2010’s Expendables kind of marked Sylvesterr Stallone’s return to big, loud action movies after somewhat of a sabbatical (somewhere around that same time he also starred in the latest Rambo movie). Rising to prominence in the 80s and continuing on through the 90s, Stallone has been one of the industry’s biggest action stars for a long time, and with this movie he brought together a whole bunch of his peers to deliver some, hopefully, kick-ass action with a cool story. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out because the story was basically boring and lacked heart.
Then in 2012 he returned with Expendables 2, with an expanded ensemble cast that also included as its villain another big 80s and 90s action star, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Thankfully, the new movie was much better on pretty much every front and it has held up to repeat viewings in a way that the first movie did not. Now this year in August we are going to get Expendables 3 and soon we will also be getting Expenabelles (working title) which will do what Stallone did in the same movie, but with an all-female cast. I’m excited. In the run-up, here’s my (reposted) review for the second movie, which was pretty good, all things considered and would certainly be my recommendation.
In recent years, there has been a big shift in Hollywood productions. Slowly but surely, we are getting more movies featuring female protagonists. Many people would point to the Twilight franchise as an abomination and what not, but can you really argue with the results? The industry is in a situation where even such “bad” films can still do their part to raise the point clearly and with distinction that female-led movies can do well at the box office. But the kicker is the quality of such a heroine of course, and that’s where the movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ first The Hunger Games novel comes in.
The Hunger Games followed the Twilight trend of adapting young adult novels featuring female protagonists for the big screen, a trend that hasn’t worked out for some other recent adaptations unfortunately. It features a very awesome female lead who kicks all kinds of ass and who is strong by her own merits, by her own doings. She isn’t defined by the people around her. She defines them. Of course, it also helped that the story itself was quite good. I’ve seen the movie a number of times since watching the theatrical release, and it has held up pretty well. The sequel, Catching Fire, released a few months ago, went a few steps further and was equally good at the least.
Its been an interesting year for the movie industry, whether we talk Hollywood or Bollywood. Big tent-pole movies were the norm at the box office, and there were both successes and flops from each region. It can’t be denied either that some of the box offices successes have proved to be quite surprising, such as the runaway hits Frozen and The Hunger Games #2: Catching Fire, which continue to tell studio executives that female-led movies, especially action movies, CAN be successful if given a chance and that hiding behind ridiculous sexist attitudes and thinking just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Or let’s talk Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim which underperformed in the US but was a big hit in international markets and the reason for the former can no doubt be laid at the feet of the subversive trend in American media of trash-talking movies that are different.
But enough of that. This post, the first such that I’m doing, is meant to celebrate the movies that I thoroughly enjoyed this year, whether Hollywood or Bollywood, and that’s what I’m going to focus on here. So let’s have at it.