Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and also Eric Roberts make for an action packed film with little substance. Even more stars show up in cameos or small roles including Governor Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, which makes it even more nostalgic.
My problem with the film is that nearly every actor, except Statham, looks tired and worn out through the whole film. There’s no ‘connection’ with any character, except perhaps Statham. And while the action shots are pretty good, the fight scenes are generally composed of fast cuts, swirling camera action, and crazy acrobatics.
The main story is about a bunch of mercenaries, who have worked as a team, take on a mission to take out a general on an island state. While doing recon, they discover the mission is much more complex. Eric Roberts pulls off being a bad guy pretty well, but there doesn’t seem to be any motivation for him to be that way.
I’ve seen there is an Expendables 2 in production, the first obviously made enough to do a second story.
Director and co-writer, Stallone, does create visually interesting action scenes, and getting the old action stars together is definitely cool, but, hopefully, Expendables 2 has more substance.
If you like a lot of action, guns, knives, and gore, you’ll enjoy this movie. If not…pass.
Action Movie Rating: 6 out of 10
Film Rating: 3 out of 10
I love a good action thriller with a little humor. I also really like watching Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and the stunning Mary-Louise Parker (from Weeds).
Since the movie comes from a DC Comic’s graphic novel, it’s no surprise that the action is a bit over the top, especially when it comes to guns and explosions. While there isn’t a lot of gore that has been prevalent in most movies of late, there is plenty of violent action scenes.
The premise is that several retired spies have been targeted for assasination and have to figure out who is doing this so they can stop them and live a quiet retirement. Or in the case of Bruce Willis’ character, Frank Moses, be free to begin a relationship with bored-with-her-life U.S. Pension fund employee, Sarah Ross, played by Mary-Louise Parker.
Throw up-and-coming CIA operative, William Cooper (Karl Urban), into the mix to try to stop the retired team, and you’ve got plot twist after plot twist until the finale.
Malkovich always plays interesting characters and his portrayal of paranoid ex-agent and government test subject, Marvin Boggs, is no exception.
A fun movie and great actors to watch, even with the excessive use of bullets.
My rating: 7 out of 10
While it is well known I like zombie flicks, I also enjoy a suspensful horror movie.
Most people weren’t impressed with Paranormal Activity, but it did smashingly well at the box office. Because of this, Hollywood HAD to make a sequel.
I will confess I did not see it at the box office. Mostly because no one will go with me to cheesy horror flicks.
For those who missed the first one, why are you still reading??? (laugh)
More seasoned actors were used for this film than the first and the quality is much better. The scares are much the same and a little of the mythology of the paranormal activity is explained.
The action of the movie also takes place before the first film and the movie focuses on Paranormal Activity’s lead character’s sister’s family. Cameos from the actors in the first movie occur.
Without giving anything away, there are some nice creepy moments, loud bangs, and a few shocking scenes. All are easy to spot as the low bass rumble that occurs each time an ‘event’ begins. This does give you a nice heart rate increase just wondering what’s about to happen.
The plot is basically the same with a few twists, but if you are looking for a slight creepy sensation and feel like keeping a few lights on tonight, rent the movie.
Let me know what you think.
Paranormal Activity 2
My rating: 6 out of 10
Photo Paramount Pictures
Why Zombies are Gaining Popularity in Entertainment
This October, on AMC, a new type of television show begins it’s run. The Walking Dead, based on the comic book written by Robert Kirkman and published by Image Comics. According to the AMC website, “The Walking Dead tells the story of life following a zombie apocalypse. It follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes, traveling in search of a safe and secure home.”(1)
To a guy that loves scary movies, the thought of an entire television series just rocks my world. Now, I’m not just into the gore. I insist on an interesting story or point of view. I’m a huge fan of the episode “New Years Day” in the short lived series Fear Itself, laughed my butt off at Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, and have even created my own ‘TOP 10 ZOMBIE MOVIES” on my own blog.(2)
Here they come!
But this past weekend, while the San Diego Comic-Con was in full swing, pictures of shambling zombies began pouring onto the internet from their annual “Zombie Walk,” it occurred to me that zombies are even bigger than the movies, comics, and shows they appear in.
Annually, around the world, there are dozens of “Zombie Walks” (or zombie shambles) where people gather in various states of decay and raise awareness of zombies. The first walk on record was in Sacramento, California in 2001 organized to help promote a film festival and is, still, an annual event. Others have popped up in Toronto, Frankfurt, Brisbane, and many across the United States.(4) The largest, to date, was in Seattle Washington this past July 3 for the “Red, White, and Dead” Zombie Walk and is on record as having 4,200 zombies, according to Guinness World Record, though organizers claim closer to 5,000(3).
Even though zombies have been popular since the 60s, why the sudden explosion of books, comics, movies, video games, and, now, television shows?
Better Dead than Red!
I remembered reading that, in the 50s, the main type of horror movie revolved around aliens taking over the bodies of our loved ones. And that this theme echoed from the Communist (red) scare that was fed by the politics of the time. That your next door neighbor could be a ‘commie,’ sucked in by this ‘evil’ belief.
I generally remembered that each decade had a ‘theme’ and began some online research and quickly found some had already been done by Karina Wilson, a British teacher, writer and story consultant in Los Angeles. Her research echoes what I have experienced myself, with some additional insight. The main idea is that the monsters are a reflection of threats in the real world at the time.
- 40s – Living under the shadow of Hitler’s predatory animal-like tendencies spawned the Universal movie monsters such as Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and the Invisible Man. We struggled with the inner monsters and tried to find something ‘human’ within to be able to relate to and understand.
- 50s – Seeing the effects of radiation of the atomic weapons of the past decade, movies were often about science gone mad. The Tingler, Godzilla, and Them reflected this idea. Towards the end of the 50s, the Red Scare (noted above) spawned Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, and It Came from Outer Space.
- 60s – With the unrest in society, equal-rights, social injustice, the general feeling of ‘fears of living in the Atomic Age” and the terror of social alienation,’ (6) ghost stories, the occult, and armageddon filled the screens making us feel that there were things outside of our control to be afraid of. The Haunting, Rosmary’s Baby, the Birds, and the classic zombie film, Night of the Living Dead.
- 70s and 80s – Revolution ruled the land. Parents didn’t understand their children. And people often tried to stay in the mainstream of what was to be expected of them, rather than stay true to their nature. Because of this, evil children movies appeared, slasher movies where base frustrations were acted out for no apparent reason, and killer animals were spawned. Movies like The Exorcist, The Omen, and Audrey Rose in the evil children category, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th in the slasher genre. Topped off with Jaws, Orca, and The Deep. Even sci-fi movies, like Alien, crossed the bridge from sci-fi to horror in the ‘creature’ category.
- 90s – Wondering why our parents and grandparents did the things they did, the horror films dove into the psychological and psychopathic minds creating the rise of the Serial Killer. Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Kalifornia, and Natural Born Killers top the category for the 90s.
- 00s – With the rise of the internet and global communications, in addition to real terrorism hitting the U.S. On 9/11, horror films reflected a need to move away from armageddon and psychopathic terrorists. The culture needed someone to pay for the real horror going on it the world, and it caused the rise of “Torture Porn” with such films as Saw, Hostel, and Captivity. In these movies, we’re closer to the torturers perspective rather than in movies like Silence of the Lambs. Additionally with the global connection, Asian horror movies became very popular and were often remade. Their pace and structure fundamentally different from the U.S. three act play, and focus on spirits, curses and are very stylized and disturbing giving audiences an immediate discomfort and horror.
- 10s – Back to Zombies! We’re just getting started in 2010. While zombies aren’t the main course, a huge portion of the movies have masses of people/creatures/undead that force the main character to fight for their lives. Movies already released or on the slate for 2010 include The Crazies, Legion, Daybreakers, Survival of the Dead, the 4th Resident Evil Movie, and even Pirahna (a huge number of blood thirsty fish to defeat).
Why the Rise?
While every decade horror movies has developed as a reflection of society, I predict the following; that the economic crisis, social awareness of food quality, shrinking global resources, and the world fears of one person or country controlling their lives, the movies created will continue to be a combination of mass hordes of undead/zealots/thoughtless individuals who attempt to use/destroy everything around them.
However, because of our global connection, the best horror movies will tie several themes together due to collaboration among writers of different backgrounds. Primal fears will be tapped in a way that creates action rather than just sedation.
There’s nothing scarier than being in a hopeless situation where you’re surrounded by hundreds of creatures intent on eating you. And there is nothing scarier in real life, than to be in a situation where it seems the world, government, parents, friends, co-workers, etc. are all against you, you have no way out, and no one who will pay attention to you.
The rise of the zombie genre is a comic, heightened, version of those of us who feel helpless. Instead of living, we shamble through life, looking for the nearest fast food restaurant to consume whatever will fill us, unthinking about the consequences of our diet. We plop down at home, waiting for the television to feed us entertainment.
By actively becoming a zombie, we laugh at ourselves and take action to become noticed. We consciously create a new reality of which we control our direction and fate.
At the movies, where we watch the shambling zombie masses be destroyed, we can face our fears with others and, maybe, step back out into the sunlight eager to live again.
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_walk#cite_ref-36 Dan Restione (2010-07-06). “Thousands of zombies march in Fremont”
San Diego ComicCon Zombie Walk: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Zombie+Walk+2010+San+Diego
Zombie Images from AMC: http://www.amctv.com/originals/The-Walking-Dead/photo-gallery
Zombie Walk Article Photo by Mike Rollerson: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mikerollerson/4826167126/
What is it about the living dead?
When George Romero created Night of the Living Dead (and accidentally forgot to copyright the film, thus making the original print in the public domain), he was making a subversive statement about our society in the late 60s.
At least that’s what historians write.
I think it was just the beginnings of a terrifying genre of horror film.
Personally, as I’ve written before, I used to have terrible nightmares based on the Dawn of the Dead film by George Romero. Suffice to say that all the nightmares revolve around me being safe somewhere until some idiot lets in a horde of zombies that outnumber me and…well…they try to eat me.
I’ve figured out the cause of the nightmares; too many things going on in my life. Upon waking, I generally set about ‘eliminating’ tasks and soon..POOF!…no more nightmares.
I write all this to tell you that I’ve been having fun with zombies lately.
I have purchased from the talented artist and graphic designer, Abi Post, a painting of a Zombie Bride (it was between that and the Zombie Nude (see below), but couldn’t figure out where I would hang a painting like that…dangit. Love the toe tag and wrist band!). Plus, I helped build the site for her. MUCH fun!
Then today, I discover my girlfriend’s oldest son has been having zombie movie marathons at a friend’s house. Well… Resident Evil movie marathon’s, anyway. Not really zombie movies, but fun. Who DOESN’T like seeing Milla Jovavich kick some mutant dead? Hmm?
I told him I was a big fan and he asked me which ones he should watch.
Which brings me to the point of this blog…finally.
ERIC’S TOP 10 ZOMBIE MOVIES (plus some)
A quick run down and brief description of the movies in order I would suggest watching. You know? To get the full FEEL of the genre. And like a good film, break it up with a bit of humor and different tone from time to time.
At the end, I will mention a few other things for my zombie lovin’ friends and fellow graphic designers! (Hmmm….they’re ALL graphic designers now that I think about it. Weird.)
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
As described above, the granddaddy of them all. New audiences may find it a bit lame compared to the effects and gore of today’s films, but you just have to remember about what people had been exposed to at the time.
2. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
10 years past before the sequel was made. Tom Savini makes his zombie makin’ debut with this film. You might recognize him in many other movies as well. Additionally, this movie takes place in a shopping mall. And we all know, if it’s the end of the world, there would be NO better place than the free run of an entire shopping mall!
3. Day of the Dead (1985)
The last of the ‘Dead’ trilogy (at the time). This one is more bleak, taking place in an underground army bunker. However, the coolest character in the movie is Bub. Bub is dead. Well, undead. And a really ‘smart’ scientist is trying to teach him to be domesticated. Sprinkle in a handful of mindless army goons and you’ve got all the ingredients for your hidey hole to soon be an open buffet.
4. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Written by the recently deceased author, Dan O’Bannon (Alien, Total Recall, and two Heavy Metal segments), this will give marathon viewers a breather with some much needed humor. Bonus: the origin of why the common belief is held that zombies crave ‘brainzzzzzzz.’
5. Night of the Living Dead (1990)
While I like the original version better, we get a little better effects, but generally the exact same plot and dialogue. Things seem a little out of time, but going through the remakes of Romero’s films will keep the zombie enthusiast ever evolving with the genre. You MAY decide to skip this film, but be SURE to catch number 6 on the list. BONUS: Tony Todd (The Candyman) in one of his early films.
6. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
By far an excellent entry, AND quiet frankly a disturbing change in zombie behavior: running. While running zombies was sort of alluded to in another movie of this time (see #9 below), the fact that you couldn’t simply run from zombies anymore really freaked me out. Anyone else out there? Regardless, this film by Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) is a MUST see in the zombie genre. Don’t plan on sleeping tonight. And watch all the credits to remind yourself, “There ARE no happy endings when zombies are involved.”
7. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
A comedic masterpiece. One I proudly have in my collection and have watched a dozen times. The dozens of subtle jokes can only be caught with repeated viewings. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright co-wrote the movie. Pegg (Scotty on the new Star Trek) is Shaun, an average guy with an obnoxious best friend, girl trouble, and a propensity for hanging out at a local pub called the Winchester. A whole day goes by before Shaun and his friends even know something is amiss and the dead walk the streets of London. BONUS: Bill Nighy as Shaun’s step-dad.
8. 28 Days Later
While not actually a zombie movie, it injects the genre with a new twist: rage. Directed by the amazing Danny Boyle, we find poor Jim (played by Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, Dark Night, Red Eye)) waking up in a hospital completely alone in the city of London. When he finally finds someone in a pile of bodies in a church, he realizes something terrible has occurred. Here, again, are the fast moving ‘dead’ who are really people filled with a super virus that brings out rage in people and chimps, apparently. Again, while not a zombie movie, it set the tone for Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, in my humble opinion.
9. Fido (2006)
Time again for a short comedic break with this independent film starring the incredibly talented Carrie Ann Moss (Trinity from the Matrix), Billy Connelly, and Dylan Baker. It’s a world where the clothing and family life from the 50s and 60s thrive and the zombies have been domesticated with shock collars to keep them from feeding on people. Instead, they handle shopping carts, simple chores and even act as pets. They also make great company and beat out any ole collie a boy might own. A MUST see.
10. Zombieland (2009)
Why DOES Romero take zombies so seriously? While not available for home viewing yet, this film set a new standard for the ‘buddy movie’ meets ‘zombie’ genres. Did I mention Woody Harrelson is one of the stars? I can see this film having a sequel or more. Zombieland is like a video game where you figure out ways to get rid of the walking dead. If you missed it in theaters, be sure to get the dvd or blu-ray. Oh…and don’t forget to have some Purell handy.
PLUS SOME MORE
There are a few more to mention in the genre OR they are part of the heritage that has been created. I make a note of what MUST be seen, and what you can pass on if you just don’t have the time.
Day of the Dead (2008)
Okay. Really. You could skip this one. While it’s based on Romero’s Day of the Dead, I didn’t even know it existed. In fact, I think I caught part of it on a Sci-Fi Saturday night movie once and didn’t even realize what it was. Actually, it may have been direct to video. It’s a Steve Miner (House, Lake Placid) film starring Mena Suvari and, strangely Ving Rhymes who was in number 6 above in a completely different role. 4 out of 10 stars on IMDB. Just checked, and you can watch it on ‘Instant Play’ on Netflix.
Land of the Dead (2005)
Not a bad movie. However, it introduces some new ideas about zombie that I just don’t believe belong in the genre. Romero did pull off getting Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo in the film. And don’t forget Asia Argento! Rowr! Um. Oh yeah…Walled City. Rich people vs. Poor. And the new idea? That zombies just want a home to go to. Like…they migrate. BONUSES: Water doesn’t really stop a zombie AND Simon Pegg and Edger Wright cameo as the “Photobooth zombies.” Not in my top 10, but definitely worth a viewing.
Diary of the Dead (2008)
Zombies meet Cloverfield. Nuff said. Okay. I’ll say more. Shot on a video camera throughout most of the film, it does have some humorous twists. While ‘filming’ a zombie film, a group of film students discover zombies are really out to get them. Some of the same ends are met in ‘real’ life as would have happened if they had made their film. Romero wrote and directed this film. IMDB gives it 6 out of 10. Rumor mill has it that a prequel is in development for Night of the Living Dead: Origins in 3D (esplatter.com).
28 Weeks Later (2007)
This was a cool follow up to Danny Boyle’s original film. A great cast too. Six months after the virus hit, the United States is helping secure England bit by bit. Unfortunately, things go awry. SURPRISE. Again, not a zombie movie, in my opinion, but if you watched the first movie, you owe it to yourself to see this one.
We go a little retro here, but this is a cult classic. Based on the creepy H.P. Lovecraft story, a college student is obsessed with re-animating dead tissue. Humor and gore abound. Jeffrey Combs, a sci-fi favorite, heads the cast and shows up in the sequels (still being made!)
Planet Terror (2007)
Part of the Grindhouse films if Robert Rodriquiz’ Planet Terror. The film was designed to look like a “B” movie with choppy cuts, mis-spliced film and over the top effects. Things go from bad to worse as gas is released and people die only to come back to life with a craving for flesh. But the humans in Planet Terror won’t go down without a fight. Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriquez, Josh Brolin, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn, Bruce Willis and Naveen Andrews all star.
ERIC HASN’T SEEN, BUT I’VE HEARD THESE ARE ALSO GREAT…
Dead Alive (aka Braindead) (1992)
One of Peter Jackson’s (King Kong, Lord of the Rings) early films. From IMDB: A young man’s mother is bitten by a Sumatran rat-monkey. She gets sick and dies, at which time she comes back to life, killing and eating dogs, nurses, friends, and neighbors.
Zombie by Lucio Fulci (1979)
Apparently this movie has quite a following. There are MANY clips online for viewing and a gross movie poster. From IMDB: Strangers looking for a woman’s father arrive at a tropical island where a doctor desperately searches for the cause and cure of a recent epidemic of the undead.
This Japanese film popped up on SEVERAL other ‘Top 10’ lists I came across. I can’t tell you much about it, but on IMDB, one of the characters is listed as “Yakuza zombie in alligator-skin coat.” HOW COOL IS THAT? A MUST see, I’m thinkin.’
LAST BONUS FILM
Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D (1991)
Remember me mentioning that George Romero didn’t copyright the first prints of Night of the Living Dead? Well, James Riffel, decided to wipe the soundtrack clean and add his own dialog over the film. Plus a few well placed intermissions. What results seems really stupid, but after awhile you can’t help but laugh. Especially when Barbara is exploring the old farm house and Riffel adds in an unexpected sound of a duck quacking. Barbara wheels around and the new voice over says, “uh…uh…was that a …d…d…duck?” Hmmm. Have a few drinks before you start watching, or start the movie very very very late.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Please chime in on your favorites, or if I missed something glaring. And, no, as much as I’d liked to add it in, Army of Darkness doesn’t count. Even if they are and army of the undead. Where’s my boomstick?
Okay….you can watch it. =)
Cool Zombie Santa by Phillip Blackman. If you’re late sending out Christmas Cards, he’s got the perfect “LATE” card to send out! Buy them now!