So why did I go? Glad you asked. Temporary insanity? I was drunk myself and walked into the wrong theatre? Like anybody I found the idea of a bunch of aging action stars being under the same roof mildly amusing. Early reviews said the film didn't take itself seriously and probably fell into the category of a B movie. Now B movies or subpar movies can have a certain entertainment value. Yes, sometimes bad is good and sometimes people have made a career out of it. I am thinking of Ed Wood (Who can forget Plan 9 from Outer Space?) or Russ Myer with his fetish for big breasted women. (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) Wait. Were those B movies or double D movies?
In this day and age, Quentin Tarantino comes to mind as a lover of the old school B movie, revived to a certain extent by his Grindhouse films, but I hasten to add that Mr. Tarantino is a terrific film maker. If he does B movie stuff, he's doing it for effect as he knows better and can make a good film. B movie film makers like Ed Woods made B movies because they weren't capable of making a good movie and inadvertently ended up providing entertainment value precisely for being so bad. Unfortunately, this second installment of The Expendables franchise (Do two films make a franchise?) isn't bad enough to be considered B movie entertainment; it is just bad.
Like an idiot I went and saw the first Expendables film when it came out in 2010. 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. Need I say more? It wasn't a B movie, it might have been down the line to a C, D, or an E. How about an F for well, you know. Even if I got to see Schwarzenegger and Willis along with Stallone, I'm afraid the star combo did not translate into anything I would call amusing. Just picture my litmus test. I wouldn't watch either of these movies if they were on TV and I was vacuuming my apartment with one eye on the screen.
And the violence. Oh my God, when was the last time I've seen so many blood bags squirting out gore left, right, and center? How many people were supposedly killed in this film? (In a tragic note, a stuntman was killed during the filming.) I've said this a zillion times elsewhere how we seem to fully accept the blood, gore, and guts in our movies and our television shows but God forbid there is any sex. Sex is truly going to corrupt us but violence won't. The comedian George Carlin pointed out this oddity of our culture when he riffed on the idea that if the bad guy really wanted to get the good guy, he wouldn't kill him, he would have sex with him. Man, now that's a perverted society.
And now for a spoiler alert. Good guy played Sylvester Stallone overcomes bad guy Jean-Claude Van Damme. In the final scene, good guy tells the others he beat the bad guy and to prove it, he pulls out a sack containing the severed head of the bad guy. The characters of Schwarzenegger and Willis comment, "Nice touch. A little extreme but nice touch." Yes, it's played for laughs but since when does the hero decapitate the bad guy? Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia?
Thank God for one thing. There was no romance between Stallone and the Chinese agent Maggie. I just checked. Stallone is 66 years old. 66! In the final scene, Willis gives Stallone the gift of an old beat-up airplane to replace the one Stallone crashed. Stallone complains saying that it belongs in a museum. Schwarzenegger cracks, "We all do." A few guys sitting behind me in the theatre kept laughing uproariously at these lines but I guess I wasn't drunk enough to appreciate the humorous homage to the bygone era of this ensemble cast. The Terry Crews character gives Schwarzenegger a gun adding, "If you don't give it back, I'm going to terminate you." Ha ha. I wasn't smiling.
By the numbers
The following compares the original and número dos. Who gave the green light to this second film? The accountant who saw the ROI (Return On Investment) of the first film. Stallone as well as the others remain bankable stars and there is certainly a large audience across the planet who loves this sort of stuff.
The Expendables (2010)
Budget: $80 million
Gross: $274 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%
The Expendables 2 (2012)
Budget: $100 million
Gross: to be determined (released Aug 17/2012)
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
I want two hours of my life back. If I had known, I would have preferred sticking a pencil in my eye. Okay, that's my hyperbole for special effect but I am serious about the vacuuming. Life is short. The world is full of many wonderful things. Let's not waste our lives filling our time with meaningless drivel. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy empty calories once in a while as much as the next person but can we have really really good empty calories?
In any case, I'm guessing none of the stars will be worse for wear over this one. The previews announced a new film for Stallone "Bullet to the Head" (release date: Feb 1/2012) and a new one for Schwarzenegger "Last Stand" (release date: Jan 18/2013). For those aficionados who wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth (thx, Arlo), the trailers indicated these two films will have their share of violence.
But for me the real deal? I waiting for the next James Bond in November. Now that's going to be an action adventure flick and I ain't talking B movie.
Rotten Tomatoes: The Expendables 2: 67%
Taut, violent, and suitably self-deprecating, The Expendables 2 gives classic action fans everything they can reasonably expect from a star-studded shoot-'em-up -- for better and for worse.
Wikipedia: The Expendables 2
The Expendables 2 is a 2012 American ensemble action film directed by Simon West and written by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone, based on a story by Ken Kaufman, David Agosto and Wenk. It is a sequel to the 2010 action film The Expendables, and stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film follows The Expendables, a mercenary group, as they seek revenge against Jean Vilain (Van Damme), a rival mercenary who murders one of their own, and threatens the world with a deadly weapon.
official web site: The Expendables 2
Rotten Tomatoes: The Expendables: 41%
It makes good on the old-school action it promises, but given all the talent on display, The Expendables should hit harder.
Wikipedia: The Expendables (2010)
The Expendables is a 2010 American ensemble action film written by David Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, and directed by Stallone. Filming began on March 28, 2009, in Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, and the film was released in theaters on August 13, 2010 in North America.
official web site: The Expendables
my blog: Movie Review: The Expendables
39% at Rotten Tomatoes? [groan] 2 hours of my life! 2 hours that I will never get back! God only gave us so much time in this world and I just spend 2 hours of my precious allotment on 39%. The Expendables? The dispensables!
my blog: Censorship: Kill me but no sex please
George Carlin: I think the word F**k is a very important word. It is the beginning of life, yet it is a word we use to hurt one another quite often. People much wiser than I am said, "I'd rather have my son watch a film with 2 people making love than 2 people trying to kill one another. I, of course, can agree. It is a great sentence. I wish I knew who said it first. I agree with that but I like to take it a step further. I'd like to substitute the word F**k for the word Kill in all of those movie clichés we grew up with. [Carlin speaks in a low menacing voice like the bad guy talking to the good guy] "Okay, Sheriff, we're gonna F**k you now, but we're gonna F**k you slow."
my blog: Carnography: Vegetarians need not apply
On May 29, 1972, John Skow wrote a review of the novel First Blood by David Morrell upon which Sylvester Stallone based his film Rambo. In this review, Mr. Skow speaks disparagingly of the "meat movie, the kind in which we pay to see meat fly off someone's head as he is shotgunned" then goes on to describe this book as a "meat novel". The reviewer explains that like pornography and its deliberate creation of a sexual flush to the exclusion of other emotional or intellectual reactions, the term "carnography" describes the deliberate creation of an adrenaline rush in the face of carnage.
my blog: Movie Preview: Skyfall: 23rd Bond, 50th Anniversary, and 2nd Queen Elizabeth
Bated breath. I looked it up just to double check. It's not "baited", a common homonymous mistake, but "bated" and that's how I'm waiting, with bated breath, for November 9, 2012. The 23rd movie in one of the most popular movie series of all times, James Bond, has its world premier on October 26 in London, England with the movie being released across the planet soon after. The release of this movie coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Bond movie Dr. No released in 1962.
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