Labor Day Weekend Roundup: Kick-Ass, Expendables, Purple Rose of Cairo

Happy Wednesday, folks! Hope your weekend was a good one. Well, mine was hectic to say the least, part of the weekend I was working on my fantasy movie pitch, speaking of which, have you read it yet?

Well, Clooney is box office king this weekend with The American. I didn’t see it though, I finally saw The Expendables. But just barely ten minutes in, I wish I had bought the ticket to that one instead. After the movie, half my friends who went to see The American while some of us saw the Stallone movie said that they didn’t like it, either. They said it was downright boring and the story is ‘pointless.’ One of them said he nearly fell asleep until the steamy sex scene appeared on screen, ha!

Anyhoo, I also managed to see two other movies this weekend. Instead of posting a full review of each of them, let me just jot down my thoughts on each of them in one post. (Beware, it might contain some spoilers)

Kick-Ass

Plot: Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

I admit I was excited to see it as we both have been curious given the rave reviews. Thankfully, we weren’t disappointed! I thoroughly enjoyed it, despite being far more violent than I thought, and most of the brutal scenes were involved Chloe Moretz who’s a mere 13 years old!!

From the get-go, this movie grabbed my attention. Both of us were very impressed by Aaron Johnson’s performance as the high school comic book geek, and was floored to learn that he’s from England! The movie is funny throughout, and watching this scrawny looking kid trying to be a superhero is endearing, I mean the idea might be ill-conceived but he definitely has a good intention. But the story turns out to be engaging and the action sequences well, kicked ass!

Aaron as the nerdy Dave, and in real life

Nic Cage was pretty darn good (a nice change after all the atrocious stuff he’s been involved in) as Big Daddy, an ex-police officer turned secret mercenary superhero who lives with her young daughter Mindy, known as Hit Girl (Moretz). Moretz is quite the scene stealer here, upstaging both Johnson and Cage in a lot of scenes. Mark Strong was playing his usual villain role with panache, and this time with a hint of New York accent?In any case, he’s always good in a role like this, not to mention he gets the best death scene in the movie (like in Robin Hood), but I gotta admit I’d love to see him be a good guy for once.

The real revelation here for me is the 20-year old Aaron Johnson. His American accent was so flawless I would never know he’s not from here, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that once again the actor I fancy happens to be a Brit 🙂 He looks so perfectly nerdy but when I Googled to find out more about him, dorky isn’t what I’d use to describe him at all, in fact, quite the opposite! Then I realized I did read about him playing John Lennon in Nowhere Boy. Looks like we have another versatile young British thespian here, no wonder Andrew from Encore Entertainment thought of him as being a noteworthy young star under 30. I’d have included him had I seen Kick-Ass at the time.

In any case, I’m even more excited about Matthew Vaughn directing X-Men: First Class now, he’s got a knack for stylized actions sequences, as well as ear for a witty dialogue. I was quite impressed with another movie of his, the fantasy adventure Stardust, so hopefully he’ll continue to get more work in Hollywood!

***

The Expendables

Plot: A group of elite mercenaries, the Expendables, are deployed to the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia to halt local pirates from executing the hostages.

Well, I’m not going to say a lot about this one as I don’t even want to think about it. If you read this blog long enough you know I’ve been anticipating this movie ever since I heard about it a year ago. I went in undeterred by the critics and with a low expectation, I mean, with this cast of 80s action stars AND Arnold’s cameo, it’ll be a helluva entertainment, right? Wrong! I came thisclose to leaving the theater even after 15 minutes, which I never experienced before.

I should’ve listened to my friend and guest blogger Ted who said this movie is bloody awful. I don’t expect Shakespeare obviously, but does the dialog have to be THAT terrible? And the action sequences, the saving grace we all hope for, was pretty dismal, too. Despite being all brutal and gory, as to be expected, it just looks cheaply made, not too mention old-fashioned. I mean I get the ‘vintage’ vibe is deliberate, but I didn’t think the action stuff have to look like they’re done 3-4 decades ago.

Believe it or not though, the girls in the movie (there are only two of them) actually fare WORSE than the boys, especially Charisma Carpenter (definitely didn’t live up to her first name as she had none at all). I mean, goodness me, her scenes with Jason Statham made him look like an Oscar contender. I understand that “the appeal of Charisma Carpenter isn’t her acting!” as Andy from Fandango Groovers put it, but come on!

I mean it really is, folks, there is absolutely nothing I could praise about this movie. Sure, the “He wants to be president” line from Sly to Arnold’s character did draw a lot of laughs, but if that is all there is to it, I could’ve just waited for the dvd… or better yet, watch it on YouTube. I thought that at the very least, despite plot holes bigger than Steve Austin’s biceps, I still might get a good comedy out of this, y’know like the A-Team. To be fair though, I did like Mickey Rourke’s character, but maybe because he doesn’t seem to take this role seriously and at least I can understand every single word he is saying, unlike y’know, the leading actor!

The definition of expendable |ikˈspendəbəl| – (of an object) designed to be used only once and then abandoned or destroyed. If only Stallone would treat this movie like that definition, alas, with Expendables 2 in the works, we haven’t seen the end of this, yet 😦

***

Purple Rose of Cairo

Plot: In 1930s, Depression era New Jersey, a movie character walks off the screen and into the real world.

After watching two action-packed movies, I was ready to unwind with something much more mellow. This movie came highly recommended by my friend Prairiegirl as well as Peter from Magic Lantern film blog. Well, thanks to both of them that I came across this gem as it’s an utterly delightful film! I’m not exactly a Woody Allen fan, and considering how dark the themes of his movies of late (Match Point, Cassandra’s Dream), I was surprised at how ‘innocent’ this one is.

It mixes the world of fantasy and reality so seamlessly that as the audience I was swept away by the surreal world of Mia Farrow’s character Cecilia. I mean, who hasn’t dreamed about meeting their favorite character in a movie, don’t we all wish sometimes the person we’re so in love with could just, well, leap off from the screen and actually talk to you? I’m a bit of a dreamer myself, and though I don’t necessarily find solace from the world of the movies, there are times that a scene or character I’m seeing is so bewitching I wish I could be a part of it.

Jeff Daniels wooing Mia Farrow

This is the first time I’ve seen a Mia Farrow movie, but she is definitely perfect as the down-on-her-luck waitress who’s disillusioned on her marriage and living in poverty. But the star of the movie is Jeff Daniels, playing two characters—well one essentially, the actor (Gil Shepherd) and the screen persona(Tom Baxter)—but they’re totally different characters. He projects such warmth and wholesome hunky-ness that’s so endearing. That scene in the bordello is just priceless!

The romance is just endearing and lovely, and even in the short running time (about 1.5 hour), I was immersed in the characters and really wanting to see Cecillia find happiness. The dialogue is a real treat, too, especially between Cecilia and Tom Baxter, no wonder Allen was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 1985 Oscar. I’m kind of glad that Woody himself is nowhere to be found in this movie, no offense to him, but I think he’d kind of be a distraction in this movie

I wish the ending had been more of a happy ending… oh how I wish Gil hadn’t left for Hollywood. But oh well, I guess reality bites… there is no Prince Charming to rescue us like the movies want us to believe.

***

So folks, what movies did you see this weekend? Or if you have any thoughts about any of these movies, let’s hear ’em!

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33 thoughts on “Labor Day Weekend Roundup: Kick-Ass, Expendables, Purple Rose of Cairo

  1. I actually mentioned Kick-Ass in my last blog entry. Anyways, i think the movie was good overall, but it wasn’t perfect. I think one problem was the overuse of voiceover. I’m sure it worked fine in the comic, but i have come to feel that vocieover should be used sparingly and only when absoluely neccasary to tell the story, and i think Kick-Ass used a bit too much of it

    There were also 2 glaring plotholes. The main one is the main villian’s vendetta agints Kick-Ass. The movie implies that the cell phone pic is what started that. But the thing is the cell phone pick looked nothing like Kick-Ass(it looked like the back of Big Daddys cape to me), so it didn’t really make sense IMO

    Also, Red Mist says that Kick-Ass mentioned other superheroes like him, but in there sceens together Kick-Ass didn’t mention anyone else. I suppose its possible that is assumed to have been mentioned off screen, but considering how big of a role that info plays, i think we should see it.

    I also felt a bit conflicted about Hit-Girl. The main reason is because i would think for a little girl to be that comfortable with killing, she would have to be extremely messed up, and the movie seemed to kind of ignore that part.

    But i will agree that the movie had strong acting. Like i said, the movie was enjoyable, but IMo there were some flaws.

    1. Hey Julian, I’ll read your post later today. No, you’re right, it isn’t perfect, but what is? I actually don’t notice the VO, believe it or not, I was quite immersed in the story.

      As for “Red Mist says that Kick-Ass mentioned other superheroes like him, but in there sceens together Kick-Ass didn’t mention anyone else…” I can’t remember hearing that either, but I just assumed it was implied somehow but I just didn’t notice it. I didn’t think it was a big deal though. Plot holes are bound to show up in movies like this, but as long as the movie is enjoyable, I kind of overlook it.

      But I’m with you about Hit-Girl though, I should’ve mentioned that in my review but I thought the same thing that a little girl like that must be so messed up if they could kill without remorse. But then again, with the way her father raised her, she’s bound to be a bit of a nutcase. I was also troubled by the foul language uttered mostly by her. But then again, this is a ‘comic book world’ and not a movie based on reality.

      1. The language didn’t bother me as much as the mass killing. And i must say i’m surprised that Charisma gave a bad performance(haven’t seen the Expendables but i’m just going by your review). I remember her giving a impressive performance in both Buffy and ANgel. I’m hoping that maybe the writing didn’t give her a chance to use her acting chops(like Kristen Stewarts role in twilight), and that she hasn’t just become a bad actress.

        1. I’m not familiar with Charisma’s er, work, but after that what’s-so-called performance (I don’t know if it counts as acting really), suffice to say I don’t think I ever want to be. I thought Kristen Stewart was ok (not good, but not horrible given the material she was given), but she’s Meryl Streep compared to both girls in Expendables.

          1. I respect your opinion, but i just don’t remember her being a bad actress from what i’ve seen from her. After watching it myself i will judge for myself, but i’m hoping that she just didn’t take the role seriously or something, and that my talent detector is totally broken.

            1. I have nothing more to add than saying, go see it for yourself. But don’t say I didn’t warn you (not just her acting but the whole thing) 🙂

              1. That was supposed to say “not totally broken”. I think you got my meaning anyway, but i just want to correct myself in case a reader gets the wrong idea

                And i will probably have no expectations for this movie, just like with jennifers Body(although, i must say i found it that movie better than i thought it would be)

    1. Oh sorry Dez, I deserve to be punished for sleeping in Hollywood Spy School 😀 If only I had a class like yours back in college, I’d probably do really well, ha! Oh wow, if he really is playing Cyclops in the X-Men prequel I’d be such a happy camper. I didn’t think the cast could get any more awesome but Aaron would be a fiiiiine addition indeed! I might do another movie pitch so I can cast him AND Karl Urban in the same movie 😀

      1. nya, he isn’t playing Cyclops, there isn’t any Cyclops unfortunately in this X MEN (he is my fav character) , this post was published back in Spring when there were rumors about it.
        You do know that in his private life, young Aaron (being just above 20) has a steady relationship with a woman who is around 40 or more? 🙂

        1. Ah I see. Oh well, it would’ve been great isn’t it?

          Yeah I know about Aaron and Sam Taylor-Woods, his director in Nowhere Boy, I was just reading her interview for that movie. I think they have a child together now, he didn’t seem to mind the over 20-year gap apparently. At first when I saw all the pics of them together I thought she was his mom!

  2. The Purple Rose was one of the first Woody Allen films I fell in love with. When I was younger I didn’t get his intellectual humour and literary-mumbling but this film was far more accessible. Definitely one of his best.

      1. …neither do I actually. Maybe that’s why I have to watch Allen’s films so many times just to understand them…or maybe it’s because he talks so fast! 😉

  3. Kick Ass was totally awesome, glad you finally got to see it and enjoy it. I think it will find its leg on DVD and become a cult movie after being somewhat disappointing at the box office.

    Ahaha you should have listened to the voice of reason (me) and stayed away from The Expendables. Just a terrible all-around movie and those “romantic” scene between Statham and Carpenter were the complete opposite of icing on the cake!

    1. I was a bit puzzled that despite all the buzz surrounding the movie that it failed to ignite at the box office, kind of like Scott Pilgrim I guess. But I think you’re right, the dvd sales might be a lot better.

      I know, I should have! But I went more for nostalgia sake, and at the very least it would be funny. Romantic scene? What romantic scenes?? If that is romance I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with it 😦

  4. PrairieGirl

    Perfectly heartwarming mini-review of PROC. And the ending sure reminds us, rather abruptly, that movies and their characters aren’t real, but of course, the actors certainly are, and they can let you down as easily as anyone else. But who doesn’t want to keep the fantasy alive? 😉 Speaking of falling for an actor, the ending also makes me contemplate: what ever will the ending to Whirlwind be…?

    1. I was a bit disappointed at first of the ending, but I guess Woody didn’t intend for it to be a fairy tale movie. Still the time she spent together with both Gil and Tom were so enchanting, and the kisses… swoon 😀

      Oh boy, even I don’t know! Maybe I’ll just make that a movie pitch instead of a novel, so I don’t have to worry so much about every single details, he..he..

  5. Richard

    Great reviews, Ruth. I was actually shocked out just how bad The Expendables was. I wasn’t expecting much more than an enjoyable bit of mindless fun. I certainly got the mindless part. Quite possibly the worst screenplay ever written, and when is Hollywood going to realise that Jason Statham is SHIT! He can’t act, he puts on this ridiculous accent that isn’t British or American. He’s just awful.

    Okay, rant over. I feel better now. 🙂

    1. Thanks Richard and welcome! Yes I was very disappointed. I mean, I didn’t think I could have a lower expectation going into this, and still it managed to ‘beat’ it! I only like Jason in the first Transporter, after Hollywood ‘discovered’ him, he’s in one crappy thing after another. I didn’t realize his British accent is ridiculous but then again as a Brit you would know.

      Well, if this doesn’t collect a bunch of Razzie awards next year I’ll be very surprised. After all, Stallone is the King of Razzies! 😀

  6. Oh dear Expendables isn’t going down well is it?

    I can’t believe I didn’t know the same guy was directing first class and Kick Ass. I haven’t seen Kick Ass yet but with all the good things I’m hearing maybe First Class will turn out to be more than jsut Saved by the Bell with mutants.

    1. Well, it is utterly terrible, Katie. I’m at a loss for words how bad it is.

      Ha..ha.. Saved by the Bell with mutants?? 😀 Well that’s a first… I think it’ll be much better than that with the cast they have.

  7. Nice review on Kick-ass. I have it in my computer for the last 3 months (maybe more) but other movies keep pushing me away from watching it. I better start watching it soon. I’ve heard lots of good review about it.

    Eh? expendables 2? don’t they realize that the movie always get bad reviews? Tho I haven’t watched it yet.

    1. Hi Nov, yeah I had been wanting to see it for a while but finally got around to it. It’s a fun movie, I think you’ll like it.

      As for Expendables, well I’m actually surprised it got up to 40% rating on rottentomatoes review site, I think it deserved much less. Unlike A-Team, this is one mindless bombastic movie I found little enjoyment from.

      1. I’ll try watching it someday…I have some Japanese animations I want to see, so Kick-ass will have to wait.

        Just finished watching The Girl Who Leaps through time…it was keren!! My review will come out somewhere this week.

        The expendables makes me curious…how bad it is! but buying DVD is not an option, so I’ll see it 3-4 years from this year.

  8. Having just seen the Expendables myself, i think its merely ok. There were a few good scenes, like when Mickey talks about the life he could have saved. But overall the movie is uneven

    And as for the actress’s, i think it had to due with a combination of there roles not being written all that well, and also i think Stallone didn’t really concentrate on there performances. I mean Charisma’s character pretty much did nothing in the movie, and i think the actress playing the generals daughter had some good scenes. But having seen Charisma in other roles i still think she is a good actress, and i wouldn’t totally write off the actress who played the daughter based on this movie alone.

    I’m guessing you will probably disagree with me on this, but i just wanted to share my honest opinion

    1. That scene is probably the only saving grace of the whole darn thing. Uneven is putting it mildly.

      Well, ANYONE in that movie, including the general’s daughter, looks like an award-winning performer compared to Charisma. It’s easy to blame the filmmakers for it but someone with a real talent could still shine in an underwritten role. In any case, she probably has many other [male] fans so she probably don’t care what I think 😀

      I think I got The Losers in my Netflix queue. Not expecting brilliance, but it’s gotta be better than Expendables!

      1. Well i guess we will just have to disagree on Charisma. Having seen her in Buffy and ANgel i think she does have talent. But it seems i am in the minority on that

  9. Kick-Ass is the only one I’ve seen here – I did enjoy, but towards the end I think Nic Cage’s performance started veering towards the ‘terrible’ end of the scale again. He was quite good before that though! Aaron Johnson was great though, as was Moretz. Was less disturbed by her swearing than I anticipated.
    I don’t know if you’re into Jane Austen/period pieces, but Mark Strong plays a good guy in an adaptation of Emma, with Kate Beckinsale. He’s so awesome.

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