Stallone Month: The Expendables 3

90 million bucks. That’s how much it costs to make a shitshow of a movie. A bad film can be made for far less than that, of course, but an unofficial motto of The Expendables films has been ‘go big or go home.’ Those 90 million dollars are about all that’s big about this film, though. Sure, The Expendables 3 looks like a big Hollywood action flick, but pay close attention and one will realize that just about everything in this movie is ersatz — an imitation. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 3″

Stallone Month: The Expendables 2

I’m not sure that Sylvester Stallone, or anyone else involved with The Expendables, thought that film would spawn a franchise. In many ways, The Expendables felt like a lark — a one-time moment that tapped into a well of nostalgia for 1980s-style action in the moviegoing public. It sold itself on its cast and its cameos, then followed that up with an uneven, but very exciting, film. It made a pile of cash, so of course there were going to be another one made. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables 2″

Stallone Month: The Expendables

Despite being a big star, Sylvester Stallone has always seemed to struggle with relevancy. The 2000s had a pair of ‘comeback’ films for Sly, with Rocky Balboa in 2006 and Rambo in 2008. It seemed like every success he had was forgotten. Perhaps that’s because these two films felt like a coda to beloved characters from decades past, whereas The Expendables, from 2010, was new-ish. Or maybe having a comeback film is just part of Sly’s brand in the 21st century. Either way, The Expendables is the throwback to 1980s action that no one knew we needed until it showed up in theaters and made money. Continue readingStallone Month: The Expendables”

The Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys

Fair warning. This trailer is packed full of spoilers.

It’s incredible how little redundancy is built into Skynet. Not long after Terminator Genisys opens, we see the mythical John Connor leading an assault on Skynet’s time travel facilities. Connor, played by Jason Clarke, has ordered the bulk of his forces to attack Skynet itself, farther north, much to the consternation of Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), who hasn’t been let in on the Terminator series canon at this point. As the battle rages at the time machine, all of Skynet’s killer robots go inactive, signaling that Skynet has been destroyed, and only the war in the past remains undecided. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Terminator Genisys”

Schwarzenegger Month: Pumping Iron

A person doesn’t have to have a massive ego to be a bodybuilder, but it helps. Pumping Iron is the most personal film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared, because the only character he is playing is himself. Throughout the film, a documentary on bodybuilding featuring Arnold, Lou Ferrigno, and many others, the question of Arnold’s authenticity hovers over everything. Early on, he describes his life as a constant state of euphoria. Between sex, the feeling he gets from working out in the gym, pumping up before a show, and posing in front of people, he is, in his words, “...cumming day and night. I mean, it’s terrific, right? So you know, I’m in heaven.” These are the words of enthused youth, maybe ignorant, maybe indifferent of how bizarre it is to equate one’s life with a never-ending stream of orgasms. What this part of the film, such a graphic picture of his happiness, says to me is that he thinks he is the greatest man on the earth, certainly better than anyone he has ever met. Later, he talks about his desire to be one of those rare individuals that history remembers. He even cites Jesus Christ as an example. Wow. What a massive, walloping, over-indulgent sense of self. It’s hardly an endearing trait, but in combination with his work ethic, it created quite a return on investment. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Pumping Iron”

Schwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

This is it. The penultimate film in Arnold Schwarzenegger month. I have one more film in mind, but Terminator 3 is the perfect film with which to conclude the chronological portion of reviews. Terminator 3 is the last film in which Arnold starred before he retired to become governor of California. After his time in Sacramento was over, he returned to acting, but so far, it’s been all coda (for reviews of two of these post-governorship movies, click here and here). There would have been no shame at all if this were the last Arnold film. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines”

Schwarzenegger Month: Collateral Damage

This is one dark film. Which may explain why it failed at the box office. In Collateral Damage, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Gordy Brewer, a Los Angeles firefighter who loses his wife and son in a terrorist attack. Firefighter, terrorism, innocent victims. Considering this movie was released in February of 2002, only weeks after ground zero in Manhattan stopped smoking, there is a strong possibility the film’s subject matter kept people away. Not only was terrorism a touchy subject back then, the 9/11 attacks were not completely over yet. Not as long as they were still clearing debris. That’s some bad timing. But it could have been worse. The original release date for this film was less than a month after the attacks. I wish I could say I was sympathetic to the plight of the filmmakers and everyone else involved in this project, but tough shit. A film flailing at the box office was the least of the country’s concerns back then. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Collateral Damage”

Schwarzenegger Month: The 6th Day

Time is not treating The 6th Day well. Released late in 2000, the movie opens with an XFL game. The XFL, for members of the Loyal Seven who do not remember, was a winter/spring professional football league founded by the WWE’s Vince McMahon, which began play in real life a couple months after this movie’s release. The league managed to limp through one season of play, but that was it. Hardly anyone was watching. Its appearance in this film was an inspired, and probably expensive, bit of product placement, but seeing it did nothing to make me think I was about to watch a good movie. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: The 6th Day”

Schwarzenegger Month: End of Days

I blame David Fincher, Andrew Kevin Walker, and Arthur Max for End of Days. Had those three not done such stellar work on the movie Seven, Fincher directing, Walker writing, and Max doing the production design, there would not have been a flood of pale imitations that hit the market. End of Days is not about a serial killer, but it has a drained, desolate look and feel that just didn’t exist in film before Seven. And the thing is, this movie is a bit of a laugher, but it looks so bleak that at times I felt like I was laughing at a funeral. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: End of Days”

Schwarzenegger Month: Batman & Robin

Ah, Batman & Robin, the movie that killed the Batman film franchise. I get it. After the Batman comic books took on a darker tone in the late ’80s, it was only natural that the new films that began with Tim Burton’s Batman would become more serious and less campy. Batman, his character and his fictional world, had changed. I also get what the director of this film, Joel Schumacher, was trying to do. He understood the character of Batman from a different era. When he chose to craft a Batman movie he chose to do so in the form of a costume ball. Bright colors, festive music, outrageous outfits — its participants are all out for a wonderful night on the town, and all seem to be in on the joke. This was the Batman from the comics, just not the right Batman comics. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: Batman & Robin”