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The Expendables 3 – Review

2 Jan

When The Expendables came out in 2010, I was thrilled to see all of the legendary action stars coming together to be in one movie, even if it didn’t reach the high expectations that I set for it. I was even more pleased with The Expendables 2 in 2012, which was a superior sequel that added Chuck Norris to the mix and gave Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis more to do. These were two fun films that hearkened back to action movies from the late 1970 and 1980s, but Stallone wasn’t ready to stop there. The Expendables 3, which I can now say was released in 2014 (just for the sake of saying it), completes the trilogy and actually offered me with more entertainment than I was expecting, which is a nice surprise.

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Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), the leader of his team of mercenaries called The Expendables, start their mission by breaking an old member of the team, Doc (Wesley Snipes), out of prison and than rush to Somalia to stop the delivery of bombs by a mysterious arms dealer. The mission goes awry when it is revealed the arms dealer is an ex-Expendable and personal enemy of Barney’s, Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson). One of the team members is severely injured and Stonebanks escapes, forcing Barney to assemble a new crew to go in and bring Stonbanks back on the orders of his new boss, CIA officer Max Drummer (Harrison Ford). When the new team gets captured by Stonebanks during the mission, the old Expendables crew comes back in to save the new recruits, defeat Stonebanks’ personal army, and bring him in personally to be charged as a war criminal.

I don’t think I even need to say this, but just look at this cast. Just look at it. On top of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and the rest of the original cast we now have Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes, and Antonio Banderas added just to name a few. Not only that, but Schwarzenegger and Jet Li are back to join in to the action and join it they do. Obviously, there are also a bunch of fresher faces there like UFC figher Ronda Rousey, Kellan Lutz, boxer Victor Ortiz, and Glen Powell. While it must have been cool for these fighters and actors to join in with the legends, they don’t add anything really special to the movie, and their acting can often be subpar, which shouldn’t even bother me in an Expendables movie. I was worried that these newcomers would push the others to the side, but it was great to see everyone get their chance in the spotlight, my personal favorite being Banderas. I just would have rather seen Gina Carano instead of Ronda Rousey, but that’s just me. There’s also a real big lack of Terry Crews in this movie, which was a little disappointing as well.

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Of course one of the biggest draws to see an Expendables movie is the action, and there’s plenty of it to go around. One of the things that concerned me along with the new cast was the fact that The Expendables 3 was PG-13, which made me think that this movie was going to be completely toned down. It really didn’t feel that way though. In fact, I’d say it may even be superior to the original movie. Another thing that is necessary in action films of this kind is a strong villain, and we get one with Stonebanks. It is obvious that Mel Gibson is having the time of his life, hamming it up as Barney’s arch-enemy and delivering his lines like he’s back in the role of Martin Riggs in the Lethal Weapon movies. Looking back on these movies, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mel Gibson were two of the best parts of the entire series, which is cool because cool villains are just plain awesome.

It’s clear that this is also a pretty personal project to all of the older actors in this movie, especially that there are now younger actors in the movie kicking ass with them. There’s been a few of these kinds of movies recently where the people we loved for years begin to talk about their age in a positive light. Stallone and the rest of them is reminding us once again that they are quite capable of high octane action scenes and still have fun shooting them. That being said, I don’t think we need another Expendables movie, and I’m hoping and praying that we don’t get one, because as much as I like what they’re doing, they’ve been doing it on repeat since 2010. I will say that some of this movie felt like it was getting a little stale (and I’m including the wonky special effects with this), which means it’s time to pack this series in.

The Expendables movies are simply nostalgic guilty pleasures that no one should really feel guilty about, in my opinion. These movies, the third movie included, are not pieces of work that need to be criticized to quickly. Maybe I liked this movie as much as I did because it exceeded my low expectations, but maybe it’s just because I like seeing these actors do what they do best. It’s not high art and it doesn’t have anything particularly interesting to say, but we’ve known these actors for a long time and it’s cool to see them in a loud, violent, and often funny action film.

 

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The Skin I Live In – Review

10 Jul

Horror movies come in many shapes and sizes. There’s the slasher sub genre, the monster sub genre, and the mad scientist/doctor sub genre, which The Skin I Live In falls into. Hearkening back to some classics, such as Eyes Without a Face, this film pushes the limits of our abilities to understand motives, scientific progress, and revenge.

Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) is a plastic surgeon who has created a synthetic skin that can withstand more damage than our natural skin. His guinea pig: a beautiful woman named Vera (Elena Anaya) whom he keeps locked in a room in his mansion, but is given anything she wants. This is not the only secret that the doctor is keeping, however, and the results of the truth being revealed could be devastating.

This is a very hard movie to write a synopsis for, because there are so many plot points, changes, and twists that happen in this film. This isn’t a straightforward narrative with a set time line and typical characters. The Skin I Live In is actually a pretty difficult movie to get through because of how twisted it is, but if you’re able to push through all of the changes and bizarre happenings, then this is a movie that will not be easily forgotten.

The effectiveness of this film’s plot is truly outstanding and superbly written, characterized, and paced. At the beginning of the film, I was a quite nervous because I had no idea where anything was going. I didn’t know who people were, what they were doing, nor to what cause. I didn’t like it one bit, but then the movie progressed further and proved to me that I am a very impatient person. Despite my initial hatred of the beginning, after seeing the rest of the story pan out, it make perfect sense that it would start where it did.

The audience is also treated to a feast of colors and gorgeous cinematography. The colors and set design of Ledgard’s mansion is fascinating with portraits, pieces of modern art, and a giant television that monitors Vera’s every move. The cinematography also lends a lot to the story being a perfect combination of frighteningly dark and misleadingly light, which this movie is: frighting and misleading.

As I said before, the tone of this movie can be related to classic horror films, especially the old Val Lewton movies and some foreign horror films like the aforementioned Eyes Without a Face. The only difference is The Skin I Live In goes way beyond all of those movies combined (even though Eyes Without a Face is definitely cringe worthy). The story of this movie will not only leave you wondering how your jaw dropped all the way to the floor, but also how a human being could possibly do the actions done in this film.

This is not a brutal film or a loud film. You won’t jump or scream. Instead, The Skin I Live In invades a deep, unexplored pit that is present in your brain and plants itself with no intention of leaving. You will be shocked, horrified, and you might even laugh at the film’s occasional dark humor. All I know is that this film is a remarkable piece of art house horror, and not one that should be missed.