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.

 

FREE Movie Tickets – well, sort of

I love FREE movie tickets.

The Expendables 3

 

Best Buy has a display of Blu-Rays with FREE tickets to The Expendables 3 on them. Prices started at $7.99. Titles included Empire State, Ender’s Game, Escape Plan, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, Fire with Fire, Haywire, Last Stand, Red, Red 2, Redemption, Safe, Terminator/Total Recall double, Transporter 3, and a three-pack with Copland/First Blood/Lock Up.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

 

Best Buy also had an endcap of films with FREE tickets to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Unlike other offers, these are not with the product but print on your receipt. Please also note that while Sin City is on the endcap, it does NOT generate a FREE ticket. The eclectic titles include: Battle of the Damned, The Day, Erased, The Grandmaster, Hunt to Kill, Killing Me Softly, Lawless, Maximum Conviction, Mr. Jones, Only God Forgives, The Package, Scary Movie 5, Seal Team Six, Seeking Justice, and Son of No One.

If you purchase more than one title then more than one code will print though I do not know what the limit is.

Noah

 

Blu-ray copies of Noah at many stores (Amazon, Target, Best Buy) have stickers that net you a FREE movie ticket to any movie.

Sly Stallone – Expendables week

I really loved the idea behind The Expendables – gather together the action stars of the 80s & 90s and craft a movie around them. You couldn’t do it in the 90s because the salaries for Arnold, Sly, and Bruce were astronomical. Sylvester Stallone revived his Rocky franchise and his Rambo franchise in recent years and created a brand new franchise with The Expendables. They are already planning a third Expendables with Nicholas Cage.

Sylvester Stallone has a fair number of films on instant Netflix. In addition to The Expendables we have:

Rocky (1976) – Rated PG

“When world heavyweight boxing champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) wants to give an unknown fighter a shot at the title as a publicity stunt, his handlers pick palooka Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), an uneducated collector for a Philadelphia loan shark. Gritty, grim and epic, this crowd-pleasing film won the 1976 Best Picture Oscar thanks to John G. Avildsen’s solid direction and Stallone’s root-for-the-underdog script.”

If you enjoy this, make a day of it and catch Rocky II, Rocky III (Mr. T and Hulk Hogan), Rocky IV (Dolph Lundgren), and Rocky V. Only Rocky Balboa (2006) is unavailable. Obviously the first one is the best one and the quality does go downhill but the first four are fun if you like boxing.

Paradise Alley (1978) – Rated PG

“Three down-and-out brothers struggle to find a way out of New York’s seedy Hell’s Kitchen just after World War II. Cosmo (Sylvester Stallone) is a hustler who tries to “manage” his younger, bigger brother Victor (Lee Canalito) as a ham-and-egg fighter in the ring. Armand Assante, Anne Archer, Kevin Conway, Tom Waits and Frank McRae co-star. Stallone makes his directorial debut and even sings the theme song.”

Demolition Man (1993) – Rated R

“In the violent 1990s, a cop (Sylvester Stallone) catches a relentless killer (Wesley Snipes), and both end up in a cryogenic deep freeze. In the peaceful year 2032, the criminal emerges from his long chill and attacks the now crimeless California. Unable to stop the bloodshed, a “Big Brother” boss (Nigel Hawthorne) defrosts the murderer’s past nemesis, who struggles to adapt to the ways of a new world and a restless new partner (Sandra Bullock).”

Demolition Man is an absolute hoot. Wesley Snipes is delightfully over the top here (and Stallone should put him in Expendables 3). Sandra Bullock has a juicy early role as our leading lady. There are early roles for Rob Schneider, Jack Black, and Dennis Leary. Even Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura shows up.

The dystopian future shown here is hilarious. Stallone makes a little fun of Schwarzenegger here just as Arnold did in Last Action Hero (same year).

Cop Land (1997) – Rated R

“Following a controversial shooting involving a police officer, a small-town sheriff teams up with a New York City internal affairs investigator and uncovers a possible connection to the mob”

This was one of Stallone’s jabs at drama and it works pretty well. Just don’t watch it expecting an action movie.

Eye See You (aka D-Tox 2002) – Rated R

“Traumatized after witnessing a brutal crime while on the job, FBI agent Jake Malloy (Sylvester Stallone) checks into a rehab clinic for law enforcement officers in the remote wilderness of Wyoming, run by an ex-cop named Doc (Kris Kristofferson). When he realizes that a serial killer is loose in the facility and his fellow patients are being murdered, Jake must set aside his fears and track down the killer before he becomes the next victim.”

The movie with not one but two really bad titles. Eye See You is okay but definitely a lesser offering.

Weekend This ‘n’ That – FREE The Expendables 2 & The Bourne Legacy

* I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I get to catch the last of the summer movies. I have two FREE tickets to The Expendables 2 and one FREE ticket to The Bourne Legacy so I’m going to make a day of it.

* FREE The Expendables 2 tickets are available on select Blu-Rays at Best Buy: Universal Soldier, RED, Red Heat, CopLand, Transporter 3, The Expendables, Rambo, Rambo: First Blood, War, Kickboxer, T-2: Skynet edition, Hostage, Black Mask, Crank, Bank job, and Total Recall (earlier version). The Blu-Rays are currently $10

* FREE The Bourne Legacy tickets are available on select Blu-Rays at Best Buy: Fast & Furious 1-4, Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum, Scorpion King 2, and The Mummy. I got The Mummy because it was cheaper than the others.

* Speaking of summer movies, the one I missed was Snow White and the Huntsman. Strangely Universal decided, instead of two more sequels with Kristen Stewart, they are going to make a spinoff with Chris Hemsworth’s Huntsman and drop Snow White. Apparently the fallout from Stewart’s affair and her top dollar price fresh off the Twilight series actually had an impact.

* Upcoming FREE movie ticket promos include Sparkle, Finding Nemo 3-D, Taken 2, Skyfall, and The Hobbit.

* Joining the Netflix streaming family this year will be Sweden, Norway, Finland, & Denmark. World domination is only a few clicks away.

* The wonderful Netflix for Kids option on the Xbox 360 and PS3 apparently annoys some people. I’m not sure why the option to turn off wasn’t selectable but Netflix states that the Kids options will eventually disappear if it is not used.

Get Carter – 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 Mickey Rourke. Get Carter is currently available on instant Netflix.

PASS: Get Carter (2000) – Rated R for violence, language, some sexuality and drug content.

“When his brother is killed in an accident, cold-blooded gun for hire Jack Carter (Sylvester Stallone) returns home to make peace with his past. But when evidence of foul play surfaces, Carters mission becomes one of retribution rather than redemption. Miranda Richardson, Rachel Leigh Cook, Mickey Rourke and Michael Caine (who starred in the original production) lead the supporting cast in this remake of the classic 1971 crime thriller.”

“Hello Mr. Davis. My name is Jack Carter and you do not want to know me.”

Stephen Kay directed this updated remake of Get Carter. He tries so hard here to make this film stylish but it comes across as too jarring. there is a scene of Carter tailing someone. It is shot as if it is an action movie chase when all he is doing is following another car.

There are a few nice flourishes. When Carter disposes of an airline ticket, there is a sound of an airplane landing on the soundtrack. There is a good scene where we cut from the pre-violence straight to the aftermath.

Unfortunately most of the flourishes are laughably heavy-handed. Shortly after his world is rocked, they change the camera angle on Carter -yep you guessed it – upside down. Stephen Kay loves odd camera angles, close-ups which should be wide shots and wide shots that should be close-ups.

One of the missed opportunities was a scene at an incredibly beautiful golf course. You do not notice how beautiful until the scene is almost over. Pretty much every action sequence is a blown opportunity except the climactic one which is a nice payoff.

For all his other flaws, Stephen Kay assembled a rather impressive cast here.

Mr. Expendable, Sylvester Stallone, is just fine as the tough guy Jack Carter. His glum persona fits the role well and he can sell tough pretty well too.

If you find yourself missing Michael Caine from the original, do not worry as he is here too. Unfortunately he is not in much of the movie. It is basically an extended cameo as an homage to the original film.

Our chosen Expendable for the day is Mickey Rourke. Of course he plays a heavy here. Alan “Nightcrawler” Cumming has a delightful time as an internet tycoon.

Miranda Richardson plays the widow Gloria. She has been a favorite of mine since her hilarious turn as Queen Elizabeth in the second Black Adder series (currently available on instant Netflix).

Backing her up on the distaff side are Rachel Leigh Cook as her daughter and Rhona Mitra as a woman of mystery, Geraldine. Gretchen Mol can be glimpsed briefly as Audrey.

In spite of the cast, you cannot help but wonder how it would have looked if someone else had directed it. Unless you are a die hard fan on the cast, just give this one a pass. It is not bad but it could have been so much better.

People Watch: Early on in the film, we hear the unmistakable voice of Tom Sizemore (albeit briefly). Frank Stallone has a cameo as does the director Stephen Kay.

Demolition Man – The Expendables week

In honor of the upcoming Sylvester Stallone action extravaganza, this is The Expendables week. Our first star from the Expendables is Sylvester Stallone. Demolition Man is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Demolition Man (1993) – Rated R for non-stop action violence (I love that reason!) and for strong language.

“In the violent 1990s, a cop (Sylvester Stallone) catches a relentless killer (Wesley Snipes), and both end up in a cryogenic deep freeze. In the peaceful year 2032, the criminal emerges from his long chill and attacks the now crimeless California. Unable to stop the bloodshed, a “Big Brother” boss (Nigel Hawthorne) defrosts the murderers past nemesis, who struggles to adapt to the ways of a new world and a restless new partner (Sandra Bullock).”

“Dont you think…” – “I try not to – however you are young, think all you want.”

“We are police officers. We are not trained to handle this level of violence.”

Not only is this movie a guilty pleasure but it begins with a guilty pleasure. The opening sequence begins with a shot of the Hollywood sign on fire. We then track over south central L.A. under siege and our hero, John Spartan bungee jumps from a helicopter down to a rooftop.

There are a number of logical flaws in the script. The most prominent one occurs almost immediately. It is silly to think that the police could not reason out that the hostages had already been killed after discovering their bodies.

Sylvester Stallone is not only a good hero here but he also has good comic timing. He really sells the physicality of the action hero as well as the primitiveness of his methods. All this and he has the second most awesome main character name, John Spartan! (top prize still goes to Hiro Protagonist).

Wesley Snipes plays Simon Phoenix. He is absolutely gleeful in the role. Stallone wanted Jackie Chan for the role but Chan does not play villains. Snipes is a fifth degree Black Belt in Shotokan karate and studies kung fu and Capoeira. The director had to have Snipes slow down many of his moves in the film so that they could be seen.

Sandra Bullock has an early role here as a future policeman fascinated with the 20th century. She is as lovable here as she is in most of her roles. The following year Bullock would get her big break in Speed.

Comedian Denis Leary has a small but vital role. He plays Edgar Friendly, a rebel leader, and he has a hilarious Leary-esque monologue. His TV series, Rescue Me just became available on instant Netflix.

Benjamin Bratt appears as a policeman – he would later costar again with Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality. Rob Schneider also appears as a policeman and would later appear with Stallone in Judge Dredd.

Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Jack Black both appear in blink-and-you-will-miss-them roles and the voice of the computer is Adrienne Barbeau.

Product placement is hilariously rampant though not to the level of Waynes World. John Spartan requests Marlboros by name and Simon smokes them as well. Taco Bell actually features prominently in the plot and all of those sequences are hysterical.

The vision of the future given to us by the writers is not only filled with action but also pretty humorous. While there is a lot of language and violence that is at times grotesque, the humor is actually quite light-hearted in nature. This is not the dark sardonic future of Paul Verhoeven.

I heartily recommend this tongue-in-cheek futuristic romp – both for the action and the humor.

People Watch: Other Stallone films currently available on instant Netflix are Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Cobra, Tango & Cash, Rocky V, Get Carter, and Eye See You. As you can see there are quite a number of Stallone options.


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.

Cop Land – Robert De Niro week

This week I’d like to celebrate one of our great American actors – Robert De Niro. Netflix has a slew of instant movies featuring De Niro including Cop Land.

Cop Land

WATCH: Cop Land (1997) – Rated R for adult content, brief nudity, graphic language and violence.

“When a local patrolman is implicated in a controversial shooting in a small New Jersey town, put-upon sheriff Freddy Heflin teams up with Lt. Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) to investigate a connection between the mob and the NYPD officers who live in the town. Sylvester Stallone delivers an effective dramatic performance in this arresting crime thriller as Freddy. Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta also star.”

“Being right is not a bullet-proof vest Freddy!”

Sylvester Stallone was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for Rocky. His role as a down-on-his-luck boxer who gets a shot at the big time was heartwarming. After decades of action stardom, his role here is as a poor schlub, Freddy Heflin, who couldn’t achieve his dream of being a big city cop because of an injury suffered during a heroic rescue.Freddy is now a small cop-town sheriff.

Stallone does a stellar job underplaying his role here. It looks like he put on quite a bit of belly weight for the role. Depression and disappointment have beaten him down but he’s still a good if a bit obtuse man. Next to Rocky, this is probably his best role.

Stallone gets stellar support from a good cast even though it is clearly his show. Ray Liotta plays twitchy very well here. Robert De Niro is authoritative but doesn’t have much to do here as an Internal Affairs investigator. The always wonderful Harvey Keitel is the calm boss trying to keep everything from unraveling. Robert Patrick has a big cheesy mustache and hot temper so you won’t remember that he was the T-1000 terminator.

This is not a great film – there are way too many coincidences. A character whose motto seems to be – “If in doubt, rub them out” would be unlikely to hold the position that he does in this movie. Freddy finally realizes that he can’t trust the cops he has consistently palled around with and then trusts other people because the script tells him to. The painfully obvious voice-over postscript seems like beating a dead horse.

On the other hand there is much to appreciate in the script. There is a tender yet revealing moment between Freddy and Liz (Annabella Sciorra) and then a second one later in the film. Freddy makes a wonderfully human confession about his heroic deed. The climax of the film handles Freddy’s injury quite well.

People Watch: Look for Edie Falco and a serious Janeane Garofalo here in small roles.