Posts Tagged ‘Punisher’

Schwarzenegger. Stallone. Willis. Lungren. Staham. Jet Li.  These men are the paragons of Hollywood action films spanning the last thirty-plus years.  Terminator. Predator. The Rocky Saga. Die Hard movies. Demolition Man. Judge Dredd. The Fifith Element.  Punisher.  The One. Transporter. Crank. Death Race.  And yes, even Masters of the Universe.    These are the movies that made them stars and household names.  The idea of ever getting these names all together for a single film was about as crazy as Marvel Studio’s plan to build-up to and then execute a “team-up” film called The Avengers.   Crazy as it sounded it happened in 2010 when Lionsgate released The Expendables and it did surprisingly well, earning $274 million and some change.  Low on character development and complex plot, it was the ultimate throwback to the action movies that made these men who they are today…and it was a fun ride that showed there are men out there – though rough and tumble – willing to take on the evil and corruption that others will not.

What happens when there’s a sequel with the same cast – and more Arnold and Willis – but with the addition of names like Norris and Van Dame?  It’s a better movie.  Chuck Norris plays “Booker” a lone-wolf gun for hire that pops in and out of the movie and honestly has the best scene in the film involving one of the actual “Chuck Norris Jokes” and it fits perfectly.  And Van Dame?  He plays the villainous dude – who wants access to, literally, tons of previously mined and stored uranium for black market money – that Sly’s team has to take down.  Nevertheless, it’s not that simple: Van Dame murders one of Sly’s team members in front of all of them as only he can:  a Guile-kick strait out of Street Fighter or something from Bloodsport, involving a metal knife.  This murdered member wanted out of the business after this last job so he could take the money and start a new life with his girlfriend, a French combat nurse he met in Afghanistan.  From there the rest of the film involves tracking down Van Dame and defeating him while the various action stars play somewhat caricatures of themselves and make comical references to one-anothers’ previous movie roles.  It’s worth seeing once just for that.

The message though, comes at the cliff-side memorial amongst the team for their fallen member, when Sly asks the question: Why is it that the youngest of us, the one most eager to live, dies and the older ones, worthy of death keep on living; what’s the message in that?  It’s a powerful scene and a poignant question, one the movie seems to answer by taking down the bad guy and saving the world from an unknown threat.  In part, to honor their teammate and ensure his death was not in vain but also to reiterate that as long as evil lurks, there is need for those wiling to fight against the manifested selfish darkness of human nature – even those who themselves are scarred by it.

I actually got more than I bargained for with this movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  For those wanting to see it, keep your eyes peeled for a dual nod to  Star Wars and Rocky IV; it’s impressive.

Author’s Note:  Thoughts on Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (via a Facebook note) after it’s release in 2010; great movie.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really enjoy heroes, comic books, and video-games. Now if someone can successfully turn that into a movie, I am all in. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is all this and more. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the six volume comic book saga of the same name, volume six having just recently released in the last month. In truth, I have not read the comic books yet, so I do not know how well it follows the source material.

In the film, Scott Pilgrim (played perfectly by Michael Cera) is a 22 year old bass player in a band with some friends from high school. The band’s desire is to make it big, to sign with a producer everyone calls “G-man” and Scoot is dating Knives Chow a high school senior. Enter Ramona Flowers, a roller-blading punk girl with wild hair colors that Scott really wants to date. The audience soon learns that in order to date Ramona Flower, Scott Pilgrim has to fight and defeat Ramoa’s seven evil exes (a.k.a. The League of Evil Exes). It’s a riot to watch Scott Pilgrim go one-on one with with Lucas Lee (played by Chris Evans – Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and soon to play Captain America) and Todd the Bass Player (played by Brandon Routh; Superman in Superman Returns). I particularly enjoyed the “Bass Battle”. Some are going to see this as romantic-comedy-esque, because yes, romance is one of it’s main themes, and it’s a very funny movie. As someone who doesn’t like romantic comedies all that much, I actually like this (battling a League of Evil Exes who all have superpowers to win the heart of a girl; who doesn’t?).

This is a movie that is a complete ode to a generation that’s grown up loving video-games and comic books. One of the wonderful aspects of the films is the use of music and sound effects from the classic video-game franchise The Legend of Zelda (a Nintendo series which happens to be my all-time favorite gaming saga). From using the history of Pac-Man as a pickup line; learning the bass line to Final Fantasy II; many nods to classic arcade fighters like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter; Thor’s Hammer – Mjollnir; and a final duel influenced as much by role-playing games as it was by Star Wars; this is a movie that a gamer/superhero fan will love. In many ways this is the movie that was made for the “Nintendo generation”. There are nods to many other cultural icons like Bruce Campbell/Evil Dead, The Seven Samurai, and the late John Hughes.

The whole idea of seeing Scott Pilgrim (while surely flawed) as a hero goes beyond honing skills, winning fights, scoring points, and collecting change in the process – it’s the idea that he’s willing to fight and defeat seven evil villains so he can date a girl, not so he can take over the world. He’s willing to risk life and limb because of a girl (and to protect his friends). Most films don’t execute this all that well, but Scott Pilgrim does so in a way that’s humorous and nostalgic. It’s nice to see the geek hero triumph and see a character actually learn something worth learning. Pilgrim is a much better hero than many of the anti-heroes who are popular today, such as Wolverine, Punisher, Blade, and Spawn. There is an innocence to his heroism that is akin to Link in the Legend of Zelda games –Scott Pilgrim didn’t seek to become a hero, the circumstances found him. I think this is a film that will define this generation long after it leaves theatres. Children of the Eighties have The Goonies, and this generation has Scott Pilgrim – just beware the Nega-Ninja.

The FENX, surprisingly, not in this blog post.