Dwayne Johnson Is Awesome Part 1 (of Infinity)

furious 6As you can tell, I haven’t been blogging much lately. My days are filled with work, kids and house stuff, so I don’t have as much time to sit back down behind the computer and write out my thoughts on important things like movies and comics, but I’ve been lucky enough to see and read a lot of cool stuff lately and want to remember that.

So, let’s start with the trio of Dwayne Johnson movies I’ve seen recently. A few weeks back, unbeknownst to us we had a free trial of HBO. For a night, I thought we’d had the thing since we moved in six months ago and I’d just missed it, but the disappearance of the channels the next day revealed the truth. Still, I was able to take advantage and watch Justin Lin’s Furious 6.

I’m actually not very up on the Fast & Furious movies. I saw the first in the theaters way back in 2001, but I preferred the previous year’s Gone In 60 Seconds. Since then this series produced a few sequels that kept the motor running until it really kicked into gear in the past few installments. In a lot of ways, these movies have taken on a kind of comic book nature. The last three films have drawn from the previous ones as far as characters go and also, as Paul Scheer said on the episode of How Did This Get Made dedicated to the movie, they’re basically superheroes at this point who can’t die (or mostly can’t die). Continue reading Dwayne Johnson Is Awesome Part 1 (of Infinity)

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

whip_it_ellen_pageEllen Page might play Tara Chace in the big screen adaptation of Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country comic series. John Rogers (Leverage, Transformers) is currently working on the script. [via Variety]grudge match sylvester stallone robert de niro

Check out the first image from the Robert De Niro/Sylvester Stallone boxing comedy Grudge Match. [via USA Today]

Paramount announced that they snagged Snow White And The Huntsman writer Evan Daugherty to pen the third G.I. Joe film. Daugherty also did some re-writing on the upcoming Ninja Turtles reboot. [via Deadline]Bruce-Willis-RED

Even though he finds explosions boring these days, Bruce Willis is still signing on for more paychecks action films. The latest is called The Prince in which he plays a guy waiting for revenge on a mob enforcer who returns to Vegas to get his daughter back. Red Dawn writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore penned the script for director Sarik Andreasyan (American Heist). [via Collider]SNOWPIERCER_LE-TRANSPERCENEIGE-Affiche-def

Did you see the French poster for Snowpiercer? Well now you have! [via CloneWeb]

the gambler james caan

Word on the street is that Mark Wahlberg is in talks to star in a remake of the James Caan 1974 flick The Gambler with potential director Rupert Wyatt (Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes). [via Deadline]electric shadows vol 1

Electric Shadows blogger Jean Lukitsh wrote an e-book about the history of martial arts cinema that also features segments from the author’s personal memorabilia collection called Electric Shadows: The Secret History Of Kung Fu Movies Volume 1. The 69 page book is $2.99 on Amazon. [via Kung Fu Cinema]

Bruce Willis Thinks Explosions Are Boring

burce willis live free or die hard

Man, what’s with Bruce Willis lately? First, he reportedly demanded too much money to reprise the role of Mr. Church in Expendables 3 (to be replaced by Harrison Ford) and now he’s giving weird interviews all over Europe as a weird way of supporting Red 2 and telling us that explosions are dull, Deadline reports.

The actor talked about his growing action movie fatigue with Spanish magazine XLS. “Explosions are one of the most boring parts of my job,” Willis said. “When you have seen a few fireballs, it’s not exciting anymore. I know part of my audience enjoys the explosions, but to be honest, I’m a bit bored of it now.” The next rational question, then, is why does he bother to keep making these films? He answered that question very pragmatically. “I am very clear with who I am,” Willis said. “I work in all sorts of films, but the action movies are the ones that generate the most revenue. I like to earn lots of money from those.”

Look, we’ve got no problem with an actor taking jobs for the money. That’s how the business works. But there’s something off-putting and diminishing about a guy trashing the genre we love while also essentially saying we’re the ones who help him out by buying tickets and buying Blu-rays. It feels kind of like he’s saying, “I make my money off you explosion-loving goofballs, but it’s super boring.” Let’s be real, here, Bruce. No one’s remembering you for your dramatic work. You’re a good actor. We saw that on Looper. But the legacy of Bruce Willis on film isn’t Moonrise Kingdom, it’s Die Hard. Either make a shift towards more serious, cerebral roles or stop complaining.

BULLET POINTS: HOT ROUNDS OF INFORMATION GOODNESS

2 guns poster For the second week in a row, an action film won the box office. Two weekends back it was The Wolverine, last week it was 2 Guns! Congrats all around!

gi joe retaliation blu-ray

Speaking of action films making money, THR pointed out that G.I. Joe: Retaliation topped home video sales after premiering last week.

elysium matt damonIf you want to check out 33 images from Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium featuring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, head on over to Hero Complex.

American Sniper bookLike most of the Hollywood news sites out there, Deadline reported that Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks have pulled out of adapting Navy Seal Chris Kyle’s American Sniper for the big screen.

expendables 2 stallone schwarzenegger willis

The other day, Sylvester Stallone announced that Harrison Ford would be replacing Bruce Willis in The Expendables 3. THR reports a rumor that Willis wouldn’t agree to shoot for four days in Bulgaria for $3 million (he wanted another mill apparently). We guess this is what Sly meant when he said “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE”

300-rise-of-an-empire

Finally, in news that’s not surprising to anyone, 300: Rise Of An Empire, the navally oriented sequel to 300, got an R-rating from the MPAA. [via SHH]

Stallone Says Ford Is Replacing Willis In The Expendables 3

the_expendables_2 We here at Explosions Are Rad are big fans of the mash-up action-fests better known as The Expendables movies. The brainchild of Sylvester Stallone, the films bring together some of the best and brightest action stars of all time together offering explosions, fight scenes and gunplay worth the price of admission alone.

If you’re a fan of the franchise, you really need to follow Stallone on Twitter (he’s @TheSlyStallone). The legendary action star took to social media today to not only announce that Bruce Willis won’t return for The Expendables 3, but also that he’ll be replaced by Harrison Ford. “WILLIS OUT… HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!”

He followed that up with what seems like a slam against Willis who appeared as Mr. Church in the first two Expendables movies. “GREEDY AND LAZY …… A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE”

Willis’ Mr. Church played an important role in both films. In the first, he hired the team to invade Valena and in the second he uses their failure in the first movie as leverage to send them out to get a device that winds up putting them in direct opposition to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Vilain. He even got in on the action alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the second film. Will Ford do the same in 3? We sure hope so.

Last month, Stallone also said via Twitter that the new film, directed by Red Hill‘s Patrick Hughes, will feature real life fighters Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz as well.  Hopefully, they fall into Randy Couture territory and turn out to be super watchable on screen. The film is also said to star Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li, Nicolas Cage, Mickey Rourke, Jackie Chan, Kellan Lutz, Milla Jovovich, Wesley Snipes and many more.

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

the_wolverine

We’re probably not going to get into too much comic book movie news here on Explosions Are Rad because they’re covered really well on other sites, but it’s pretty cool that an action-packed flick like The Wolverine took the box office and made $86 million worldwide according to Variety.

sharknado poster

We’re also not looking to delve too much into horror movie news for similar reasons, but Syfy’s Sharknado had enough (terrible) action scenes and explosions to qualify for a quick bullet point. TheWrap reported that the film will hit Regal, UA and Edwards Cinemas for a Friday, Aug. 2 midnight showing. It will be interesting to see if the so-bad-it’s-good phenomenon will transfer over to make actual money after being offered so often for free.

burka avenger

The Mary Sue recently posted an interesting story about a new Pakistani animated series called Burka Avenger that stars a female superhero who spends her days as a teacher. It definitely sounds like kid stuff, but the concept of a strong woman using her brains to fight crime is aces in our book.

gi joe retaliation blu-ray

Collider did an interview with Jon M. Chu about this week’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation DVD and Blu-ray release and also talked a bit about the third film which he’s signed up for. Briefly, he said that Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis are returning, they’re looking for a writer now and also to “double down on the adventure part of the movie” while also looking to possibly bring in more Joes.

dwayne johnson hercules soldier tweet

Speaking of Dwayne Johnson, the man known as The Rock, Tweeted out an image from the set of Brett Ratner’s Hercules with the message: “Let it be to death or victory” THANK U my ‘Thracian soldiers’. Intensity & energy.”

There’s a flick in the works called Black Friday that revolves around a man trying to get his wife back after she’s kidnapped inside a giant mall. He’s got to perform crazy tasks to get her back. Sounds silly, but I spent enough time in the Palisades Mall to give this a look on Netflix. John Sullivan wrote a script that Darin Beckstead’s attached to helm. (via Deadlline)

world war z poster

World War Z fans can look forward to checking out the big budget zombie flick starring Brad Pitt in IMAX 3D for a week kicking off on Aug. 2. (via Deadline)

Quick Movie Review: Looper (2012)

looper_poster Much like with The Raid, I’d heard pretty much only good things about Rian Johnson’s Looper. The trailers I’d seen looked good and according to post-Cop Out Bruce Willis detractor Kevin Smith the movie was so good that it even made him like Willis again, so that definitely piqued my interest. Plus, who doesn’t love a good time travel movie? I’ve seen some really killer newer entries into the genre lately between Primer and Triangle (I wasn’t as big a fan of Timecrimes).

My wife and I watched this movie over the weekend and I was pretty taken aback by it, something I can’t say about most movies. There were some faulty bits that I’ll get to in a graph or two, but first, let’s talk about all the good stuff. This story is fantastic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an executioner in 2044 who works for mobsters in 2074 who have access to time travel tech. They have a hard time offing people in the future, so they transport people to the past where a Looper is waiting for them with a blunderbuss and blow the target away. Things go crazy in the film when JGL’s future self  (Willis) gets sent back without the usual restraints and winds up getting away. Willis is on a mission to save his life while JGL just wants to get his old life back. The craziness flows from there.

While I really dug the story, there some story elements that bothered me though. Why do Loopers have such silly guns? Sure a blunderbuss can blow a hole in an elephant, but why not train them to shoot a guy in the head or even use an automatic weapon? I only ask this question because it seems like this detail was added in for the sole purpose of giving JGL a weapon that’s basically useless at the very end of the film. Also, why are they called Loopers? JGL explains in voiceover that it’s because the mob will send the Looper’s future self back for the current Looper to kill, but isn’t that funny naming logic? You don’t name a guy for the last part of his job, do you? I still can’t tell if I have a problem with the telekinesis stuff or not. On one hand, you can just accept is as part of the world, a piece of information that’s put in place and paid off for at the end of the movie. On the other hand, it could be a kind of tacked-on bit of business that’s only there to turn a character who would normally be non-threatening into something you really have to worry about.

Even with the above complaints, I was really moved by this movie. First off, it’s a daring story that goes weird places you don’t expect your basic theater-fare to go. Bruce Willis also stars as a somewhat relatable character doing incredibly awful things to try and save his family. Plus, JGL absolutely kills in the film. He carries the intensity and rawness of his own character while also channelling Willis in ways that don’t seem cheap or hokey. Plus, he really rocks that prosthetic nose and begin to believe he’s almost a completely new person (I kept thinking he looked like Shia at times in the film). And man, that ending. I did not see it coming and it hit me in the gut like heavyweight punch. That’s something else you don’t see often.

If you’re like me and just about everyone I’ve talked to about this movie and want to learn more about Johnson’s life, creative process and experience making this film, check out Kevin Smith’s 2-part SmodCast/SmovieMakers podcast interview with the director (here and here) who also goes into detail on his previous efforts Brick and Brothers Bloom.

Halloween Scene: Planet Terror (2007)

In my post about the exceptionally disappointing Death Proof, I talked about how excited I was about Grindhouse, the combined efforts of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez to recreate the feeling of going to a 70s drive-in complete with double bill and even trailers for movies that didn’t–at the time–exist. What I forgot to mention was how inundated we were with Grindhouse stuff at the time for Wizard. I was working in the research department at the time, which meant it was my job to find images to go along with features and news stories. As you might expect, there was a good deal of Grindhouse coverage leading up to the movies, but not a lot of images released. While watching Planet Terror again last night I kept having these weird flashes when particular scenes came on. At first I thought I was just remembering the movie from the first time I watched it a few years ago, but then I realized that they were the stills we kept running over and over in the mag.

Anyway, I was flipping through my DVDs last night to see if there was anything I wanted to watch more than the intended night’s flick X2 and stopped as soon as I saw Planet Terror. I had completely forgotten that I had picked the movie up on one of my many trips through the sale racks of my nearby Blockbuster before it closed down. Bonus! Aside from the freeze frames I mentioned above, I didn’t remember much of the movie other than it had zombie-esque people attacking a girl with a gun leg and a guy who owns a barbecue joint.

Unlike Death Proof, I had a delightful time watching Planet Terror. I think the difference between those two movies is that Rodriguez had a much better understanding of what makes the kinds of movies he was paying homage to work than Tarantino did, which is strange because Quentin has made a whole career based on taking a genre and updating it while also making callbacks to other movies. As far as I’m concerned, Rodriguez completely nailed the zombie outbreak story. He dealt with elements we’ve seen since Night Of The Living Dead but also turned a lot of them on their ears (what happens to Dakota’s son, what happens to Naveen Andrew, etc.). He did a great job of presenting the characters and getting me interested in them–even if it is because of the very B-movie idea that they’re just cool looking so I want to know what happens to them–before getting into the zombie goodness.

And once we do get into the zombie goodness, it’s SOOO good. It looks like some of the blood might have been added with CGI, but for the most part it looks so real and good and gross and bloody that those little bits of computer generated saturation didn’t bother me. The gore is fantastic and something that I’ve missed a lot from most of the modern horror movies I’ve seen lately (maybe I’m just watching the wrong ones, but I felt like I hadn’t seen this kind of big budget feel in a gore-filled horror flick in a while). I also really loved the ending which didn’t just leave our heroes wondering what was happening with the rest of the world, but showing a bit of it. There was something very 70s feeling about it, which was the whole point.

While watching the movie, I came to the realization that Robert Rodriguez might be the most consistent of the directors I like. Quentin really faltered with Death Proof, but I also tried to watch Jackie Brown in the past year or two and was bored to tears. I like the rest of his movies, but those are two pretty big strikes. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith seems to have gone down in quality over the past few years, especially with Cop Out. However, I’m excited about Red State, so he’s in a little better shape in my book. Then you’ve got Rodriguez who has never disappointed me. I’ve watched El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Faculty, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, Sin City, Planet Terror and Machete and have never once been less than impressed. I’m actually excited about delving into his kid friendly flicks like the Spy Kids movies, Shorts and Shark Boy & Lava Girl because I bet they have as much fun with the tropes of those genres as he does with the ones he’s played with in his more grown up flicks.

We Want Action: RED (2010)

With all the election nonsense clogging up the airwaves last night, the missus and I decided to have ourselves a little dinner and a movie date and saw RED and The Destinta, an awesome independent theater near our place that does discount tickets on Tuesdays. We decided on this flick because the missus liked the cast and we both figured this would be better to watch on the big screen than a drama or comedy. And, boy, did we both have a lot of fun with the flick.

The idea is that Bruce Willis, a retired CIA agent has been marked for death. Since he’s been flirting with customer service rep Mary-Louise Parker has been targeted to, so he grabs her and goes on a cross-country chase trying to figure out why Karl Urban’s after him, enlisting the help of fellow older killers Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren and Brian Cox. With the exception of a few stiff line delivers, I think this might be Willis’ best movie in a while (Cop Out was okay, Surrogates was interesting, but didn’t really take up much rent space in my brain) because the action is solid (though I wish they hadn’t shown that scene of him getting out of the spinning car in the previews because it takes away a little bit of the awesomeness having seen it a billion times in the commercials). I was worried that Freeman and Mirren might have just signed up for this flick for a paycheck, but it seemed like they had a good time, or at least took it remotely seriously. I liked Parker more in this one movie than almost all of Weeds. Urban really proved himself to me in this flick. He was great in Star Trek, but he was basically interpreting someone else’s performance in that movie and really got to show what he can do in this one from both an acting and action perspective. And, damn, Malkovich as the paranoid-but-right dudes was just so damn perfect.

For whatever it’s worth, I didn’t read the comic the movie is loosely based on written by Warren Ellis and drawn by Cully Hamner. It came out while I was in college and working solely off of my established pull list. I don’t think I’d read any Ellis books at that point and it doesn’t sound like I’ve missed a whole lot. RED sounds very violent and pretty basic, kind of like Ellis’ later team-up with Hamner for Top Cow Down, which I read and dug, but don’t even think I’ll need to revisit. The movie, on the other hand, I think I’ll watch a few more times, especially if it comes on on a Saturday afternoon or I come across it on Instant. It’s fun and funny and has a nice, but not too gooey, romantic plot that doesn’t diminish any of the characters.

I had three random thoughts while watching this movie. First off, I think they filmed the rocket launcher scene in this movie (which was awesome all around, by the way) in the same place they filmed the finale of The Losers, which is kind of funny because they’re both movies based on obscure comic properties owned by DC. I don’t know what they call those giant, rectangular metal shipping boxes, but that’s what tipped me off. Second, related to the first, actually, is that the trailer was randomly spoilery. So, SPOILER WARNING if you care. One major and one minor plot point can be figured out just by watching the trailer. The major one is that Freeman isn’t really dead after the attack in the nursing home, which you know because you see him with Mirren in the preview. The minor one is that the red headed woman is actually following them. Malkovich hassles the lady, but you’re supposed to just think he’s paranoid. Of course, if you’ve seen the commercial for the movie, you know she’s the one that fires the rocket at him. And finally, I wonder if Kevin Smith had problems with Willis on the set of Cop Out. On the most recent Smodcast (#143), Smith mentioned that the main different between filming Cop Out and Red State is that on the former there was someone who clearly didn’t want to be there and on the latter everyone was excited to make the movie. You’d think it would be between the two leads–Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis–if it caused a certain amount of problems or headaches, but Smith defended Morgan on Twitter the other day, so I’m wondering if he was referring to Willis. For what it’s worth, Smith has also praised Adam Brody and Kevin Pollack in various podcasts, which seems to leave Willis. Knowing Smith, I wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually came out and told that tale. I’d definitely be curious to hear it and also figure out if I was right.

Robo Rampage: Runaway (1984) & Surrogates (2009)

If you’re like me, then you’re a big fan of NBC’s Community (on Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.). As a big movie and TV fan I’ve come to love Abed and his string of pop culture references, most of which I’m proud to say I bet. In last week’s episode called “Romantic Expressionism” Abed and some of the gang got together to watch a crazy sci-fi action movie called Kick Puncher. Up next on their list was going to be Runaway, which I looked up immediately and realized I already had in my instant queue. So, of course, I bumped it up to the top and gave it a watch. The surprising thing is that it’s actually pretty good. Michael Crichton wrote and directed the movie starring Tom Selleck as a cop whose beat involves putting down/turning off rogue robots dubbed runaways and Gene Simmons who plays the villain. Kirstie Alley’s also in it, but doesn’t have a huge part (man, she used to be hot, even in that up tight bitchy sort of way).

The story takes place in the future and instead of having robots shaped like people, they’re boxier and just do regular household and other other duties to make life easier for humans. Until they go crazy. Sometimes its Westworld-style and sometimes it’s just a tractor-bot running its own course. Soon, a number of bots who shouldn’t be running away becme runaways and all signs point back to Simmons who is amazing at playing a villains (just think of that stare and give him a gun that can shoot around corners).

I don’t want to get too much into the details of the ending, but I liked it a lot because, not only does the hero face some potential physical scarring in the facial region (stars usually like to stay pretty), but the villain’s plan has a huge loophole that I picked up on right when I heard it and then turned out to be right. They also do a great job of making what could have been some silly robots look pretty creepy. I’m mainly thinking of those spider-looking ones and even the ones that can move as fast as cars and keep up with them. Overall, I’d give this one the thumbs up and recommend it to anyone. There’s enough to laugh at if that’s what you’re going for, but if not, it’s a pretty solid film all around. That Crichton guy sure knew how to tell a story.

First off, I have to say that I have not read the comics this movie is based on, so my opinion of it will be solely based on the film itself and not it compared to the source material. It is kind of cool to be in this position as I’ve either read most of the comics the comic-based movies I’ve seen are based on or I haven’t (like V For Vendetta which I recently got from Swap but haven’t started reading yet).

Anyway, I liked Surrogates. It had a somewhat similar to that of Gamer which I watched recently and loved in which real people were being controlled by other people for selfish purposes. Instead of real people though, Surrogates has people piloting life-like robots that they control from the safety of their own homes. Not everyone has one, of course, and some people are diametrically opposed to them. Bruce Willis plays a cop (hey, there’s another similarity between this one and Runaway) who’s using his surrogate to figure out who killed the son of the guy who created the surrogates in the first place. As you might expect the plot gets more complicated from there (though never too terribly hard to understand), with Willis abandoning his surrogate and getting out in to the real world on his own, which he hasn’t done in years.

Since this is a newer movie that I did like and do recommend, I don’t want to get too far into the details, but there are a few elements that I really liked and wanted to mention. The movie got me thinking a lot about the practicality of how this kind of society would work. It would be interesting because, at first, as people started using surrogate, the pilots would drive their surrogates in the same way they themselves would navigate their normal day. But, if you’re just using robots, wouldn’t you be able to start making smaller rooms for them to do their operations in? Also, wouldn’t it be possible to make some worker bots that would just follow commands to do shitty jobs? Or go to war (they show real people piloting G.I. Robots, these ones don’t have life-like faces because, what’s the point?). I’m not sure which aspects came from the comic or the film’s writers/director, but really liked how the surrogates moved. There’s a human/surrogate footchase which looks really cool because the human looks very normal and lifelike and Willis looks more stiff, but also way more powerful. There’s even a scene where actual Willis is walking down the street and all the surrogates are bumping into him or just barely missing him. At first they just seemed like jerks, but I realized it’s because they probably have some kind of sensors that keep them from hitting each other. It’s the little details like that that make this more than just your run of the mill, cop trying to figure out something bigger story.

Anyone read the comic and watch the movie? How did it stack up?