The concept for 2010's sensory overload The Expendables was simple: get every action star from the '80s, '90s, and '00s and put them all in a movie together and let them blow a bunch of s**t up. The formula paid off, as the all-star bonanza — which featured the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Bruce Willis — earned nearly $275 million worldwide.
So when it came to the inevitable sequel, the filmmakers applied the old adage, "If it's broke, Jason Statham probably destroyed it." Well, that and, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Expendables 2, which hits theaters this Friday, is taking the same formula (and cast members) from the original and throwing in a few more action heroes, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Liam Hemsworth, and Chuck Norris.
With both Expendables films having now compiled just about every male action star on the planet and a possible third with all the ones they missed this time around, we here at Hollywood.com think it's high time female action stars get their turn in the franchise. (Sorry, Charisma Carpenter, we know you're there to represent!)
From legendary action stars like Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton (pictured, being totally awesome in Terminator 2: Judgment Day), to hot newcomers like Gina Carano, we see no reason why there can't be an all-female Expendables. Here are our picks for the lady Expendables. Hollywood, take note: these fearless, gun-toting, power-packed ladies know how to kick ass, take names, and would no doubt make for a big opening weekend.
Sigourney Weaver: When it comes to the most knock-out, drag-down bad-ass female in movie history, there's no one comparable to Weaver's iconic Ripley. While there were plenty of powerful female action stars who came before her (think Tura Santana in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) Weaver has become the gold standard for tough movie heroines. In The Expendables world, she would be the seasoned vet of the bunch, like the Stallone or the Schwarzenegger of the crew, only with acting skills to boot. Weaver made the crowd go wild with just a cameo in The Cabin in the Woods, so imagine an entire movie of her being awesome (and hopefully reviving her classic Aliens line "Get away from her, you bitch!").
Linda Hamilton: Like Weaver's Ripley, Hamilton's Sarah Connor is one fierce mama. Just how awesome was Hamilton in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day? (Well, first, see photo above. If that isn't that very definition of female badassery, we don't know what it is.) She turned the genre on its head by turning the female lead from a damsel in distress to an all-out tough-as-nails action figure.
Jane Fonda: Before she was kicking all of our asses on her workout tapes, Fonda was kicking intergalactic ass in the 1977 classic Barbarella. While it's been a little while since Fonda was in action heroine mode, she certainly hasn't forgotten what it's like to be a tough, take-no-prisoners lady in Hollywood.
Pam Grier: No one dared to mess with Grier in movies like Coffy (pictured below), Foxy Brown, and of course, Jackie Brown — and they most certainly wouldn't now either.
Brigette Nielsen: Think of her as the Lady Lundgren: tall, blonde, and damn intimidating. Before she was Flava Flav's love interest (a superhero feat onto itself), Nielsen was a bona fide action star, working alongside the likes of Schwarzenegger (Red Sonja) and her ex-husband Stallone (Rocky IV, Cobra).
Grace Jones: Jones would be a Lady Expendables double threat. Not only would she be able to harkon back to her action heroine days a la A View to Kill and Conan the Destroyer, but she could also provide the kick-ass soundtrack.
Lucy Lawless: A lady Expendables movie without Xena? Ayiyiyiyiyiyiyi! We wouldn't stand for it.
Michelle Yeoh: No all-star action movie ensemble would be complete without a martial arts phenomenon. Yeoh has wowed audiences for years with her skills in flicks like Super Cop (pictured below), Tomorrow Never Dies, and the Oscar-winning masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. No one has ever made kicking ass look so graceful as Yeoh.
The Next Generation
Milla Jovovich: Jovovich has carried an entire action franchise (the Resident Evil films) for a decade, but at just 36 the model/actress still has plenty of on-screen butt-kicking years ahead of her. In addition to bringing iconic video super heroine Alice to life, Jovovich has one of the most memorable movie costumes of all-time with her bandaged duds in sci-fi favorite The Fifth Element.
Carrie-Ann Moss: Same goes for Moss, actually. Not only does she have one of the most famous movie costumes of the 90s (who didn't dress like Trinity and Neo?) but she was the female face of the wildly successful Matrix franchise. Sure Keanu was the top-billed star, but Carrie-Ann was the one who had moviegoers saying, "Whoa!"
Gina Carano: The true rookie of the new generation of female action stars. Sure, Carano may be new to the big screen (she beat some of Hollywood's hottest guys, including Channing Tatum and Michael Fassbender, to a pulp in 2012's action caper Haywire) but she's been a full-fledged action star for years. The 30-year-old is a world champion mixed martial arts fighter and was once an American Gladiator. No stuntwoman necessary here, Carano, pictured here in a scene from Haywire, is the real deal.
Angelina Jolie: Every Expendables movie needs a cameo (for the sequel it's tennis great Novak Djokovic) and who would be a bigger, better cameo than Angelina Jolie? The most famous woman in the world may be a beautiful, serious Oscar-winning actress (and mother and humanitarian and Brad Pitt's fiancee), but she's also a bona fide action star thanks to her roles in movies like Salt (pictured below), Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Beowulf, Gone in Sixty Seconds, and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. With a resume like that, it's amazing any paparazzi ever try to get in her way.
Would you see an Expendables movie with an all-female cast? Who would you want to see in it? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
[Photo Credits: Hamilton: TriStar Pictures; Weaver: 20th Century Fox; Grier: American International Pictures; Yeoh: Dimension Films; Carano: Lionsgate; Jolie: Relativity Media]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
The Tourist is about as difficult to get through as spotting the vowels in the name of its director. Florian Henckel von Donnersmark was last seen receiving a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2007 for The Lives of Others which was about a couple living in East Berlin who were being monitored by the police of the German Democratic Republic. Its positive reception made way for the assumption that Donnersmark would continue to populate the USA with films of seemingly otherworldly and underrepresented themes. But his current project is saddening in its superficiality and total implausibility.
The film’s only real upside is its stars: two of our most prized Americans. Johnny Depp plays Frank Tupelo a math teacher from Wisconsin who travels to Europe after his wife leaves him presumably because of his weakness and simplicity. While en route to Venice he meets Elise Clifton-Ward (Angelina Jolie) who situates herself in his company after she receives a letter from her criminal lover Alexander Pearce (who stole some billions from a very wealthy Russian and the British government) with instructions to find someone on a train who looks like him and make the police believe that he is the real Alexander Pearce to throw the authorities and the Russians off his track. Elise picks Frank and after they are photographed kissing each other on the balcony of Elise’s hotel everyone begins to believe Frank is the real Pearce and so begins the chase.
While Donnersmark could not have picked two better looking people to film roaming around Venice his lack of faith in the audience is obvious. Every aspect of the characters is hammed up again and again as if Donnersmark felt burdened with the task of making us see his vision. Doubtful that we’re capable of getting to where he wants us he has crafted a movie completely devoid of subtlety. Elise’s strength and superiority over Frank are portrayed by close-ups and repeated instances of men burping up their lungs upon seeing her (as if her beauty is in any way subjective?). And in case we forgot that Frank is the victim in this story -- even though he’s been tricked chased and shot at - Donnersmark still felt the need to pin him with a lame electronic cigarette to puff on. Frank and Elise somehow manage to lack mystery even though we get very few factual details about each of them.
Nothing extraordinary comes to us in the way of the film’s structural elements either. There is very little of the action that The Tourist’s marketing led us to believe and the dialog is often painful. The plot itself is almost shockingly unbelievable especially when we’re asked to believe that Elise falls in love with Frank after a combination of kissing him once and her disclosed habit of swooning over men she only spent an hour with (yes that was on her CV).
The Tourist is rather empty and cosmetic. It’s worth seeing if you’re a superfan of Jolie or Depp but don’t expect to walk out of the theater with anything more than the stub you came in with.