Double TTC feature: “The Expendables,” “Piranha 3D”

(Rare it is that not one but TWO films come along that duke it out for top billing in Terrifically Terrible Cinema. But “The Expendables” came along, and then “Piranha 3D” — it was a perfect storm-like convergence of events — and both are so awesomely bad that they must stand together as the most fun you’ll have in what’s left of summer 2010.)

“The Expendables”
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke

Sly Stallone the director and writer, with a few exceptions, does not do subtlety. This is a foreign and unwelcome concept to him, kind of like sap is to Quentin Tarantino. So anyone who waltzed into “The Expendables” expecting anything more profound than a messy, magnificent orgy of testosterone, guts and violence deserves, quite frankly, to be disappointed. In short, “The Expendables” is a certain kind of movie for a certain kind of person: a person who likes to see things — and people — get blown up in large and exhilarating and nasty ways. That’s Stallone’s plan, and he sticks to it using a time-honored formula that requires enjoyably overexaggerated bad guys (a hearty high-five to Eric Roberts for looking so suave while being so evil) to bump heads with quippy, sweaty, rough-edged hero types — “the other guys.” This gaggle of mercenaries who accept suicide missions includes former SAS soldier Barney Ross (Stallone); Lee Christmas (Statham), aces with a blade; martial artist Yin Yang (Jet Li); Gunnar (Dolph Lundgren), a sniper dangerously frayed around the edges; Hale Caesar (Terry Crews), a weapons specialist; and Toll Road (Randy Couture), a demolitions expert. Their newest mission is their most perilous yet: These comically named specialists must overthrow Mexican dictator General Garza (David Zayas), whose outrageous accent and furrowed brow fairly scream Very Bad Guy. But all too often behind every ferocious dictator there is an even more deadly financier, and so it is with CIA agent-gone-rogue James Munroe (Roberts), who is positively Idi Amin-like in his greed and lust for power. Barney, Lee and their pals, of course, really loathe such men – especially because they are qualmless about abusing beautiful women (Giselle Itié) with a lot of spunk – and mean to punish them as slowly and painfully as possible. This is where “The Expendables” excels, because Stallone knows deep in his burly soul how to make things explode in ways that will elicit a collective “HELL yeah!” from his viewers. The fight scenes – like Stallone’s throwdown with Steve Austin , or Li’s faceoff with Lundgren – are thrilling, while Crews’ gun should be the basis for a new world religion. Other facets of the movie aren’t quite so impressive, like Stallone and Couture’s forced performances, but Statham, Roberts and Mickey Rourke (an ex-Expendable who now gently weeps over his tattoo needle) are a hoot and a half. And that’s just what summer 2010 needed.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Piranha 3D”
Starring Elisabeth Shue, Steven R. McQueen, Christopher Lloyd, Jerry O’Connell

The tagline for Alexandre Aje’s gory bootyfest “Piranha 3D” really should have read: “It’s your only chance this year to see a penis get devoured by a fish — in 3D.” There are many other similarly ludicrous things that happen in this remake of a remake of a remake, but the penis-as-a-palate-cleanser signals the film’s intentions. They are not honorable; in fact, they are not even in the town housing the ballpark of honorable. Aje has one goal and one goal only in this raucous, raunchy sendup to horror film cliches, ham-fisted dialogue and even worse acting: to entertain. And entertain he does, in nearly every way imaginable. “Piranha,” besides being a gem of a 3D film (who wouldn’t rather a piranha explode off the screen than watch sweaty kids shake their moneymakers?), is a barrel of laughs — some goofy and stupid and crude, others highbrow, or at least middlebrow, jabs at films like “Jaws,” “Deep Blue Sea” and “Titanic.” There’s also an unusual ensemble cast with a few surprise cameos. The screwball plot, as it were, goes like so: An earthquake rocks Lake Victoria, setting loose a school of prehistoric piranhas trapped in deep caverns below. Because Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor and impeccable timing, this happens during Spring Break, when teeming throngs of drunk, nubile young hardbodies fill the waters with vomit and pheromones. Sheriff Julie Forester (Shue), Deputy Fallon (Ving Rhames) and a team of seismologists must get medieval (tee hee) on the tushes of these man-eating relics to save the lives of these hormonal horndogs, including Julie’s straight-laced son Jake (McQueen), his smokin’ crush Kelly (Jessica Szohr), a leering Joe Francis wannabe (O’Connell, an explosion of zeal and sleaze) and his bikini-clad, balloon-chested leading ladies. Oh, and there’s even time for Doc Brown himself to swoop in, though not even a DeLorean can save these teens from becoming shrieking bait worms. There’s not a thing serious about “Piranha,” not even half a teaspoon of nuance, but that’s why it clicks. With everyone – even the normally reticent Shue, who’s clearly suppressing some grins – delighting in this smorgasbord of cheese, it’s hard not to get hooked. (For the real hard-sells out there, a penis gets eaten in 3D. Unless porn goes 3D, answer opportunity when it raps on the door.)

12 Responses

  1. I will see Piranha 3D hopefully this week or the next, but adjusting to moving into my new house has been kind of taking up all of my time. In short, though, it sounds like a real lesbian, boob shot, gorehound, splat-tastic tour-de-force, and one of the primary reasons why films were invented in the first place.

  2. I was waiting for class to start yesterday and all I heard about was the penis eating scene. It must have been something.

  3. I loved The Expendables, for all it’s corny and cheesy antics, bad acting, silly dialogue, ridiculous plot, and over exaggerated action. It was a perfect piece of awesomely badness. Piranha seems to be getting the same reception and has nearly influenced me to dish out some dollars and go see it.

    And I think you hit the nail on the head, The Expendables isn’t for everyone. I’m not sure what some people actually thought they were going to get. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon? I think not, but a fun and silly movie meant for the simplicity of pure enjoyment.

    • @ Fitz – It IS something. You must see it for yourself.

      @ Heather – Yep, “Expendables” was dumb fun pure and simple. I could have cared less about the plot; all I was interested in was seeing sh** blow up and hearing some bromantical remarks. Oh, and swooning over Eric Roberts. Mission accomplished.

  4. Have yet to see Expendables despite being one I anticipated this year, but brainless, bombastic fun is what I expect so on that note I probably would enjoy it, too.

    I think I’ll skip Piranha, thank you… but I can’t help chuckling at this line ‘ not even half a teaspoon of nuance…’ Well, even if there was, it’d surely be eaten by the nasty fish! :)

  5. If it’s on your recommendation I guess I have to now.

    • @ Ruth — Nobody in the theater took “Piranha” seriously. Everybody started yelling at the screen and insulting the actors. It was like a live showing of “Rocky Horror Picture Show”!

      @ Fitz — Check your brain at the door. Seriously. If you go in expecting anything of value, you’re going to be supremely let down.

  6. I was disappointed by The Expendables. I didn’t have any high expectations, but I expected good, cheesy fun. Instead, I found it all a bit tedious…

  7. I loved both these flicks but it was Piranha that really won me over. It’s too bad about the 3D though, I thought it was pointless and it was apparently converted after the fact which I wish I had paid attention to so I could have skipped the 3D part. Conversion just doesn’t work at all and that was best shown by the Resident Evil trailer beforehand which had better 3D than the film!

    • @ Film Reel — I wouldn’t have given up the 3D for the reason I stated in my lead, which is that seeing a penis get eaten is more awesome in 3D … even if it’s converted 3D. I support any film where this kind of tomfoolery happens.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42 other followers

%d bloggers like this: