Friday, August 13, 2010

The Expendables Not As Advertised?

I have been reading reviews for the movie The Expendables and it certainly seems to me that the marketing department either got this one wrong or was feeling exceptionally dishonest when they prepared the advertising campaign for this one.
Let me be clear that this is not a review for this movie. I have not seen The Expendables and probably won't be seeing it any time soon. That isn't a statement against the movie; just a statement against theaters. I dislike crowds and so I have to really want to see a movie before I will brave the masses to see something on the big screen. I will probably see this movie (and it does look like I will probably enjoy it), but I will wait until I can watch it at home and not have to put up with the pushing and shoving and noise and mess of going to the theater. While I do think I will enjoy it, I don't think I will enjoy it that much.
So why am I complaining about a movie I haven't seen but expect to enjoy? Because it really irks me when the marketing department tells me that I am going to see a movie that is not the movie on the screen. I walked out of Antonio Banderas' Desperado for that very reason (I was promised a cool action movie and got a cheesy comedy that just happened to also have some action instead).
The Expendables has been billed as a ... tribute might be the right word ... tribute to 80s action movies, complete with bringing together, for the first time ever, three of the biggest 80s action icons in one movie.
The first problem with that premise is that one of the three is not an 80s action icon. Bruce Willis is an action icon. There is no doubt about that. However, he was not such an icon yet in the 80s. In the 80s, Willis was a romantic comedy icon ("Moonlighting", anyone?). He had one stand-out action movie in the 80s (Die Hard which, to be honest and fair, was one of the nest action movies from the 80s) but the bulk of his action credit, and his status as an action icon, didn't come until the 90s.
It is a somewhat trivial complaint, I agree, but a legitimate complaint just the same. Would it still be cool to see Willis, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger together in an action movie, despite their being action icons from different decades? Absolutely! That, however, leads us to the second problem with this movie's premise.
Willis, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger aren't really in an action movie together. They all three appear in the same action movie and they even have a scene where they all three appear together, but that's as far as it goes. Their scene together is not an action scene; it is a talking scene. Three of the biggest names in movie action are finally brought together in one scene and they ... talk. Someone seriously missed an opportunity here.
The movie that is supposed to represent the glory of 80s action movies and star three of the biggest action stars ever, doesn't. It has, essentially, cameo appearances from two of them, and boring cameos at that. The bulk of the movie stars modern action stars or wrestlers who haven't even made it up to "action star" yet, and that is not what the marketing department promised.
None of this means that The Expendables will be a bad movie. I have already said that I expect to enjoy it. I like Jason Statham and Jet Li and, from what I've read, they appear to have prominent roles. I do think, however, that there will be quite a bit of disappointment with this movie and it will probably be disappointment that the movie doesn't deserve. It won't be disappointment with the movie itself, but disappointment that the movie was not what was promised by the marketing department.

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