Directed by action maestro Walter Hill and with a lead role for Bill Paxton this sounds like a great combination. Alas this turns out to be a very by the numbers thriller that can't really muster up anything overly exciting.
The film is quite similar to another thriller by the title of 'Judgment Night' plot wise. Some out of town blue collar guys get themselves into a difficult situation with a local gang or hoods. In this film the two men are trapped within an old vacant building whilst looking for some lost stolen treasure while in the other film some men are lost and trapped within a broken down dodgy neighbourhood.
The problem with this film is the bad guys, a gang made up of stereotypical cliched black hoods that are covered in bling and can't speak proper English. The casting has big names admittedly and includes most well known black character actors but for some reason Hill chose to cast Ice-T and Ice Cube...oh dear. Needless to say the acting from this pair is dire and ruins any potential tension whenever they are on screen.
Overall there isn't really much tension a tall frankly, not enough to make you care whether Paxton or Sadler (good guys) make it out alive or not. Its an old film now yes so you could excuse the predictable obligatory stuff that's included, you know Sadler is the unhinged guy that will crack through gold fever (the lost stolen items) and you know all the hoods will turn on each other. Ice Cube makes that rather obvious the moment he utters his first words.
Reasonably entertaining but lacking real bite. The reason 'Judgment Night' was so cool was down to the great casting of Leary as the main bad guy, this similar film is missing that key casting. Paxton is limp, Sadler is better as a villain and action is AWOL. The ending is slightly unique in the fact it doesn't end as you would think, doesn't make it any better though.
Back in 1998 we got the first of two movies revolving around the possible cataclysmic events of a gigantic comet hitting the Earth. This did happen a few times back in the 90's with the two volcano flicks...'Dante's Peak' and errr 'Volcano', 'Bug's Life' and 'Antz', 'Tombstone' and 'Wyatt Earp' etc... For some reason Hollywood bigwigs seemed to think we needed two virtually identical movies coming out in the same year.
Where as 'Armageddon' was a more bombastic explosion filled action adventure where characters had cool nicknames, this movie was a much deeper emotional rollercoaster with a sensible angle. I've always seen or compared these two films to videogames...this film being more like a realistic simulator and 'Armageddon' being more like a balls to the wall arcade cabinet game. Clearly there is no need to go over the plot in much detail as it speaks for itself, but both films required astronauts to drill deep into the vast looming comet and plant nukes to blow it up. In one film it works, in the other it doesn't.
What I liked about this film was the well portrayed characters and their development, although the casting wasn't all that good truth be told. We meet a rounded selection of average people, and of course Mr President and some officials, as the clock ticks down to judgement day. Each character has their own individual issues that intertwine with other characters throughout, its basically a slice of life for each person in the lead up to the disaster. In the mean time we also follow some astronauts and their mission to plant the nukes which naturally also includes more heart pounding problems to solve. On the whole every story line is very emotional as the tension builds...people die, people must make choices, sacrifices, redemption, reconciliation, love...its all here in buckets loads and what's more it works.
I will be quite honest here and say this movie gets me every time with the old waterworks, I can't help it. Leder uses all the tricks in the book to make you reach for the tissues, every predictable cliche is present and correct from making up with a loved one, giving up a life saving seat on a helicopter for a mother and child...to the astronauts making the ultimate sacrifice. There are some scenes which really wrench at your heartstrings (I think), when Leoni and Schell hold each other on the beach before being engulfed by the tsunami, the shuttle crew saying their goodbyes before blowing themselves up inside a comet fissure, when the newsroom team must draw straws for helicopter placings. That scene also annoyed me, a young mother and child draw the short straw and must stay behind and no one offers their place to them! surely a mother and baby would get a place regardless sheesh!
On the flip side the destruction porn, or disaster porn should I say is handled well with solid CGI. The ruination of poor old New York is well rendered and still holds up today, watching the megatsunami sweep through the city toppling skyscrapers is actually quite scary. The tsunami itself looks good against the city but elsewhere it does look a tad obvious, there are the odd shots that stick out a bit these days but that's expected. In general it all looks very good and with minimal use of big set pieces really, not until the finale that is, its mainly dialog and space sequences. The space sequences are quite impressive I might add, nicely done, realistic in appearance no nonsense...it all looked accurate to me, as though it could really happen. The comet sequences were probably the best in the film, it all looked like a set sure but very well created, cold and intimidating visually, great space suits for the astronauts and some slick looking machinery and gear which all looked like it would actually do the job for real.
It always amused me how the US decides to save one million people, 300,000 of which already have places, people like scientists teachers doctors...artists? No one over 50...bit of a bummer huh, oh unless you're the President or any of his aides that is. I've also always wondered about the US military in this film, did they get automatic places in the caves? seeing as they are serving their country, did their families get automatic places too? if not why would any soldier follow orders and do what they do...act like emotionless heartless robots.
I also found it hilarious that as Elijah Wood and his family are about to enter the caves his folks actually let him run off to find his little girlfriend! As if any parent would allow their child to do that in that situation, I'm pretty sure any normal parent would have dragged the child in with them no questions asked. The whole sub plot is ridiculous too seeing as Wood would have died for nothing, he didn't know the bigass comet would get destroyed and he never made it back to the caves, so both him and his girlfriend would have been killed ordinarily. When Wood does find his girlfriend her folks tell them to get to higher ground...but again why bother when they all knew the bigass comet would wipe everything out. Surely being together in the last few minutes would have been a better option for the kids. So technically Wood goes off on a suicide mission and his folks let him.
So even with a simple plot like this there are still (I think) some flaws that don't really reflect reality that well. I also thought the main casting was a bit all over the place with Leoni coming across kinda weak in my opinion. She just looks confused all the time and her newscaster sequences were terrible, even before she announces the bad news she's stuttering through it annoyingly. Schell adds some old fashioned class and sheen but the relationship/connection between him and Leoni never really feels right even though it isn't suppose to. Even at the very end I just didn't feel it between them which is a shame because they are one of the main focus points in the plot (still a sad moment).
On the other hand the drama kicking off in space is managed expertly by Duvall, him and his team really do come across as a proper group of astronauts. This was one aspect I've always like about the movie and that's the combination of the Earth based drama and space set drama, both of which are solid and gel perfectly. I was also impressed how the story is handled, it never crosses your mind that the space shuttle crew might not make it back, sure you know there's always gonna be redshirt character in there but you always assume they will be the heroes and get home. I guess this is what makes their sacrifice so powerful towards the finale, it surprises you, hits you hard, and in that brief moment you connect with the small team one human to another.
I'm sure there are probably some scientific bits that aren't overly accurate too but in general this movie feels very realistic, looks very realistic and manages to cover the stark reality of humanity having to face extinction exceptionally well in the countdown to the end of the world.
The whole nightmare neighbours thing has been done to death, anyone remember the Aykroyd and Belushi movie 'Neighbours' from 1981? There are other examples that vary on the premise but the idea is old hat, this movie uses the old frat house theme against the homely couple which in itself is not entirely original. None the less its an opportunity to see Rogen act like a beer swilling unkempt overweight slob and...oh wait, that's not entirely original either.
So the young-ish couple with a baby living in some huge huge detached house in suburbia are horrified when the other huge huge detached house next door gets turned into a frat house. This kind of thing doesn't really happen in the UK, we don't have frat houses and the concept does sound quite ludicrous frankly although I'm sure this situation has been exaggerated. Most folk in the UK don't live in detached mansions either by the way. At first the young couple get on with the party mad...err frat guys/people, but sure enough tensions mount and eventually the situation boils over into a feud.
I kinda found this film to be along the same lines as the comedy 'Identity Thief'. Now when I say comedy I use that term loosely as both movies revolve around situations that aren't really funny, this is how I see them as similar. In reality if this happened to you (either movies plot) it would be horrible, a real nightmare, thusly watching this film kinda made me feel uncomfortable, I actually felt tense and nervous because the whole scenario is just nasty.
Sure there are amusing moments...kinda, at first everything is sorta OK but you know it won't last of course. It starts with simple noise pollution as the teens party all night long, little jibes here and there, nothing too bad. Then as things start to heat up Rogen's character attacks the frat house causing bad water damage which the lads somehow manage to fix by selling...dildos?! they make about 10K I think it was...wut?! From there on various things happen which just aren't particularly funny, nothing really seriously malicious like horrific serve vandalism but just dangerous pranks like somehow setting up Rogen's car airbags to go off on his work seat. How on earth did they manage to get into his work place and do that? let alone find out where he works. The same could be said for the airbag pranks inside Rogen's house...how? plus would they really make a fully grown male as heavy as Rogen fly in the air like that? it all seems illogical and it looked stupid.
I guess the whole thing just feels completely predictable and like something we've seen before many times over the decades, oh wait we have. All the usual drinking pot smoking visual gags, the nerdy older couple trying to be cool and mix in with the younger kids by dressing idiotically and talking like some street wise surfer rap hoodies (am I showing myself up to be out of touch with that comment?). The party montages are the usual epileptic fit inducing variety with hot scantily cad chicks, neon lights, dance floor grinding, insane activities and close ups of Rogen's bare disgusting hairy gut.
What's really kinda weird is the young frat guys keep threatening to do things to get back at Rogen and co yet they never really do much accept for the airbag jokes and just being plainly annoying. The film keeps building up the plot as though something epic is gonna happen but nothing really does. Then in the end after the frat house is shut down and you'd think the frat boys (mainly Efron's character) would be really pissed and out for revenge, he just makes up with Rogen as if nothing ever happened! I was like...that's it?!" after all that you just shake and be friends! what was the point of all this again?
I like Rogen I really do, he can be a funny guy, a good average Joe type fella in solid everyday bloke type movies, he's relatable. This just feels like a vain ego trip (seeing as he produced it) which just doesn't work and feels totally forced. Trying too hard and coming across as overbearing with the attempted laughs, get a new schtick Rogen.
So after the somewhat mediocre affair of the first film the boys are back for more vulgar adventures, this time down under. That's pretty much my whole synopsis right there, this film is virtually the same spiel as the first film but set in Australia, game over.
The film follows on from the last movie with Simon having relationship issues with the girl he met in Malia and Will doesn't seem to be with the nice blonde he met in Malia anymore. Neil has also moved on from his girl but Jay has run off to Oz to find the chubby bird he also met in Malia. So most of what happened in the last movie has been jettisoned for a clean slate and basically the story revolves around Jay going after his bird from the first movie.
No sooner have the guys met up in Oz and discovered Jay is actually working in a nightclub toilet (nicely done), Will bumps into an old flame and all four are dragged off up the eastern coast to Bryon Bay following her. After a slow start the story does pick up a bit when we meet Jay's uncle in Australia, I can't deny the obligatory stereotypical beer swilling racist foul mouthed Aussie is a hoot if somewhat predictable with the verbal gags. From there on the movie does nail each and every stereotype perfectly from the guitar playing, bead wearing, bracelet adorned, backpacking UK hippies with their silly head wear and earrings.
I guess its no surprise the whole film is one big predictable cliche, we all know that right, we know to expect that but does this make for a fun flick? In all honesty no it doesn't, I still can't quite work out how or why this film has done so well here in the UK, well I know why...its because the TV show was so popular and it has a huge following that's why. I must declare I found myself second guessing almost every scene, every line of dialog and every gag, the whole scenario, the whole setup...everything was just so formulaic and predictable it really felt quite lame dare I say.
Sure there are scenes and lines that made me laugh of course. The most horrendous of these must be the lumps of poo shooting down the water chute after Neil has an accident at the top. This wasn't exactly funny...more utterly disgusting as the lumps of poo did look very real and the fact they hit Simon in the face followed by him gushing vomit did leave me actually gagging. Seeing Jay wanking under the covers as Will comes close to getting laid was very amusing, the lads getting stranded in the outback brings up some good lines despite the fact you knew right from the start that whole scenario was [b]bound[/b] to happen and Will having a spiritual campfire moment (and outburst) with the hippies was quite good.
I did find myself enjoying this in places but generally it all felt extremely repetitive in my opinion. Its all a thinly disguised rehash of the first movie, the plot is near identical and follows the same routine. The lads try to get in with the pretty folk, one or two of them manage to nab a sexy bird somehow, they all fall out over silly issues, they almost get their leg over but end up getting dumped in the end for a jock and then finally making up with each other. Hell even the verbal and visual gags are almost the same stuff rehashed but just slightly altered, instead of the 'pussay patrol' its now the 'banter brigade', worth a giggle but meh. The location this time made things more interesting and visually more exciting which I liked although I wish more had been set in the wilds of the outback. The short teaser trailers did tend to make you think that but alas twas no more than a tease.
The finale is again all the same guff from the first movie literately scene for scene including the end credit extras, plus it does feel like they shoehorned in as many cast regulars from the TV show as possible when they didn't really need to be there (Jay's dad?). In the end I do think this is better than the first movie outing but only marginally. The Aussie setting is great but lets be honest here...this film could of been set anywhere as they don't really take much advantage of that Aussie factor. I do believe (personally) that this franchise has now run its course and should quite while its ahead, its become very repetitive and making another in yet another location may not succeed.
The boys are back in town...again! and this time its PG-13 baby (sigh). All the Expendable team are back after yet another successful mission where they all had their invincibility cheats on...accept for Crews who forgot to enter his cheat code and gets nailed. But don't go getting too excited because low and behold he survives, they must have found an energy health power-up for him.
So the lads are getting on a bit these days, Arnie and Sly are pushing 70 years of age and the rest of the team aren't that far behind...well some of them. Anyway despite that Sly thinks its time to hang up everybody's boots because they are now officially (according to him) too old, yet Sly still carries on with the next mission even though he's the oldest and clearly looks the worst for wear. So off he goes to hire some young blood with the help of...Kelsey Grammer? really?? what action movies has he starr...never mind. So bottom line the tough old guns are out, the new young guns are in...aaaand there goes the entire premise of the franchise.
The whole plot is basically a play on how these guys are too old for this shit, yet in reality they're all genuinely too old for this shit (some of them) but they're still doing it!...badly.
The plot is not worth discussing really, its the usual good guys vs the bad guys this time led by Mel Gibson...the end. As you would/should expect its pretty much exactly the same spiel as the fist two films but with new team members. There are little remarks throughout from various characters that touch on the fact the movie is a complete parody of itself which didn't really make me smile. Instead they just got me thinking how stupid this whole exercise was and how sharp and accurate those little quips are...but not in a funny way, a serious way, like stop this ridiculous charade and lets get back to old school for Gods sake. What's more the little quips merely pinpoint what is actually wrong with this entire franchise...'so what our plan is to kick down the door and start spraying bullets?', 'that's a great plan...if its 1985'. Yes that's what we want! Oh Lord! if only this film was the caliber of a 1985 adult action flick! if only!
So as we know all the old school action men we wanna see have been left behind accept for Sly's ego. We are now left with some young guys I've never heard of accept for Lutz and a female MMA fighter who cannot act TO SAVE HER LIFE. Seriously I've haven't seen such bad acting in a major movie for some time, it was embarrassing to watch her try and be butch and tough. Her first sequence as the bouncer in that nightclub literately made me laugh out loud, absolutely terrible. The entire montage thing was so flippin' cliched, would have been OK if it was actually good.
Everybody is covered in thick tan makeup its cringeworthy. Sly's face looks like a beaten slab of meat, Arnie has dyed hair, Ford looks dreadfully old (why he agreed to act in this I'll never know) and for some reason they turn Banderas into a bitch. The action isn't as bad as I thought it would be in places I'll admit. There is a solid punch to it at times but it really needs some claret to fly, it yearns for it, some nice fat exploding bloody squibs. Overall its choppy (no pun intended), the thrills can be decent but without warning all of a sudden it drops into pure crapola, awful CGI choppers and a dirt bike stunt sequence? really?? you could clearly see the course and dirt covered ramps!
As we plod slowly towards the predictable ending of the old school Expendables having to save the young newbies things just become more and more...annoying. All the team members are like explosive Gods raining down pain on all the faceless useless military that are swarming all over them. Not even tanks can stop them, how can a countries military be so utterly useless? Arnie throws out not one but two choppa quips that date back to his famous lines in 'Predator', Gibson's dialog is hilariously bad as is his over acting when he finally gets killed off by super Sly and as with before no one gets killed or even injured. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these films would be so much cooler if some of the good guys got killed off.
Yeah its a parody of sorts and not to be taken seriously even though Sly is clearly taking it all very seriously. Sly if you wanna be a serious badass then make these adult rated action movies. I have not taken to this franchise from day one after it became apparent they weren't gonna be proper action movies like I remember. I grew up watching these guys in real hardcore adult flicks where the blood flowed, limbs flew and the f-bombs detonated in every other line. This franchise does not give me what I remember, and I'm not even wearing my rose tinted specs. These guys need to remember their roots, the roots that made them famous, they didn't become famous for childish PG family fun films. Alas now I fear time has passed many of them by and unfortunately this was not a good final curtain.