Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“The Expendables 2”
At what point will the studios say, “Those one-liners are so tired, sirens and crystal-meth can’t wake them up.” Back in 2010, Sylvester Stallone decided to round-up some big-name retirees with some B-actors from years past. Sprinkle with a couple current action stars and make a bloodbath of an action film. This time, Stallone takes a step back and allows veteran director Simon West to guide him and his geriatric peers through the second installment. West has experience with all-star, action-hero casts- he started his directing career with “Con Air” back in 1997. Everything is going fine until the old guy cameos start happening – Chuck Norris is gratuitously terrible. Arnold Schwarzenegger simply appears for another name in the credits. Jean-Claude Van Damme wants to prove he can still manage a roundhouse kick. It’s better than the last one, but the silly one-liners is enough to make you take a pass.
Based on Don DeLillo’s novelof the same name, uber-creepy director David Cronenberg also adapted the script to bring all the weirdness of the page to life. And there’s plenty of weirdness to be had in this story about a millionaire who just wants a haircut. Robert Pattinson takes a break playing a teenage vampire to play a twenty-something millionaire – big stretch. Pattinson travels across Manhattan in a stretch limo, cut-off from the world burning during the fall of capitalism. He constantly invites sex partners and drug pals and philosophical thinkers into the limo. It’s a big mess of what-the-hell-is-happening tension and propulsion as the pampered antagonist moves into an existential crisis and climax, which includes Paul Giamatti having a shit-fit in all his glory and middle-aged angst. Pattinson tries his best to lose his fanged persona with one scene of debauchery after another. Cronenberg puts together a bizarre slideshow skating past Pattinson in the crux of his cosmic dilemma. The content has been done before but it’s a strange film for those audiences who want the disjointed and confusing – worth a watch if that’s what you’re into.
The biggest travesty of the Oscars last month had nothing to do with “Argo.” It was clearly this film not winning in the “The Best Animated” category. Here’s a movie that sings an ode to arcade video games, from the classic Donkey Kong to the newer shooter games. Writer/director Rich Moore gets it all right and this film fires on all its cylinders from beginning to end. It helps that John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are perfectly cast – taking a chance pairing these two with a children’s film was a wise risk. We get it – Pixar’s “Brave” was all about the girl power and they’re a shoo-in to win every year. But this is a Disney film, too, with two strong characters, both male and female, that play misunderstood outsiders just trying to find the place they belong. And it’s done brilliantly – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge