In 2010 when ‘The Expendables’ came out in the theaters it was a homage to the cinema of 1980’s action movies where the plot and characterization were thin and the action and explosions were mighty. ‘The Expendables 2’ is a worthy follow up bringing back all of the actors (minus Mickey Rourke….) and adding to the mix by including some new and familiar faces. This time however Sylvester Stallone has turned over directorial duties to Simon West, the man who gave us ‘Tomb Raider’, ‘The General’s Daughter’ and ‘Con Air’, who somehow manages to bring the powerhouse cast in the movie together with each character getting his or her moment to shine.
The movie opens in a ‘James Bond’ like fashion before the opening credits with a rescue mission action sequence that fans of action films will find breathtaking and fun to behold with the stakes being high and the action fast paced which keeps things from getting to boring. From there the youngest member of the team (played by Liam Hemsworth.) talks about getting out of the team and reuniting with the girl he loves. Before he can make a final decision on the matter, the team is pulled into another mission that results in the death of a valued member. The team vows not to let the death go unpunished and the mission unfinished, this leads into the second half of the film in which the guest-stars in the movie begin to stream through one after another as the team chases Jean-Claude Van Damme (who plays the villain named ‘Vilain’…) through the Russian countryside in an attempt to stop him from making off with five tons of cached plutonium before the inevitable confrontation between Van Damme and Stallone in the final moments of the film.
This movie is a throwback to the 1980’s with every major action star from that era showing up as a member or former member of the Expendables team. While the action doesn’t seem to slow down until the very end, this movie does a good job of not taking itself to serious as 1980’s movie catch phrases are traded back and forth between the actors in a way that leads the audience to expect someone to turn and smile into the camera while delivering their clichéd catchphrase. My biggest complaint about the movie comes from whenever some big named star pops in for his assigned cameo the movie slows down just long enough for them to hop into the action. Its fun to see these actors, long thought to be past their prime; brought back to show us they still have ‘it’.
In analyzing this movie though, I have come to the ultimate conclusion that Chuck Norris steals the show out from under his younger cohorts as he has the fewest lines of the movie and at seventy-two years old he proves once and for all that not only can he hold his own with the much younger cast, but that the audience still love him despite the fact that most people have some favorite ‘Chuck Norris fact’ to throw out the moment his name comes up. I’d be really surprised that when ‘Expendables 3’ finally hits the theaters in the not to terribly distant future that Chuck Norris isn’t somehow once more involved in the action.
‘Expendables 2’ is adrenaline ride that keeps the action going right on through until the end, it’s a fun afternoon at the movies with a friend, family or maybe even that special someone.
4 stars out of 5.
The Avengers (DVD)
In 1963 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the Avengers for Marvel Comics, giving birth to the comic book and sending it out into the world for comic fans to devour. I’m sure that in their wildest dreams neither of them ever thought that the Avengers would ever be translated into a movie, much less the third highest grossing movie of all time.
A cartoon, sure. A novel, perhaps. The third highest grossing movie of all time? No one could have seen it coming, certainly not two comic creators from New York who created some of the most famous comic characters of all time. It’s sad that in the aftermath of their creative process, that these two who were giants amongst the comic industry, rarely get their moment to shine anywhere else but with fans of the genre. This movie was set up in the after credits scene from the first ‘Iron-Man’ movie and has worked slowly through its sequel, ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ before finally ending up in the very capable hands of sci-fi genre director Joss Whedon, the man behind ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, its spin off series ‘Angel’ as well as the sci-fi series ‘Firefly’.
The movie opens up with a bit of left over plot from ‘Captain America: the First Avenger’ with a little bit of ‘Thor’ thrown in for good measure. Loki, Asgardian god of mischief arrives on Earth with the intention of using an ancient Asgardian tool in an attempt to enslave humanity before turning the tool over to aliens who have set their sights on the rest of the universe. From there the various heroes who we have watched over five separate movies slowly gather trying to deal with the search for the tool while trying to stop Loki from unfurling his plans. With a dose of comedy, a sprinkle of wit and a heaping pile of charm this movie somehow manages to make you forget that it rings in at almost two and half hours. The characters are well written, the storyline keeps the action moving and the direction is spot-on accurate.
I bought the movie on blu-ray, not everyone has one and it seems that these days it’s the only way to buy movies on DVD anymore. I can remember when VHS was dying off and DVDs were just hitting the market with all the extras like deleted scenes, commentary from directors and the behind the scenes documentaries that let you in on the movie making experience were a huge part of the appeal to make the big jump from VHS to DVD. Now that DVDs are so common the big push is for people to buy blu-rays as all the extras have shifted from regular DVDs to their blu-ray brethren. This blu-ray is no exception with eight deleted scenes, commentary, behind the scenes features, character files, a one-shot marvel movie concerning the aftermath of the events in the movie and many other special features.
The DVD and movie are worth the investment of time and money, its good clean entertainment for anyone and a worthy successor to the four-color comic books that started it all.
5 out of 5 Stars.