Friday, August 27, 2010


Ah, Scott Pilgrim - it's been a long time coming, but I'm mighty glad it did...

Missed at least two screenings at Comic Con as I was stuck in the main hall each time, press screenings back here in the UK and even turned up late to for the press line at the fookin' premiere with a nasty case of flu...

However, I finally got to see Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, followed up with the first screening of the "restored" Metropolis in the UK - and what a flipping fantastic double header they made!

Just how fine I'll tell you once I've cleared my work commitments and written the bloody article....

Thursday, August 05, 2010


Over in Tinsel-town everyone is going snooker-loopy for the 80s, not just in terms of output but also when it comes to promotion! When I noticed the peeps behind fist-flying throwback The Expendables had knocked up a Contra-style shoot'em up to promote their Regan-era rip-roarer I just had to give it a wee play...

Thing is, in order to play the game I had to go through the rigmarole of signing into Facebook and letting the world know I 'like' The Expendables - and that gave me serious pause for thought. Certainly I'd sat through a screening earlier this week, whooping and wincing with everyone else, but had I genuinely 'liked' Sly's love-letter to explosive 80s exploitation?

Well, the game itself proved to be pretty much the same as the movie from whence it spawned - delightful in intent but a bit disappointing in execution. (Sly gets seven shades of shit kicked out of him in the movie, and keeps on trucking. One teensy bullet downs his 8bit counterpart - boo!)

The Expendables seems like a wet-dream for those who spent the 80s slack-jawed in front of Commando, Cobra and Kickboxer, but despite a healthy amount of bad taste beat downs and more big bangs than the birth of the universe, The Expendables ends up doing everything an action fan could want, but not a massive amount more. In fact, aside from the rough and tumble being lensed in a more modern fashion this is a film that would seem right at home on a big box VHS tape - and I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing...

The cast are all good value and look like they're having a ball, but their characterisations don't extend much beyond a some nicely executed speeches, well aimed punches and simple recognition from stacking video store shelves for 30 plus years. Mickey Rourke spins magic around bright-white highlights and an elongated pipe, but when hasn't he stolen a film recently by just turning up?

Dolph Lundgren proves to be an immensely likable presence, Eric Roberts chews the scenery like it's last orders at Hooters and David Zayas does well to illicit sympathy as a dodgy Dictator in the middle of a right pickle.

80s action movies weren't the best place to be if one were a lass, and the fairer sex doesn't fair much better in The Expendables than they did when Maggie Thatcher was tramping round Downing Street. Once obligatory flashes of naughty bits may have been left on the cutting room floor, but Giselle ItiƩ and Charisma Carpenter are still just window dressing to be loved, lumped and liberated - not necessarily in that order. Ah well, this is a film concerned with grunts, not... ahem, the feminine mystique.

The Arnie and Brucie cameos are fun, but rendered virtually superfluous due to their inclusion almost in entirity in the pre-release trailers and surprisingly the main Expendable who reverberates least is Sly himself despite shouldering the lion's share of the picture alongside Jason Statham. Suitably spectacular set pieces come and go, but seem like stand alone sequences rather than part of a larger thread.

Frankly, all is forgiven when the film flips into it's third act and true carnage commences. From there on in it's a barrage of the finest head-kicking-in this side of Tony Jaa, with so much ludicrous bloodletting it almost makes the rest of the movie seem like it was roper-doping. Maybe Sly was just biding his time until the double-barrelled, bare knuckle climax.

I'm genuinely not sure if Stallone was aiming for the testosterone epic to end them all, or just an affectionate re-tread of the non-CGI action days of yore. If it was the latter then his big ol'hunting knife has pretty much hit the bullseye, especially as what CGI there is seems a bit DTV-y.

If you're a man - a real man - and can make it through an hour or so of fairly pedestrian stuff, there's a literally neck-breaking spectacle to behold once Stallone lets rip with the bullets, the bangs and the punch-bagging.

It's no Wild Bunch for steroid-packed stars of our youth, no deep examination of what drives such extreme badassery, and no celebration or subversion of a style of film-making now entrenched in earlier times - but, than again, why should it be? What perhaps should be celebrated is that a one-of-a-kind star of modern cinema is still churning out engaging action movies 30 odd years after he booted his first butt.