Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Week In Tickets: 13 August 2012 - 19 August 2012

Quiet, quiet week, as I tried to get more movies off my "to-review" list than I added:

This Week In Tickets!

Stubless: Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (seen in the living room)

Kind of surprised to see The Expendables 2 playing one of the even-numbered theaters at Somerville and The Campaign in the big one; is the latter really doing that well? Still, I was jazzed to see Lionsgate attached the preview for The Last Stand, especially since the studio seems to think director Kim Jee-woon's name is worth mentioning. Of course, they did the same with Ryuhei Kitamura for Midnight Meat Train and wound up burying it, though I doubt they'll do the same Arnold's big return.

Saturday was, in theory, kind of movie-related, as the Red Sox were advertising that the annual "Futures at Fenway" doubleheader (wherein two of the Sox' minor league teams play a doubleheader at Fenway Park, giving them a chance to play on the big league field and the fans a chance to see games at a sometimes greatly reduced price) was going to be Star Wars-themed. Lucasfilm and MLB have been doing this promotion at various MLB parks throughout the year (and maybe last year as well), and my reaction has been on the lines of being glad the Red Sox didn't need to go in for that sort of gimmick, but, who am I kidding, I'd be all over it if they did. Add an offer from Groupon that made loge box seats available for $10 (well, closer to $15 once fees were included), and why not?

In actual fact, the Star Wars presence was very small, at least if you went to your seat and just watched baseball: In the first game, Darth Vader used the force to throw out the first pitch from the monster, Chewbacca announced the players in the 7th inning, and there were some themed trivia contests. An episode of The Clone Wars played between games. The second half had a bit where Wally and Vader sort of dueled with lightsabers, and though that was sort of cute, I kind of don't want to see Vader and stormtroopers clowning around with Wally. It's an amusing joke every once in a while, but see enough, and these guys become parodies of themselves.

Plus, man, this has not been a good year for the Red Sox. They won against the Yankees in NYC that day, but back in Boston, what happens? Their first round draft pick for the year gets hit in the face with a line drive on his second pitch of the night. The important thing is that he heals up okay, but, man, if the Sox are going to have a lousy year, can't they just limit it to playing bad baseball? The injury and death is taking things too far!

(And, yes, that's my photo on the CBS Boston story. I tweeted it as it happened, and then they asked if I could use it a half hour or so later. I figure someone at WBZ did a hashtag search on Twitter and ranked the pictures they found, and then started going down the list. I wonder how many wanted to get paid or otherwise said no before they settled on the guy whose blog has a "horrible photography" keyword.)

Sunday's movie was ParaNorman; I missed it at Fantasia, and while I'd usually try and catch it at the Arlington Capitol, the 3D screening times didn't mesh with my schedule (when both they and Fresh Pond open a 3D movie, they're pretty good about not conflicting 2D and 3D showings with each other, a mixed blessing if you like the Capitol a lot more than Fresh Pond). I missed it at Fantasia, and kind of wish I'd been able to see it there; Laika and company seemed to put on a good show, and I would have liked the really big screen.

The Expendables 2

* * * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 17 August 2012 in Somerville Theatre #2 (first-run, digital)

Here's another I wish I'd gotten to see on a somewhat bigger, more crowded scene, because this movie is all kinds of fun. Although it's got a few disappointing bits - the biggest being that Jet Li exits the movie before Jean-Claude Van Damme even shows up meaning we never get to see them fight - I get the feeling that this sequel has the benefit of knowing what it is from the start, while the first took a while to figure it out.

See, the first seemed to start life as a throwback to the kind of action movies Sylvester Stallone made in the eighties and nineties, but as it evolved, picking up more stars, the idea of getting all these guys on-screen at once became more important than what they were actually doing. In the end, nobody really remembered any of the action scenes (in part because Stallone got too enamored of shaking cameras and close-ups), but the scene of Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis bantering? That was fun!

So, for this one, we get a whole lot more of that. And it's still fun! It's like the All-Star Game, where you don't necessarily see a competitive game, but all sorts of favorites are on the field at once, having fun, with a dose of the Home Run Derby or Slam Dunk Contest - pure concentrated "good bits" with just enough set-up to get them. This time around, both new director Simon West and Stallone & his co-writers know that they're putting on a show, and make things as bombastic as they can while only occasionally going full-on into winking self-parody (and if you can't enjoy the banter Bruce and Arnold trade in the last big action scene, you may be missing the point).

It can be sort of hit and miss - at various points, I did kind of want it to be bigger and dumber - but I really do appreciate how it embraces what it is. A lot of credit should go to Jean-Claude Van Damme and Scott Adkins, for giving the movie villains that are worth hissing but who are also fun to have on screen. And Jason Statham, who picks up some of the martial arts slack with Li only around for the opening and gets some of the best lines. There's a lot of fun mayhem, more than enough to counter the desire that the movie be played straight.

The Expendables 2Futures at FenwayParaNorman

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I agree, this movie was all sorts of fun. and not afraid to be stupid ))))