die Hard, Robocop, Univeral Soldier, and the list can go on and on. Since I spent my teens and early twenties watching classic action movies, it’s hard to take what’s being passed off as “good” action now. Those movies didn’t invent the wheel, but they sure has hell knew how to create suspense and make you actually give a shit whether the main character would live or die. John McClane is the ultimate example of how shitty action is right now. The character went from an every-man type who would actually get hurt and bleed in the original Die Hard to a character who was damn near indestructible in Live Free or Die Hard. About a month ago I introduced my son to the Die Hard series and after each one he wanted to see the next one. Even he made a comment that Live Free didn’t fit with the other 3. Even Die Harder came off better then Live Free did.

    My point is that CGI and Shaky-Cam have taken all the tension out of action movies. Either you get a cgi Bruce Willis jumping off a plane and looking as fake as possible or you get a blur of fighting and have no idea who’s doing what. If that’s the type of action you want then more power to you. It’s not what I want, and hopefully sometime soon an action movie will come along and change all that. Until then, I’ve always got the classics.

  85. Just saw SHERLOCK HOLMES: GAME OF SHADOWS.

    The fight scenes and slow-mo here were extremely well done. Even better than the first film. I fully recommend this.

  86. Felix – Awesome, thanks.

    (Though honestly, the best action scene of 2011 is looking to be a duel between the tower climbing sequence in M:I 4 or the continous-without-cut-or-break chase sequence in TINTIN.)

  87. Fred Topel:

    “I’ll admit I can get a sense of the Dolph/Jet fight even though it’s poorly shot. But on several viewings, I still can’t see the fight or car chase in BOURNE SUPREMACY. ULTIMATUM improve things but that’s my line between artistic difference and incompetence. ”

    My impression of the Jet / Dolph fight scene was that, beyond the fact that most of it took place in a small space, it was pretty much incomprehensible. Of course I never went back to it to recheck. I could be misjudging it because I’ve only seen it once, but “Expendables” left such a bad first impression on me in so many other ways, I can’t imagine I’d ever be likely to rewatch it to find out.

    Absolutely agree with you on the Bournes though. I found Ultimatum far more easy on the eyes than Supremacy, and the fight and car chases in the second film just gave me a headache.

  88. Chitown – very well said sir. I grew up with those late 80s and early 90s action movies as a teenager, and thankfully my parents knew better than to try and “censor” this stuff for me. Don’t think it was by any means all good (I could go straight back to the slow-mo argument, but let’s not go there now) but I do agree with you that the really good stuff back then was superior, from a technical standpoint, than the really good stuff now.

  89. Check out the trailer for Danny Trejo’s new flick BAD ASS.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6UCHk5pFmU

  90. Chitown, as usual it’s obvious that I’ve been unclear about what I really mean. Because it looks like we’re pretty much on the same page. My main period is the 60’s and 70’s, when they made good action movies for grown ups. The 80’s loses me pretty quickly with it’s Reaganism and horrible synth scores and the last 20 years have been all over the place. The Bruckheimers and the Nolans doens’t interest me at all. They make movies for kids. Luckily there’s hundreds of old westerns, war movies and thrillers from the 60’s and 70’s that I haven’t seen, so I don’t really need modern cinema at all. Of course I’ll watch a new Pirates movie with my youngest son when he asks me, and I’ve seen most of the super hero stuff that’s come out, but it’s seldom a giving experience. The only guy aroung now that give me that old Bronson feeling – you know, someone who cranks out (ooops) a couple of movies a year and plays pretty much the same character every time – is Jason Statham. I love every movie he’s been in and think Killer Elite is a masterpiece of retro action cinema. With all this in mind I went to see Stallone’s new movie The Expendables, thinking that it would be fun to watch all these movie heroes in a big budget action pic. To be fair none of them, except for The Stath, have done anything really good in a while (I loved Rambo and Rocky Balboa, but mostly because they were a return to form in series that had become worse and worse), so my expectations weren’t that high. I sort of knew that to be able to be an action hero at the age of 64 Stallone would have to edit the fight scenes as everybody else who choses to have a real actor in the lead (Damon and Downey jr springs to mind), and since he’s never been that great a director inn the first place I also sort of knew that it would be a bit messy in places. And, as I tried to say earlier, I got excactly what I thought I’d get; a retro action thriller that’s not really retro because almost all of the involved have been working way past their prime. BUT, I really liked the thinking behind it. All the scenes with dialog get it right I think. These guys have a past and Stallone is actually able to get some nice performances out of some of them during the quiter periods. As for my (irritatingly) positive attitude towards it, it all boils down to the fact that I’m over the moon by the fact that my man Statham is able to do a Steve McQueen and steal the whole movie from the rest of the cast. He comes out shining like gold, and Stallone knew that he would from the beginning. The scene with the plane, the one with the basket ball team and all the knife throwing – this director has seen The Magnificent Seven a few times for sure. Am I making sense or am I still incoherent from too much egg nog?

  91. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    December 25th, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Pegsman – between the “backspace” and “right-shift” keys is a mystical key known only as “Enter” or “Return”. It may have many names, but do not be fooled into thinking it is hostile because of this. This key can be your friend and your ally. All you have to do is snuggle your finger up to it, and then – softly, oh so softly – push it. It will do the rest for you.

    Anyway… on subject… I think the basketball scene was probably the best one in the movie. It’s one of the few scenes I remember being genuinely impressed with. I thought the action in that scene was far better than it was in most of the rest of the movie. And yes, Statham owned. When you give him something interesting to do, he’s great. My beef with him wasn’t with his acting as much as for the best part of the movie he seemed to do very little, character- or dialogue-wise. Even action-wise he played second fiddle to Stallone.

    And I do agree with you on Statham generally. I disliked “The Transporter”, but for reasons that had very little to do with Statham himself – I just wish they’d have given him more to do. The best film that I’ve seen him star in (there’ve been better films where he’s played more minor roles) would be “The Bank Job”, which I thought was great. I think he’s generally under-utilised whenever he gets a starring role.

  92. Since a few years I wanted to write a RomCom for Statham and Michelle Rodriguez, in which they would both play badass elite soldiers who slowly fall in love with each other during their group therapy, after a top secret mission got awfully wrong.
    I got the idea to put these two into a RomCom, when I saw them having separate appereances in German talk shows, promoting respectively FAST & FURIOUS and TRANSPORTER 3. Statham turned out to be a very charming and funny guy and Rodriguez was seriously lovely and cute.
    Oh yeah, the psychiatrist would have been played by Terry O’Quinn.

  93. CJ Holden:

    That is a legitimately great idea. Of course, act III would involve the lovers going Die Hard on terrorists who kidnap the rest of the therapy group.

  94. Of course. It will be the perfect date movie.

  95. CJ / Tawdry – to bring the “Nativity Story” thread into this one, I’d watch it, but only if it were directed by Verhoven. (Some would make a “I’d buy that for a dollar” joke here, but not me. I’m not that cliche’d.)

    Thinking back, I’ve seen: Die Hard (in a skyscraper), Die Hard in an apartment building, Die Hard in an airport, Die Hard in a railway station, Die Hard in a factory, Die Hard in a hospital, Die Hard on a train, Die Hard on a ship (at least three times), Die Hard on a submarine, Die Hard in a city, and Die Hard in the entire USA. (Yeah, that last one didn’t quite work… anyways…)

    I think they’re missing a few opportunities here. Why not: Die Hard in an elevator, Die Hard at Burger King, or Die Hard on a segway? Producers of Die Hard clones, get your act together!

  96. Why not? With Verhoeven it would be the world’s first NC17 RomCom.

  97. I think Happiness is an NC17 romcom. Also, Benny and Joon?

  98. Benny & Joon was NC17?

  99. It certainly is hard to imagine a film more nauseating than BENNY & JOON.

    Cynical, moi?

    What was “Die Hard in the entire USA”? The closest I can think to that is INVASION USA, which was pre-DIE HARD. The first thing that sprang to mind was THE TAKING OF BEVERLY HILLS, but that was about a mere city

  100. But besides all that, I’ve just realised we probably should have been discussing HENRY & JUNE, which really was NC-17

  101. ya know one idea they’ve never done is Die Hard in the future, on a spaceship (or space station), which is an idea I came up with once

    imagine gun fights in zero gravity!

  102. If I remember right, that B-movie VELOCITY TRAP with Olivier Gruner was a “DIE HARD in space”, but it’s been a while since I saw it. It might be a different movie.

  103. Pacman – “Die Hard 4”, where Timothy Olyphant holds the entire country to ransom.

    Come to think of it, that movie should’ve been way more fantastic than it actually was if that particular premise had been done right.

  104. Paul – what do you mean by “done right”?

  105. Almost 2 weeks later and I still literally laugh out loud at the Countdown 2 Disapointment pic. That shit should be called understatement.jpeg

  106. RRA – I think he means that the execution of the premise was not justified. (pun intended)

    It didn’t live up to the crazy potential of McClane vs. Terrorists with the US of fucking A on a leash. But that’s Len Wiseman for ya.

  107. Broddie – yep, that’s pretty much it.

    RRA – I think I mean if the villain was scary, and there were no cars crashing into helicopters while said helicopters were in the air.

    Not that that last bit wasn’t entertaining in “Die Hard 4”. It did not, I should say, live up to the original “Die Hard” in terms of quality though.

  108. Also, they already used cars crashing into helicopters in mid-air in the DIE HARD TRILOGY video game. It’s how you beat Simon in the final level of the WITH A VENGEANCE portion of the game.

  109. Chuck Norris addition to this movie made me already love EX2 a lot. I mean A LOT!! I only saw a few posters, pictures and a teaser trailer of EX2, but I certainly know I’ll watch EX2 gazillion times and the main reason is my idol Chuck Norris. Let’s hope his role is more than just a cameo.

  110. Paul, which one was in a factory?

  111. Wasn’t quite sure where to put this, and I’m sure that y’all have seen it already, but for the uninitiated…http://collider.com/expendables-2-pg-13-rating-chuck-norris/138775/?_r=true

  112. Yeah, we already talked about this in the Potpourri thread and I have to add DON’T BE SO STUPID, PEOPLE! Do you really think a has-been (sorry, it’s true) like Chuck Norris has any power over such a movie? If any, they re-wrote some of his dialogue and removed any foul language, but that’s it.

  113. Oh, I just read that it IS true. Wow. I’m sure, Chuck Norris had nothing to do with it, though.

  114. No way Norris has the pull to make that happen.

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