Tag Archives: wesley snipes

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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King of New York – Review

24 Oct

Abel Ferrara is one of those anything goes kind of directors. He has a knack to show gritty urban scenes and not hold back the violence or any other sin or vice that goes along with that lifestyle. He’s also really proficient at turning the black and whites of morality and turning them into one big gray area. A prime example would be his film from 1990, King of New York, a kind of Robin Hood tale if Robin Hood lived in New York City in the early nineties and was a figurehead in the criminal underworld.

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Frank White (Christopher Walken) is a very powerful and very wealthy player in the criminal underworld of New York City who has just gotten released from Sing Sing prison. Upon his return, he meets with an old associate, Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne), and his gang to get back to business. This time, Frank believes he is reformed and begins robbing and killing criminals because he doesn’t like how they do their business, with the prime goal of helping to fund the construction of a hospital. Some police officers (played by Victor Argo, David Caruso, and Wesley Snipes) don’t like Frank’s tactics and wage an illegal war against him since traditional legal methods have proven unsuccessful in bringing Frank down.

King of New York is an entertaining movie, but definitely not perfect by any means. In fact, it’s pretty far from perfect. What makes this movie memorable is its strong headed style to show all of the drugs, violence, and sex that happen within the course of the story in graphic detail. A lot of film makers would opt to censor this, or at least tone it down, but Ferrara and his writer, Nicholas St. John, are perfectly comfortable showing the brutality of these criminals.

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The main problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. There are scenes where I felt like I really needed to take the content seriously, but the way it plays out seems like it exists mainly for pulp entertainment. The lighting, the set design, and even the characters all seem very over the top, but the themes of drug use and gang violence are all played as very serious things. This makes the movie very uneven. The film also moves at such a break neck pace that I can’t really fully understand and feel for the complex characters that make this film what it is. Everyone is very complex, and I really want to appreciate their characters, but I didn’t feel like I had the time.

Back to the positives, however, I dare someone to watch this film and not completely love Walken’s performance. He has this way of really enveloping himself in his character to the point where you as the viewer are convinced that you are no longer watching Christopher Walken. Just look at The Deer Hunter. While i did complain about the contrast between the realism and the complete disregard for realism both in the same movie, I will say the over the top scenes are really entertaining. The gun battles and big car chase are really fun to watch, and the strange, almost Argento-ish, kind of lighting in some scenes is real eye candy.

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King of New York is completely uneven and an absolute mess when it comes to character development and a strong plot. What makes this movie interesting are the thematic content, brutality, and the performances by Walken and Fishburne. I can’t see this movie being taken very seriously, but I would be so bold to put it in a cult classic category after doing some research on it. I’d definitely watch King of New York again, and I’d even go so far as to say it is an inspiration for some of the projects that I am working on.

Blade Trilogy – Review

31 May

When the the company Marvel comes to mind, the first characters that come to mind are Spider Man, Iron Man, X Men, and Captain America. Those are prime examples of the Marvel universe, but we shouldn’t forget about the more minor characters, like Blade. Blade is a vampire hunter, who himself is a hybrid, who made his first appearance in the tenth issue of The Tomb of Dracula in 1973. Now, he is better known for the movie trilogy with Wesley Snipes as the title character. These are, for the most part, exciting films and a smaller, but fun part, of the larger Marvel movie collection.

Let’s start our reviews with 1998 film Blade.

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Blade (Wesley Snipes) and his partner Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) have spent their lives hunting vampires, a secret race of genetic mutants that feed on human blood. Their vampirism is described as a plague that must be wiped from the face of the earth. On one night, Blade comes across Dr. Karen Jenson (N’Bushe Wright) as she is being attacked by the vampire Quinn (Donal Logue). He saves her and learns that Quinn’s leader of sorts, Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) has a plan to release an ancient vampire creature, La Magra, and use this entity to destroy the human race and create a society of vampires. This won’t be so easy with Blade, Whistler, and their reluctant new partner Karen hot on his tale and with plenty of motivation to stop him.

Blade is one of those movies where you have to know exactly what it is you’re going in to see. There isn’t much character development in this movie at all and the story could have been laid out a hell of  a lot smoother, but the movie really is a lot of fun. Part of this has to do with how much enjoyment the actors seem to be having. Snipes and Kristofferson both seem really into their roles and I immediately sided with them and their cause. The real scene stealer, however, is Stephen Dorff. He not only looks the part, but really dives into the whole persona of Frost and makes it his own. I feel like you can tell when actors really love their role, and this is one of those times.

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Blade also has great action, and a lot of it. When a vampire gets killed, it disintegrates into dust and bones, which looks really cool and remains that way for the entirety of the trilogy. There’s also gallons of blood to be seen in this movie, which is good because this is a movie about vampires. The narrative construction and character development may lack in a big way, but this film is a whole lot of bloody fun that makes me wonder what happened to cool vampires like the ones I’m seeing here. There’s no sparkling to be seen. Isn’t that incentive enough?

One of my favorite film makers, Guillermo Del Toro, would go on to make Blade II in 2002. This was a huge step forward for not only the series, but also for special effects and costume design.

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It seems like the last thing Blade would want to do ever is join forces with vampires. Well, unfortunately for him, that is exactly what he has to do. The vampire and human races are in danger when a new breed of vampire surfaces that feeds on both. These “reapers” pass on the virus to other vampires when they are fed on. Blade and Whistler, and their new partner Scud (Norman Reedus) are commissioned by the vampire overlord Eli Damaskinos (Thomas Kretschmann) to join a team of vampires called the Bloodpack to go out and hunt these reapers and take them all down, especially their leader and origin of the virus, Jared Nomak (Luke Goss). The Bloodpack was originally formed to hunt and kill Blade, so tensions are pushed which makes for a dangerous time for everyone involved, perhaps even more dangerous than the reapers.

I absolutely love everything about Blade II. This is one of the most fun action movies I have ever seen and it is shot so well. The story is an improvement from the first in terms of character development and complexity, but that’s only the beginning. The special effects and make up all look really fantastic. There are times when fights seamlessly become computer generated to show us angles and action that we otherwise would not have been able to see. The make up for the reapers also look outstanding, and appropriately fit in with any other monster in Del Toro’s films.

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Blade II continues the story and builds the universe of this trilogy very well and basically improves on the original in every way. Some of the make up seems to have inspired the creature design in the later Underworld films and the special effects add a new layer of awesomeness to the entire thing. The only thing that isn’t as good is the villain, but Dorff’s Deacon Frost is a tough act to follow. Blade II is a blast of a movie that shouldn’t be missed out on. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a movie in a long time.

Finally, the trilogy comes to a close with the 2004 film Blade: Trinity.

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A group of vampires led by Danica Talos (Parker Posley) finds a ziggurat tomb in the Syrian desert that is the resting place of Drake Dominic Purcell, better known as Dracula. Meanwhile, Blade is having a hard time with the FBI since they caught on to what he was doing, but believes he is a sociopath killing human beings. While dodging the FBI and other officers, Blade has to team up with vampire hunters Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds) and Whistler’s daughter Abigail (Jessica Biel) in order to take down Dracula, who might be his greatest adversary yet.

What can I say about Blade: Trinity? Simply stating that it’s the weakest entry in the series would be an understatement. Not only is it the weakest entry in the trilogy, it’s a pretty dumb movie all together. This is hardly even a Blade movie since the film makers seem to be interested in his co-starts than they are about Blade, himself. Jessica Biel doesn’t really do anything of interest in the movie except look nice and Ryan Reynolds… ugh Ryan Reynolds. I have nothing against the guy as an actor, but his performance in Blade: Trinity was almost too much to handle. David S. Goyer, who wrote all three Blade films and directed this one, obviously forgot what the concept of comic relief really meant. Every snarky line of dialogue that Reynolds says feels out of placed, forced, and not funny.

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The action sequences are also really unremarkable and edited in a way that makes them feel slow and repetitive. The other Blade movies had editing which really made the viewer feel like they were in the middle of a hectic situation, and the fights in Blade II were choreographed by Donnie Yen, which is a plus there. In this film, they’re sloppy and slow. I can hardly call this a Blade movie. Even Wesley Snipes had major problems with it and stayed away from Goyer for most of the shoot. Bottom line, it doesn’t bring anything new or exciting, nor does it uphold what made the other movies so good. It’s a huge disappointment and I would recommend you stay away from this.

This trilogy is pretty cool for the most part. The original Blade is a welcoming start to the trilogy with a villain that steals the show. Blade II is one of the better action movies I have ever seen and I’m very excited to watch it again. Blade: Trinity is a stupid mess of a movie that I could have gone my entire life without seeing and been a better person for it. Two out of three movies aren’t bad and the first two shouldn’t be missed. Even though Marvel only produced the last film, Blade is still a Marvel character, making these pretty interesting pieces to the Marvel universe. If you ever find yourself in need of a break from Tony Stark, check out the Blade Trilogy, well… at least the first two.