Wednesday, November 13, 2013
This post is not specifically about Sylvester Stallone, but it is about a trend I have noticed that has greatly affected the film genre that Stallone basically created and absolutely perfected.
With the success of Breaking Bad, along with other popular hour long dramas on TV, it is clear that the action movie genre has taken a backseat to the new vehicle for driving action, drama, and suspense: TV.
While it can be argued that it started with The Sopranos, The Wire, or The Shield, it was not until Breaking Bad that TV shows began to challenge, and ultimately eclipse movies in terms of content and popularity. This could be a result of the concurrent rise of social media, smartphones, and Breaking Bad, or it may be a result of the brilliant mind of Vince Gilligan coupled with the Outstanding acting of Bryan Cranston. Either way, it has resulted in a slew of new TV shows gaining popularity, from Sons of Anarchy to Game of Thrones. These are the new conversation starters at work, and online, and have likely created a stir in the film industry, as they truly seem to have had an impact on the action film genre.
For example, if you go on Netflix or to the DVD aisle at Wal-Mart or Target, you will find several movies of the action genre, starring big, A-list names, that were released straight to DVD, instead of having a theatrical release. This is likely due to the studios not willing to take a gamble on promoting a film theatrically, only to see a diminished return at the box office. By releasing it on DVD and hardly promoting it, the studios can release a movie without the PR budget, and still see a strong sales figure based on DVD sales and rentals through Redbox. This is a sound business strategy, seeing how the competition of Breaking Bad caliber shows have raised the bar considerably and provided viewers with a consistent fix of action and drama on a weekly and seasonal basis, something that takes theatrical vehicles years to accomplish, even with solid franchises such as The Expendables and the Avengers, though the studios seem to be able to derive significant revenue based on these franchise films.
The current trend in both theatrical and TV creative endeavors seems to be a desire for audiences to see a character or group of characters develop and grow, whether it be from week to week and season to season, or from film to film. This works in that it satiates the audience need for familiarity and continuity, but it hurts films in the long run by diminishing the popularity of stand alone action and thriller films, which can be seen in the DVD aisle of major retailers, rather than the multiplex, where these films truly belong.
This backlash to the blockbuster franchise epidemic is evidenced by the popularity of films like Drive and Gravity, which eschew the blockbuster franchise formula for a more artistic take on the action/thriller genre. Though these films are hailed as brilliant standalone pieces, there are others such as Stallone’s Bullet to the Head, or Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand, which are brilliant pieces of action cinema with viable, bankable movie stars, but were not financial windfalls at the box office, as they would have been in the late 80’s to early 90’s.
The upside to this current trend is films like Drive and Gravity, which will stand the test of time in regards to brilliant filmmaking. The downside is that solid action films with tried and true movie stars have fallen by the wayside unless they adhere to the franchise or ensemble formula. And while most of these franchise movies are great movies, it seems as though there will eventually be a backlash to these formulaic, one dimensional characters that will create a ripple in the film industry that will likely lead to a rise in independent filmmaking, though not before we have to sit through years of pure crap at the multiple. Until then, at least we have Netflix and Wal-Mart to satiate our standalone action needs via DVD.
It is also a sad state of affairs when a movie that has both Stallone and Schwarzenegger does poorly, and Harry Potter gets a theme park of its own. Not to take away from the Harry Potter movies, but when the popularity of a franchise eclipses two of the biggest stars of the past 30 years, things are definitely askew in
. I can only hope that the trend of franchise
films reaches it’s apex soon enough for standalone action films become popular
again while actors like Stallone and Schwarzenegger, and Writers/Directors like
Nicholas Winding Refren still have the desire and drive that make them the
If you haven’t seen it yet, go out and rent “Bullet to the Head”. It is an amazing movie that left me wanting more.
The plot is brilliant in it’s simplicity. Based on a graphic novel, the story centers around a hitman and a cop, both of whom are seeking information about the respective murder’s of their partners. They are diametrically opposed in their opinions and methods, and have different reasons for wanting the information.
The reason the movie works is because Stallone plays the hitman, Jimmy Bobo, with an intensity and timing that truly drives the movie and leaves the viewer wanting more. From beginning to end, the movie will get your heart racing and your testosterone flowing. It is an action film on the level of Lethal Weapon in it’s pacing, and if it were released between 1980 and 1997, it would undoubtedly be a box office smash.
The tragedy of this movie is that it was not given it’s proper due as a film. It follows the tried and true formula of action movies, provides the right twists and turns, and is truly a fast paced, full throttle, ass-kicking winner, and should be given the credit it deserves.
The only reason this movie was not as commercially successful as it should have been is the rise of the television drama series, but that will be a post of it’s own.
In the meantime, go watch “Bullet to the Head”, it is truly a great movie.
As I said before, It finally happened. The two biggest names in action movies, the men who created a genre and were the personification of blockbuster films, teamed up. As my former posts note, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger joined forces to star in the new film, “Escape Plan” together. And the results were epic. The main setting of the movie is a secret, CIA funded super-prison, where Stallone’s character Ray Breslin is sent to find a security flaw in the form of an escape route. Helping him throughout this endeavor is Schwarzenegger’s character, Emil Rotmayer. If this sounds far-fetched, it is. But it is so far-fetched that it completely works as an action movie. The dynamic between the two action superstars is undeniable, and the twists and turns that the plot takes make “Escape Plan” thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s combined efforts makes one wish that they had been able to work together prior to this film, when action movies were in their heyday. Based on the box office numbers, it looks like this is not going to be as profitable as it would have been in the 80’s or 90’s, but that does not take away from the quality of the film. It stands as a great movie that will entertain for years to come Vincent D’Onofrio and Jim Caveziel are great in their roles, and the whole movie works out to be an escapist masterpiece of tremendous proportions, a truly fun movie. Stallone and Schwarzenegger will team up again for the third outing of the Expendables, and it is clear that these two titans of the cinema have an undeniable chemistry that is impossible not to enjoy if you are a fan of action movies.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Since the last post was intensely personal and was not about Stallone, here is something a little happier. Inspired by Mr. Stallone, I have been actively working on my writing, and on Friday I plan on releasing my first ebook. It is a collection of short stories about aliens. More info to follow. Also, I just finished another outline.for a screenplay. So I got that going for me.
It occurs to me that my post about looking to the future may appear disingenuous as I went on to mention the future and my ambition. I hope that I can properly convey in this post my desire to someday make up for the way I treated those who were closest to me. I know that I said I couldnt, but really I should have said that someday I will find a way. That I am posting at such a late hour should reveal how often I look to the past in utter shame. Someday I will make up for who I was and how I was, but for now I will continue to do my best to be a better person. Sorry for the lack of pics and Stallone related writing, I am writing this on my crappy phone.