Legendary Ragnarok and Roll

Legendary and Ragnarok are currently available on instant Netflix

Legendary

 

Legendary (2013) – Rated PG-13

A cryptozoologist assembles his team for an expedition to China’s hinterland, where a primeval monster locals call the “Shocate” is believed to roam.”

One Line Review: This movie is Legen- wait for it- awful.

Poor Scott Adkins. He is a very hard-working world-class athlete and martial artist. He is also a passable, if somewhat wooden, actor. He is fairly good-looking and, due to his athleticism, has quite a body. In the past, this would have added up to him being an action star, which is what he is trying to become. Unfortunately the Van Damme/Seagal/Norris era is long over (as Schwarzenegger is finding out to his detriment).

This doesn’t stop Adkins from trying. He bounces back and forth between small roles in Hollywood productions and starring roles in cheap overseas productions. Legendary is one of his starring roles. He plays a cryptozoologist along the lines of Denise Richards’ scientist from The World is Not Enough.

He acts alongside fellow B-movie action star Dolph Lundgren and an Asian supporting cast. Obviously, Adkins and Lundgren have an obligatory fight scene. Unfortunately there isn’t much else for Adkins to do and Lundgren just mugs his way through the film.

The CGI is pretty awful, just a smidge above an Asylum production. It would seem Legendary is a misnomer. Forgettable would be a much better name.

Ragnarok

 

Ragnarok (2013) – Rated PG-13

An archaeologist sets out to find a link between an ancient shipwreck and the Viking apocalypse known as Ragnarok, only to make a chilling discovery.”

Ragnarok is a film with a very intriguing premise. Many films start with a small investigation that widens in focus to something far larger than the investigators had surmised. This is a subplot of films like Deep Impact and 2012 and somewhat a staple of the private eye genre (Chinatown, The Two Jakes). Ragnarok actually starts out as an investigation of something far larger and ends up narrowing in focus.

Ragnarok is not great and you will have to read subtitles but it is far, far better than Legendary while running along similar lines. The nordic scenery is quite nice and the setting somewhat unique. The CGI is a step up from Legendary and is fairly decent.

Ragnarok tries to be both an adventure film and a monster movie. It doesn’t really succeed as either but is a passable waste of time. Part of the problem stems from its attempt to be family friendly. It succeeds but what American family is going to watch a subtitled film together?

Battle of the Damned Sharknado 2 – you lose!

Battle of the Damned and Sharknado 2 are not on Netflix but I watched them last week while I was ill.

Battle of the Damned

 

Battle of the Damned (2013) – Rated R

Following a deadly viral outbreak, private military soldier Max Gatling leads a handful of survivors and a ragtag band of robots against an army of the infected.”

Battle of the Damned is a severely schizophrenic film. Writer/director/producer Christopher Hatton crafts a pretty standard zombie scenario here. A mercenary team led by Max Gatling (Dolph Lundgren) goes into a city quarantined because of a virus outbreak that naturally turns the inhabitants into zombies. Having watched it, I am unsure how the city could possibly have been quarantined – particularly when the outbreak spreads quite rapidly but I digress.

Naturally, his team doesn’t make it far but Gatling meets up with some other survivors and decides to high-tail it out of quarantine land. Again pretty standard zombie fare. The picture is low budget but filmed well. Zombie action isn’t bad but nothing impressive either. That’s when the picture takes a left turn into crazy town. Gatling and crew encounter a team of life-saving robots.

This gonzo move held my attention for the rest of the movie. No, Battle of the Damned is not particularly good but it is a darn sight better than any of Asylum’s offerings.

Speaking of Asylum…

Sharknado 2

 

Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) – Rated TV-14

A freak weather system turns its deadly fury on New York City, unleashing a Sharknado on the population and its most cherished, iconic sites – and only Fin and April can save the Big Apple.”

I want to reiterate that Asylum’s Sharknado (and by extension almost any other Asylum production) was really just a bad film with a funny concept and name. It did not take proper advantage of the premise in spite of a few minorly amusing scenes.

Sharknado 2 embraces its stupidity, even in the title. Asylum finally found out how to do a bad B-movie (more than half a century after Corman and others learned how). Most of Asylum’s offerings are advertised in such a way that you will think they are so bad that they are funny. Only after sitting through them do you discover that they were just plain bad.

Sharknado 2 is the film that is so dumb, it becomes funny. The movie is filled with cameos done with a wink and a nod. Robert Hays plays a pilot. Judd Hirsch plays a taxi driver. Subway’s Jared is shown eating a sub in the subway. Wil Wheaton, after joking about it on The Big Bang Theory, appears here as do a slew of other guest stars.

The writers here had a lot of fun. Characters are named after ones in Jaws. They filmed the movie in the winter so they just threw a second storm, a vicious cold front, into the story. There are riffs here on Jaws, Happy Days, Airplane, Taxi Driver, and more. The silliness is ridiculously over the top as our hero can apparently do every job known to man, including that of airline pilot.

Finally an Asylum movie you can watch, laugh at, and enjoy!

The Expendables 3 – Expendable indeed

The Expendables 3 is currently in theaters

The Expendables 3

 

The Expendables 3 (2014) – Rated PG-13

Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates.”

The Expendables is every bit as (former) star-heavy and assembly-line as the first two entries in this franchise. This is the first one to go for a PG-13 rating. I would lament this as The Expendables 1 & 2 were gleefully R-rated in a way that action movies just aren’t anymore. I say would because honestly part of the reason the first two received restricted ratings were because of some pretty dodgy blood CGI.

I love the concept and conceit of these movies and will watch every one they put out. Unfortunately, complete digital copies of this movie leaked online weeks before release. The Expendables 3 flopped at the box office (fourth on opening weekend behind Turtles, Guardians, and Let’s Be Cops!) but there is no telling whether this was due to piracy.

The Expendables 3 doesn’t break any new ground. Our villain this go-round is Mel Gibson. He doesn’t chew the scenery as much as he did in Machete Kills but is a serviceable villain. The problem is that he is such a throwback. He is so evil that he kills his own men (a cliche that I tired of decades ago). Mind you he cannot manage to kill those listed as Expendable so I guess he just chose a closer target.

The Expendables crew is back (Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Crews, and Couture) and, as always, each gets a scene to showcase his talents. Bruce Willis is out, replaced by Harrison Ford. Chuck Norris is out, replaced by Wesley Snipes (who draws the biggest laugh when asked why he was incarcerated). I’m not sure what happened behind the scenes but apparently there can only be one African American Expendable as when they pick up Snipes, Terry Crews gets sidelined.

Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger put in token, obligatory cameos. The movie also features Antonio Banderas as a mercenary with personality and Kelsey Grammer as a recruiter. The new younger Expendables are MMA fighters Ronda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and actor/model Kellan Lutz. That part smacks of spinoff.

Unfortunately, The Expendables 3 is not very good. It is not the train wreck that occurs at the beginning of the movie. It has plenty of action, lots of explosions and guns firing but all of it has a surreal A-team quality to it as (almost) no one ever gets shot except the villains. It is as though none of the legions of faceless baddies have been to any kind of firearm training.

If you just want to see these old school action stars do their thing, then by all means go see this movie. Otherwise wait for it on Netflix.

 

Dolph Lundgren – Expendables week

I love action movies but I’ve never been a particular fan of Dolph Lundgren. I will say however that he was a hoot in The Expendables and held his own in a fight with Jet LI. In addition to Stallone’s Rocky IV and The Expendables, Netflix has a bunch of Lundgren films available for streaming. Unfortunately I have not seen any of them.

Pentathlon (1994) – Not rated

“Olympian Eric Broger (Dolph Lundgren) is East Germany’s greatest hope for a gold medal. But Eric, weary of communist politics and the cruelty of his coach, Heinrich Müller (David Soul), defects to America, where he tries to establish a new life, despite Müller’s interference. As he falls for a local female athlete (Renee Coleman) and trains for a spot on the American team, Eric also uses his prowess to fend off the vengeful Müller.”

Men of War (1994) – Not rated

“A band of mercenaries led by the surly Nick Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren) is sent to a tropical paradise to secure it for a mysterious business venture. But upon arrival, the invaders discover a tribe of pacifists already living there. When Gunnar learns the truth about his mission, he realizes he’s fighting for the wrong side — and he’ll do anything to protect his new island friends. This action-adventure co-stars B.D. Wong and Tom “Tiny” Lister Jr.”

Hidden Assassin (1995) – Rated R

“Cuba’s U.S. ambassador is killed in New York City. In order to prevent a similar terrorist attack at the US-Cuba summit in Prague, the CIA sends Michael Dane (Dolph Lundgren), one of their best federal agents, to keep things under control. Nikita, a lesbian club owner, is the suspected killer, and just as Dane is sure the case is solved, he’s fighting for his life and using his brains, not his brawn, to survive.”

Silent Trigger (1996) – Rated R

“Waxman (Dolph Lundgren), an ex-commando with the Special Forces who’s now a professional assassin working for a shadowy government agency, finds himself in a fix after he botches his top-secret assignment. Next thing you know, the hit man and his gorgeous but deadly confederate (played by Gina Bellman) end up as the organization’s quarry in this direct-to-video action thriller from Aussie director Russell Mulcahy.”

The Peacekeeper (1997) – Rated R

“Against his superiors’ wishes, Air Force pilot Frank Cross (Dolph Lundgren) executes a daring food drop over a band of refugees. His willful actions leave him grounded, with a new assignment: to guard the president’s “black bag” which holds a computer enabling the commander in chief (Roy Scheider) to initiate a nuclear attack. Terrorists nab the attache case during an ambush, a hostage crisis ensues, and only Cross can foil the doomsday plot.”

Direct Contact (2009) – Rated R

“Imprisoned in Eastern Europe, former Special Forces agent Mike Riggins jumps at the chance when he’s offered his freedom in exchange for tracking down American Ana Gale, who’s been abducted by a brutal underground leader.”

Retrograde – The Expendables week

In tribute to the incredible cast Sylvester Stallone has lined up for his latest film, this is The Expendables week. Today our expendable is Dolph Lundgren. Retrograde is currently available on instant Netflix.

AVOID: Retrograde (2004) – Rated R for violence, language and some drug use.

“Dolph Lundgren stars as John Foster, a time traveler stationed in the Antarctic who leads a team on a desperate mission into the past to prevent present-day contamination from a deadly space-borne virus. But when one of his men revolts, the teams actions in the past threaten to change the present in disastrous ways. Silvia De Santis, Joe Montana and Gary Daniels co-star in Christopher Kulikowskis sci-fi adventure.”

“You dont have a future Dalton”

Lol. Their “time machine” is a spaceship. My guess is that it was leftover from another movie.

Ugh. The supporting cast all seem to be reading off of cue cards and enunciating clearly and loudly.

Omg. Dolph opens an airlock which sends one baddie into space. The other two villains have no problem holding on not to mention no problems with pressure/temperature/air.

Hrm. I love how we have to show flashbacks to explain how someone hit their head. We even have flashbacks to events that happened literally seconds before.

Meh. Every set in the film looks utterly generic. Even the Antarctic ice is generic.

Ack. Did you know that in the future soldiers wear motorcycle jackets and pants as uniforms?

How? How does time keep changing throughout the film. For hilarious results watch the time on the clocks and watches.

Why? If the rest of the crew was due to be revived in an hour and they are all bad guys, why did the few awake bad guys make their move before the revival?

Who? Someone decided to color code the bad guys (they wear all black) and the fodder (black and red). This is uniformly (teehee) true except for the two pilots where they appear to be wearing each others jackets.

Brb. One character flees down a corridor and gets shot at the end. The only problem is he makes no attempt at all to turn the corner. My guess is that the squibs went off a bit too late.

Bad. My verdict on the film.

I think that the people behind this movie fondly remember Timecop with Van Damme and got Dolph Lundgren because he costarred with Van Damme in Universal Soldier.

Dolph does shine here as, with one exception, he is a better actor than the rest (trust me that is not saying much). It is a shame that instant Netflix does not have Masters of the Universe or I Come in Peace available as those are campy fun Lundgren extravaganzas.

Gary Daniels, another direct to video star, appears here as Markus. He also appears as the Brit in The Expendables.

AVOID this movie, it is quite bad.

People Watch: Our expendable, Dolph, has quite a number of other films available on instant Netflix. Currently available are Rocky IV, Diamond Dogs, Command Performance, and Direct Contact. I am going to guess that any of them would be a better bet than this one.

Lazy Weekend Musings – The Expendables

Before sitting through the somewhat painful Clash of the Titans, we thoroughly enjoyed the previews. A lot of the films showed promise but one was a real standout. It did not standout because of the trailer but because of what the director had pulled off with the cast.

Sylvester Stallone has written and directed a film for this fall called “The Expendables”. He has roped in what I must call the ULTIMATE action movie cast. It is simply mind-blowing.

The Expendables is about a team of mercenaries on a suicide mission. The mercenaries are Sylvester (Rambo) Stallone, Jason (Transporter) Statham, Jet (Hero) Li, Dolph (Universal Soldier) Lundgren, former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture, Terry (Idiocracy) Crews and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

That alone wowed me but The Expendables also stars Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts and features character actor Danny (Machete) Trejo and DTV action star Gary (Tekken) Daniels.

Because of this and the upcoming Actionfest in Asheville April 15-18, I will be featuring instant Netflix movies based on the cast of The Expendables this week.

People Watch: I would not have mentioned this but the trailer completely gives it away. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis have cameos in the film as well.