I can’t help but feel that The Expendables 3 is a sly warning from series mastermind Sylvester Stallone that the next generation of action star isn’t up to snuff. Kellan Lutz? Glen Powell? Victor Ortiz? Ronda Rousey? No thanks. I’ll take Sly and Arnie and Mel and Snipes and Dolph and Ford every day of the week.
“Awesome Mix Vol. 1” is the label on the cassette playing in Peter Quill’s Walkman when a giant space ship abducts him. The tape, a gift to the eight-or-so-year-old boy from his dying mother, is a collection of, well, awesome songs from the 1970s. They’re not the best ditties—pop FM staples such as “Hooked on a Feeling” and “O-O-H Child” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”—but they are all infectious, energy-filled trifles.
Imagine a feature-length film written in the style of an Andy Borowitz blog post.
That’s The Purge: Anarchy.
Like the missives fired off by Borowitz—the New Yorker’s roundly reviled “parodist”—The Purge: Anarchy is ham-fisted, the sort of satire that might appeal to the most rabid and ignorant elements of your cohort, but to no one else.
As far as dystopian world-building goes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes half-succeeds.
Set 10 years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the “Simian Flu” that broke out at the end of that film has left just one in 500 humans alive. Conflicts over food and other resources have further depleted the population. Indeed, humanity is so scarce that, as the film opens, ape-king Caesar (Andy Serkis, in a motion-captured performance) has not seen a homo sapiens for two years.
If you take away one message from Snowpiercer, let it be this: If we panic about global warming and rush forward with a half-thought-out solution, it’s only a matter of time before we’re all loaded onto a massive, world-circling locomotive and murdered by egg-delivering psychopaths on the orders of a mystery man in the thrall of a train engine.
On the one hand, Transformers: Age of Extinction is barely coherent, narratively disastrous, and oppressively long. On the other: OPTIMUS PRIME RIDING A DINOSAUR ROBOT WHILE SWINGING A GIANT SWORD!
Apologies for all of the capital letters, but they feel appropriate: Transformers frequently comes across as an angry YouTube commenter trying to bludgeon you into submission, digitally shouting as loud as he can in order to paper over the logical flaws in his argument and to convince you that his narrative is rock solid.