The Expendables early bird thread

tn_slyandmjOkay, since a bunch of you are dying to write about it, here is a place where you can discuss THE EXPENDABLES. I can’t see it until tomorrow night Seattle time so I’ll be sitting it out for now.

Also did you know that Stallone and MJ used to hang out.

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124 Responses to “The Expendables early bird thread”

  1. I remember Sly’s “please take me seriously” glasses period… and MJ’s “please think I’m tough” period…

  2. Fuck, I thought that was James Woods.

  3. I have a strange feeling that The Expendables will end up being like a top tier DTV Dolph-type movie. It’s a Nu-Image film, check. It’s also Millenium Studios(they did a TON of JCVD DTV films), check. Possible light shaky-cam, check.

    The only major differences will be cast and budget, and by budget I mean the amount of carnage on screen. I’m sure Dolph would love to unleash the gorey orgy that RAMBO had, but he didn’t have the moolah or the time to set it up.

    So that’s where my expectations lie. Still very stoked to just see Mr. Lundgren on the big screen again.

  4. Sort of-review

    I caught The Expendables a couple of hours ago. Oh, boy.. I don`t know how to break this to you, but this is The Phantom Menace of badass cinema. Somebody ought to warn Vern. He is gonna cry all through this movie (in a manly way, off course). Well, I don`t really know how to review this without sounding like a bitter fanboy, but I`ll give it a try. Keep in mind that I actually enjoyed a lot of it, but.. Well. As an action-movie, it just hits all the wrong buttons. Hard!

    I have never been a stallone-fan. I hated Rambo when I was young (for political reasons. Don`t ask). I`ve never watched a Rocky movie. I liked explosions a lot, so I actually had a vhs-copy of Rambo III, but I hid it under my bed next to the porn-stash.
    The picture of a halfnaked bodybuilder, covered in sweat, with a red fucking tie around his hair and a massive gun always seemed repulsive to me.
    The only stallone-film I loved, was Demolition Man, but that was because of the brilliant screenplay by Daniel Walters and NOT stallone (I told myself…). I loved Die Hard, Terminator, Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hrs, etc, but Stallone? I just didn`t get it.

    And then I watched Rambo 4 (or John Rambo or Rambo or whatever) and it blew my mind. I have never had so much fun in a cinema. I was laughing and jumping in my seat all the way though. This was a brilliant actionmovie. Stupid, offensive and laughable, but as an exercise in action? Simply brilliant. It`s (imo) the actionmovie of the decade. And I thought; “oh boy, this stallone is not really the brightest kid in the class, but he is a genius, when it comes to directing action”. And what made it really great in my book? A solid build-up, iconic photography, brilliant editing and a pay-off that goes wayyyyyy over the top.

    That was what I expected of The Expendables. A stupid, offensive, laughable actionfest that delivers as an action-movie.

    I think The Expendables has some great moments, but none of them is action. The action is fucking terrible. It`s all shakycam, edited by a bay-boy on coke on a very small monitor, with truly horrible digital blood. And digital explosions. And digital smoke. And digital squips.

    I couldn`t figure out who was shooting at who, where they were running at, who was fighting, how they were fighting. The ending is basicaly (this movie is not even worth proof-reading. Sorry.) a lot of guys running around between some tents in the middle of the night: Stallone shoots, something explodes, hey that was Jet Li, did he kick somebody?, who`s on fire?, oh, it`s the bad guy, no, wait.. nevermind, it`s just cgi-flames..

    And the cgi… I know Rambo had cgi-blood, but I didn`t notice when I watched it. It looked awesome! This looks like somebody shot a pg-13 movie and added ketchup-pixels at the last moment. There is some cool bits amongst all the chaos, I counted at least 2, but nothing like in Rambo.

    This is not old-school 80`s horror. This is all the worst action-klichees from the last ten years. It`s “shaking the camera and editing it real fast so it looks like action”-action. And it`s badly done.

    Sorry if I pissed on your parade, guys. At least I hope I lowered your expectations. There is some really good bits, but I`m not gonna spoil them. But Stallone has range, I`ll give him that. He has made one of the best actionmovies ever, and one of the worst. (yeah, okay, one of the most disapointing, then…)

    Oh, and the pretentios bit. Action, in my book, is all about anticipation and pay-off. As in: you see the hero, you see the bad guy, you know somebodys ass is gonna get kicked and THEN… It requires that you can read the frame and guess what`s gonna happen. You can`t read the frame in two seconds and get excited. Especially if the camera shakes in order to make it seem real. And not when it`s all in fucking close-up.
    My favorite bit in Rambo is when he slowly rises behind the asshole in the jeep, and you know some shit is gonna go down. And then he blows the asshole, the drivers and some fifty gooks to tiny pieces with a big fucking gun. Set-up and pay-off.

  5. Told ya. I haven’t seen this yet, but I am on record in previous months’ talkbacks saying that this was going to disappoint. The trailers were just, “eh.” If you can’t muster an awesome trailer, then what hope is there for the film? I’m sure there are some exceptions to that rule, but come on. The AICN reviews are pretty “eh” so far as well.

    Truth in advertising. I haven’t seen this and probably won’t til video. I loved Rocky Balboa, really liked Rambo, and I want to like this. But the reviews are only fueling my doubts.

  6. In all honesty the only review that matters on this film is Vern’s.Who cares what some 16 year old thinks over at AICN

  7. I don`t know how to break this to you, but this is The Phantom Menace of badass cinema.

    Holy shit!

  8. Man, I’m gonna have to stop even coming to this sight because the little snippets of the comments I’m getting on the right-hand side of screen are killing it for me. So I’ll see you fellas in a few days.

  9. Hey dna, your review was pretty good until you said “gooks”. Casual racism’s not as funny as you think it is.

  10. neal2zod: If the CRANK films have taught me anything it’s that casual racism is ALWAYS hilarious. Also, rape.

  11. Fuck disappointment. Whatever it is, it is definitely the movie of the manennium. A local paper said it’s “like a Hell’s angel reunion took place in the back of a combination tattoo parlor and tan salon” and then said a bunch of other slightly complimentary and slightly shitty things about the movie, which is the joke line most people have been running.

    I guess some people liked Rambo so much they thought Sly must be brilliant, I don’t know. I never looked at the guy and thought genius. The point is what he’s doing. It’s like the movie The Man Who Skied Down Everest, and how Yuichiro Miura tumbles his way down half the mountain, but it doesn’t matter because he was fucking skiing down the face of Everest, you know, and however good or bad the movie is, Sly still got the gang together, banged out a movie, and allowed himself to be immensely proud of the achievement. I don’t mean there isn’t an objective side and a critical possibility for the movie, I just mean there is such thing as artistic spirit and contagious passion, and they’re pretty much the cornerstones of creative accomplishment in my eyes, so if you’re standing at the bottom of Everest with fucking score cards you’re missing some of the point.

  12. Don’t forget about racisms not so distant uncle, casual homophobia!

    I forgot to add a bullet point for the terrible CGI blood in my other post trying to lower people’s expectations before they see the movie. There’s enough good moments – a few potential classics I think – that maybe, if you walk in with more reasonable expectations of what it will be, then maybe you will be pleasantly surprised rather than having an internal dialogue running all through the movie trying to rationalise why it is not disappointing.

    Hopefully no reviews starts raving about it positively and spoilering the good moments cos I think if you knew all the positives in advance and none of the negatives, you’d be setting yourself up for the biggest fall since…well Phantom Menace. Good call I guess. And perhaps Dungeons and Dragons for C&/RPGers. I had hoped for a movie version of Baldur’s Gate 2 and had my expecations built up massively by idiot reviewers who praised the writer/director for being a true fan who knew what he was doing and this was his life’s work. And never mentioned that a Wayans was in it…

  13. I know it’s just the optimist talking here, but I’m talking a lot of the fan reviews with a grain of salt. I love Edgar Wright movies, but there is no way I want SCOTT PILGRIM to win this weekend, even if THE EXPENDABLES sucks ass. You gotta figure the majority of people online fall into the SP age bracket.

    I also find it hilarious that you can read two reviews of the film, back-to-back, and they both say the same thing. One reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes says they can see the action clearly, while the next(not to mention DNA up there) says it’s far too shaky-cam to catch who’s hitting who where.

    If anything I’ll be cautious and sit pretty damn far away from the screen.

    However, it is a call to arms, like that great mock-up trailer that was posted. If this bombs, then say hello to Sparkly Vampires and GQ/Gap Action Heroes for the rest of time. Hollywood needs a clear message that guys DO NOT need some dude with flawless skin to be entertained. Suck or not, it’s pretty damn important(even more so to the people who dig action movies like most of you)that this movie make a killing.

  14. Oh and the light shaky-cam stuff would still fit into my earlier prediction about the film

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    August 12th, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that, somewhere out there in the world of crazy action fandom, AB King is the happiest motherfucker on the planet.

  16. I think the ad campaign for this movie is flawed. I know they want to pull everyone into the theaters by showing Schwarzenegger and Willis in the commercials, but people are going to be disappointed when they aren’t there for much more than a cameo. And if I didn’t know about this movie from reading stuff online, you’d hardly notice that Lundgren or Li was in this. Machete seems to be doing a better job of selling the whole crazy cast idea.

  17. I wrote this review in a fit of frustration and didn`t proof-read it, so I fucked up my most important point of critisism:

    “This is not old-school 80`s action. This is all the worst action-klichees from the last ten years. It`s “shaking the camera and editing it real fast so it looks like action”-action. And it`s badly done.”

    Keep in mind that I had high expectations for this movie, mainly because I`m a sucker for the rush you get when you watch a well-constructed and executed action-scene. Maybe I was dissapointed because me and my friend (with whom I shared a geekgasm during Rambo) had been hyping each other for months. Maybe I was dissapointed because it was my birthday-treat.
    My friend enjoyed it, but found the action confusing because of the poor editing. And she loves Micheal Bay-movies.

    I`m not really a big fan of the cast, but I still got a real kick out of watching some of the heroes from my childhood in one movie.

    I`m puzzled by the very positive reviews on IMDB, but I think that most people expect a spectacle with hard violence, and that what the movie delivers. But, I expected great action. Big difference, in my book.

    – neal2zod

    Sorry, “gooks” was meant as a way of expressing the sheer stupidity I embraced, when I was laughing and gasping with joy during the climax of Rambo. Every asian in that movie was either a victim or a sadistic rapist pedophile. That`s rascism. But that`s why it worked for me. I`m not sure I would have enjoyed it, if the hundreds of asians being slaughered had been portrayed as real human beings.

  18. dna – I appreciate the apology and explanation, at least you didn’t try to turn it into some bad joke. But, 1) There were several good guy Asians in Rambo, including one of the mercs and the whole second army that saves them at the end. And 2) I can see what you were trying to go for, but just because you felt a movie had racist overtones doesn’t mean you can throw around hurtful and racist words. If a guy on here said “It was awesome when Bruce Willis and Cole Hauser slaughtered all those N***ers at the end of Tears of the Sun” I have a feeling Vern would probably ban him from the site. Anyways, thanks again for the apology, and know that your writing is actually good enough that you don’t need to use language like that.

  19. Whats with this feckin CGI blood!? I just watched Centurion (meh) and theres one scene thats full of these feckin ketchup-pixels (nice one DNA). And i’m sure its just one swatch of ketchup-pixels that they cut and paste all over the place. Slack Bastards. But yeah I didnt even notice it in Rambo and its all over the place in Spartacus but that is done in a stylee graphic way that fits in perfectly.

    Hey what if DNA is Asian….can he say G**ks? I’m sure I noticed a few people of colour refer to each other as n***ers at least once or twice.

    Anyhoo all that nonsense doesnt belong here ….we’re all just a shower of m***er f**kers at the end of the day …..group hug!

  20. Arnold’s amazing cameo exit was worth all the hype and anticipation for me. I had seen one of those behind the scenes things on itunes trailers with Stallone directing “Shaky cam! Shaky cam! That’s what I want!”, so my expectations for the action were set sort of low. There were however creative and clever action beats in between the shakes. So, at least the action scenes had payoffs amidst the disorientation. Some great lines, some corny lines (why was Dolph given all the worst ones?), with enough 80’s throwbacking to put a smile on my face. Next does Vern’s countdown to MACHETE begin?

  21. @ The Picaroony

    Nope, I`m not asian, but I`m not american either, so words like g—ks and n—–s doesn`t really have any emotionel impact for me. If I use them in my native language, it`s percieved as a joke, cause nobody really talks like that anymore, right? And it`s usually a joke on my own behalf, as in making fun of myself and my own ignorence.

    I was gonna write a long post about when and how it`s okay to make a rascist or homophobic joke, (as when I joke around with my muslim and homosexuel friends), but again, it doesn`t matter if I offended anybody. Sorry, it won`t happen again. That`s just bad writing, moving your attention from the points I`m trying to make about the movie, to a totally non-related topic.

    Also, I love Happy Together. Beautiful movie. Nuff said.

  22. Just got home from seeing it and I thought it was fun. It’s basically a DTV story with a bigger budget. Sure the characters are paper thin and the one liners can be stupid. My favorite being “You remember that next Christmas!” I think everyone that reads this site probably has watched some DTV action and as such know that a lot can be forgiven.If the action is good, the characters are likable, and the story is easy to follow. Expendables meets all those requirements and a guy gets a neck snapped in a way that just makes you squeal with awesomeness.

  23. Yeah, I loved it. I can’t disagree with shaky-cam complaints, because I was thinking the same thing myself for the first ten minutes or so, but the characters and actors won me over. How freakin’ cool is it to see Dolph up on the big-screen again? And I think Mickey Rourke had a really good moment with his monologue. And to see the Guvernator and Bruce and Sly all together? How could I not enjoy it. So yeah, I guess take the above advice on board and lower your expectations if you’re reading this before seeing the film, but just relax and have fun with it. For all the annoying things like closely shot action and fake looking blood, there’s enough other things to have a good time with.
    Also, imagine the young kid who gets to see this with his father, do you think he’s going to care about the crap? No, the kid I saw i front of me was high fiving people after the film. Consider his mind blown. Anyway, I liked it. Planning on seeing it again, real soon.

  24. All I have left to say is that it was awesome when Bruce Willis and Cole Hauser slaughtered all those niggers at the end of Tears of the Sun.

  25. One Guy From Andromeda

    August 13th, 2010 at 6:58 am

    um… what?

  26. Jareth Cutestory

    August 13th, 2010 at 9:02 am

    My local paper complains that the film has the guys sitting around trading insults too much. I actually find that an encouraging bit of news. It is my opinion that films like POINT BLANK survive on the strenth of the badass performances, attitude and dialogue, not the fights.

    Hopefully the verbal sparring will make up for any post-action nonsense.

  27. Jareth Cutestory

    August 13th, 2010 at 9:11 am

    dna: If this weren’t a thread for EXPENDABLES, I’d commend you on your admiration for HAPPY TOGETHER and talk about how moving I found it. I love that film.

    However, if you intended to use HAPPY TOGETHER as a measure of your acceptance of LGBT rights, you’d be better off singing the praises of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT. That is the official GLAAD-approved selection.

  28. Jareth – he could have also picked KISS KISS BANG BANG.

  29. That’s a terrible review Stuntcock Mike. It reads like he wrote it before seeing the movie, and in fact, there’s nothing about that reviw to suggest you had to see the movie to write it – just the poster.

    Excluding poor writing laboring the point way beyond fun, it’s inappropriate. Unless the “real men” he’s talking about are Joe Jackson’s “Real Men” cos “REAL MEN” don’t get sprayed in digital blood, and there’s nothing manly when his “REAL MEN” run through CGI fire or are covered in CGI fire, and it’s really not manly when you can’t see the “REAL MEN” hit each most of the time cos the camera man is having an epileptic fit. He’s prolly not even a dad. If he was being genuine his advice would be for father’s to show their sons Die Hard. If they’re younger like my boys – I showed them the juinor version of it – Home Alone where the man of the house man’s up.

    Dun get me wrong. At the end of the day Expendables has lots of good stuff to offer. I havn’t defended the good aspects cos for one I’m glad no-one is spelling out the good parts. This movie has enough expectation without spoilering what’s great about it in a talkback. Better to lower expectations at this stage of release to save as many “real men” from being disappointed as possible. It didn’t have to be disappointing, but anyone who’s followed the hype and then especially read that dude’s pre-conceptualised review has nowhere left to go in the movie but down. He only stuck with it cos he thought it was such a great idea and has been cherishing it for months that he couldn’t let it go after watching the movie and rationalised under the carpet the bits that dun fit.

  30. I caught a midnight screening of this movie last night, and I have mixed feelings. Overall the movie is fun but uneven. The pacing, film making, and action in THE EXPENDABLES are not near as good as the sure handed mastery on display in RAMBO. However, despite not being the action masterpiece that RAMBO is the film still has it’s moments. There were a few fights and action sequences that put a big smile on my face, and for the most part the cast is good in what little they are given to do. I just wish the cast was better utilized, but at the same time I feel like the cast is part of the reason the film is so uneven. I am sure it was hard for SLY to coordinate a tight shooting schedule with all that talent on a relatively modest budget. For example there is a scene where Rourke has a long monologue and the camera is tight on his face in a way that distracts from his performance and took away from the scene. It is one of many scenes that feels like they didn’t have the time or money to get the shots they wanted, and had to just figure out how to try and make it work in the editing room.

  31. – Jareth

    If I wasn`t so nervous about being misunderstood as a racist homophobic with a poor sense of humour, I would point out that Priscilla doesn`t feature any homosexual asians.

  32. AU — come on, you gotta admit that “Call to Arms” trailer at the bottom makes it all worthwhile.

  33. dna: You’re posting in this thread alongside our old pal AU. Anything you write will appear moderate in comparison.

    I noticed Cinematical has what appears to be a very reasonable review of EXPENDABLES up.

  34. It really might’ve MrS if I hadn’t already seen that great clip way back prolly the same time when this reviewer wrote his review.

  35. Agree RE Cinematical’s review. A proper and well reasoned article.

  36. Thanks AU, your review of the review that wasn’t really a review was somewhat interesting.

    Not solicited, or even fully read mind you, but interesting just the same.

  37. Just got back from it, and while flawed, I liked it. I’ll start with the negatives. The biggest problem for me with the film is that at 1 hour and 40 minutes, it feels too short for the story, and doesn’t really have a proper 2nd act, so it the end comes a bit abruptly, and there was plenty they could have stuck in the middle(especially since the majority of the team get underserviced in favour of Stallone and Statham). I felt the same about the last RAMBO movie, which seemed to pile all it’s action into the latter half of the movie, so ends just when it seems to be getting started for me. 2/3 of the film, we get post-action influences on the direction, but for the most part nothing I can’t cope with. I can tell what’s going and who’s killing who and how and it all makes sense, just maybe a few moments with a lack of transition and overall they could have pulled back a little farther, but not The Bourne Epilepsy type stuff. The Li-Lundgren fight is the worst offender with regards to shakeycam when they go hand to hand. HOWEVER, the climax and general last 30 minutes of the movie things are a lot more coherent and properly old-school and is my favourite part of the film, so it finishes strong and leaves it’s best till last. And earlier moments like the bit at the docks bit were pretty enjoyable.
    The cast all do really well, even when they’ve got minimum screen-time. Stallone and Statham are a good believable buddy/mentor-student relationship and are very capable in the action scenes. It’s nice to see Li playing a not-so-inscrutable character and more of a regular guy with real concerns who also gets to kick ass. Couture has good presence and his character was amusing, Crews also was funny, and his big action moment was GREAT. Lundgren doesn’t quite play the character you’d think he does from the trailer, but I think for the better that he has some little nuances and sympathetic aspects. Eric Roberts was on slimy form and Stone Cold was a real menacing heavy. Daniels could have gotten more to do and I think he sounds way too much like your cliche british cockney henchman, but he’s part of a nice action set piece. David Zayas does alright as the villain general, but I think someone like Joaquim de Almeida would have been better and more convincing. Rourke’s scenes are good and he brings a bit more heart/depth to the proceedings and propels Stallone’s character forwards more. If they do a sequel, work the whole team into it more because when they’re showing working together at the end, it’s really cool.

  38. CHARLES, actually this was apparently budgeted at 85 million. A lot of the money probably went to the cast, as at least in the marketing it looks more like a 30-40 million movie.

  39. Crap, forgot to say I really enjoyed the Bruce and Arnold cameo scene. Really funny.

  40. Thanks Stuntcock Mike, but unfortunately your review of my review of your linked review was not only unsolicited, but also uninteresting.

    A quick flick to you site and through your first review – not fully read mind you, just down to “So good job porn guys, you’re doing the Lord’s Work here.” – I will acknowledge though that at least you used your own personality in your review of my review of your linked review, as opposed to just ripping off Vern’s.

    Good job Stuntcock. Just my 2 cents. Tellin’ it like it is…

  41. You almost have to just dismiss the shaky-cam complaints these days, because for some reason Isaac Florentine is the only guy who realizes how horrible they are. That aside, The Expendables is fucking bad fucking ass:

    Simple, straightforward plot? Check.
    Light-hearted comraderie? Check.
    Badass Juxtapositions? Check.
    Bone-crunching, head-exploding, bowel-trembling action? Check.
    Shit blowing up real good and loud? Check.
    Ridiculous, corny dialogue? Check!
    Mano-a-mano fights to the death? Check, check, check, and check!

    And so on.

    Loved it, loved it, loved it. I feel like a teenage girl just returning from Twilight Eclipse… feeling my body changing, all these new emotions… oh shit, uh… forget that last part.

    Can’t wait for the review, Vern!

  42. tuukka, I am sure most of the budget went to the cast. Some of the CGI looks really cheap.

  43. Jareth Cutestory

    August 13th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    What did you think of the Li/Dolph fight? Someone told me it really suffers from poor editing.

  44. Jareth- Yeah, like I said my comments above, it’s the one that suffers most from shakey can stuff, but has a nice kung-fu movie logic bit where Jet figures out a way to turn his weakness into an advantage and vice versa for Dolph. It’s also pretty short, and (MILD SPOILER) there isn’t really a conclusive winner between the two of them.

  45. Jareth, I was underwhelmed by the Li/Dolph fight. Not only did I not like the way it was edited, but I also felt the concept of the exchange and it’s execution were poor. It is hard to figure out who is at fault for the lackluster encounter, but it is not Li and Dolph’s fault. As I mentioned in my review the movie seemed limited by it’s budget and shooting schedule so I am sure they did not have the luxury of shooting a scene until they get it right or numerous reshoots, but at the same time I expect better from Sly. However, I remember hating how Sly shot and edited the final fight in ROCKY BALBOA, so maybe I am giving him to much credit.

  46. caruso_stalker217

    August 13th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    The Lundgren/Li fight could have been better, but the car chase that preceded it was fucking top drawer.

  47. Another memorably bizarre line: “Your daughter paints? THIS IS HOW IT STARTS!!”

  48. INSECT!

    Just saw it, and loved it. As far as the shaky stuff, you guys must’ve been sitting too close to the screen, because I despise bad shaky-cam and I was able to follow literally almost everything in the movie. If the Lundgren/Li fight I caught almost every blow(just when they were under the grating did it get a little hard to follow.

    Most of the critical negatives are quite honestly a moot point. Most of the cast got something cool to do, even Crews and Couture, who weren’t even in the middle part of the film.

    That being said I am biased, ’cause it was quite honestly the Dolph quite literally owning all of his scenes that won me over. He IS the most quotable Expendable in this beast.

    I hope it does well, and here’s to(hopefully) Mr. Lundgren getting a chance to shine on his own, in a future big screen project.

  49. The Phantom Menace of badass cinema? Are you fucking kidding me? Lucas obviously doesn’t give a shit about his fans. The Expendables is basically a love letter to action fans. Had a blast, can’t wait to see it again…

  50. caruso_stalker217

    August 13th, 2010 at 11:57 pm


    I sat in the front row and had a hell of a time making out a lot of the fights. Especially at the end when there were like three or four happening at once. When I see it again I think I’ll sit further back.

    Loved it when Dolph ground that dude’s head into the dashboard and left his boot print on his face.

    The most bizarre piece of dialogue to me was Mickey Rourke’s ad lib about tattooing Charlotte’s Web on Statham’s head.

  51. Expendables is a big fat disappointment and it’s not a good film by any means.
    The the harsh truth, even though we all wanted it to be something else.
    Stallones writing simply sucks. I mean it really, really sucks. There’s no good characters, no good dialogue and except for the Albatros sequence there’s not one good fuckin’ scene.
    The Action is all chopped up, edited to death and looked so much better on those itunes-making-ofs Stallone put out recently.
    The Expendables never rises above the idea of bringing together all the good old tough guys. In fact it wastes the talents of everybody involved. It’s the kind of film that feels like it was being made up while on the go and yes, it feels like a shitty DTV Nu Image/Millenium production, just with a bit more cash than usual.
    There’s no way around it:
    Stallone fucked this thing up pretty bad.
    Man, I’m pissed.

  52. I had to see the film with a bunch of snob critics who laughed AT the movie, yet I was still able to tune them out and enjoy laughing WITH it. Sorry guys, if you think those lines and on screen eye rollings were meant to be taken seriously, the joke’s on you. It’s like a stream of consciousness inside Sly’s head.

    I thought they had some great crazy action and it’s true, they’re not really selling that in the trailers. Prime example: Li vs. Lundgren. Everyone should know that’s in the movie. It happens. Jet Li fights Dolph Lundgren.

    It is a shame that Sly felt he had to go shaky cam but I’m in the camp that says it wasn’t so bad. Not as good as locked off tripod shots, but handled far better than post-action.

    For context, I guess I went in thinking there’s no way this movie can be as cool as I’d want it to be, so when it actually delivered I thought wow, Stallone still can deliver crazy shit. And I knew the trio scene would only be one cameo but it was monumental and the way the icons roasted each other was, as one of them would say, fantastic.

  53. Annoying editing and shaky cam, but the movie is still fun thanks to the cast.

  54. FTopel – totally agree.

    I love the whole vibe, the sincerity, and the inventive action. Shocked to see negative comments to be honest. Maybe I had low expectations going in – but I was surprised how enjoyable and satisfying it was. That first real hand to hand bit, where Statham is just handling shit with his throwing knives – moving into the escape/nose-gunner pay-off was a fun time at the movies and I was totally sold from that point on.

  55. I cut right to the chase: You’d expect that the THE EXPENDABLES will be an 80s style action flick. Lots of action, stupid plot, explosions and macho one-liners. While you get a hunch of all that, THE EXPENDABLES fails by presenting to many characters who don’t have anything interesting to do at all, by being boring for the most part and for having some of the worst action sequences seen in a long time.
    The action scenes or basically THE action scene, since the whole second part consists of the grand finale whereas the first half is utterly boring, okay so the action isn’t choreographed or filmed in the 80s fashion. You have fast cuts, shaky cam, confusing camera angels and lot’s of CGI blood. Some fights are just wack. The fight between Jet Li and Dolph Lundgren is one of the worst Jet Li fights of all times. Who edited that shit? Who did the choreo? Basically all the hand to hand actions sucks a lot.

    Another thing that I really didn’t like are the many bad one-liners, and I don’t mean bad in a good 80s trash-way bad, I mean bad as in “not funny, you try too hard”-way. The infamous Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis Scene was painful and awkward. This has got to be one of the worst cameos I’ve ever seen and just proves what’s wrong with this movie. If you can’t come up with a more funny or clever way to bring up those three action giants on one screen (even if it’s only for a couple of minutes) then you lack some talent or are just lazy. The whole movie feels like they knew exactly, that everybody will be amazed about the cast that they didn’t have to put their heart in this. The unused potential of this flick is ridiculous.

    Of course though the movie is entertaining at times and I can’t hate too much on a movie, that blows up so much stuff and shows people getting ripped apart. But the fact remains, that this ain’t in no way as good as it wanted to be or as I wanted it to be, the same way as Rambo IV was in no way as good and fun as it’s predecessors.

  56. To “scoop”, about “The infamous Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis Scene was painful and awkward.”? Wasn’t to me, I got some laughs out of it, as did the 2 dudes I was with(and as did most of the theater). And we weren’t laughing cause it was “painful and awkward”, we were laughing cause it was, well, entertaining and fun. No, it wasn’t funny on the level of a good British comedy or anything like that, but it still made me laugh. As for the rest, I love the classic 80’s action-hell, I owned more than a little of it on VHS then bought it again on DVD, and this movie, while not being quite the same, lived up to them nicely. Yes, I too woulda preferred no shaky cam, but it wasn’t as terrible as some people said, I could make out most of what was going on just fine, and that’s with only having 1 good eye. And if this movie has “some of the worst action sequences seen in a long time.”, I’m guessing you haven’t watched a lot of action movies recently? I mean damn, not saying they’re Fist of Legend or Hard Boiled awesome or anything like that, but still, I’ve seen TONS worse than this.

    As for the the whole lack of characterizations, well, that was kinda expected, wasn’t it? I think we all agree that Predator is top quality, yes? Now tell me, did we love Jesse Ventura’s character because he was a deep complex character, or did we love him because he was a big badass dude who carried a fucking minigun through the jungle?


    I`m still still a bit hesitant about spoiling the good bits in The Expendables, but (SPOILER) I thought it was awesome to see the 3 gods of action in the same scene. And I laughed when Ahrnuld gave Bruce his deadpan stare. Classic! And then he walks off because he doesn`t have the time to take the mission anyway. I mean, what the fuck? Why did his character even bother to show up, then? And he wants to be president (wink-wink). That`s almost as awful as Tango saying “Rambo is a pussy”. Or George Lazenby staring into the camera, saying “that never happened to the other fella”.


    I might have sat to close to the screen, cause I couldn`t make any sense of the actionscenes, but I never had a problem with following the action in THE BOURNE TRILOGY or DISTRICT 9.

  58. “The Bourne Trilogy”: I wonder why people always forget that part 1 didn’t have any shaky cam and in fact looked pretty good.

    Sorry for going a little bit off topic.

  59. The only major fight scene was very shaky CJ. Look back at it.

  60. Well, I don’t know exactly which scene you mean, but as soon as I find the energy to dig through my DVD shelf, I will look for it.
    But until then, I found this compilation of Fight scenes from Bourne 1 and they look as good to me as I remember them:

  61. – cj

    I think the carchase and the fight in his apartment was pretty hand-held, but Greengrass turned it up to elleven. And I think the disorientation serves the moment, best example being the awesome carchase in moscow in Supremacy. You feel you`re right next to the character, fighting to make sense of the chaos, and when he does, so does the audience. Greengrass knows when to cut to a total so you regain your orientation and then plunge you right back into the action.

  62. How the hell was The Bourne Identity PG-13? Not to sound like a Puritan here, but I wouldn’t let my theoretical under-13 years old kid watch that. The pen in the flesh? The Seagalian broken leg bones? Anyone else tracking?

    Yeah, I saw Total Recall when I was 7 or 8, and I turned out fine and not at all sociopathic or violently predisposed or anything, but, damn, should’ve been some Franka Potentitties in there maybe so MPAA would’ve realized that film is for mature adults.

  63. Mouth – don’t forget that one F-bomb either. Apparently according to that Doug Liman commentary track, you’re allowed a “fuck” or two in a PG-13 movie as long as you’re not referencing it to intercourse. So “fuck this” is alright, but not “fuck him.” The MPAA are hilarious.

    BTW Vern wasn’t this thread about EXPENDABLES or was I missing something?

  64. I thought we were talking about sex here.

  65. Oh, I just looked up this “EXPENDABLES” you mentioned, RRA. Turns out, guys, it’s a movie that is in theatres as of yesterday. Hey, Vern, maybe you should watch this movie and tell us about it so we know whether or not to buy tickets too. It would be a good assignment for you in my opinion. Keep the column under 500 words please, thanks.

  66. Mouth – A good suggestion.

    So we’re talking sex here, thoughts on camel toe?

  67. I’m not a fan, though it is enjoyable to point out the sight of some good camel toe in public. Same with wedgies & crackage, I guess. Do people become aroused at the prospect of camel toe, the sight of it? It’s a visual hint of something we all know is down there; either the chick has an extended vertical line in the puffed up part north of her vagina or is wearing a very tight bottom or both. What’s the big deal?

    The verbal construction of the thing perhaps is what precludes me from attaching a positive connotation to the female physical phenomenon, as I have seen many, many actual camels in the country that generates within me the most disgust regarding other Americans. I speak, of course, of Kuwait, where more than a few lazy non-soldiers & non-hackers in uniform earn “combat” pay and bonuses equal to those earned by those in OIF/OND/OEF proper, though the Kuwait-based pricks only work 6-8 hour shifts with constant hot water and air conditioning and 24 hour dining facilities and christ this enrages me irrationally I’m going offcomms now to go squeeze a stress ball.

  68. Scoop – To each his own and I can see how The Expendables could go either way, no matter what level of fan you are. The one premise I might suggest a counter to is “expecting an old school ’80s action movie.” I’m not sure that’s what we were supposed to expect at all. To me it seemed like this was Sly’s attempt to bring the legends up to the millennials. Or not, maybe it was the other way around.

    Major Friday opening looks on track for a $30+ million weekend. I’m actually disappointed Scott Pilgrim didn’t do better because it is truly a phenomenal film. That Edgar Wright is going places and I’m sure he’ll do fine after this. But this will end up being Stallone’s biggest opening ever, right? I mean, before this only Cliffhanger did summer movie numbers. Back in Sly’s heydey, movies made their money by building over time so they’ll have a lot to boast about here. If it paves the way for Expendables 2 (trilogy please?) or just three more generic Stallone movies, I’ll take’ em.

    As for Shaky Cam, I agree it’s sad we have to accept shaky cam on the basis of whether it’s better or worse than other shaky cam. We should insist on clear photography. I don’t by the “realistic/you’re in the action” defense because no matter how shaken up I am, my natural equilibrium allows me to see what’s going on clearly. More importantly, is no one complaining about the awful shaky cam in Inception? You can say it’s supposed to be a dream, you can say Nolan knows what he’s doing but most of the action is shaking so much you can’t appreciate what they actually staged for real.

  69. Holy shit! Fred Topel’s in the house! His review of WATCHMEN may be the best film review ever:

    “It sets up the film as a period piece for superheroes, like Oliver Stone for comic books.”

    “It’s 300 times 10.”

    “Being naked on Mars is beautiful and sexy. It will look fantastic on Blu Ray without any of that crappy film projection getting in the way. ”

    “…redefines the word epic. I don’t know what the new definition is, but it’s definitely different.”


    You keep writin’ ’em, I’ll keep readin’ ’em, Fred!

  70. Wow, thanks Dan. I didn’t want to play the journalist card here because I’m here as a fan of Vern’s, but I’m glad you seemed to take my writing in the spirit it was intended. Honestly, now that I’m reading Vern, it’s been a struggle to keep the Vern out of the Fred Topel. He’s so damn good, I find myself breaking into tangents and thinking, “No Fred, that’s Vern talking. Stick with Fred.”

    For what it’s worth, Vern is the only opinion that would influence my viewing decisions. If he says it’s badass, I’m going to check it out. Led me to Ninj* and The Tournament, and now the Undisputed sequels are on the way.

  71. hey “dks”, I dunno how many action movies I have to see, to make my argument legit, but I still think the action scenes are mostly below average. Like someone else already pointed out, if there weren’t those big names attached to this flick, no one would even consider this a more than DTV kind of trash-approach of an action movie. The Lundgren vs. Li fight kind of proved my point, because it just sucked in almost every way: Tension, stunts, choreograpie, cinematographie… I can’t help it, but Lundgren vs. Li sounds so amazing on paper and to see it unfold like THAT it almost makes me cry.

    As for the part with Willis, Sly and Schwarzenegger: I’m glad that you liked it.
    I saw a screening of Grown Ups a couple of weeks ago and the crowd went apeshit when Kevin James was hit the tree…
    point is: Just because the crowd likes it (and obviously they do according to the box office figures) doesn’t make it good, does it? Willis saying “I’m to old for this shit” (or was it Arnie?)? Sorry if that does not float my boat.

    And I don’t see where characters “having anything interesting to do” is the same as being “deep” and “complex”. I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. If Stallone choses to pull a “Darth Maul” and you’re fine with it, cool. I can’t help but think about all the shit that those actors could have done, if someone actualy wrote some shit for em.

  72. Fred,

    Phew. I was half worried you’d write back and tell me that your writing is intended as deadly serious, detailed analysis focusing on film through a post-structuralist framework. I’ve been following you’re oddly infectious kinda wacky reviews ever since I read that WATCHMEN review last year.

  73. I suppose I should continue this privately with Dan, lest I bore the Expendables crowd. However, it does amuse me to no end when people take me utterly seriously and complain that my praise doesn’t make any sense. Somebody actually wrote a hilarious deadly serious critique of that very Watchmen review.

    But, now that I read Vern I realize I still have a lot of work to do, so thanks for the support. :)

  74. GET A ROOM, YOU 2!

  75. I hope they use protection.

  76. I’m not gonna right a real long winded review, so I’ll just have a few bullet points

    *I didn’t find the action too confusing, I certainly understood it better than most action films I’ve seen these days
    *it was really cool seeing Angel from Dexter in a movie (the general guy, I don’t know the actors name), I also liked the bizarre detail of him painting his soldiers faces
    *I liked how serious the movie took itself, it wasn’t trying to be jokey or anything
    *that scene (you know one) with Terry Crews and his gun was…so…fucking….badass, I couldn’t believe my eyes, the whole audience laughed

    now I do have some complaints though
    *the CGI blood of course, I’m happy that there’s blood at all, but it was really fake looking
    *I do wish that Dolph and Mickey did more in the movie, I kept hoping that maybe Mickey would fight with them at the end, alas maybe for the sequel

  77. good lord, don’t I look like an idiot now, I meant to write “write” not right

  78. I definately don’t get how anybody who likes Stallone’s movies could feel that EXPENDABLES was a bad one, or even a weaker one.

    Maybe a lot of people have been Nolanified to want brooding serious characters like Bourne and Danny Craig’s portrayal of Bond, and so I guess those people might feel a lack of gravity to a movie like this about a group of upbeat happy invincible heroes who joke with each other and kick ass because they are good at it and not out of gut-churning moral outrage or something. And I guess that’s fine, but it makes me wonder why they saw it.

    Sure, there were some things in the movie that were kinda weird. The Willis Schwareneggar scene felt really fucking unnatural, but I liked watching that scene and think it will grow in legend with time.

    I do hope there is a DVD of a longer cut of the movie that maybe fleshes out some of the characters a bit more, but I was a happy Stallone fan watching this movie.

  79. Just came back from this one. It was real good. The CGI gore enhanced the feel they were going for, I think, because it wouldn’t have been as fun if everything felt realistic. My only complaint is that some of the stuff with Sly’s love interest was flat out boring.

    Just about everything else was awesome and a crazy balance of intentional and unintentional comedy.

    Terry Crews deserves to star in his own action franchise after this, big time. Randy Couture isn’t ready for prime time yet and no we don’t like your cauliflowered ear.

    But I’d say this flick was a solid B to B+.

  80. “but I still think the action scenes are mostly below average.”

    As I said, I’ve seen tons worse, both in “big name” movies and in DTV junk.

    I’ll agree Dolph and Li wasn’t the best it could be, but it’s certainly not the worst it could be either. That part WAS one of the more annoying bits of shaky cam though.

    “Just because the crowd likes it (and obviously they do according to the box office figures) doesn’t make it good, does it? ”

    Not necessarily, no. But when the crowd consists of people who grew up watching the movies these guys were in, the people who love the old school action movies most of these guys came from, the people this movie was meant to see, if they were amused by it, it did what it was supposed to do, no? A group of people who basically worship the classic action movies liked the scene, and really, that’s all a director could hope for. Me, and the dudes I with, we’re the people who watched the old Stallone stuff, the old Arnie stuff, hell, even some of the old Dolph stuff, and well, we didn’t find it awkward or insulting. If you did, sorry, but it makes me wonder, do you feel awkward when you watch the guys bullshitting in the chopper in Predator, or when Arnie’s throwing out 1-liner after 1-liner in Commando?

    “Willis saying “I’m to old for this shit” (or was it Arnie?)? Sorry if that does not float my boat.”

    Pretty sure nobody said it actually, maybe you watched a different movie. Think Willis may have said that in Die Hard 4?

    “I can’t help but think about all the shit that those actors could have done, if someone actualy wrote some shit for em.”

    Maybe you were the wrong audience for this crowd? I mean, look at the movies these guys tended to do prior to this one…I know Stallone had his “take me serious” phase, but really, did he have a ton of interesting stuff to do in Rambo 2-4, other than go out and shoot shit and blow shit up? Did Arnie and Ventura and company really do anything beyond “shoot a bunch of guerrillas then run through the jungle” in Predator? Or Commando for that matter. Pretty much the whole appeal of the the old school action movies the Expendables cast made their name in was seeing these big larger than life macho dudes shooting, stabbing, blowing up, or beating the hell out of small armies while throwing out goofy 1-liners, and, well, that basically sums up Expendables.

  81. On “realistic gore” and such: Did you know that an M2 .50 Cal machine gun can deliver a round of sufficient size at a sufficient velocity that it does not have to hit a target directly to do massive damage? If a round flies by a guy’s neck but does not penetrate any part of his skin, he will still most likely die due to the, I don’t know exactly, the force of the ripple of air in the wake of the .50 cal round, and it will be really bloody and nasty.

    Also, smaller bullets rarely travel straight when they hit people. They do some funny shit inside a human body, bouncing around, lodging in vital organs, or climbing up spinal columns. Movie bullet wounds seem to either generate veinous bleeding (and ostensibly slow internal bleeding) or massive exit wounds, and those stupid fucking exit wounds are always of course straight behind or on a trajectory with the entry wound. I assure you all that this is misrepresentative of the preferred travel methods of Mr. 7.62 or Mr. 5.56mm NATO standard ball, tracer, or armor piercing ammunition.

    Anyway, when did we all become experts on what violent wounds and blood look like, and why do we care? It bothers me more that some movie characters are spot on accurate 100% of the time and some characters can’t hit the broad side of a barn from 25 feet.

    I’m a Rambo fan, with it’s glorious bloodshed, so I’d be more likely to complain here about the lack of explanation for the Expendables crew’s infiltration onto Vilena and gaining eyes-on the objective so hastily. Anyone else catch that, or am I misremembering? They all decide to go, to surprise Sly with their loyalty and hop on the plane in the US, and then suddenly they’re like 100 feet from the palace security henchmen.

  82. “so I’d be more likely to complain here about the lack of explanation for the Expendables crew’s infiltration onto Vilena and gaining eyes-on the objective so hastily. Anyone else catch that, or am I misremembering? They all decide to go, to surprise Sly with their loyalty and hop on the plane in the US, and then suddenly they’re like 100 feet from the palace security henchmen.”
    YES! That’s why I think the film needs a longer 2nd act. Show how they get back there and maybe have them attacking some preliminary target on the island(maybe attack a prison?) before heading to the mansion.

  83. Jareth Cutestory

    August 15th, 2010 at 7:48 am

    If we were all experts on wounds, it might bother us that in a certain film a woman can lose an arm and copious amounts of blood, but still retain consciousness, while a man in the same film think can be rendered stone cold unconscious by a little bite to the bottom lip. Or that a woman can retain her figure after a shotgun blast to the chest.

    Stu: Did you get the impression from the editing that there may be bonus material put back into EXPENDABLES for the DVD version? I remember that seemed very apparent when I watched DIE HARD 4.

  84. Yeah, I hate to sound like one of those frickin nerds who say stuff like this, but the DVD extras ought to be pretty good for this one.

    Stu, you & I are in accord. Another scene involving, I dunno, repainting the crew’s plane with some other old 80s action buddy in a quick role as an ex-con expert underground painter/forger guy would have helped. How awesome would that be? — the guys realize they need to prep transport to Vilena a 2nd time, so they visit a Sonny Crockett-style little house boat to call on an old friend, and a man or woman rises from the opposite side of the dock in full coveralls and mask, airbrush in hand. Sly & whoever exchange grunts, an inside joke, maybe armwrestle for some reason, and then the mask gets pushed out of the way and we see that it’s. . . JCVD? The chick from the Iron Eagles? Chyna? Laila Ali?

    And they do their business and then fly back to Vilena and stab dudes & blow up some stuff and then the last act of the big battle goes down. Everybody wins. 1 too many cameos with my proposed addition? Probably, but I’d go with it.

    Aight, Stallone, have your people call my people. I got your sequel right here, brah.

  85. —–“As I said, I’ve seen tons worse, both in “big name” movies and in DTV junk.”——–

    I’ve seen worse too. So? Are you really not getting the point? The Expendables had at most “okay action”. for the anticipated action-vehicle of the decade that’s not only a shame, it’s basically a fail. We’re not talking about SOME action flick here. And as I mentioned two times before: No I can’t recall a worse Jet Li action sequence in recent history. And the shootout with the airplane sucked aswell. It looked like bluescreen fx they did in the 80s to make Superman fly…
    Yeah the last 30 minutes or something were solid but c’mon, that’s just not enough.

    ——“I’ll agree Dolph and Li wasn’t the best it could be, but it’s certainly not the worst it could be either. That part WAS one of the more annoying bits of shaky cam though.”——–

    it was a lame fight. it doesn’t even matter if it was the worst or not. i was exaggerating to make a point.

    ——“Not necessarily, no. But when the crowd consists of people who grew up watching the movies these guys were in, the people who love the old school action movies most of these guys came from, the people this movie was meant to see, if they were amused by it, it did what it was supposed to do, no?”——-

    well yes and no. yes because of course this could indicate that Sly did everything he could, and no, because people are just happy to see their old heroes again and are uber excited like chicks who see SATC2. in no way The Expendables plays in the same league as Predator, that you like to compare this flick to.

    ——-“If you did, sorry, but it makes me wonder, do you feel awkward when you watch the guys bullshitting in the chopper in Predator, or when Arnie’s throwing out 1-liner after 1-liner in Commando?”——-

    there is a difference to pretend to be badass and to be badass. in Commando or Predator those one-liners were the real deal not fabricated wannabe clever shit like they are in Expendables. “I don’t have time to bleed” is a classic, there is not one single line that has the same timing or feeling to it in Expendables. following your reasoning, Arnie in Batman & Robie was the shit…

    And I never said that it’s awkward, because they are throwing one-liners. I happen to like one-liners, but they have to hit the target. If you bring an one-liner and no ones laughs it’s awkward. It feels pretencious. The whole chruch-scene had a “yeah we have Arnie and Bruce for like an hour”-feeling all over it. It wasn’t clever or funny, it felt rushed and out of place. I wanted to like that movie so much, but I can’t understand how everyone is going nuts because those three ACTION HEROES are in one room and there is literaly NOTHING happening. How dumbed down can it get? People actually saw those three in real action flicks, now they’re satisified that those three old man just have chat? you can’t be serious man. how am I supposed to feel this shit? I can’t erase 20 years of watching movies in my head. It was a lame cameo, that’s all it was.

    —“Willis saying “I’m to old for this shit” (or was it Arnie?)? Sorry if that does not float my boat.”

    Pretty sure nobody said it actually, maybe you watched a different movie. Think Willis may have said that in Die Hard 4?—-

    You might be right, I don’t even remeber what they said, but it was in the ballpark of “he wants to be president” or “he is to old now” or something like that. who cares. it wasn’t very inspiring or funny at all. If a decent writer like Tarantino would have penned this scene we wouldn’t even have this discussion.

    —- Pretty much the whole appeal of the the old school action movies the Expendables cast made their name in was seeing these big larger than life macho dudes shooting, stabbing, blowing up, or beating the hell out of small armies while throwing out goofy 1-liners, and, well, that basically sums up Expendables.—–

    yeah but not all macho, goofy 1-liners, blowing shit up and stabbing dudes flicks are good and fun. some are just pretencious crap, some have hit a nice or different tune, some have magic moments that you never forget, some where just right for the time in which they were release… list goes on. it’s not that easy to make that kind of movie, even if you have all the late legends in it.
    I agree that Expendables has all the right ingredients, but you need to cook it right and Sly was a shitty Chef.

  86. …Oh my.

    So I’d be best waiting for DVD then?

  87. People really struggle to get $10 and 2 hours together to see movies in the cinema? You rely on our opinions that much?

    Fuck a future DVD — this is the guy that gave us Rambo, people. I mean, c’mon! Rambo!

  88. […] The Expendables early bird thread | The Life and Art of Vern […]

  89. Goddamn SPAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  90. Just got back from this, even with expectations lowered it was underwhelming.

    Scoop – I completely agree with you and get where you’re coming from and your reasoning that you can’t just put these action stars on the screen and expect that to be enough, but I gotta say, your use of the word “pretentious” is way off, like not really being used correctly at all. If the film doesn’t manage to pull off the cheesy one liners similar to those in quality 80s action flicks, that’s not pretentious. That’s just a crap joke. Pretentious would be like Rambo 4 when it tried to show all the atrocities in Burma and how paint them all as evil then have us all cheer when Rambo does violence just as bad to all of them.

  91. When Mr. Majestyk described his anticipation by saying The Expendables would be like 8 x-mases to him, I said to myself that those expectations were unreasonable and likely to facilitate disappointment. So I tempered my excitement a bit — it was supposed to be more like 5 1/2 x-mases for me.

    There is no Santa Claus. I still give this film a modest thumbs up.

  92. This pretty much sums up my opinion on The Expendables.

    Scott Pilgrim vs The World was, by far, the best action movie of the year. Great fight scenes. Great directing. Great visuals. Great story. Great humor. Hotter girls. You could see all the fght scenes without shaky cam.

    All Stallone had to do is direct the film the way he directed that brilliant final action sequence in Rambo but instead he directed the film like a retarded Paul Greengrass.

  93. Mouth – when practically everyone on this site says a film is “ok” or worse, it’s a pretty clear sign that I’m probably not going to like it.

    Like I’ve said (too often for people to not get bored of it) I love a great film, I like a good film, I can respect an ambitious failure, I can be entertained by a fantastically bad film. What I can’t abide is a mediocre film. This, my friend, screams “mediocre film”.

    And I’ve been to the cinema three times in the past two years. I just don’t bother going there any more unless I’m so stoked about a film that I just can’t wait for DVD (rarely happens, last time was “Inception” and I loved that one.) Too many kids, too many adverts, too much overpriced tosh being thrown at you. I have a Netflix subscription and a 24-inch monitor, that’ll do me.

  94. I’m seriously tempted by “Scott Pilgrim”, by the way. The trouble is, I just know what kind of crowd will be there along with me. No disrespect to you guys, but I hate being in the same room as a hundred cinemagoers for two hours.

  95. Or more likely, two and three-quarter hours, with three quarters of an hour of it being taken up by adverts boomed into my face at about a hundred and ten decibels louder than I usually listen to stuff anyway.

  96. And incidentally, ninety percent of those adverts will be for some disgusting “alcopop” concoction that tastes like it was manufactured in a fucking cauldron.

    Ok, Ima gonna stop now.

  97. All true, Paul.

    Still, I like to give the theatre a chance, cuz every now & then something awesome happens, like when my buddy & I were the only 2 in the auditorium for Redbelt. Or when my beach date cancelled so I decided to catch The Protector by myself. Or that amazing shared laughter and whatthefuckedupness in the collective face of the audience for Bad Lieutenant: POCNO.

    I wouldn’t trade those various 2 hours long moments for anything, and they wouldn’t have happened on my computer monitor.

  98. Well I frigging loved the hell out of this movie. I’m shocked that action fans could dislike this movie. I will go on record and say that the end action sequence in Expendables is one of the best of all time. I really disagree that the action is “Greengrass”. Go back and watch the end of Rambo IV, this is the exact same style, where it’s extremely intense with some shakiness, but still clear and pretty easy to follow. The only dissapointment in terms of action editting was the Jet-Li/Lundgren fight, which did get a bit too fast at times.
    In fact, I would say Stallone has nailed down a very good style, that’s half way between modern “Post-Editting” and the super classical style of the 80s movies. I feel the added intensity and excitement, but not to the point of disorientation.

    I would also say this is a better movie than Rambo IV. People keep talking about how this is worse, but honestly, Rambo IV has that great ending action sequence, but also a lot of uncomfortably brutal rape and slaughter for the hour leading up to it.

    This movie takes that end action sequence from Rambo IV, makes it 4 times as long, gives stallone way more to do, and gives you 2 other awesome action sequences in the middle of the movie (the stallone/statham recon mission sequences, and the jet-li/stallone/lundgren car-chase and fight).

    I feel like all the complaints people have are about the first 20 minutes of the movie, which is admittedly not very good (bad cgi laser sights, lots of mumbling and bad lines).
    Everything from the recon mission onwards is a great/classic action movie as far as I’m concerned.

  99. @GoodBadGroovy

    sorry for misusing the word. I’m not from the U.S. so excuse my spelling/english. glad tho, that you agree… just read the IMDB board (I know, I know…) and slowly starting to doubt my own eyes. But then again, people loved Die Hard 4 too……

  100. I saw The Tournament this week. That movie was also 100 times better than The Expendables. There is no possible way that the final sequence can rank anywhere near the top of action sequences. Some of you have blinded yourselves onto hoping that this movie would be good. While I did enjoy the charactors, Crews and Couture got fucked so that when We get UFC vs WWE there was no reason to really care. Not to mention how terrible that scene was. You are LIARS that say you could follow the action

  101. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a way better film. Edgar Wright is a profound “filmatist,” to use Vern’s word (and I can because that’s what we’re here for, right?) Sad that Universal can’t get it out to more people.

    Yet it’s also a blessing that Stallone could still make the impact The Expendables did. I expect it to divide people but we’re talking 3 million people saw it this weekend (assuming $10 tickets which we should all assume if we’re being realistic.) I’m happy both exist, and that there is a community that can debate The Expendables on its merits.

  102. Scoop – I didn’t LOVE “Die Hard 4”, and I agree with a lot of the criticisms levelled against it. (Bruce Willis sure as hell wasn’t playing John McClane in that one.) But none of that is a huge dealbreaker for me. I don’t think it’s a great film, and I hate how they wasted Tim Olyphant. But in my opinion there are far, far worse movies out there. The Internet got that one wrong.

    That said, occasionally the Internet gets it very, very right. And when that happens I’m glad that it’s there to save me from wasting my time on over-hyped crap. Not that I’m saying that this is what “The Expendables” is, but I do know that when I watch it (and I probably will, for curiosity value if nothing else) then I will go in with my expectations suitably lowered.

  103. @Lawrence I call it like I see it. I had no trouble following the final battle sequence. Maybe you were too close to the screen. You’re insane if you think The Tournament was a better action movie. While I did enjoy that movie, it didn’t have the same punch or maintain a continuing sense of intensity like the Expendables does, not to mention how it kinda petered out at the end.

    I’m really curious to see where Vern comes down on this, because I know he gave the A-Team a pass on its editting, and the Expendables action scenes are WAY clearer and better editted than the A Team was.

  104. Scott Pilgrim is indeed the better movie though, if you guys have any extra cash please give Scott Pilgrim some love because it’s a shame it’s getting so overlooked

  105. Griff – Universal allegedly sank at least $30+ million in just ads alone for SCOTT PILGRIM, so why is it tanking?

  106. Pilgrim is a better film but it’s not really an action flick… it’s, at the very least, not at all bad-ass. On purpose, of course. But these are different animals. Scott Pilgrim is like a flashy tiger that shows off in one of those Vegas shows for his magician owners and the Expendables is like a pack of old wolves who mostly smell bad but are still pretty cool.

  107. I liked it and thought that the only thing that didn’t deliver the 80s action throwback goods was the editing/shaky cam. But the editing/shaky cam wasn’t that bad. The Dolph/Li fight was pretty unintelligible, but there were more than enough awesome action moments to make up for that. I kinda find a lot of the story/structure/character/dialogue critiques a bit irrelevant to tell the truth. A bunch of character arcs and pathos would have felt disingenuous, and too modern. That said, I thought the story and characters in this one were better than RAMBO, even if the action, while more frequent and sustained, never hits the gleefully gory heights of Mr. Stallone’s previous picture.

  108. BTW I realize how silly it is to associate “pathos” with “too modern”. The point I was trying to make there is that 80s action heroes didn’t really need tragic backstories or tortured, complex souls to function. Just a reasonable goal to prompt some good ol’ fashioned killin.

  109. Just saw it and mostly agree with Gwai Lo. The shaky cam was unfortunate but what can ya do. I had a great time. The oneliners were cheesy and fun and not at all cringey. Wish it woulda been a little longer.

  110. I did think the thing with Statham’s girlfriend’s new boyfriend was unnecessary. It was almost like they shot four or five ‘character pieces’ like that and just kept the one. It’s not like they came back to it at the end or anything, it was just…there.

  111. I shouldnt have to be in the last row of a theater to have to make out the action. The tanker bus chase in The Tournamentis a great example jow you direct an action sequence. Not the all over the place quick editing so you cant tell who the fuck is who and where or if the punches looks like it hurts or not. I bet you Machete blows this movie out of the fucking water and youll be able to see all the actioncscenes clearly.

    Would it kill an action director to use a steady cam? Say what you want about Len Wiseman but he at least keeps the camerq steady.

  112. Fyi I am on my iphone so pardon all the weird grammar errors.

  113. One last thought… i actually thought this flick had a lot in common with those huge-cast romantic comedies they’ve been making recently, like He’s Just Not That Into You and Valentine’s Day.. in that it’s mostly an excuse for everyone’s favorite actors from the genre to do fun stuff for a little while and star in some short and sweet set pieces.

    The Dolph stuff in the opening and the Statham shit with his girlfriend were definitely part of that vibe. The only place where there was a majorly missed opportunity was with Mickey Rourke…

  114. The shaky cam shit is annoying but if that’s what it takes to get Dolph Lundgren back in a damn theatre than I can stand it.

    Let’s face facts, folks, the shit is here to stay. It’s like reality TV, it’s cheap and popular, therefore the money-grubbers will continue to produce it. The Shaky Cam is the same thing. Is it more cost effective to have some dude with palsy have a handheld on an action sequence, or pay for Yuen Woo-Ping, have all the actors train for 5 months to learn a martial art, and all for 2 minutes of film?

    It’s a lost art, and honestly we, in normal circumstances, should avoid encouraging it with our money.

    In normal circumstances.

    I just mentioned reality tv, but I’m a huge Steven Seagal nerd. I’ll be damned if I didn’t watch every single episode of LAWMAN. Same deal here. Dolph’s back in theatres, not to mention the huge ass cast.

    So yeah, rarely you can stand it. And for all of you on the fence, there are FAR worse offenders than The Expendables. Go see it, and support the Dolph.

    BTW: 35m baby! I believe that’s Sly’s biggest opening ever!!

  115. BTW dunno who else caught this, but Expendables featured what might be the first display of ‘gratuitously efficient reloading’ as a point of action pride. Nice touch, Sly.

  116. That gratuitously efficient reloading was amazing. Good call.

  117. I loved the Statham girlfriend stuff. In fact, that’s probably what the movie needed more of. We’ve got 90 minutes of this crew being the best at their jobs, but what we really want to see is how they don’t put up with any shit at home. I mean, come on, brushing back the hair to reveal the black eye was sooooooo obvious. And Daniels’ crew shit talking Statham because they don’t know what a badass he is. It’s all asking for it just like we want to see. Would have loved for each Expendable to get an “everyday” badass moment. Maybe in the sequel.

    As a major shaky cam hater, I’ll say this. I can see how it’s an effective tool for TV shows or low budget movies who just can’t stay in a location long enough to set up complex shots. Big budget studio movies shouldn’t have to do it and the artistic defense is bullshit. I’m a little more optimistic that, like The Matrix’s bullet time and 3-D, people will tire of it and filmmakers will go back to the Spielberg way of actually showing us all the cool stuff they created.

  118. Alright you talked me into it about the girlfriend thing. Maybe it felt weird to me because it was the only thing like that. Two or three more with the other characters would have been welcome.

    Also am I the only one who saw Rourke as the Whistler of the group…he clearly is their hookup for missions, maybe he builds weird killing technology back there too? I half expected (SPOILER this doesn’t happen in the movie) the badguys to show up at Tool’s and rough him up, to show they mean business or something. If, inshallah, there’s a sequel, I bet he’ll get something like that.

  119. I think the only point of Rourke was to have him give a “serious” speech since he’s a “serious” actor. And it’s action movie tattoo symbolism but that’s deep, man.

  120. This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know whether The Glimmer Man is a prequel to the Twilight series?

  121. I think Eric Roberts should’ve recruited those basketball bullies as part of his bodyguard squad. It would’ve helped tie Statham’s personal plot to the main plot of the mission a bit more.

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