It's rare that a sequel trumps the original but The Expendables 2 manages to do just that with a steady stream of one-liners and welcome weathered faces as well as a few new ingredients. E2 seems even more self-aware of its own silliness especially with Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain (named Vilain of course) and Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger popping up in smaller roles alongside previous Expendables Sylvester Stallone Jason Statham Jet Li Dolph Lundgren Bruce Willis Terry Crews and Randy Couture.
Then again The Expendables wasn't any sort of action classic; it was like writer/director/star Stallone threw a whole bunch of ideas at the wall to see which would stick then added massive amounts of weapons and the occasional hand-to-hand combat. It was popular but it definitely not the kind of awesome actioner that the stars were able to make 10 or 20 years ago. There's the rub actually; like women actors who have written or directed their own projects because nothing else was available or satisfactory Stallone created The Expendables because Hollywood didn't seem to know what to do with him and his fellow action stars as they got older. It's easy to criticize Stallone et al for not doing the same amount of stunt work or hand-to-hand fighting that for example Statham is capable of but the whole thrust of the movie is that they're expendable -- to themselves to the world and until Stallone kickstarted these movies to Hollywood.
E2 is still clumsy but it's a little more adventurous and a little more introspective. Two new additions to the crew seem to throw everyone for a loop in one way or another. Liam Hemsworth shows up as Bill the Kid a sniper who left the military after a raid in Afghanistan went horribly wrong; his age and hopefulness not to mention physical prowess is a foil the Sylvester Stallone's Barney Ross and one that Barney is well aware of. Nan Yu joins the team as Maggie who is apparently the only person who can disarm the safe that holds whatever secret thing Church (Willis) has sent them to retrieve. And if the Expendables don't get her back alive Church will make them pay because even though Maggie is some sort of multilingual computer genius with a vicious roundhouse she's a lady. On one hand perhaps we're supposed to gather that this group of old dogs is learning new tricks by having to deal with a smart capable woman in their midst; the attempts Gunner (Lundgren) makes to flirt with her are clunky and goofy and she's obviously way too smart for fall for that claptrap. On the other when she whips out some instruments of torture Barney cracks "What are you going to do give them a pedicure?" And of course her role also devolves into an incredibly stilted and unbelievable romantic interest for Barney. One point for trying but two points deducted for falling into the romantic interest trap.
At times it's hard to tell whether or not we're laughing with the crew or at them. Plus because of how jam-packed the cast is some actors get the short end of the stick. Statham is the most charismatic of the bunch and he also has the most impressive hand-to-hand fight scenes but the emphasis in E2 is sheer firepower so he doesn't get nearly enough screen time. Couture is fairly forgettable while Lundgren plays the lunkiest of lunkheads; the running joke is that he has a chemical engineering degree from MIT and was a Fulbright Scholar which is supposed to be funny... except it's also true. (We're to assume he's mended his evil ways between the first Expendables and the second.) Is Lundgren agreeably poking fun at himself the same way Schwarzenegger hams it up at every turn? Or does E2 have shades of JCVD which stars Van Damme was a washed-up action star? Are the emotional moments supposed to fall so hilariously flat on purpose? For some reason it seems important to tease out which parts of these movies are earnest and which are tongue-in-cheek.
There's a weird melancholy about watching this group of aging action stars that has the same tang as watching someone you love grow older especially as they try so very hard to fight the ravages of time. If you dig a little deeper maybe deeper than E2 warrants you could find a well of sadness below the back-slapping antics. The world has changed and even though Stallone and his crew have muscles so hard and juicy they could pop out of their skin like grapes they can't compete with Bill the Kid and Maggie and others like them. They know it and we know it and while it's good fun to see old friends or onscreen enemies kill scores of bad guys (led by JCVD sporting a truly horrible fake Baphomet-style neck tattoo) there are better smarter more exciting and more interesting action films on the horizon.
And there's also The Expendables 3.
The cop show landed the Best Dramatic Series honour, while its head Kelly Makin grabbed the award for Best Direction at the ceremony in Calgary.
The series' star Enrico Colantoni was named Best Actor - and his co-star Hugh Dillon is delighted with the hat-trick of awards.
He says, "I think great stories are great stories and Flashpoint has an incredible emotional core but it has this action element. I think that's why it appeals to so many people."
Other winners at the annual awards included the Rick Mercer Report for Best Comedy, while George Stroumboulopoulos was honoured as Best Talk Show Host for a second year running.
The spanking scene from the movie Secretary has been named the Sexiest Moment on Film by a new survey.
DVD company Lovefilm conducted the poll, which gave the top honor to the scene in the movie where Lee, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is spanked by her boss, played by James Spader.
Gyllenhaal narrowly managed to beat her brother Jake, who claimed number two spot for his kiss with co-star Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain.
Other sexy scenes grabbing the top spots include George Clooney locking Jennifer Lopez in a trunk in Out of Sight and Beatrice Dalle's first scene in the 1986 French classic Betty Blue.
The remaining films making the list are:
5. Cruel Intentions - A lesbian kiss between Selma Blair and Sarah Michelle Gellar's characters.
6. Wild Things - A car-washing scene with Neve Campbell and Denise Richards.
7. Rear Window - JB Jeffries awakened by a kiss from his girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly.
8. The Fabulous Baker Boys - Susie, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, singing Makin' Whoopee while writhing on a piano.
9. Mulholland Drive - Betty, played by Naomi Watts, and a mysterious brunette, played by Laura Harring, sharing a bed.
10. The Hunger - A vampire seduction scene featuring Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.
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The rockin', swearin' family reality series The Osbournes was a gold mine for MTV this past season, and now it's official: They're makin' a comeback this fall.
On Wednesday, MTV confirmed 20 new episodes of the show that gives viewers an intimate look at the daily lives of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne, his wife, Sharon, and their kids Kelly and Jack, Variety reports.
Talk of how much money is involved in the deal hasn't been revealed; the Osbournes' representatives, Endeavor, signed a nondisclosure clause in declining to discuss specifics.
Even MTV President Van Tofler told Variety, "We don't get into specifics about contracts, and I hope the Osbournes and MTV both get really rich with this deal."
Tofler did confirm, however, the deal "is not traditional" in structure. Industry insiders say the Osbournes will have full ownership of their series, with MTV a partner in rights to other revenues such as DVDs or syndication and controlling foreign distribution of the series.
But if you're still looking for a dollar figure, insiders speculate the Osbournes will get around $20 million for the rights to the new episodes, a significant raise from their $200,000 for the first season of 10 episodes.