Aug 19, 2014

The Fall of a Franchise

I had to come out of retirement for one last post to review EX3, armed not with optimism, but with a burning necessity to voice my disappointment. Not that it matters anymore, but alas, EX3 strays far from its predecessors in such a disastrous fashion, prompting me to purge my frustration through words.

Where do I begin this lamentable tale? EX3 is such a convoluted cinematic travesty that writing a concise review becomes a daunting task. Nevertheless, let's dissect this catastrophe.

Sylvester Stallone: a name that once resonated as the embodiment of action heroism, now stands shadowed by accusations of selling out, an ego-driven caricature of his former self. Outside his die-hard devotees of the StalloneZone, the true enthusiasts of the gritty 80s action films are left grappling with a sense of betrayal. Their unconditional support of the EX-franchise, which offered a lifeline to their aging icon, met with the heart-wrenching realization that he had forsaken them in favor of appealing to a new generation. What debt he owed to this new generation remains an enigma...

However, it would be naive to lay all of EX3's faults solely at Stallone's feet. The strings of decision-making in this production were manipulated by various entities, with the greedy Lerner family and the looming studios playing significant roles. The big studio executives must answer to shareholders, and they won't allow Stallone to determine their entire fortune. Yet, it should be acknowledged that Stallone's influence and his ability to steer the ship were compromised by his frantic desire to remain relevant in the 21st century.

And I'm saying that based on a pattern that is hard to ignore, one echoing throughout the legend's career – a cycle of ego-driven decisions and complacency that blinds him once he’s at the summit. The fame gained after Rocky and Rambo, the revival following Cliffhanger and Demolition Man – all were marred by the same affliction. And now, history cruelly repeats itself following the birth of the Expendables saga.

Although Sly is known for rising from the ashes, he might be too old for another comeback. I hope this EX3 debacle will bring his senses back, guiding his final Rambo project, if it ever gets made, to embody the values that placed him among the pantheon of action legends. An EX4 would be a redundant proposition if he's not allowed or able to return it to its essence and what it was always meant to be.

PG-13: An abbreviation that now tastes bitter on the tongues of hardcore fans. The attempt to blame piracy, a convenient alibi, cannot shield EX3 from the fallout. Yes, the illicit leak may have affected the box office figures – a decrease of approximately 20%, according to researchers, which would have resulted in the movie's opening of about $20M. This is still a mediocre result, considering the high expectations, expenses, and the pedigree of the cast members.

The true culprits: Franchise fatigue, terrible quality, bad reviews, and, most importantly, alienation of true fans. Unfortunately, history repeats itself, and studios either don't learn or don't care to learn from past mistakes. Lionsgate's strategic gambit to capitalize on Fast & Furious' summer absence faltered, and Stallone's and Lerner's bid to broaden the audience's horizons for personal ego and financial gains was a miscalculated plunge. Whatever the reason behind the PG decision, the verdict is unanimous: the movie paid for it, from both marketing and quality perspectives. Let’s pray that if EX4 should grace our screens, its architects learn from this debacle. Yet, it would be naive to expect history to change its course as long as the same architects remain in charge.

The film itself: It's a package of poor editing, average CGI, lackluster acting, and a story worthy of the garbage bin. Li and Schwarzenegger's relegation to mere shadows of their former selves is an affront of the highest order, deserving a trial at the Hague of cinema. Banderas' caricature-like presence is a cruel joke. It's almost as if these icons were treated with disregard, their cinematic legacies shackled. Arnold's contentment, his participation in such a denigration, baffles my mind. The “veteran” Expendables marginalized and overshadowed. The Sly/Mel fight is a shame, worse than Sly/JCVD in EX2. Badness upon badness, a cascade of cinematic disaster. WTF?

The New Blood: I'm speechless. What a laughable charade was this? Seriously? Lutz is probably the worst actor seen in recent years. He has no presence and charisma. Who dares to disrespect our icons? At least in EX2, one could develop some sympathy for Hemsworth. He was respectful towards the older EXs and died quickly to make room for the real heroes. Rousey was passable thanks to her fighting skills and has some okay fight scenes, but she should remain mute. The boxer boy, spare me the indignity, what was that? Actually, if I had to force myself to like one of them, I'd pick the hacker guy; he was okay.

This was Stallone's biggest mistake in his entire career – to write this ill-conceived roster of characters and then choose a bunch of useless wannabes to play them. Sly, please read this and all the other millions of articles, posts, tweets on the internet; open your eyes and let go of your ego. You should try to stay relevant to your fans who made you. Relevance beckons not the kids ignorant of your legacy, but the devotees who sculpted your success. If by any chance you are given the opportunity to make EX4, exterminate the new blood blasphemy in the opening act or design a narrative that banishes them from the sequel. Do your best to get Chan and give him a proper role. Make it a good R like you did with your Rambo 4. Bring on a few good villains, lobby for the money, and give it to The Rock; he wants to play ball. Do the Right Thing!

Thus, a franchise falls, a symphony of hardcore action from the 80s devolving into a discordant song. Witnessed by Generation X, the epitaph of an era.

Overall Rating: 1/5

May 18, 2014

EX3 Is PG-13, Moving on to EX4...

Stallone officially announced it in Cannes: EX3 is PG-13. I'm skipping this one and already preparing for EX4 hoping that EX3 bombs and they learn their lesson to make EX4 "R". These movies are only supported by hardcore fans, I was hoping that by now it was well understood by the greedy producers...

Jan 11, 2014

Statham might finally take a knocking in EX3

During a 90-minute question and answer session with Jonathan Ross at the London Palladium, Stallone also talked a little bit about Expendables 3: he revealed in the third film Jason Statham might finally take a knocking.

"You may see history made in the next Expendables," he said.

"I actually believe there's a bloody nose on the horizon.

"We have a great rapport together.

"You know he doesn't do that very often, he's very straight [in his films], but when he smiles, when he jokes around, he's good."

Big crowds turn out to see Sylvester Stallone in London for a Q&A session with fans AND Jonathan Ross

More Indication that Sly Might Quit Action

Back in November 2013 Stallone hinted at eventually retiring from Action Movies and the EX franchise (article here) which raised a lot of questions in the fans minds. Yesterday again he told U.K. talk show host Graham Norton, "I'm trying to avoid going to the gym. I ended up doing a lot of action films and you have to be in shape. I swear I was in the gym so often that if I'd had another daughter I would have called her Barbella! I figure at a certain age you get clogged arteries and you drop dead happy."

I'm starting to think he's really serious about quitting the action genre and that his participation in EX4 might be compromised. I for one won't be interested in an EX4 without Stallone...

Jan 7, 2014

EX3 Shot with RED Cameras

To those who do not know this, EX3 was shot with the RED cameras, under DP Peter Menzies Jr. Films such as Transformers 4, The Hobbit, Elysium and The Amazing Spiderman have all been shot using RED.

According to

Since its arrival, the RED ONE has established a pedigree of Oscar winning films, 3D features, and even magazine covers that have solidified its reputation as a reliable workhorse. Introduced as the purest digital alternative to 35mm film, the RED ONE has shot some of the most influential films of our time - from “Che” to “The Social Network”. Its ability to sustain brilliant 4K images in even the toughest environments has contributed to its enduring success as one of the greatest digital cinema cameras of all time."

The RED website has this on their page....interesting they use an EX2 promo shot.......

This site is a forum for RED users. A few interesting posts about EX3 I spotted.

Jarred Land posted "Teaser Trailer. Love the franchise or not.. from the footage I have seen from the show it looks incredible. Peter Menzies Jr. did one hell of a job. The first 2 Expendables were shot on Film and we are very proud that Peter chose RED for the 3rd.

Peter Mosiman posted "I gaffed a pickup shot where we shot Terry Crews doing his bit. Cool to see them all put together in a finished product.
(referring to the teaser it confirms they were all or mostly shot separately)

This is very cool. EX3 should be the best looking of the 3. Peter Menzies Jr. is a great DP, having shot such films as Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Shooter and The Incredible Hulk. The RED cameras are really gonna make EX3 look epic onscreen.


EPIC Sly/Arnold Pic!

Jan 5, 2014

Lutz: The Expendables 3 "WILL BE THE BEST ONE"

In a recent interview Lutz talked about his experience filming The Expendables 3, below is a summary of his interview - you can also read Statham's interview posted here today.
Did you shoot The Legend of Hercules and The Expendables 3 in any of the same locations?

LUTZ: Yeah, it was the same studio. For The Expendables, we also just used old buildings that never were finished, as our blown-out bunkers.

How was that experience? What was it like to go from being the lead of one action movie to working with some real action icons?

LUTZ: It was another dream come true. They were my heroes, growing up. You have Arnold [Schwarzenegger], Sly [Stallone], Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren. We’re all in one helicopter, yelling for Sly to come at us. I was just like, “When will I ever have this opportunity again?!” It really was a dream.

Who are you playing in it?

LUTZ: I play the leader of the young Expendables. Sly comes and recruits me, and I recruit our team. The older guys are just broken and old and busted, so he comes to the younger, more tactical guys to handle the next mission. So, I got to work with Sly quite a bit. 

Did you have any scenes with Arnold Schwarzenegger or Harrison Ford?

LUTZ: Yeah. I had scenes with Arnold, Harrison, Mel, Kelsey Grammer and Antonio Banderas. I had scenes with them all. It was quite amazing.

When you work with people like that, is it more nerve-wracking and intimidating, or is it more exciting and bad-ass?

LUTZ: I’m just excited, and I think it’s bad-ass. I don’t really get starstruck. I just get so excited because these are guys I’ve always wanted to work with. I would pretend I was Rambo or Rocky. But for them, it’s always so awkward. You’re an actor with them, and you want a picture with them, but you don’t want to come off like you want a picture with them. But I still asked, and they would take pictures with me. I want to remember those moments. And they give you a lot of good advice. Sly would be like, “Don’t break eye contact. Keep it here. Don’t be discouraged or deflated.” He’d also let us rip, quite a bit. He’d let us improve, and just follow along. He’d say something and we’d be like, “What?!” It was an experience.

How do you think this film will compare to the first two?

LUTZ: I think it will be the best one. The script has so much depth and story to it. It’s a solid script, and then you add all these new faces to it. I can’t wait!

Source: Collider

Statham: Chopper Scene with Ford, Arnold, Li & Banderas, Hallucinating

In an exclusive interview with the French movie outlet Premiere, Statham talked about The Expendables 3:

P: You must have also lived quite hallucinating moments in Expendables 3 ...

JS: There is one [moment] in particular that will be marked in my memory: I was there in that chopper piloted by Harrison Ford, surrounded by Jet Li, Antonio Banderas, Arnold Schwarzenegger with his cigar in his mouth, Dolph Lundgren ... I felt like going down to take a picture, it was just amazing. The director, Patrick Hughes, could not believe it himself. He turned to the team and asked every two seconds: "I'm dreaming, or what I'm seeing is actually happening?"

P: You think there was enough testosterone in that chopper?

JS: I still can't believe he managed to take off! (Laughter.)

If you read French here's the entire interview, you can also use Google translator...

Sly: Arnie, Bruce & I ... too many egos in the room!

In a recent interview with Express UK, Stallone revealed that "People think Arnie and Bruce and me hang out all the time but because of our work projects we may not talk together for a year".

"Then, all of a sudden, we get together and when we do we realize there is a reason we don't get together; too many egos in the room! So we say: 'See you in a year, have to go regroup."

Interesting interview, you can read the rest here.

Seagal as Governor or EX4 baddie???

It seems Steven Seagal wants to follow in Schwarzenegger's footsteps and have the title as governor under his belt. Here is the news report:

Ok, so he is ambitious! In my humble opinion Seagal should do the following: Agree to star in The Expendables 4 as a bad guy; get the exposure he needs with a mainstream blockbuster film and run for governor if he so pleases. 

Arnold did the same thing with a big sequel when he ran for governor after T3 was a massive success.

Seagal really is one of the only few legendary action stars missing from the EXPENDABLES franchise and I personally think EX4 will be the last one in the series. Steven should play a henchman role like Stone Cold did in the first film and he should be working with or for none other than Al Pacino!!!

Imagine how amazing it would be to see Al and Steven as the main bad guys in the next chapter of the Expendables films. Add Jackie Chan as a new expendable (a sacrifice must be made so killing Jet Li in the next film is a must; it would be powerful) and the next film will be...the best one of all to end the series on a high!

Come on Steven and Jackie...join the fold! The fans want and demand it!!!