The Expendables 2 (2012) Review

Last decade brought us the reboots of 80s classics like Transformers and GI Joe, and it seemed that the internet as whole was awash in 80s nostalgia. In the 2010s though, we’re onto another decade: the 90s. This 20 year cycle really has an impact on pop culture, since corporations want to appeal to that 28-38 year old crowd that now controls the majority of the consumership. They of course use artifacts from their childhood (ages 8-18) to attract their nostalgic attention and now that the 80s people are getting in their 40s it’s time for the 90s kids to take the reigns. We already have seen a Pokemon anime reminiscent of the original games, rereleases of many 90s games, and plenty of 90s pop culture being smeared across the internet like a reoccuring nightmare. So it seems only fit that Stallone’s pet project The Expendables would try to tap into that 90s action movie nostalgia that that controlling demographic has. The original was an adequate film, with a good amount of fun inserted into it’s action, but it was dragged down by Stallone’s ego and inexperienced directing. The Expendables 2… now that’s a different story.

The Expendables 2 is the remarkably simple story of Stallone and his team who are hired by CIA operative Bruce Willis to track down a package in a safe. On the mission they’re intercepted by Jean Claude Van Damme, who kills Liam Hemsworth and steals the package. Out for revenge, Stallone’s crew tracks down Van Damme with a little help from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris.

Now I went through a long tirade to basically come to the conclusion that Drag Me to Hell was a decent and fun film. Let me cut to the chase here and say that The Expendables 2 is a more then decent and extremely fun movie! There may be plot holes the size of the explosions, and realism and physics that make Adventure Time look like a Ken Burns documentary, but god damn it this movie’s fucking fun. It’s everything from the 90s action films you could possibly want, including the great one-liners. What helps Expendables 2 transcend just a 90s rehash is that it’s aware of its origins and plays them up for very effective comedy. It’s a fine line to walk, but Expendables pulls it off mostly due to its genuineness.

It has the stars to back up the lines and it has the effects to back up the storyline. This movie solved the shitty action sequences of the first one by putting director Simon West in charge and he chooses the far more effective steady shots that showcase the action more then cut around it. The effects are top notch, even if there is some shitty CGI blood here and there. Again, it’s hard to care since you’ll be surprisingly engrossed in the story even if you can see every twist and turn from a mile away.

It’s a film that just happens to work through the very careful balance of all the right factors. It plays up it’s premise in the right way, pulls in the serious moments and lets loose the comedy all at the right times. Expendables 2 is a must see for anyone who’s disappointed in the recent works of it’s stars and it’s must viewing for anyone burned by the awful Die Hard 5. It’s no masterpiece of course, but these films rarely are, especially in this decade. If you like your action more serious, then stay away, but if you’re up for some popcorn-chewing fun, then strap in and suit up. The Expendables 2 is available from Netflix Streaming, and all the usual online movie places.

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Evil Dead 2 (1987) Review

There is nary a film saga in the horror genre more fun then the Evil Dead trilogy. With the first one being a benchmark of independent filmmaking and pretty good blend of camp and genuine horror, Evil Dead 2 had a lot to live up to. It does in every way though, and in the process of making this film Raimi created a classic for decades to come. As I just mentioned camp, right off the bat don’t expect this movie to be serious. It’s a horror COMEDY, but a little more subtle about it the Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead.

Evil Dead 2 “picks up” where the first left off, but not after retelling the first movie (this time with just Ash and his girlfriend) in the first 10 minutes. For those who don’t know, Ash and his girlfriend drive up to a cabin in the woods for a fun weekend together. While there, they find a recording that when they play back summons an evil spirit. This evil spirit possesses the girl and As has to kill her. Holed up in this cabin with no way to escape, Ash fights to survive and keep his insanity until two couples show up to invite more trouble.

Sam Raimi is a brilliant director, not necessarily because he’s great with actors (although to be fair he helped mold Bruce Campbell into a fairly decent one), but because of his brilliant camera and effects work. This movie looks really quite good, with camera angles that make me practically orgasm I love them so much. Raimi is the master of perpetuating mood, if that mood is right and Evil Dead 2 never looses that feeling of bat-shit insanity that Raimi intended. The lighting works extremely well too, with the woods being spooky and the film in general having that undeniably VHS era feel to it.

The effects are phenomenal, even when they suck. It makes me nostalgic for the era of practical effects (even if I was never there) because with the same budget, the cgi would have looked worse. Raimi uses stop motion at several points in the movie and stop motion at it’s worse still has a creepy vibe because of how disjointed it is. CGI when it’s low budget looks like shit, so even if stop-motion looks bad it’s still better. The blood, makeup and various body part movements look amazing, much better then the original. There are a few effects that don’t work that well and actually could have used some CG but there never going to pull you out of the movie.

Evil Dead 2 is a funny ass movie, but it still manages to pull off scares. You’ll be laughing at Ash one second, cheering him on the next and fearing for him the next. It’s really a roller coaster, but it does require you to understand what it’s trying to do. The story is generic, the acting is mediocre, and the inconsistent tone on top of that is what’s going to turn people off. However, if you go into Evil Dead expecting to not take it too seriously then the comedy will be all the funnier and the scares will be all the more unexpected.

Evil Dead 2 hits all the right marks for me. It pokes at horror tropes, exaggerates to the extreme, has beautiful cinematography and features a protagonist that I will forever root for. Ash is one of the world’s greatest badasses and the shit that he goes through in this night makes for some of the most unique viewing you will ever experience. If you’re looking for a fun Halloween movie to watch with your friends or without, then grab the popcorn and pop in Evil Dead 2! Evil Dead 2 is available on Netflix instant and Amazon Instant or your local video store (remember those?).