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The Expendables 3: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Max World

August 20, 2014

expendables 3 movie poster

The picture below is the reason you should watch The Expendables 3.

Expendables 3 Harrison Ford

Any film in which Harrison Ford seems to be genuinely enjoying himself is cool with me. Ford even goes as far to say “I haven’t had so much fun in years.” You can’t help but love a scene featuring Ford piloting a helicopter whilst Jet Li and Arnold blast countless thugs away with massive guns. Also, this Photoshopped shirt would have never happened if these two legends weren’t in the film.

Arnold Han Shot First

Expendables 3 is bonkers entertainment that has been treated way too cynically. Sure, the film falls flat when introducing the new action stars and sometimes becomes unintentionally hilarious. However, there are enough moments of randomness and awesomeness that keep you hoping for an even more bloated Expendables 4 that leads to publicity photos like this.

Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 is a fun film that was simply meant to entertain and in no way meet our expectations.The plot gets a little out of control as Sly picks up a new crew because one of his old crew was seriously injured by ex-expendable Mel Gibson. Predictably, the new crew gets kidnapped by Mel Gibson and Sly reteams with his old crew to free the new team whilst battling the ex-expendable. Basically, it is an excuse for a massive shoot out finale that is handled well by sophomore director Patrick Hughes. Hughes gives the film a breath of fresh air as he ditches the Mickey Rourke monologues for a more humorous approach. He also does a couple important things right. First and foremost he lets Dolph continue his trend of posing for ridiculous photos.

Expendables 3 Dolph

Second, He lets Antonio Banderas do his thing as a motor mouthed maniac who has some of the best moments. He talks fast, runs fast and he looks awesome shooting people. I had visions of Desperado in my head as he mowed down adversaries whilst wooing Ronda Rousey. He lightens up the odd melodramatic moments and you can tell he was popular on set.

Expendables 3 Banderas

Caption: How did our careers survive Assassins?

The biggest problems with the film are the hand to hand fights. Ronda Rousey should have gotten the Soderbergh Gina Carano Haywire treatment but instead she has chopped up fights that show off 1/10 of her fighting skills. Also, the final fight between Rocky and Mad Max is unnecessarily hurried and ends cheaply. Why bring in boxers, wrestlers and judoka fighters and not let them box, wrestle or use judo? Strengths aren’t used and that leads to some terrible line readings that aren’t helped by the cheesy dialogue. I did like the final exchange between Sly and Rousey though.

Rousey: If you were 30 years younger.

Sly: I would be scared.

The Expendables 3 has enough fun moments to make you forget how much better it could have been. For instance, Mel Gibson is a worthy adversary because he has embraced the villain role. Wesley Snipes talks about tax evasion in a cheeky moment of self-awareness. Dolph wears technology he doesn’t fully understand (“I use it to check the weather”) because it is funny seeing a large Swedish man deal with technological wristwatches.

The new team is a mixed bag of new comers who bring out the best in the old timers. I never thought I would see Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren and Randy Couture featured in a “we are depressed” montage. The four sit around sulking as the young punks are assembled via a fisherman looking Kelsey Grammer. The best usage of the bunch is when Kellan Lutz jumps eight stories on a dirt bike to assist Sly in killing an entire army. It is at that moment when you jump on board with the newbies.

Expendables 3 ronda Rousey kellan lutz

If you’ve watched the first two films you will check out the third. Don’t expect Die Hard meets Seven Samurai. Expect the third entry of a series that simply wants to entertain and sometimes fail to do so. Expect snazzy outfits, Jet Li height jokes and very large guns.

Expendable 3 large guns

I had a very fun time watching The Expendables 3. Was it good? Nope. Will I watch it again? Yep. Is it my favorite of the three? Yep. Do I dream of a fourth film where Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby and Pierce Brosnan team up with the Expendables to battle Sean Connery? Yep!

Sit back, take your brain out. Kick your feet up. Watch stuff explode.

 

 

 

Cuban Fury: Long Legs, Flat Fanta, Can’t Lose

August 19, 2014

Cuban Fury movie poster

The wheels started rolling for Cuban Fury one fateful night when Nick Frost drunkenly sent an email to a producer friend of his. She loved the idea and the film received the green light to start. What followed was seven months of dance training and the accruing of a wonderful supporting cast. The finished product is an earnest little film with a nice heart and a supporting cast who moonwalk away with all the best scenes.

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The best parts of Cuban Fury involve the eclectic supporting cast. Chris O’Dowd (lovely long legs), Ian McShane and Kayvan Novak steal the show. Novak was hilarious in Four Lions and he imbues the film with cheeky randomness . Whether he is drinking flat Fanta or giving Nick Frost the Pretty Woman treatment everything he does is pure gold. I really hope the guy starts landing larger roles because he holds the screen like none other.

Cuban Fury Nick Frost

Nick Frost makes for a likable schlub whom happens to dance well. He was a child dancing prodigy who hung up his shoes after a massive beat down by bullies. Twenty years later he works as an engineer who has given up on women and simply goes about the daily grind. However, a conveniently single new American boss shows up and gives Nick a reason to dance again. His journey gets him in contact with his spurned old coach played by the always reliable Ian McShane. McShane is given little to do but you can’t help but love his long hair and constant vodka drinking. His character must be the cousin of his stepdad Frank from Hot Rod.

Ian McShane Cuban Fury

The biggest problem with Cuban Fury is that the main romance is about as intricate as a two-step. It is convenient (she dances salsa), contrived (two meet cutes) and comes across as flatter than Kayvan’s Fanta. Rashida Jones is stuck with the nice, gullible and conveniently single love interest role. Frost isn’t treated much better as he is saddled with playing a sad sack who has the most depressing yogurt eating on the planet. Together, they make each other mix tapes and endure Chris O’Dowd saying things like “I’m going to splash inside that like a milk truck hitting a wall.”

Despite its romance woes Cuban Fury is a likable film that wins you over. After the film was over my wife and I had big smiles on our faces and we wanted to watch Four Lions. It ain’t Shakespearean Salsa yet doesn’t need to be. The original idea survives the familiar tropes and manages to become feel good fluff. I can’t wait to see what Frost does next and hope Kayvan Novak can come up with more fun characters.

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Locke: Tom Hardy and the Open Road

August 14, 2014

Locke movie poster

I purposefully didn’t watch any trailers for Locke. I knew it featured Tom Hardy in a car for 90 minutes and I didn’t want the film sullied by too much information via trailers or interviews. The thought of Hardy acting again after his tough guy roles in Lawless and Dark Knight Rises had an appeal to me. Gone is the tough guy persona and what we get is a man named Ivan Locke who has made a terrible mistake. It isn’t life threatening but it is life altering. Locke’s life isn’t going to be pleasant for a while yet he chooses to meet his miscue head on.

Filmed over six nights Locke gives us a fantastic character. The film is a mini-miracle of director/actor trust and fantastic editing and cinematography. All the elements combine to form a confident movie that engages and excites.

The director Steven Knight rehearsed the film for five days with the actors then let them do their thing over the six-day shoot. Some nights they would film two completely different 90 minute versions and when it was all done they edited the best parts together. Some scenes last around 10 minutes and allow Hardy to show every emotion in the book. I loved watching a man trying to keep it together whilst everything changes around him.

Locke Tom Hardy

It isn’t a one man morality play (Phone Booth) or indictment on the Iraq War (Buried). It is the story of a dependable man and one mistake. He has a good job, a family that loves him and the respect of his peers. Yet, his 90 minute drive to London will change all of that. Tom Hardy holds the close-ups well and disappears into his Welsh-accented character. I love the moment when he is motivating his assistant to complete the job he left by saying:

You do it for the piece of sky we are stealing with our building. You do it for the air that will be displaced. And most of all, you do it for the f—–g concrete, because it is delicate as blood

We find out that Locke left for London the night before the largest concrete pour in Europe. 200 trucks will be rolling in and the amount of variables needed to be checked are countless. He has been the man for ten years and his higher-ups are justifiably pissed off by his departure. He also has another drama that is much more important to his life. Over the course of the film you find out why he is doing what he is doing. He made his bed and now he has to drive to it.

Locke is pure cinema. It wasn’t made by committee or meant for the masses. It tells a singular story and doesn’t pander to the audience. Nothing happens that will change the world and there is no problem with that. It is a riveting and incredibly human piece of work that reminds us of Tom Hardy’s acting skills and that directors are still striving for something different.

Watch Locke. Appreciate Locke. Learn a lot about concrete.

Hardy Locke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boyhood: I Guess This Is Growing Up

August 13, 2014

Boyhood movie poster

Ethan Hawke called Boyhood “Timelapse photography of a human being.” This film directed by Richard Linklater was 12 years in the making and proves to be a beautiful experiment that combines the best of Linklater’s previous films. Boyhood is an incredible experience full of depth, intelligence and wonderful conversations.

Boyhood girlfriend

Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette, Lorelei Linklater and Ellar Coltrane make up the four who we follow for 12 years. Together they make for an engaging foursome who all adapt and evolve as they grow up, get divorced (twice), graduate high school, buy minivans and figure themselves out.

Boyhood has a heart and soul like none other. There are moments that will crush you while others prove to be uplifting. Religion, divorce, alcoholism, art and adulthood are portrayed with maturity and nobody falls into caricature. Texas becomes its own character and its wide open terrain provides a perfect backdrop for philosophical musings.  I love the moment when Hawke tells Coltrane the surefire way to attract women. He says “You have to ask them lots of questions, and then you have to listen.”

boyhood hawke

Linklater is great at creating intriguing characters who engage in wonderful discussions. His films Slacker, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock, Waking Life, Bernie and the Before trilogy are all marvels of dialogue and memorable characters. He creates human beings who are curious about the world and are open to new experiences. Their plights are never earth shattering and nobody ventures into melodrama and because of that their problems feel real.

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What I love about Boyhood is how much it respects its audience. There are no markers of time. We understand the time change via songs, Obama campaigns and various new technological devices. The film is inhabited with supporting characters who go out of their way to offer sage advice. Linklater is unrivaled in his ability to make supporting characters endearing. Characters who get several minutes of screen time prove to be more three dimensional than the majority of people who inhabit celluloid nowadays. For instance, Matthew McConaughey is still riding the Wooderson Dazed and Confused bandwagon.

dazed and confused

Boyhood is a beautiful achievement and is easily the best film of the year. Watch the film. Promote the film. Appreciate the beauty in front of you. Listen to more Foghat.

Guardians of the Galaxy: The A-Holes Assemble

August 12, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy movie poster

Any film that calls its heroes “a-holes” and introduces the main character via a dance sequence is cool with me. Guardians of the Galaxy is a cheeky gamble that has paid off and proves that even people named Drax the Destroyer drunk dial. The tone is light, the characters likable and CGI spectacular. Guardians has a managed (Marvel has films planned until 2026) feel but still brings something important to the Marvel universe. Guardians features characters you want to spend more time with.

guardians of the galaxy firefly

Guardians tells the story of five people trying to stop a guy named Ronan the Accuser from finding an infinity stone. Ronan wants to give the stone to the big baddie Thanos who in exchange will destroy a planet for Ronan. However, a genetically modified raccoon, a tree, the adopted daughter of Thanos, a dude named Drax and a guy named Starlord unite to stop the threat. What follows is the obligatory third act space battle, underwhelming fist fights and dancing as a diversion.

Guardians Line up

I love that a film featuring a drunk tree got a wide release. It is Marvel gambling again and proves a perfect distraction from their Ant Man hullabaloo. The light tone is a change of pace from DC’s dour Man of Steel and self seriousness of The Dark Knight Rises. It wears its nerdiness on its sleeve and constantly reminds you about the power of friendship. It is also the only super hero film where the main character Peter Quill warns the other Guardians about the perils of searching his ship with a black light (the Inbetweeners would be proud).

Guardians has bumps and bruises that I love. The bad guys are nondescript yet I feel like they were meant to be caricatures of other megalomaniacs. The film ends with a stock spaceship battle that is elevated by a CGI raccoon being heroic. Former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista has the best character arc and says things like “Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I’d catch it.” I also love that he gets drunk and dials up the bad guys for a bit of violence.

Guardians Drax

The film has a personality that Thor 2: Evil Elves Running Amok lacked. It took chances with its casting and hired a guy known for his Troma films to direct. Director James Gunn is responsible for one of my favorite cinematic lines which is featured in the film Slither. It ain’t shakespeare but I love hearing Nathan Fillion say “I can’t get drunk. I have too much muscle mass.” Also, Guardians gives Michael Rooker a showcase scene and proves that raccoons have no problem stealing fake legs. Now that the world is established and Thanos is the big threat I am excited for the group of “a-holes” to quip aplenty in future installments.

What did you think?

 

The MFF Awesome Mix: Volume One

August 11, 2014

Hello all. Mark here.

I love music. I love movies. I love listening to music whilst traveling. I even went as far to burn one CD and listen to it on an old school CD player while going on a solo mission to see the Great Wall of China in 2008. One CD, one backpack and a gnarly beard got me through the unplanned trip and I loved every second of it.

The Guardians of the Galaxy inspired me to think of a set list that I would take into space when I become an intergalactic smuggler against my will. Here is the mix that will be played in the stylish cassette player.

Awesome Mix

1. Modest Mouse – Float On

2. Rolling Stones – You Can’t Always Get What You Want

3. Men At Work – Land Down Under

4. Metallica – Whiskey in a Jar

5. Cold War Kids – Audience of One

6. Paul Simon – Graceland

7. Dropkick Murphys – Amazing Grace

8. The Format – The First Single (You Know Me)

9. Fun – Be Calm

10. New Found Glory – King of Wishful Thinking (cover)

11. CCR – Down on the Corner

12. Daft Punk – One More Time

13. Bob Marley – Could You Be Loved

What songs would you take on your intergalactic journey?

John’s Horror Corner: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (2014), still fun, but the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise.

August 9, 2014

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MY CALL: Although still fun, this was the least impressive flesh-eating virus movie of the franchise. It’s often more than gory and wacky enough to please fans of the franchise though. MOVIES LIKE Cabin Fever: Patient Zero: Cabin Fever (2002), of course it should probably be seen first…okay, it really doesn’t matter. Then Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009). But true lovers of hilariously gory overkill should also hit Evil Dead (2013), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), Final Destination 5 (2011), Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and of course Evil Dead 2 (1987) and The Evil Dead (1981).

A group of friends embark on a Caribbean bachelor party cruise and come across a remote island research facility and they are exposed to a deadly, flesh-eating virus during a gore-chummed snorkeling expedition.

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Simultaneously we switch back and forth with a parallel plot in which researchers have isolated “patient zero” (Sean Astin; The Strain, The Goonies, Lord of the Rings)–the carrier of the original strain of this horrible virus that blessed us with this franchise–moved him to an island lab (yes, that lab) for study and… we’ll just say things get out of hand inside their research facility as well. So we have two simultaneous infections occurring on this normally sleepy, sunny island.

cabin-fever

Is it just me? Or has Mr. Samwise been creating an awful lot of apocalypse-plague shenanigans recently? In The Strain he helps the Nazi vampires spread the Nazi vampire zombiism worm virus. Here, HE is patient zero!

If you’ve seen any of these movies, you’ve sort of seen them all. But let’s be clear here, director Kaare Andrews (The ABCs of Death – V is for Vagitus, Altitude) delivers extravagant levels of gore consistent with the franchise. After exposure our early infected cast members have a rash which quickly shifts to symptoms of blisters and…worse.

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More advanced victims practically melt away and projectile vomit liquefied gore into the faces of the yet uninfected. Skin sloughs off of bodies, pus erupts from bloated flesh, and–perhaps the most flawed aspect of this sequel–victims eventually become almost zombie-like. Also, like its predecessors, it uses a sex scene to set the tone of the urgency…because after all, and I can’t speak for everyone here, but when my girlfriend’s body is covered with festering sores the first place y mind goes to isthen we should probably have sex!

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“So while we wait for medical care how should we pass the time?”

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“Guess what, bro? Her STD test results just came in…she tested positive!”

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Perhaps this is all just to teach younger viewers that sex might just catch you something deadly. Oh, and bonus, there’s also a flesh-ripping zombie girl catfight.

Part one of this franchise succeeded with a rather serious tone, part two was basically slapstick and goretastically hilarious, and this third installment attempts to re-secure a sense of fear and urgency as the infection advances while maintaining some playful silliness (e.g., having your softened, flesh-eaten skull crushed by a giant dildo).

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In my opinion the urgency is long missed and, while this movie is entertaining for the sake of the gore and some most welcomed wackiness, the overall Cabin Fever experience doesn’t measure up strongly to the first two and is, in fact, ranking far below either of them in quality.

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The nigh-zombiism of the infected left me feeling a bit derailed and the plot (revolving around getting off the island) degenerates down a dumb path. But kudos for not just “redoing” the movie and “calling” it a sequel as we often see in the horror genre. At least a solid effort was made to make this installment feel different from the others. In that respect, the entire franchise is successful.

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I must say I was entertained, though. This flick was a lot of fun and any film featuring a bludgeoning death-by-dildo scene deserves some attention from gorehound goofballs.

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