The Expendables 3 - 2014 - 2/5 - Directed by Patrick Hughes - Starring too many to name, look it up on IMDb
The Expendables Franchise, what to really make of it. The first film is a cool concept, a group of mercenary's (essentially) played by a few new guys like Couture, Statham, and Crews, but packed with men from the 80's and 90's action scene, unfortunately that film is one I greatly despise. The second film is what the first film needed, more focus on the other characters, more action, more violence, more everything. With the third film, it's like the shift was to focus more on the young crowd, but last I checked, my friends my age couldn't care less about these films the way an older man or a die hard fan like myself and others can. This third installment in the franchise is probably the more serious one in terms of plot, as the Expendables go on a mission to eliminate Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson, the original leader of The Expendables, which then forces Barney (Sylvester Stallone) to recruit some new members into the team.
If it wasn't for this leaking online nearly a month before it's wide release (Ouch, Lionsgate!), I probably would've waited for Netflix, but seeing early isn't bad either. It wasn't nearly as atrocious as I was expecting it to be, but seriously, man? It's like Stallone understood what was wrong with the first film and improved with the second. Yes, many think the second film sucks, but I love it, it was mindless fun and what I wanted the first film to be, and also because I love Jean-Claude Van Damme. Here, he's trying to cater to the young audience with an inexcusable PG-13 rating. Last I checked, young movie goers would rather see something like Transformers than this, because of the age barrier. You can bring in young "actors" like Ronda Rousey(LOL), Victor Ortiz, Glen Powell, and Kellan Lutz, but it's not going to change a thing.
Let me start by mentioning the very few positives this film has. Wesley Snipes and Antonio Bandera's kicked ass and were exciting to watch on screen. It was great to see Snipes and Bandera's in a major film again, as it's been some time, and it was funny to see Snipes make fun of his actual prison sentence for Tax Evasion. Harrison Ford may not have had the most action scenes in this, but he's still got it. It was nice to see him in an action film again. Mel Gibson can surprisingly play a pretty good villain, when given something actually good.
The Negatives, here we go. The pacing, holy S*** is it awful. Once the second film started, it never really let go. It had it's pauses, but was good at pacing itself. With the third film, it took nearly an hour to set up the film and the mission. The violence. When I heard this was PG-13, I figured it wasn't going to have body parts flying or heads being decapitated by a helicopter blade, but at least try to make it interesting. The action in the first two at least felt over the top and old school like the films from the 80's & 90's, here it was like watching any other action film; so much for being an old school action film, Sly! It felt incredibly watered down, which is a shame, because after the crazily fun second film, this is like a damn episode of Teletubbies in comparison.
Too much focus on the new blood, while it could be good, it wasn't here. It's like they were shoving them at us. This further made it feel less and less like some old school action film with a cast of guys, and more like some random summer action film. I want to see Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham be tough guys, not Kellan Lutz and Victor Ortiz trying to be tough guys. Disappointing to see these new guys get more screen time then Statham, Lundgren, Couture, Snipes, Crews, and Banderas. Ronda Rousey is the worst of the bunch. I watched this putting aside my distaste of her as a fighter and looked at her as "Ronda Rousey, The actress", and my god can she not act. Her "Tough girl" looks are hilarious, and line delivery is cringe worthy. Was Gina Carano too busy or something?
Oh and how come modern Hollywood still can't get the Hollywood Action girl right? James Cameron turned Ellen Ripley from a strong willed female character, to a full fledged bad ass in Aliens. Gina Carano was bad ass in Haywire even Mila Jovovich was bad ass in those awful Resident Evil movies. Maybe Dana White threw money at Stallone and had her cast, or Stallone thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Hell, even Emily Blunt was bad ass in the more recent film, Edge Of Tomorrow. Frustrating to see female action film characters 90% of the time cut from the same mold.
The direction, led by Patrick Hughes is abysmal. At least Stallone got a veteran action director in Simon West for Expendables 2, here the action felt like something I'd seen from, again, any other action film. I understand it's rare to see an action film look so good, but is it too much slow down with the quick cuts? It isn't going to make your film look so "gritty" and "raw" Oh and that CGI, with a budget of $90Million and shooting in Bulgaria where there's a tax cut on the film and big back lot, is it so much for there to be good CGI that is passable, and not something done last minute? Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes had a budget of $90Million and the CGI was great. I watched this with the same expectations I had for the second film, low, but this film never managed to rise to the equation. It's an action film trying to be something it shouldn't be. It dropped the humor and excessive violence and all the fun that made the last few fun, in favor of a new audience, but like I said, the younger audience would rather see something like Transformers due to the fact that it is more accessible to their age and more fitting.
I put aside Ronda Rousey and other pressing issues I had that made me not want to see this, but in the long run,The Expendables 3 is a massive disappointment, whether you enjoyed the first two or not, you aren't missing much here. Stallone shot himself in the foot with this one. This film is pretty much dead on arrival now.
Locke - 2014 - 4/5 - Directed by Steven Knight - Starring Tom Hardy
Who knew that a film taking 99.9% of the duration in the main character's car would be so fascinating and appealing. Steven Knight's Locke is about a man, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a construction foreman who is scheduled to take place in a very important concrete pour the following morning is driving to London to see the birth of his child from a woman whom he had a one night stand with many months prior. With his job on the line, and the difficulties with his family, Ivan sets out to make everything right.
Didn't see a trailer for this film, but some of the praise and early reviews for this film really got me interested in it, especially when I read that the film is in the main characters car the whole time. It's easy to see that film like this could potentially fail, but Knight handles everything so very, very well, that Locke return prevails more than anything. Knight and Tom Hardy's powerful acting have your attention for 85 minutes.
With most films, there is the standard three acts, or sometimes even five. Here with Locke I saw it as three different storylines, all being condoned through phone calls. They don't go by the typical act one, act two, act three structure, since it's all being done simultaneously. Even after being fired from his job, Ivan Locke, through the constraints of his car, still makes sure that everything is in place and A-Okay for the concrete pour by calling and talking to his assistant and getting the crew and the time ready. Locke calls his home to break the news to wife about his infidelity and states that he must do this, so he can right a wrong (something that harkens back to his childhood) and lastly calls the woman bearing his child to reassure her that he will be there for her and the baby.
Hard to imagine a film like this actually looking quite good, but the cinematography is very appealing. Yes, it takes place in a car and uses practically every angle and transition you can think of, but my god did it look very well done. The music score is quite well, though when uses sparsely, and the scenes of Locke talking to his "father" are some of the best, as Hardy seems to switch persona's with the snap of your fingers.
Locke is a very fine film, deserving of it's praise for sure. Knights writing and directing is excellent and Tom Hardy's one-man show is a sight to see. There is really not much else that can be said about this great film. This will most likely be forgotten by the end of the year when more, bigger films come out and such, but Locke is to not be missed by any means.
The Purge: Anarchy - 2014 - 3.5/5 - Directed by James DeMonaco - Starring Frank Grillo
If it wasn't for Frank Grillo, I probably would've skipped this film altogether. I think the idea of the purge, where for 12 hours, any and all crime is legal is a great concept for a horror/thriller film, but was poorly executed when the first film was Ethan Hawke running around in the dark for 80 minutes. With this film, Anarchy, it's everything that the first film should've been.
Frank Grillo plays our protagonist, and he's out and about with revenge on his mind; to kill the man who killed his son a year ago and got off on a technicality. His plans are interrupted when he comes to the aid of a woman and her daughter as well helping a young couple in order to survive the night. With his plans coming to a halt, he must bring them to safety and locate a car to carry out his personal agenda, all while trying to make it through the purge.
I guess I have to thank the first film for having such a huge opening weekend and exceeding box office expectations, because if that didn't happen this sequel wouldn't be. It really what the first film should have been, showing the sheer panic and anarchy that the purge is. The Purge: Anarchy for the most part is a thriller, dropping the horror vibe altogether in favor of suspense and some action, which is good, though at times there is a sense of a creepy atmosphere. Also, there's a sort of Carpenter-esque vibe I picked up with this film, as I would say that Escape From New York was probably a model on how to have this film with the mayhem.
The acting for the most part is pretty decent, it isn't exactly amazing, but Frank Grillo seriously kicked ass in this. Grillo needs to look into more leading roles in action and thriller films. While the character is nothing more than your typical man with nothing to lose, but he actually tries, and succeeds, to make you give you a damn about him. Grillo for me, played what felt like Frank Castle, AKA The Punisher, all he needed was a skull on his shirt. Seriously, this was like his audition for the character. Take note, and pay attention Marvel.
Sure this film isn't mind blowing, as it as cliches and some other pressing issues, but god damn did I have a good time watching this. It's easy to look past this or not enjoy this, but I was able to enjoy this surprisingly. It's a major improvement over the disappointing first film. The Purge: Anarchy is simply that, anarchy.
The Monuments Men - 2014 - 1/5 - Directed by George Clooney - Starring George Clooney
Remember when The Monuments Men was supposed to be released in December 2013 and was heavily considered to be a top film for awards consideration? Well when It finally got released in February of this year, boy was this slammed by critics, and rightfully so.
This is a war film, but the real war in this film is a small band of men who get together to re-acquire the art that Hitler and the German army have seized before they are destroyed at the end of the war. It's a different type of war, but that's okay, as it offers a new light and a new side to World War II, instead of the typical WWII feats that have been made in the past. Take a story about real men risking their lives to save what is accomplishments, and at heart, culture, could be really interesting, and possibly turn out to be quite good.
Art is a great thing, but boy does this film not care give you any reasoning as to why it is. I know, I know, what a stupid question. What I'm really trying to say is that film is so damn lazy at trying to give you the same emotional feelings that these characters have for the art. Like I said, I like art, but this film is so incredibly dull, I could care less whether or not they failed or succeeded at obtaining the art. Generally, World War II films are pretty enjoyable, for the most part. So when a film like this, which has a pretty damn good real story to go with is made, how do you make it interesting or tense like a WWII film like say, Saving Private Ryan? Well, you just can't, because Clooney can't make this interesting story an interesting film.
The film may boast a highly impressive cast, but there is no real depth to them. They are about as two dimensional as they come, and have no personal connection with the audience. The tone, Christ does this film try to be overly serious than it has to be, and when it does it becomes this boring dramatic dreck, and then it tries to be light hearted, except it doesn't come off as remotely funny at all. There's nothing remotely funny about war, or any of the subject matter, so why even bother putting humor in, in the first place? Would Saving Private Ryan been cool with humor? No! Oh and why is this film so boring? Sure I've seen my fair share of films with a rather slow pace, but The Monuments Men is the first in recent time to have a slow pace and be quite boring.
Thinking about this film believe it or not, actually hurts. It's not because it is difficult to explain it, but rather difficult to want(if this makes sense) to explain. This is a film that is painful to get through, in fact that is an understatement; this film downright sucks. It's a shame too, cause I was greatly looking forward to this, but I knew something was wrong when Clooney said he was delaying it to focus on the effects (what fucking effects?!), but he probably delayed it to spare him from releasing a heavy Oscar bait film to be heavily trashed by critics during awards season.
LOOKING FORWARD TO: (Most anticipated are highlighted in bold and red)
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dawn Of The Planet Of Apes
Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
The Green Inferno
Horrible Bosses 2
RoboCop - 1/5
Need For Speed - 4/5
Sabotage - 1.5/5
Nymphomaniac - 4/5
300: Rise Of An Empire - 0/5
Takedown: The DNA Of GSP - 4/5
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 3/5
Neighbors - 0/5
Godzilla - 2.5/5
X-Men: Days Of Future Past - 5/5
The Raid 2 - 0/5
22 Jump Street - 4/5
Deliver Us From Evil - 4/5
Under The Skin - 5/5
Edge Of Tomorrow - 4.5/5
Non-Stop - 3/5
The Monuments Men - 1/5
Locke - 4/5
Enemy - 4.5/5
The Purge: Anarchy - 3.5/5
The Expendables 3 - 2/5