Friday, December 12, 2008

Stallone: A Career Retrospective: Part III

The Specialist
This movie is terrible, and not in a good way. I mean, most of Stallone's movies are terrible, but they're still entertaining as hell. The Specialist marked the period in Stallone's career where, with a couple of exceptions, his movies become near unwatchable.

Welcome to third and final part of my Stallone career retrospective. This is where the shit is really going to start to stink.

Judge Dredd
Ugh. This one might be worse than the Specialist, and that's quite a distinction. Where to begin? This was a bad movie based on a bad comic book (that's right, Judge Dredd fans. Deal with it). It was a sci-fi cop buddy film starring Stallone and... Rob Schneider.

This movie was a huge flop, one of the worst of Stallone's career. It made The Specialist look like a smash hit by comparison.

Man, this is getting depressing.

This is a marginally better movie than the last two, but it still sucks. It's watchable, at least, and possibly even entertaining from a certain point of view and if you don't have anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon and if it comes on TNT.

The problem with this movie, and with most of Stallone's later films, is that it takes itself too seriously. For some reason, Stallone actually thought he was still making good movies. For some reason, Stallone thought that people kept going to his films all those years because they loved the scripts and plots. No, we just want to watch Stallone beat people up and make jokes.

Here's the deal: A serious acting performance by Stallone in a great movie is a thing of beauty. He's a brilliant, underrated actor. But a serious acting performance by Stallone in a piece of shit like Assassins? Come on, man. Lighten up!

This film marks the end of a personal era for me. This was the last Stallone film I saw in the theatre, until Rocky Balboa came out ten years later. That's a decade-long drought where I skipped films starring my former favorite actor. It makes me misty just thinking about it. I did see one or two of his films during that decade, but not really by choice, and usually years after they were released, often directly to video.

But we were walking about Daylight. Honestly, I'd rather not. It wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen, nor even the worst movie Stallone has ever made, but it just wasn't any good. It's basically a remake of Cliffhanger, only it takes place in a tunnel instead of on a mountain, and it was actually really terrible instead of being really good.

And that's all I have to say about Daylight, other than that things are actually going to get a lot worse before they get better.

The Good Life
I don't even know what this movie is. But it co-stars Dennis Hopper and Andrew Dice Clay, so I'm guessing it's awful. I checked the IMDB to read some reviews and user comments, but there are none. That means nobody on the internet thought this movie was worth talking about. Have you ever been on the internet? Us geeks will talk about anything. But this paragraph is probably the longest thing anybody has ever written about this movie. And that's already too much.

Cop Land
One my one regret (at least, in regards to watching Stallone films. Not about life in general. That would just be silly) is that I somehow missed this film when it was originally released. And that's a shame, because it's a pretty good one. The story was kind of dumb and the whole thing was overrated, but Stallone's performance was probably the best of his career.

Much has been written about how Stallone put on a lot of weight for this role, but the changes me made for this movie were even more profound than that. Everything from the way he walked to the sound of his voice were different in this movie. More so than in any other movie, Stallone actually attempted to create a wholly different, 3 dimensional character unlike anything he has ever played. Had he made more career, and acting, decisions like this one, nobody would be able to parody or make fun of Stallone, because he actually would have been considered an actor.

Anyway, great movie, and Stallone is great in it. He should've gotten a supporting Oscar nomination, in my opinion.

Stallone did voicework for this subpar computer animated film. I'm not a fan of these crummy Dreamworks Pixar knockoffs, even when they feature Stallone. And, really, when you think of Stallone, does the idea that he'd do stellar voicework really come to mind?

Get Carter
Another piece of garbage that Stallone thought was a good movie. It's based on a "classic" British gangster film starring Michael Caine, but that movie wasn't all that good either. But boy is this one worse. And boring. And, frankly, stupid. It made it to the theaters, though, which is something.

Skip it.

This film featured a reunion nobody demanded: Stallone back together with Renny Harlin, the man who directed Cliffhanger. Now, I kind of like Renny Harlin. I think he has made some good movies, but for every Cliffhanger or Die Hard 2, he's also made some huge piece of garbage like Cutthroat Island or Deep Blue Sea. Or Driven.

I guess this movie is sort of supposed to be the Rocky of CART racing (whatever that is), but it's more like the Rocky V of CART racing. What else is there to say about this movie other than that Days of Thunder did it first and did it better, and that movie sucked?

Yeah, I don't know what this movie is either.

Avenging Angelo
Avenging Angelo was Stallone's much demanded follow-up to the smash hit D-Tox. I didn't see this one either. I'm guessing the plot has something to do with Stallone avenging the death of some guy named Angelo. Let's check the IMDB plot listing and see...

"A woman who has recently discovered that she is the daughter of Angelo, a major mafia boss, decides to wreak vengeance when he is killed by a hitman. She's aided by his faithful bodyguard, with whom she soon falls in love."

Boy, that don't sound too good.

Ah ha! I actually saw this one! I even paid money to rent it and everything.

Remember a few years ago when the media were under some mistake idea that poker was suddenly popular? As though showing poker tournaments on ESPN 4 was a sign of some kind of new fad that was storming across America. Anyway, I like poker and I like Stallone, so I figured it would behoove myself to see this movie that was trying to cash in on the fading celebrity of that actor and the rising fad of that card game.

And boy did it suck.

It had horrible acting performances from a lot of people who should've known better, a boring, cliched plot, and a script that was so ignorant of the actual rules of poker that even a greenhorn like me was able to notice all of the times they got the game completely wrong.

But how was Stallone? Old and sad.

Spy Kids 3-D
I saw this on a plane, without 3-D glasses. Can anybody tell me why an airline would decide to show a 3-D film? First of all, you can't really see anything on those tiny screens they have anyway, and then without handing out the glasses it was completely pointless. Oh, and it was just a terrible movie. And I actually really liked the first two Spy Kids films.

This movie is notable for Stallone films, however, because it contains his absolute worst, most over the top, and pathetic acting performance of all time. It's just a thoroughly horrible performance in a completely unwatchable trainwreck of a film.

Rocky Balboa
And then there was Rocky Balboa, the movie that should have been -- and many people predicted it would be -- a huge joke. After all, it had been sixteen years since the last Rocky film, and much, much longer than that since the last great Rocky film. Nobody thought this film would be halfway watchable, let alone, you know, actually good.

Nobody except for me, of course.

I remember how excited I was when I first even heard the rumors about this film, but when I finally saw a trailer all those years later and finally knew it was actually going to happen, well, words can't express what I felt in my heart and in my soul. Rocky was coming back. But even more than that, Stallone was coming back. We had had a long, rocky (pardon the pun) relationship up to that point, but I was always ready to forgive him and welcome him back with open arms.

In a way, Rocky Balboa was something of a love letter -- and an apology -- to his long-time fans. Gone were the ridiculous villains from the ridiculous sequels. Gone was the glitz and glamor. This was a human story about human characters, with an incredibly powerful story about fighting to live out your dreams. You know, like the first Rocky. In a way, this was just a remake of that first film. But, that's ok, because that first film was awesome, and so was this.

But this film didn't just see the return of Rocky, but the return of Paulie as well. And Duke. And Spider Rico! They even brought back that little red-headed girl Rocky tried to help in the very first film. It's a different actress and it's really, really contrived, but it still worked because the story was sweet and the actress was really good. Most importantly, it brought back a sense of pride and integrity that all those other films, entertaining as they are, sorely lacked.

It also contains one of Stallone's best monologues ever:

Now, feel free to laugh at how gross Stallone looks these days, and feel free to snicker at his now cliched performance as Rocky... but I don't care. That's a great scene and Stallone delivered. And so did this movie. Go rent it right now.

And why not? This was another film that had been rumored about for years and most people considered to be a joke. But after Stallone made another Rocky film to much success and (I think) critical acclaim, why not make another Rambo?

And much like the latest Rocky film, this new Rambo film attempted to distance itself from the previous few sequels by being more mature, thoughtful, dark, and realistic. But while that works for a film like Rocky, it kind of doesn't for a film like Rambo. After all, at its heart, Rambo all of the Rambo films were just big, dumb action movies. Who does he really think he's going to kid by trying to make a big, smart action movie?

Luckily for us, Rambo was still really entertaining because, try as he might to make an intelligent action movie, at the end of the day, he still just wants to show Rambo shooting people until their heads explode and their intestines fall out of their bellies. And, no, I'm not making that up. This was without a doubt the goriest war film I've ever seen. This film made the opening scene from Private Ryan look like a scene from Private Benjamin.

Seriously. Check this scene out... if you think you can handle it:

I guess he wanted to show the real horrors of war or something? I dunno. All I know is it made me sick. But I loved it. I mean, that's why I go to the movies. To see heads explode and intestines slosh.

But the main problem with this movie? Richard Crenna died before he could reprise his role as Colonel Trautman. Crenna was a reliable actor who somehow managed to give these films a sense of reality and maybe even gravitas. I just always felt that something was missing. RIP, Richard Crenna.

The Expendables
This movie is in production at the moment with a planned release date for 2010, but it's going to be the best movie ever made. I don't know anything about it other than that it will star Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren.

How could that be bad?

1 comment:

aak said...

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