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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Testosterone Double Bill: Predators & The Expendables

I think one of the landmarks of 2010 movies is the return to good-old dumb action, writing off intelligent action films like the Bourne movies or the recent Bonds. Instead, this year we have the epitome of no-brain adventure: The Losers, The A-Team, Predators, The Expendables, and we're waiting for Machete. So, without further ado:


Predators is basically a back-to-basics movie, like a retread of the 1st (and best) one, with just a couple of surprises just to keep the audience interested. The film's biggest problem is in fact its budget: you simply can't create a convincing alien planet using $30M, so in the end much of the CGI looks dodgy, although in the makeup department the film is very strong, courtesy of the always reliable KNB group. Likewise, the film looks like it was shot with cheap HD cameras, and the scope always feels intimate - unlike the 1st movie, which although didn't have any sets, always looked expertly shot and edited.

I didn't mention the script first, because actually there's none to be found! It's just a very simple remake of the 1st movie, set in an alien jungle. The only surprising element (apart from the hilarious predadogs) is Laurence Fishburne's character, who's trying to echo a bit of Col. Kurtz into the proceedings. The film generally fares a bit better in the performance department: Adrien Brody is actually very convincing in the mercenary role, as is Alice Braga. Topher Grace is also a very nice choice, and there's also Danny Trejo to be found (although he's a bit underutilized). Nimrod Atal's direction unfortunately is however below par, making the movie an enjoyable but totally forgettable experience. 6/10

The Expendables

Things fare a bit better with The Expendables, although the stakes were also raised a bit higher. Stallone's love poem to brainless '80 action echoes Cobra or Commando and gets the tone right. Some budgetary problems also apply to the movie however, where it seems that most of the money were spent on hiring the impressive cast, leaving the movie with some one-to-one confrontations and some generic explosions during the end. Stallone knows how to direct action though, even if he is in worse directorial shape compared to ie. John Rambo. The script is also non-existent, being a very basic mercenaries-for-hire movie, even without any basic twist for the end (the film follows what is basically a 2-act structure instead of a 3-act, which also indicates cutting corners). One complaint about the action scenes is the addition of CGI blood, which solidifies the rumors that the movie was initially aimed for a PG-13 audience.

The cast again is what really counts, with the audience being able to experiance the awsomeness of Stallone+Statham+Li+Ludrgen+Rourke for the first time! The famous cameo scene with Bruce and Arnold is also hilarious, if just a bit more meta than needed. The best performances come by Statham (who's the only one with some kind of 2-D arc), Rourke (who delivers a nice monologue about his war experiences), and Ludgren. Stallone is on autopilot however, Li still struggles with English, and Eric Roberts is going way-over-the-top in a role he's played about 50 times in DTV material. All in all, a very fun ride, although the missed potential is obvious. 7/10


Hotshuk said...

OK, so we went to check out the movie last night... err, boy did it suck! 7/10 ?! "You're 'avin a larf, aintcha?"
Look, I had no expectations for the film, but I was hoping to come out of it at least saying 'well at least it was fun' but really I would struggle to say it. Besides the obviously bad acting and flat script, the action wasn't even that good! With the extremely fast editing and shakey camera, it was impossible to tell who was fighting who. Anyway, if 'Inception' doesn't rock my socks off next Tuesday, i'm not going to the cinema anymore!

ebenet said...

Well, it might have been the audience mentality (everybody was screaming during the movie), but honestly it seemed very genuine, like a Commando for the '10s: bad acting, worse script, evil dictators, explosions... I wouldn't say that about the camera though, it didn't seem shaky to me. Hope you'll like Inception better!

Eraserheadx said...

The Expendables was a disappointment. Obviously nobody expected good acting or a great script. But I was expecting a very fun movie and Expendables did not deliver that, with the exception of a few moments here and there.

Another thing that really annoyed me was the use of bad cgi blood and blades that looked really out of place. Unfortunately more and more movies are using cgi blood and it's just not working for me.