So the publicity for The Expendables 2 is ramping up. I’ve been seeing a new mini-trailer in front of movies at the theater recently, which we should talk about. For one thing, am I the only person who thinks it looks like they majorly skimped on the cinematography budget? Seriously, dude.
Expendables 2 was shot by Shelly Johnson, who made pretty pictures for movies like The Wolfman and Captain America (regardless of what you thought of those movies, I liked the look of them), so the ugliness of these frames is clearly not his fault. Did some less-talented second unit take over for the trailer scene? These are some rapidly-aging screen queens — you have to light them up pretty like you’d do Julia Roberts or Meryl Streep.
Of course, we’ve got bigger problems. For one thing, as my friends at Daily Grindhouse have reported, Expendables 2 will be rated PG-13. Which strikes me as wrong on a few different fronts, but since creative and moral concerns aren’t foremost with this particular franchise, maybe good old American bloodthirst will do? Expect to see as much gore and viscera in this supposedly manly flick as in an average episode of True Blood. And with fewer pairs of titties.
What’s wrong with going full-bore after your core audience? Tyler Perry does it, to great success. So do the people who put together the Darling Companion ad campaign. Better to please your base than to spread your appeal too thin. Expendables movies are supposed to be for guys. It’s not a four-quadrant kind of a deal. That’s why, when you watch the Expendables 2 trailer above, you hear a chorus of male voices asking “Who?” after the name “Hemsworth” comes up. “Hemsworth” is Liam Hemsworth, and nothing against him, but he’s here to bring in the ‘tweens off his role in the Hunger Games franchise. If any guy knows the name Hemsworth, it’s because his brother Chris played Thor (I know of Liam because he was in a very good horror movie called Triangle, but I’m always in the minority). And hey, if you really want girls and women to come to the movie, why not cast an actress anyone’s ever heard of in a prominent role, or even — revolution! — let her join the team? Where’s Charisma Carpenter, from the first movie? How about an Angelina Jolie cameo? Personally, I suggest borrowing Gabrielle Union away from the Tyler Perry juggernaut — she could probably do a cool Pam Grier riff that this franchise badly needs — but again, no one listens to me.
Well, Stallone seemed to, when he apparently made Bruce Willis the villain of the sequel, but there’s more to be righted here, and I’m concerned. For every right move Expendables 2 looks to have made, like adding future-star Scott Adkins, or casting Jean-Claude Van Damme, who seems to have a sense of humor about himself, there’s a major wrong move, like casting Chuck Norris, who doesn’t.
It’s enough to demand a referendum on the varying coolness quotients of the stars of Expendables 2 in anticipation and dread of the new movie, which I did here when I looked at the poster, and have since expanded upon for the sake of this article. So anyway, let’s have a look at the poster again, then take that bitch apart.
There’s a lot going on here. We’re gonna have to go through it all, element by element:
1. Sylvester Stallone:
Again with the beret. I think the beret is Stallone’s way of saying: “I’m taking it back to the glory days, and by that I do not mean First Blood Part 2, but instead Demolition Man.” (Personally I happen to like Demolition Man, but I am not what you would call a highbrow critic.)
Letter Grade: C.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger:
Nice Gozer The Gozerian hairdo there, bud. Seriously, what’s up with Arnold’s hair? Is the male pattern baldness getting so threatening that the only direction to go was up? This is not a respectful hairstyle befitting the star of Predator. You need to treat the star of Predator with more respect, even if you ARE the star of Predator.
Letter Grade: D.
3. Bruce Willis:
He’s got that look that says, “Not that long ago, I was in real movies. Ah, hell. Fuck it anyways.”
Letter Grade: C+.
4. Jason Statham:
He’s got a beret on too. It’s like he’s got a junior Stallone thing going. He’s the teacher’s pet. The thing about Statham is, even his fans have to agree that he bypassed the Rocky phase entirely for his Demolition Man period. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.
Letter Grade: C-.
5. Chuck Norris:
I’m sorry, but I still find it impossible to believe that this country ever had a red-bearded action hero. This is a man whose entire fan base is ironic. All this craziness going on around him, and Chuck Norris is still the one who stands out as a cartoon character.
Letter Grade: F.
6. The girl:
Unless that’s Jet Li in drag, no one even bothered to put a name for her on the poster. Let’s be real: These movies aren’t interested in women. Not even as sex objects! We can only imagine that her death prompts one or more of these dudes to seek revenge. And then she is never mentioned again.
Letter Grade: C+.
7. Dolph Lundgren:
Not sure what’s up with the Tilda Swinton haircut, but his presence here is a triumph. He died in the first movie, didn’t he? It’s time to re-assess Dolph Lundgren. He’s too tough to die, in real life and in sub-par movies, he was the best thing about the first Expendables, and he’s arguably our best hope of elevating the sequel.
Letter Grade: A-.
8. Van Damme:
He’s got an expression on his face that’s like, “Yeah, I’m wearing a fur scarf and carrying the skinniest gun on the poster. It’s all right. I’m gonna put this gun down in a second and then you’re gonna get to see me kick some motherfuckers in the ear.”
Letter Grade: B+.
9. Terry Crews:
I just need to point out that the ex-NFL player is, technically speaking, the most interesting and inspired actor in this entire cast. (The only one you could even argue comes close to Crews is Willis, and I would win that argument.)
Letter Grade: A.
I couldn’t wait to see the first Expendables movie.
Overall, I found it to be a disappointment.
Regardless, as a masochist, even after all I’ve expressed here, I still absolutely plan to see the second Expendables movie.
This poster is the perfect representation of all my hopes for it and of all my reservations about it. The new trailer falls more on the latter side of that statement. I’m the masochistic kind of optimist, I guess.
Thursday, April 26th, 2011
Via one of my very favorite sites, IMP Awards, Here are the new character posters for The Expendables 2, which I believe only serve to confirm my prior rulings. Check them out and see if you agree (and let me know if you don’t):
STALLONE (Beret Sr.)
SCHWARZENEGGER (The Gozerian)
WILLIS (Mr. Apathy)
STATHAM (Beret Jr.)
LI (Exempt From Judgment)
COUTURE (Means “Women’s Clothing” In French)
HEMSWORTH (Most Likely To Get Buggered By One Of These Guys)
YU (Minimum Daily Recommended Amount Of Female)
NORRIS (The Worst One)
CREWS (The Best One)
LUNDGREN (The Tilda Swinton One)
VAN DAMME (Increased In Awesomeness Due To This Poster)
ADKINS!!! (If You’re Not Completely Thrilled To See Him Here, You Need To Watch More Action Movies)
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