Strafed

Cinemablend‘s Katey Rich, a sharp reviewer but never a take-no-prisoners Christopher Hitchens type, has torn The Expendables a new one. She’s calling it “a bloated mess, a bunch of guys past their prime punching and kicking each other and pretending its for our benefit, when it’s really just one last self-congratulatory hurrah.

“The giant list of beefy male names is the major draw of The Expendables, but it’s also what kills it. A movie about Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham‘s lead characters kicking ass and taking names in a foreign country might have gone somewhere, but the movie is utterly overstuffed, making room for a Dolph Lundgren vs. Jet Li fight scene, an entire subplot about Randy Couture‘s cauliflower ear, and worst of all, a 10-minute Mickey Rourke monologue in which he looks mournfully into a mirror, makes up an absurd story about his heartbreak on a previous mission, and silently cries.

“All of these will make for hilarious YouTube clips in the coming months, but they’re frustrating to watch in context as a movie with actual potential constantly kneecaps itself because the director and the cast had no idea when to give it a rest.

“Is The Expendables the manliest movie of the summer? Probably — it is ridiculously violent, fetishizes male strength without being too homoerotic, and treats women as pure, perfect beings who exist to be rescued. That kind of old-school machismo is missing from most modern action movies, and fans of old-school Stallone and Lundgren and company will likely flock to the Expendables with their bros, ready to watch the blood and guts fly. But if you were old enough to love Rambo III un-ironically the first time around, you’re way too old now to be fooled by the dull and desperate Expendables.”

  • Eloi Wrath

    Another female review, so I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.

    “making room for a Lundgren vs. Li fight scene”

    How is this a bad thing? This is exactly what the target audience wants to see.

  • Jonathan Spuij

    If people keep calling it old-school I might even start to really look forward to it again. Otherwise, too bad it doesn’t live up to its potential.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ THE MovieBob

    I’m wondering to what degree everyone was “in on the joke” on this. Li is a legitimate ACTOR in addition to being a fight star in China, Lundgren is actually crazy-smart in reality, and so on… I’m wondering if the majority of the cast gets/cares that this seems to have been made to split the difference between the dwindling “man movie” audience that actually takes this nonsense seriously and the hipster/film-geek audience that “loves” it ironically. Like… is Stone Cold going to be wondering why people were laughing at it a few months from now?

    For their sake, I hope they weren’t counting TOO MUCH on the “ironic appreciation” crowd for the first weekend, because those kids are seeing Scott Pilgrim first.

  • George Prager

    is it titular?

  • Reelist

    “loved RAMBO III…”

    There are actually people who “loved” RAMBO III? Seriously?

  • Eloi Wrath
  • http://scottalanmendelson.blogspot.com Scott Mendelson

    Sure, The Expendables COULD open big, but just remember that Lionsgate has never had an opening weekend for a film not starring Jigsaw or Tyler Perry that opened above $23 million. You’ve got the $23m+ openings of Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Haunting In Connecticut, the $21 million debuts of The Forbidden Kingdom and My Bloody Valentine 3D, and everything else is $19m and below. That includes such sure-fire breakouts like Kick-Ass ($19m), Rambo ($18m), and 3:10 to Yuma ($14m). We’ve played this game before, assuming a geek-friendly (Kick-Ass) or general audience-friendly (Killers) film would break out of the Lionsgate ceiling, but it still comes in at their usual $16-19 million opening weekend. COULD The Expendables truly break out? Sure, but it’s not a bet that I’d take considering recent history.

  • DeeZee

    Scott: Kick-Ass looked like the b-shit they’d play on late-night Cinemax, while Killers looked like the camera person ran around North Hollywood for a couple of hours. Expendables has name talent and

    non-CG and non-shaky camera action [Remember how FOX had no confidence in the U.S. release of Taken? ] while Scott Pilgrim just has Michael Cera and video game in-jokes. Plus, Eat Pray Love feels like a fall film, not a summer film. So I think Expendables has a chance to be a hit.

  • a_loco

    I think we’re ignoring the fact that the marketing for The Expendables has been SHIT. The first trailer was incomprehensible and the second didn’t show anything but names, and while reviews don’t usually matter for opening weekend, when Joe Popcorn finds out that Schwarzenegger and Willis only have cameos (whether through the press or word of mouth), he’s gonna be PISSED.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ THE MovieBob

    Not that I tend to give two shits about boxoffice, but if I had to call it I’d imagine Eat Pray Love is the likeliest “winner” among the three.

    No one is even paying attention to it in a boxoffice-watch context because “web buzz” is dominated-by/skewed-toward two audiences (geeks and older-male film columnists) that don’t care about it, but the (shitty) book was a HUGE hit in a HUGELY popular genre, and we’re-still-sexy movies for 40+ women have been doing really well for the last few years. Put every fanboy/girl of Scott Pilgrim into one pile and every “devotee” of EPL in another and Pilgrim’s pile may as well not exist.

    Nevermind the fact that opening Pilgrim and Expendables against one-another is a dumb move on both counts because they’re going to cannibalize eachother. Whether Stallone knows it or not, the “fanbase” for gun-toting-bodybuilder movies doesn’t exist to the degree it did in the 80s, and what of it DOES exist tend to be older guys who prefer the home-theater setup in their “man-cave” to theaters. This genre makes at least half of whatever bank it makes off of 30-and-down film geeks who “appreciate” it ironically; and THAT audience is seeing Scott Pilgrim.

  • LarryGopnik

    I’m wondering if Rich actually saw the movie or she just heard about it from pallies.

    There are TWO LINES of dialogue about Couture’s ear — “an entire subplot”??

    “a 10-minute monologue” from Mickey Rourke? It’s three minutes TOPS.

    Katey, where did you pull this from?

  • corey3rd

    this movie shouldn’t even be watched until after your fourth straight shot of Jack Daniels. No breaks.

  • Savage Brit

    So what’s Larry Gopnik’s opinion?

  • animal bones

    sucks

  • DeeZee

    a_loco: Terminator Salvation did alright with only an Ahnie head…

    Bob: Eat Pray Love would be a hit if it had a recognizable leading man as a love interest, since Roberts is no longer a one-woman show. And Expendables has as much a chance of being a hit as Gran Torino. OTOH, Scott Pilgrim isn’t going to cannibalize shit, because of the Cera factor.

    As for the audience for this stuff being dead, your ass should’ve been there at the Dolph-a-thon at the New Beverly a few years back. Oh, and I hate to break it to you, but Jet at least has female fans, while Cera does not.

  • Jeffmc2000

    Yes, Dolph Lundgren has a ton of box office potential, Jet Li has a ton of female fans, and women dislike Michael Cera.

    On opposite day.

  • DeeZee

    Jeffmc: Yes, the ladies totally swooned over Nick and Norah, Youth in Revolt, and Paper Heart.

  • http://moviebob.blogspot.com/ THE MovieBob

    DZ,

    Not “dead,” just “busy.”

    There are still plenty of guys who unironically love ultra-macho “man movie” actioners – they’re in their late 30s, working jobs they don’t like to support a wife who seemed like a good idea at the time and kid or two they didn’t plan on. These guys don’t go to movies on Friday – they go to bars. Stallone? Yeah, they like him, they’ve got his movies on blu-ray… which is where they’ll see “Expendables” four months from now.

  • Bukowski20

    “As for the audience for this stuff being dead, your ass should’ve been there at the Dolph-a-thon at the New Beverly a few years back. Oh, and I hate to break it to you, but Jet at least has female fans.”

    Prove either of these things.

    Now, I’m sure Jet Li has female fans. Convicted serial killers have female fans. Convince me he has enough to make a difference in the box office.

  • DeeZee

    Bob: Well, the fact that they have a movie they can call their own again would motivate them to see it in theaters.

    Bukowski: “Prove either of these things.”

    You can twitter the New Bev yourself about that event. As for the latter argument…

    “Now, I’m sure Jet Li has female fans. Convicted serial killers have female fans.”

    Yeah, totally the same fucking thing.

    “Convince me he has enough to make a difference in the box office.”

    That last Mummy movie did alright.

  • Bukowski20

    “You can twitter the New Bev yourself about that event. As for the latter argument…”

    I don’t have a clue what your talking about. Prove Dolph is a box office draw in this century. Or any century actually.

    “Yeah, totally the same fucking thing. ”

    Yeah, how very DZish of me.

    “That last Mummy movie did alright.”

    And the first two in the series did even better without him. That proves he actually cost them money at the box office. Less people went to see the third one because of Jet Li’s presence. Prove I’m wrong.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “Prove Dolph is a box office draw in this century.”

    That’s not what I said. I said that the Dolph-a-thon attracted a lot of peoople. As for the guy personally, well, he’s no worse in terms of appeal than The Rock and Ron Perlman. And I’m sure people were making your argument about Rourke until Sin City and The Wrestler.

    “Yeah, how very DZish of me.”

    No, I’d be comparing Jet’s female fanbase to those of that Yelchin guy.

    “And the first two in the series did even better without him.”

    The third one’s international take makes it about even with the other ones, give or take inflation.

    “That proves he actually cost them money at the box office. Less people went to see the third one because of Jet Li’s presence. Prove I’m wrong.”

    Well, if Jet killed the film, then how come even with the 3-d price-jack, Journey did worse than it?

  • Bukowski20

    “That’s not what I said. I said that the Dolph-a-thon attracted a lot of peoople.”

    That means nothing in terms of box office appeal. Half of the people that attend something like that see him as a joke. People watch the Real World and Big Brother and the losers on those shows couldn’t open a movie. Neither can Dolph.

    ” As for the guy personally, well, he’s no worse in terms of appeal than The Rock and Ron Perlman.”

    People didn’t see Hellboy because of any actor. They saw it because they loved the comic and the trailer made it look great. The Rock, although I can’t stand him, is a much bigger star than Dolph.

    “And I’m sure people were making your argument about Rourke until Sin City and The Wrestler.””

    Probably. But Rourke was still ten times the actor, and had much better credits than Dolph. Rourke still isn’t a movie star.

    But the difference is, Rourke clawed his way back to respectability. His worst movie is better than anything Lundgren has done in the last twenty years.

    “The third one’s international take makes it about even with the other ones, give or take inflation.”

    No, it cost a lot more than the first two and made less in return.

    “Well, if Jet killed the film, then how come even with the 3-d price-jack, Journey did worse than it?”

    I don’t even know what this means. First of all, I don’t know what Journey is. Second, unless Jet Li is in this Journey movie you speak of, it’s not relevant.

    Stay on point. Prove what I asked you to prove. Or gracefully bow out and admit defeat.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “That means nothing in terms of box office appeal. Half of the people that attend something like that see him as a joke.”

    Yes, and people who see Cage’s hits do so because of his “acting”.

    “People watch the Real World and Big Brother and the losers on those shows couldn’t open a movie.”

    True, but when have those shows ever been successful? They’re there to fill air-time.

    “People didn’t see Hellboy because of any actor. They saw it because they loved the comic and the trailer made it look great.”

    Actually, Hellboy’s got some weak numbers for a comic book movie. But at the same time, it’s got better reviews than the average movies, and I doubt if they made a third one, you could get rid of Perlman.

    “The Rock, although I can’t stand him, is a much bigger star than Dolph.”

    You sure? He’s only had one hit directly attached to his name, and most of the other stuff has either been a disappointment or a flop.

    “But Rourke was still ten times the actor, and had much better credits than Dolph.”

    Not if you count his home video stuff.

    “But the difference is, Rourke clawed his way back to respectability. His worst movie is better than anything Lundgren has done in the last twenty years.”

    Had nothin’ to do with that. Aronofsky thought he was the guy for the job, and managed to land him.

    “No, it cost a lot more than the first two and made less in return.”

    It didn’t cost much more, by budget standards.

    “First of all, I don’t know what Journey is. Second, unless Jet Li is in this Journey movie you speak of, it’s not relevant.”

    Journey to the Center of the Earth, which had Fraser and 3-D and came out the same year.

  • Bukowski20

    “Yes, and people who see Cage’s hits do so because of his “acting”.”

    Cage isn’t relevant to this conversation.

    “True, but when have those shows ever been successful? They’re there to fill air-time.”

    If the ratings weren’t solid they’d be canceled.

    “Actually, Hellboy’s got some weak numbers for a comic book movie. But at the same time, it’s got better reviews than the average movies, and I doubt if they made a third one, you could get rid of Perlman.”

    This paragraph actually proves the lack of relevance of you bringing up Hellboy in the first place.

    “You sure? He’s only had one hit directly attached to his name, and most of the other stuff has either been a disappointment or a flop.”

    The Rock gets studio pictures made. Lundgren does not.

    “Not if you count his home video stuff.”

    I am counting that stuff. All of it. Dolph would give up a testicle to have the career Rourke had in the nineties.

    “Had nothin’ to do with that. Aronofsky thought he was the guy for the job, and managed to land him. ”

    The Wrestler was part of him clawing his way back to a good career. That was the peak of it, and then the nice payday for IM2.

    “It didn’t cost much more, by budget standards. ”

    Enough to make a big difference in profit.

    “Journey to the Center of the Earth, which had Fraser and 3-D and came out the same year. ”

    Good to know. It’s not relevant to this conversation. I never claimed The Mummy was a hit because of Fraser.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “Cage isn’t relevant to this conversation.”

    He is if you’re gonna argue cite a person’s talent as the reason for a movie’s box office potential. If that were the case, those Twilight movies would be bombs.

    “If the ratings weren’t solid they’d be canceled.”

    Well, considering a lot of those shows stay on the air, even though less people are watching tv in general, that argument clearly doesn’t apply all the time.

    “This paragraph actually proves the lack of relevance of you bringing up Hellboy in the first place. ”

    Actually, it is relevant, because Hellboy did decent box office and home video sales because of WOM. Now, Expendables already has actors with good WOM. So it shouldn’t have to worry about opening weekend.

    “The Rock gets studio pictures made. Lundgren does not.”

    Um, the last studio picture *he* got made was Walking Tall. He still has yet to prove he’s a draw outside of Scorpion King, though.

    “Dolph would give up a testicle to have the career Rourke had in the nineties.”

    What career? Shitty Skinemax junk? Marlboro Man? At least Dolph still got to work with Van Damme, John Woo, and Keanu.

    “Enough to make a big difference in profit.”

    Not if the overall gross is in the same ball-park as the last two movies.

    “It’s not relevant to this conversation. I never claimed The Mummy was a hit because of Fraser. ”

    Well it is relevant, because if Li had nothing to do with the Mummy 3’s take, then ‘Earth would have done better than it.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “Cage is a talented actor ”

    No, he’s a hammy actor who occasionally keeps his worst impulses in check.

    “It applies here.”

    So you’re saying, even though American Idol has the worst ratings in years, it hasn’t been canceled, it’s a still a hit? Well, if that were the case, Leno’s show would’ve been dropped before Conan’s show.

    “Expendables does not have actors with good word of mouth. ”

    Are you fucking kidding me? Statham, Li, and Stallone 2.0 have gotten better blurbs [even from Jeff on Rambo] than most contemporary actors half their ages.

    “Check his IMDB. You’re skipping over several titles.”

    No, I’m not, because most of those movies only included him. They didn’t make him the star, nor did they make him the focus of the marketing campaigns.

    “The last studio picture Lundgren made was…yeesh…about twenty years ago. ”

    At least it wasn’t a tooth fairy film.

    “Dolph “got to” work with those guys? Or had to?”

    Woo always wanted to work with Dolph. And even Kitano worked with Keanu, and I don’t recall him needing the dough that bad.

    “Rourke worked with better actors in the nineties than those three.”

    On one movie, maybe, but most of his output is pretty mediocre at best.

    “It’s less, and the budget was more. Do the math.”

    It’s less, but it’s expected to be less, anyway, given that it’s a threequel. To be pretty close to its take, though, in spite of a higher budget, is an accomplishment.

    “The Mummy 3 dipped from the first two. So if anything, Li had a negative impact on the box office. ”

    Not really. It probably would’ve dipped harder without Li.

  • Bukowski20

    “No, he’s a hammy actor who occasionally keeps his worst impulses in check. ”

    Disagree. But it still isn’t relevant.

    “So you’re saying, even though American Idol has the worst ratings in years, it hasn’t been canceled, it’s a still a hit? ”

    It’s still a huge moneymaker for the network.

    “Are you fucking kidding me? Statham, Li, and Stallone 2.0 have gotten better blurbs [even from Jeff on Rambo] than most contemporary actors half their ages.”

    Yeah, they are such critical darlings. And every movie they make is a blockbuster. Be serious.

    “No, I’m not, because most of those movies only included him. They didn’t make him the star, nor did they make him the focus of the marketing campaigns.”

    Check his IMDB. You’re wrong.

    “At least it wasn’t a tooth fairy film.”

    I’m not defending The Rock. I can’t stand him. But he’s a bigger star now than Lundgren has ever been.

    “Woo always wanted to work with Dolph. And even Kitano worked with Keanu, and I don’t recall him needing the dough that bad.”

    None of this means anything.

    “On one movie, maybe, but most of his output is pretty mediocre at best. ”

    Mediocre yes, but still superior to Lundgren.

    “It’s less, but it’s expected to be less, anyway, given that it’s a threequel. ”

    No, if it was expected to be less they would’ve cut back on the budget.

    “To be pretty close to its take, though, in spite of a higher budget, is an accomplishment.”

    Not really. In fact, not at all.

    “Not really. It probably would’ve dipped harder without Li. ”

    The facts prove otherwise. Sorry.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “Disagree. But it still isn’t relevant.”

    It is, if you’re going to argue that “acting” has anything to do with appeal.

    “It’s still a huge moneymaker for the network.”

    Doubtful, or they wouldn’t be changing hosts mid-season and pooling everything on Glee.

    “Yeah, they are such critical darlings. And every movie they make is a blockbuster. Be serious. ”

    I’m not saying they’re huge, but they do have more credibility than Cera.

    “Check his IMDB. You’re wrong. ”

    He was the star in Get Smart and Southland Tales? News to me.

    “But he’s a bigger star now than Lundgren has ever been.”

    Yeah, that’s why Witch Mountain was a box office smash. Oh, wait!

    “No, if it was expected to be less they would’ve cut back on the budget. ”

    That’s bullshit. They never cut back on budgets during sequels.

    “The facts prove otherwise.”

    The facts show it did well world-wide, while Journey only did ok.

  • Bukowski20

    “It is, if you’re going to argue that “acting” has anything to do with appeal. ”

    Cage is a better actor than Lundgren and Li. And so is Rourke. So either way I’m right.

    “Doubtful, or they wouldn’t be changing hosts mid-season and pooling everything on Glee. ”

    No, it is a big moneymaker. Huge.

    “I’m not saying they’re huge, but they do have more credibility than Cera. ”

    No they don’t. Nobody cares about either of them.

    “He was the star in Get Smart and Southland Tales? News to me.”

    Are those the only movies he’s made since Walking Tall? News to me.

    “Yeah, that’s why Witch Mountain was a box office smash. Oh, wait! ”

    Probably made more money than everything Lundgren has made the last 20 years combined. Or close to it.

    “That’s bullshit. They never cut back on budgets during sequels.”

    Because they don’t expect that Jet Li is gonna come along and kill the box office. But he did.

    “The facts show it did well world-wide, while Journey only did ok. ”

    Did worse than the first two because of Li’s “presence”.

    Journey has nothing to do with this conversation and I won’t allow any further mention of it.

  • DeeZee

    Bukowski: “Cage is a better actor than Lundgren and Li.”

    Yes, he should win an Oscar for those pachinko ads.

    “And so is Rourke.”

    You’re right. I totally believe he’s suave enough to bang Angie Everhart.

    “No, it is a big moneymaker. Huge.”

    It was a money-maker, but now it’s just another reality show.

    “No they don’t. Nobody cares about either of them.”

    Where’s Cera’s fan-club again?

    “Are those the only movies he’s made since Walking Tall? News to me.”

    They seem like the only movies.

    “Probably made more money than everything Lundgren has made the last 20 years combined.”

    Then I guess that’s going to change with Expendables.

    “Because they don’t expect that Jet Li is gonna come along and kill the box office.”

    Yes, he’s such box office poison that he only helped LG and Weinco with one of their few hits that year.

    “Did worse than the first two because of Li’s “presence”.:

    It did better than Scorpion King, so I guess I’m right.

  • Bukowski20

    “Yes, he should win an Oscar for those pachinko ads.”

    I never said he should. Not relevant.

    “You’re right. I totally believe he’s suave enough to bang Angie Everhart. ”

    He probably did bang her. Not relevant.

    ” It was a money-maker, but now it’s just another reality show.”

    Show me numbers that prove that.

    “Where’s Cera’s fan-club again?”

    Did I say he had one?

    “They seem like the only movies. ”

    But they aren’t the only movies. And that’s what matters.

    “Then I guess that’s going to change with Expendables.”

    But despite Lundgren, not because of him.

    “Yes, he’s such box office poison that he only helped LG and Weinco with one of their few hits that year.”

    He killed the Mummy gross. End of story.

    “It did better than Scorpion King, so I guess I’m right.”

    That was The Rock’s first major film, and he didn’t have other well known actors to help him out. All Jet Li had to do was show up and not fuck everything up. But he couldn’t even do that.

    So I guess I’m right.

  • DeeZee

    “Show me numbers that prove that. ”

    Link.

    “But they aren’t the only movies. And that’s what matters.”

    Not if he’s barely in them.

    “But despite Lundgren, not because of him.”

    Well, by that logic, if Scott Pilgrim makes money, it won’t be because of Cera.

    “He killed the Mummy gross. End of story.”

    He killed it so badly that it only did three-quarters as well as the average threequel released over half a decade later.

    “That was The Rock’s first major film, and he didn’t have other well known actors to help him out. All Jet Li had to do was show up and not fuck everything up. But he couldn’t even do that. ”

    He seemed to help Romeo Must Die better than The Rock helped Scorpion King.

  • Bukowski20

    So the ratings are slightly down, as they are for most shows. That doesn’t prove that, as you said, “it hasn’t been canceled, it’s a still a hit? Well, if that were the case, Leno’s show would’ve been dropped before Conan’s show.”

    American Idol is still a huge hit, and a huge moneymaker. Your link did nothing to prove otherwise.

    “Not if he’s barely in them.”

    He’s not barely in them. In fact, he’s the lead in most of them.

    “Well, by that logic, if Scott Pilgrim makes money, it won’t be because of Cera. ”

    No, it’s not the same thing. Two different movies. Two different actors. Two different situations.

    “He killed it so badly that it only did three-quarters as well as the average threequel released over half a decade later. ”

    I know for a fact you haven’t researched that, but even so, the numbers speak for themselves. The gross went down once Li got involved.

    “He seemed to help Romeo Must Die better than The Rock helped Scorpion King.”

    The same Romeo Must Die that made about half of what The Scorpion King made?

  • Bukowski20

    Your silence shows me that you’ve admitted defeat.

    Thank you.

  • sean

    Yeah, that was supposed to be cool.

    Sean

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