Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Expendables 2

The follow up to the first Expendables adds even more huge action stars to the lineup!  The Expendables 2 sees the original team back in action with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis taking on bigger roles, Chuck Norris in classic cameos, and Jean Claude Van Damme posing as the villain.

Unfortunately this did not stack up as well as the first one. The first Expendables was a great guys action movie.  Not a great movie or one that was snubbed at an Oscar.  Just a classic- kill em all- type movie.  This one, while packed with even more action, was less impressive.  While the first one, Sylvester Stallone looked old, he didn't move that way- he actually was still pretty impressive as an action star.  And there were several very exciting scenes with Jet Li and Jason Statham. This movie had less of that and seeing Arnold still trying was almost sad.  This movie also tried really hard to add comedy with cheeky one liners.  For example, in one scene Arnold steals Terry Crews massive gun.  Arnold says, "Don't worry, you will get it back."  To which Terry says, "I better. Or you're going to be terminated."  Another example, Chuck Norris does a corny line when he tries to deliver a "Chuck Norris" joke.

These guys are not funny.  Well everyone but Statham and Li- they have their moments.  So when they try to deliver one liner jokes it just comes off as awkward and not humorous.

Overall I have to say this was a pretty disappointing follow up.  The action was over the top, unrealistic, and pretty unimpressive in comparison to the original.  And the comedy was a failure and rather annoying any of them thought they had comedic timing down.  I give it 1 star.  Don't even waste your time.  Rather spend two hours watching the original again during guys night.

Movie poster from:

The Hobbit

After several years, Peter Jackson has returned audiences to Middle Earth and told the original tale that began the adventure of Lord of the Rings.  As a child, the Hobbit was by far the most interesting book. It had action, adventure, comedy, and really was the starting point of an adventure that only imagination could provide the back drop for.  While the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was incredible, the Hobbit was still intriguing because it launches the story by following Bilbo Baggins from the beginning.

Unfortunately New Line Cinema, MGM, and Peter Jackson wanted to make some money and was thus, in my opinion the downfall of this movie.  The Hobbit was not a long book and could legitimately break down into 2 movies.  However greed took over at the studios and this one story is being stretched out over 3 movies.  The shear greed of stretching this just to make more money starts my experience off soured.  Next classic Peter Jackson gives us not just part 1 of 3, but a 2 hour and 49 minute part 1 of 3.  There are some movies that are long and don't feel that way (Lincoln, Avengers, The Dark Knight), but this one did.  

Visually this movie was stunning.  But let's call it what it truly is- a near 3 hour documentary on how beautiful New Zealand is.  It's like Peter Jackson has never heard of a cutting room.  Important scenes get cut all the time from movies, but not Jackson's.  We experience scene after scene of watching a hobbit and 12 dwarfs walking through a valley, walking on top of a mountain, walking in snow, walking in grass, etc.  Only to come to end of the movie, and almost comically see their goal- still far off in the distance.  While the scenery is beautiful, its just too much fluff.  I will say that the often heard complaint that the way the movie is shot seems like it is more a Bennie Hill show with the characters running around like on fast forward, was not something I experienced.  I thought it looked great.  I saw it on a DLP screen and in 3D and both versions looked really good.

Along with the daunting swoopings of scenery, the opening scene at Bilbo's house was way too long.  It was clear quickly that he was annoyed by the dwarfs, but it just continued on and on and on.  

One thing I loved and thought Jackson did brilliantly, was add in appendices from the other books that explained where Gandalf disappears to.  In The Hobbit, Gandalf would always just disappear, and you couldn't help but think this was the most unreliable wizard ever.  But Jackson spends some quality time following Gandalf's quest which was left out of the Hobbit books.

The main complaint here is that the movie is just way too long, especially when you have 2 more to look forward to.  If each one is almost 3 hours, I am already sure I will be annoyed.  However, there is something to be said about the magic of Middle Earth.  Because even though I was not impressed with this first installment at all, I am determined to see the next too, and in fact, still a little excited.

I give this movie 3.5 stars.  While the large set pieces and breathtaking scenery are incredible, I wouldn't say its a must for theaters.  A good big screen experience at home with a decent surround sound system and a mug of ale.

Movie poster from: