Another month into Andrew Brooker’s self-imposed challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days. See how he’s been getting on below.
Look at me, listeners! I love you! It’s all for you, Damian— I mean, whatever your name might be! Happy birthday to us.
Yes, backs are slapped and circled are jerks as we celebrate reaching the fifth year of the Failed Critics Podcast. Hip, hip…
“That’s it. Game over man. Game over…”
…although it’s not quite “game over” yet for Andrew Brooker who continues his challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days.
by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)
It’s fair to say that I’m a self-confessed action film nut. Give me a free 90 minutes and any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie and I’ll smile and say “thanks very much”. It may be no surprise to learn then that I am also a Stallone fan; and with that, a fan of the Expendables franchise. Simon West’s light-hearted but immensely fun sequel to the more serious original (which was written by, directed by and starred Sylvester Stallone) is one of my favourite modern popcorn munching action movies.
Thursday saw the release of the third entry into Sylvester Stallone’s modern action franchise, the succinctly named, The Expendables 3. Whilst overall it’s perhaps not as impressive – in terms of critical success and box office success – as either of his Rambo or Rocky films of decades past, they do feature an impressive cast of 80’s and 90’s heroes as long as the protruding big blue veins in his large muscular arms. Amongst whom returning to Stallone’s side as he stops the latest megalomaniac (an incredibly intense Mel Gibson), are familiar faces such as the arse-kicking Jason Statham, knife-sharpening giant Dolph Lundgren and cigar-chomping Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus, a load of other recognisable members such as Terry Crews, Randy Couture and Jet Li pop up here and there.
Joining them are a bunch of young whippersnappers (Glen Powell, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey and Victor Ortiz) whose careers are only just beginning. Whilst at the other end of the experience scale sees notable newcomers Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford and Kelsey Grammer join the crew. If nothing else, it shows how far the series has come when it can attract stars such as Gibson and Ford, as opposed to the early incarnations with the likes of Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke taking top billing.
However, a review of The Expendables 3 this is not. For that, check out Callum’s review from this weekend! Instead, I’m pitting the original Expendables cast against the latest big name additions. One film each, best of 5, let’s see who’s indispensable to the series and who is expendable.
1. Jason Statham vs Wesley Snipes – Crank vs Demolition Man
Often seen throughout this second sequel squaring up to each other with their knife skills (and knife puns) on display, they are arguably the two actors who have the most on-screen chemistry with our chief protagonist, ol’ Sly Stallone. But who has been in the best action movie? Crank is an exhilarating non-stop self-aware adrenaline-junkie of a movie. The entire cast appear to be pumping energy drinks directly into their bloodstream. None more so of course than The Stath, spending the duration of the movie keeping his adrenaline flowing in every possible way you can think of. But what about Snipes? Demolition Man, released at a transitional time for action movies from the over-the-top kill-em-all era of the 80’s to the smarter, cooler 90’s, is everything Expendables wants to homage. Snipes’ charisma may be mostly responsible for why this movie is still so enjoyable, but let’s face it, it’s no Crank.
Originals 1 – 0 Newcomers
To many, this won’t even be a debate. Arnie is arguably the greatest action hero we have ever seen. A genre is defined by his mere presence thanks to movies such as Terminator 2, True Lies, Total Recall and indeed the Vietnam jungle survivalist sci-fi horror, Predator. If the debate was “who is better in The Expendables 3“, then sugar-tits himself Mel Gibson would walk that contest. Unfortunately for the fresh-faced post-apocalyptic Australian Max, there is no comparison. Schwarzenegger can quite literally become an elected member of the Republican party and I’ll still turn up in the cinema to see whatever film he’s starring in these days. There’s still so much good will towards him thanks to films such as this all time classic of the genre. The man is a legend. Sorry, Mel.
Originals 2 – 0 Newcomers
3. Dolph Lundgren vs Antonio Banderas – Showdown in Little Tokyo vs Desperado
Yes, yes. OK. I am aware that Rocky IV is Dolph’s most iconic film and quite possibly his best – I won’t even entertain suggestions of Masters of the Universe or The Punisher. But we all know Rocky IV isn’t an action movie, don’t we. Never mind that, Showdown in Little Tokyo is massively underrated. Lundgren is as wooden as he ever was in these early roles of his, but there are some brilliant stunts, one liners and his final showdown lives up to expectations. Is it better than anything in Desperado? Well, no. That would be silly. Banderas is the epitome of cool in the film that really propelled him into the English-speaking public’s conscious. The direction from Robert Rodriguez is excessive, unrelenting and fantastic; Banderas is absolutely perfect as the sexy, dark and mysterious mariachi. Not only does he steal the show in the third act of The Expendables 3, he’s stealing a point for the newcomers.
Originals 2 – 1 Newcomers
4. Randy Couture vs Kelsey Grammer – Hijacked vs Transformers: Age of Extinction
Oh, boy. This is a close one for all the wrong reasons. Whilst you’d think the odds would be stacked against Grammer given the best action films he’s featured in outside of The Expendables 3 are directed by Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Michael Bay (Trans4mers), it should be a cake-walk for his opposite number. But looking at the best films Couture has starred in, one appalling The Mummy spin-off (The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior) and a straight to video revenge movie where he’s out-shined by a 5 minute Vinnie Jones cameo (Hijacked), it’s not all that straight-forward. At least Grammer was entertaining in some rather average movies. The comeback is on!
5. Sylvester Stallone vs Harrison Ford – First Blood vs Raiders of the Lost Ark
Oh, boy. This is a close one for all the right reasons. Saving the best ’til last was meant to make this challenge easier. Instead what I’m looking at is two of Hollywood’s legends, famed more for what they bring to the screen besides what is traditionally considered “great acting”, both duking it out until the 12th round. They have a swagger, a deserved arrogance, something unquantifiable that makes them both the iconic and charismatic performers we know them as today. Comparing First Blood (the beginning of the Rambo franchise and an action movie with real emotional depth) with Raiders of the Lost Ark (the beginning of the Indiana Jones franchise and an action movie with sophistication and undeniable amusement) is just as tough. Of the two, just edging it for me would probably be First Blood. I make no apologies for this either. As good as Indy is, he’s stilla nerd isn’t he? Rambo is just.. better.
Originals 3 – 2 Newcomers
And that’s the end of that! It seems the newcomers made a valiant effort but it’s the originals that have come out on top. We can only hope that if Jackie Chan, Nic Cage, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kurt Russell and Vin Diesel turn up in The Expendables 4, things might go a bit differently in the rematch!
Do you agree? Are you outraged by this outcome? Leave a comment below and wind Owen up.
The best films each day on free-to-air TV as chosen by Failed Critics contributor Owen Hughes. Expect at least one film featuring either JCVD or zombies.
With the release of the third installment in Marvel’s Iron Man franchise last week (or “this week” if you’re in America) we should be grateful to Film4 for airing the film that started it all. Especially for those of us who don’t own it already on DVD. I mean, I own it. Of course I own it. But the point is, you might not. Therefore, you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity and remind yourself why Marvel are making some of the most successful and enjoyable movies of our time.
Tuesday 30 April – Predator (Film4, 9pm)
As a nod to our founder, James Diamond, I was tempted to recommend the Caravaggio (sorry, “Carl Vaggio”) opera that’s on Sky Arts 2 on Tuesday, but alas, I haven’t seen it to comment. Plus, it’s an opera. Opera is for slack-jawed faggots, not a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus like Jesse Ventura in the best film you’re likely to find on TV all week. It’s one of my favourite films and, quite frankly, I’m distrustful of anyone who doesn’t enjoy Predator, nevermind has the willpower NOT to watch it whenever they notice it’s on TV.
Wednesday 1 May – In Hell (SyFy, 10pm)
I can hear the groans from here that I’m picking a straight-to-video Jean-Claude Van Damme film as the best film on TV, but trust me, this is one of his best. I’m genuinely not picking it purely because it features the muscles from Brussels! You know that bit in The Dark Knight Rises where Bruce Wayne is in the prison? That’s basically what the whole of this film is like, but with Van Damme instead of Bruce Wayne. It’s brutal, intense and poses some interesting questions on justice and morality. Also, it features JCVD with a full beard. Bet you’re intrigued now, huh!
Thursday 2 May – Public Enemies (ITV4, 10.10pm)
I’m recommending this film blind, but certain it’ll be a popular decision. The best film on TV on Thursday is Michael Mann’s crime drama set in 1930’s America. Probably one of the best decades and places to set a crime drama? Certainly one of the most popular. It stars Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard who was discussed quite recently on our birthday podcast. Praised for its aesthetics, the performances from the cast and even its soundtrack, I will certainly be recording, if not watching it, that evening.
Friday 3 May – The Blair Witch Project (horror channel, 10.55pm)
Can you remember the first time you were truly scared by a film? That genuine terror that creeps into your subconscious afterwards as you get up out of the sofa, half expecting some maniac or ghoul to be lurking in the hallway or the top of the stairs, patiently waiting for you? It’s all bollocks, of course. It’s only a film you big sissy. But still, if there’s any film that still puts the willies up me (leave it) then it’s this. Best watched in a dark room, in total silence, late at night (say, around 11pm-ish)…
Saturday 4 May – Martyrs (horror channel, 12.10am)
…and if The Blair Witch Project doesn’t screw with your mind, then let me introduce you to one of the most excruciating watches you’re ever likely to have. The French low-budget horror film, Martyrs, has a reputation that it fully deserves. Gruesome, disturbing, twisted, intelligent, horrific, shocking and uncomfortable are all words that could describe it, but one thing’s for sure; if you’re looking for a film that will violate your mind in the same way certain characters in this movie are physically, then look no further.
Sunday 5 May – The Cannonball Run (5USA, 12pm)
After watching The Blair Witch Project on Friday and Martyrs on Saturday, you’re going to need a bit of light relief! This screwball family comedy featuring the always watchable Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise as ‘him’, Roger Moore playing a brilliant spoof of the James Bond/spy archetype, and plenty of other minor supporting roles for Jackie Chan, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin (amongst others), as they race across America in their cars is both simple and funny. Perfect early Sunday afternoon watching. Or, you can continue the horror weekend with Cronenberg’s sexual body horror Shivers on horror channel later that evening. Or watch both? The Cannonball Run trumps it though, to be honest!
On this week’s podcast we review Zero Dark Thirty, Flight, Hyde Park on Hudson, and The Possession We also induct the second member of our Corridor of Praise. Let’s hand over to Gerry to introduce him…
Murzzuschlag, Austria. The Second World War is ending. Aurelia Jadrny, a clerk in her early twenties whose husband was killed just eight months after their wedding, is working at her desk when she spots a tall, good looking man in his late thirties walking past. He’s wearing the uniform of the gendarmerie, Austria’s rural police, and she likes a man in uniform. Over time, they talk through the window – she works out when his shift is so she’s always at her desk. His name is Gustav and when they marry late in 1945 he is thirty eight, she is twenty three. He is assigned to Thal, a tiny village, and they live in a simple stone house at the top of a hill, 100 yards from a ruined old castle, on the single unpaved road in the village. There is no plumbing, no shower, no flushing toilet, and the nearest well is a quarter of a mile away. They make do, scraping by on his meagre wage through hard work and thrift – an ethic they will instil in their children.
They quickly have a son, Meinhard, and struggle along despite the widespread famine in newly-occupied Austria. In 1947, with the famine ongoing and at its worst, they have another son. In this small, impoverished stone house in rural Austria, one of the 20th Century’s greatest stars has just been born. Gustav and Aurelia name him Arnold, and their big, broad genetics and hard working nature will combine to make Arnold Schwarzenegger one of the most influential men in modern American culture.
Both boys are encouraged by their father to frequently take part in sport, particularly football. As the children grow up, they start to do sit ups to earn their breakfast as well as doing a lot of chores. At 15, Arnold decides to take up weightlifting over football, attending a gym in nearby Graz. The dedication his harsh father has drilled into him leads him to break into the gym when it is closed on weekends. At 18, he serves in the army as part of his military service. During basic training, he goes AWOL to take part in the Junior Mr Europe bodybuilding contest – the week he spends in military prison is made worthwhile by him winning the competition. In 1966, he takes a plane for the first time to go to London for the Mr Universe competition. He comes second but a judge spots his potential and invites him to live with his family in London to train him. A year later, age 20 and with a slowly improving grasp of English, Arnold wins the Mr Universe title – the first of three. He moves to Munich and goes to business school, recognising that his Mr Universe titles are the way to achieve his long-held ambition of moving to the US.
In 1968 he moves to LA, training at Gold’s Gym and embarking on the path to being an American legend. He wins the first of seven Mr Olympia titles in 1970, but his brother Meinhard dies in a drink driving accident in 1971 followed by his father a year later. Arnold doesn’t attend his funeral, and by this stage he’s had his first film role in Hercules in New York…