Monday, August 30, 2010

The Expendables exploded excellently!

The Expendables was easily my most anticipated of this summer's similarly themed movie trilogy which also included The Losers and The A-Team. While The Losers was based on the Vertigo comic book and The A-Team was inspired by the beloved TV show, The Expendables was a unique beast, insofar as it was an original movie that was created to get an ensemble cast of the greatest action heroes from the '80's to today all into one explosive motion picture. The man to do it, the action movie legend himself, Sylvester Stallone.

Stallone starred, directed and co-wrote the screenplay for what was to become one of the most ambitious action movies grounded firmly in the realm of "mindless retro action". The cast list was created from a cocktail of pure adrenaline, testosterone and sawdust - Jason The Transporter Statham, Mickey Iron Man 2 Rourke, Jet Kiss of the Dragon Li, Dolph Universal Soldier Lundgren, Randy Scorpian King 2 Couture, Terry Street Kings Crews, and WWE wrestler 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin. Only someone capable of representing pure evil could be cast as the bad guy, and that honour falls upon Eric The Best Of The Best Roberts who has immortalised bad guys from The Specialist to The Dark Knight. Despite such an auspicious cast, it was a single scene's casting that would resonate most with all viewers, the much publicised church-scene between Stallone, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger providing an answer to the age old question: If Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Willis appeared in the same movie would they eclipse each other's awesomeness and start a second big bang?

The Expendables was written by David Callaham the demi-genius that wrote the Doom movie. Much like Doom, Callaham avoided any depth of character and attributed one of the daftest and most simplistic plots ever put on paper, read by executives and then somehow filmed. If it hadn't been for all the "Holy Shit I never thought I'd see those two on screen together!", "Bloody hell I never thought I see those two fight each other on screen together!" and the "Fuck Me! He cut those men in two with a auto-shotgun and now everything's exploding!" moments, this would easily have been labeled as a ho-hum generic action movie. But it did have those moments and it had more than one of each too.

Stallone opened the movie extremely bizarrely and his direction was pretty haphazard overall. The cuts at times seemed like those of Micheal Bay after drinking an Ecstasy, Smarties and Coca-Cola cocktail. His camera angles were a bit dodgy in comparison to his previous masterpiece, Rambo. I wonder what sort of headache DP Jeffrey Kimball had filming this after working so long with such a meticulous action-master like John Woo. It was as if Stallone knew how to film himself, but he seemed to have difficulty in framing other people - well it was either him or the 15 - yes I said fifteen - Second Unit Directors or Assistant Directors he employed.

Nevertheless I think Stallone allowed Statham to shine through as the more complex character with more focused action than Stallone himself, plus it was Statham who got the girl [Charisma Buffy/Angel Carpenter]. It was as if he was subconsciously passing the baton to Statham saying "I'm getting too old for this Shit, you can do it now". Somehow however, to be fair, he did allow one of his "action ensemble" to act - Mickey Rourke was cast as Tool, a retired Expendable himself now their "agent" who secures their work. Rourke was given a chance to frame for the audience the kind of life that a mercenary leads and Tool's seemed to be filled with regret and loneliness - "I promised myself, I'm gonna die for something that counts". The way Stallone glanced at his hand as Rourke describes how it had been injured in the Balkans resonated probably only with people like me who will never shed the scars of battle, either physical or emotional. Outstanding stuff, but I think that this was all but lost in a movie like this and this level of drama was certainly out of place.

Despite that brief lapse into emotional retrospect and scratching the surface of character development, the majority of the movie is intence shooting, expert knife-play, splintering explosions, bloody dismemberment, fast car chases and manly wrestling [Austin vs. Couture in a pit of flame - bring the popcorn]. Needless to say, the action in this movie was awesome. What is on display here is some of the most incredible, brutal, visceral action ever on celluloid. We have aircraft that literally mince a platoon of soldiers on a pier, Stallone's Barney Ross and Statham's Lee Christmas can remove heads and arms from enemies as easy as cutting soft butter with an iron-hot knife, Jet Li's Ying Yang can hold his own against Dolph Lundgen's Gunnar Jenson and Terry Crews' Hale Caesar loads up his MPS Auto Assault-12 shotgun with a drum of fragmentation rounds that can blast explosively through concrete [and of course - people]. The sublime violence on display here is worthy of the greatest action movies of the 80's and 90's and can only be truly enjoyed by those of us who were raised on them.

Final Verdict: A flawed diamond is still a diamond isn't it, but it is flawed. The flaws of this movie while are great enough to deny it an exemption are still so greatly eclipsed by it's own awesomeness that they cannot stop it from being one of the greatest action movies of all time.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *****+

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The A-Team: Silly action movie, but faithful where it counts!

The A-Team is easily one of the most recognisable TV icon shows of the 80’s. Anyone who was alive before 1983 has seen it, even if they don’t recall it, and those that do remember it, do so very fondly. It was a harmless show with respect to the fact it was incredibly theatrically exciting, yet pacifistically non-violent to the point where no-one was ever killed on screen. Even when we were treated episodically to the destruction of a convoy of vehicles, due to a crash, flip over or petrol tank spontaneously exploding – we always saw the driver and any passengers escape relatively unscathed. As the team themselves used the notoriously inaccurate Ruger Mini 14 rifle without extending their stocks, it was amazing they never killed anyone - if only by accident!

The new A-Team movie represents a faithful adaptation of the spirit of the tight-knit camaraderie that existed between the main characters, only this time a few people get killed [don’t worry, only one or two, it remains faithful to the premise that these men are so elite – they don’t have to kill – wibble!]. Joe Smokin’ Aces Carnahan has crafted a wonderful origin tale for our heroes of who are drawn together in the most ridiculous and implausible circumstances possible. Stripped out of A-Team lore is nosey reporter Amy, for the most part B.A.’s van - as the adventure crosses continents, the idea that Hannibal is a Hollywood actor and thankfully the later additions of Frankie Santana and General Hunt Stockwell are ignored. Rather than being pursued by Colonel Decker [or Colonel Lynch in Season 1], our heroes are chased by the delectable Jessica Biel as Lieutenant Sosa [it'd make me consider violating the UCMJ if I knew I was going to be tailed by that sweet piece of tail – snigger!] while the name Lynch is attributed as a “codename” to a CIA agent of questionable motivation and the dare-I-say-it – “rogue” element in the extraordinarily contrived and implausible plot.

Do not despair however that too much has been taken away from the original, the team themselves while tweaked are basically the same bunch of lads you know and love. Liam Taken Neeson not only adopts George Peppard's original look for Hannibal he actually channels his intellect and self assuredness without appearing cocky and arrogant. Bradley The Hangover Cooper is every much a ladies’ man as Dirk Benedict’s Face, but grows here as a leader in the making himself. The South African actor Sharlto Copley was selected to play Howling Mad Murdock and he proves that he’s not a one-time fluke from his exceptional performance in District 9 last year. While obviously unhinged, Copley downplays the more manic aspects of Dwight Shultz’s original character which is more consistent with the fact that he was allowed to serve again in uniform after his escape from the mental institution [although believe me there are a few running around today in uniform that are a few bricks short of a wall]. The biggest change however was undoubtedly done to the character most dear to my heart - B.A. Baracus, the character made immortal by the gruff talking, steel glared Mr. T. Initially I was worried by Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson's ghetto-speak in the trailer but I quickly realised that it would have been completely ridiculous to him "jive-talking" in 2010. I'm glad they managed to to treat the character as a human being and not like so many episodes of the TV show where they just needed him to lift a bus or something.

I will say the helicopter chase at the beginning was excellent but by the time the team started "flying a tank" in freefall, I knew this was going to be an extremely silly movie right up to the chain-reaction explosions of the cargo containers during the finale.

Final Verdict: The fans are split, some won't let go of the original and are calling it a travesty, but others are just accepting it as it is, a silly little action movie with a few predictible twists created as a homage to a beloved TV show and it's characters of our youth. I doubt a sequel will appear, but if a vote is been taken, count mine.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

Saturday, August 14, 2010


At the mega Star Wars event Celebration V in Orlando, Florida today - God himself announced that all six Star Wars live-action feature films will be released for the Blu-ray Disc format in 2011.

The greatest box set in the history of mankind is expected to arrive in late next year, and will astonishingly include never-before-seen deleted scenes!!! One of those scenes is this one shown and captured by a raving fan on a camcorder earlier today:

In case the scene is deleted from YouTube by Lucasfilm: "The scene has long been talked about online -- a sequence that depicts Luke Skywalker assembling his new, green-bladed lightsaber prior to infiltrating Jabba the Hutt's palace. After completing the Jedi weapon, Luke stashes it in R2-D2's dome. What makes the Jedi deleted clip so remarkable is that it made it all the way to postproduction before it was cut, so it is a rare example of a cut scene with completed visual effects and music. " - from

Mark Hamill, on stage with Carrie Fisher and Gorge Lucas, tries to contain the overwhelming excitement of the crowd, many who fainted, defecated, vomited and even ejaculated from sheer excitement.

At the moment, there are only plans to release the remastered Special Editions of the original trilogy and not the unedited original movies, probably because Lucas wants all your money for these versions first then ask you for more for the original versions on BRD in say... 2015. And he'd be correct, because he is God.

More info as I get it.

Source: Bruce Russell / HDR / Youtube / / the LATimes

Friday, August 13, 2010

Access Denied!

Freelance writer Michael Hastings was told politely by The Pentagon to go and swivel on it, when he asked if he could be embedded as a reporter with front line troops fighting in Afghanistan.

DOD spokesman Col. David Lapan acknowledged that it's "fairly rare" for the military to turn away a reporter who wants to embed with front-line troops. "There is no right to embed, it is a choice made between units and individual reporters, and a key element of an embed is having trust that the individuals are going to abide by the ground rules. So in that instance the command in Afghanistan decided there wasn't the trust requisite and denied this request."

The lack of trust mentioned here probably stems from the fact that Hastings was the reporter who recently torpedoed the three-decade Army career of Stan McChrystal when his article for Rolling Stone magazine was published. The Pentagon is currently ramping up an internal investigation into the circumstances behind some of the most salacious material Hastings used in his article in Rolling Stone. The Army inspector general is interviewing current and former McChrystal aides.

Hastings has claimed he did nothing wrong in chronicling the banter, profanity and jocular insults among McChrystal's inner circle. In a Twitter tweet late Tuesday, Hastings whined that he refused to participate in the army's IG investigation. Later, he tweeted: "the embed had already been approved for september. now it has been disapproved."

All you have now is your book-deal, asshole.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Colonel's Bullets - August 9th 2010

One of the worst Science-Fiction movies in existence comes to Blu-Ray.

Roger Corman's Star Crash, made on the coat tails of Star Wars is the kind of movie that gives B-Movies a bad name. This film can only be enjoyed with fellow sci-fi fans with a few beers as the laughs are not provided as intentional by the film-makers but at the sheer audacity of the Star Wars elements that are being ripped off, the hopeless special effects and the most awful attempts at acting ever, especially from an impossibly young David Hasselhoff and an obviously drugged Christopher Plumber.

I thoroughly recommend you watch it, albeit without forking over real money for this filled to the brim with special features DVD or Blu-Ray.

Do you want to know more?


Also coming this year on DVD/Blu-Ray will be Family Guy: It's A Trap the concluding part of the hilarious Family Guy Star Wars spoof trilogy this time taking aim at Return of the Jedi. Bizarrely, Star Trek's Patrick Stewart and Michael Dorn will voice as will conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh as Jabba's Rancor.

Jane Badler to return as Diana!

Back in February 2009 when I revealed details of the new V TV show, I cited that everyone remembers V because Diana [Jane Badler] generated a somewhat forbidden lust because she was beautiful, but evil. Well, as Badler hasn't done a whole lot acting wise after the original V besides the Mission: Impossible TV show and an episode of Flipper; some clever exec at ABC thought she'd be the perfect choice to play Anna [Morena Baccarin]'s mother in the 2nd season of the remake.

Do you want to know more?

RoboCop not to be remade

While I'll admit, I'm often intrigued by the remakes and reboots that are going around movies and TV nowadays, one movie I was opposed to was The Wrestler director Darren Aronofsky's remake of Paul Verhoven's seminal RoboCop. The original RoboCop is one of the greatest movies ever made and I own 3 different prints/cuts on 3 different DVD editions made over the years including the ultra-rare Criterion Edition which was the first to restore the footage that if not cut, would have forced an X rating on production.

Anyway it seems that MGM's now-famous financial woes that have canned Daniel Craig's third outing as Bond and has shelved development of The Hobbit have also claimed the "life" of the RoboCop remake and I'm not a bit upset about that. Hopefully the rights for Bond and The Hobbit can be sold on but RoboCop must remain as it was meant to be "a surprisingly smart sci-fi flick that uses ultraviolence to disguise its satire of American culture in the 1980's."

Do you want to know more?

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Spotlight on a traitor: Pfc. Manning

I hate whistle blowers. People who either stick their nose in where it doesn't belong and never learned to mind their own goddamn business, or people involved with something or someone far greater than themselves who, because they disagree with some decision or aspect of something, seek to destroy the whole thing or person because they get a snot.

It can't have escaped the attention of anyone following the news recently, that one such ignorant whelp, 22yo Private Bradley Manning, an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army has allegedly forwarded some 91,000 classified battlefield reports and documents from the war in Afghanistan to the infamous whistle blowing website Wikileaks. Yes, this is the same muppett who released the "Collateral Murder" video of a U.S. airstrike killing civilians and two Reuters news agency workers in Iraq in 2007 earlier this year. It's no surprise to me that this type of person would do such a thing but what annoys me all the more is why was an individual with such deviant behaviour allowed to be in a position he was in without question?

While there are so many pro-gay anti-war clowns jumping to his defence by claiming he "did the right thing" in revealing the "evils" of the United States military and portraying him as a moral hero - the evidence suggests that he didn't do it out of any sense of duty or because it was the right thing to do, it was because he was a snivelling little turd going through a gender identity crisis and got miffed over the DADT policy, a policy he was well aware of when signing up and that he willingly and premeditatedly violated the tenets of his job and security clearance and then deliberately broke his sworn oath.

Manning has been charged with violating Article 92 and Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If convicted on all the charges, he could hopefully face a 52-year sentence. Congressman Mike Rogers, a former FBI agent who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told a local radio station Monday that he thought the death penalty would be a more appropriate punishment for Manning "I argue the death penalty clearly should be considered here. He clearly aided the enemy to what may result in the death of US soldiers or those cooperating. If that is not a capital offense, I don’t know what is. We know for a fact that people will likely be killed because of this information being disclosed," he continued. "That’s pretty serious. If they don't charge him with treason, they ought to charge him with murder."

Now all branches of the U.S. armed services are issuing internal messages to all personnel barring them from visiting the WikiLeaks website. The one I read was from the Special Security Office of the Marine Corps Intelligence Department which threatens:

"By willingly accessing the WIKILEAKS website for the purpose of viewing the posted classified material - these actions constitute the unauthorized processing, disclosure, viewing, and downloading of classified information onto an UNAUTHORIZED computer system not approved to store classified information, meaning they have WILLINGLY committed a SECURITY VIOLATION."

"Not only are these actions illegal, but they provide the justification for local security officials to immediately remove, suspend 'FOR CAUSE' all security clearances and accesses. Commanders may press for Article 15 or 32 charges, and USMC personnel could face a financial hardship as civilian and contractor personnel will be placed on 'Administrative Leave' pending the outcome of the investigation.

At a news conference Thursday, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said the Defense Department is asking WikiLeaks to "do the right thing" and return the classified documents it posted which cover most units from the U.S. Army with the exception of most U.S. Special Forces' activities. The reports do not generally cover top secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations. However, Morrell did not say how the Pentagon would make the website do that. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks had posted a large encrypted file named "Insurance" to its website, sparking speculation that it was preparing another huge dump of classified documents. The file, which consumes 1.4 gigabytes, is 20 times larger than the batch of 77,000 secret messages about Afghanistan from last month and is secured by 256bit encryption.

Sources: Fox News / The Telegraph / The Washington Post / MarineCorps Times / Family Research Council / / Alaska Pride / Indymedia Ireland / / USN JAG Office / Wikileaks [earlier than Imposed ban from the Pentagon].

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Laser weapon kills 4 UAVs

A Raytheon-U.S. Navy team used a high power, solid-state laser combined with a Phalanx Close-in Weapon System to shoot down four Unmanned Ariel Vehicles off San Nicolas Island near California. Powered by electricity, the system offers an affordable and almost infinite magazine to stop incoming threats. Once development is completed, the Laser Area Weapon System will give the warfighter a speed-of-light solution for defeating rockets, mortars, UAVs and other targets.

Raytheon intends to be a major player in the U.S. Army’s Common Infrared Countermeasures competition. Raytheon Missile Systems has developed a CIRCM solution, known as Scorpion that will feature the company’s production-matured directed infrared countermeasures turret and a rugged quantum cascade laser (QCL). Scorpion will be a light-weight, low-cost, highly reliable, laser-based infrared countermeasures solution against current and future IR guided threat missiles.

More at ZDNet.

Source: Eamo / ZDNet / Raytheon

Friday, August 06, 2010

General Lavelle exonerated

President Obama has exonerated and nominated Air Force Maj. Gen. John D. "Jack" Lavelle posthumously for advancement to the rank of general on the retired rolls, more than three decades after allegations he ordered the unauthorized bombing of North Vietnam. Lavelle, who was reduced by two stars in 1972, denied those charges until the day he died in 1979. But only recently, tape recordings revealed that the strikes were authorized by the White House and Levelle was used as a scapegoat.

Lavelle was in charge of U.S. air operations in Vietnam in 1972. His pilots were increasingly getting hit by North Vietnamese fire, and he wanted to strike back harder. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird visited Vietnam and gave Lavelle approval to go ahead. There was a follow-up written approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But all that remained secret until 2007, when researchers found tapes — maintained by the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum — of Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. A conversation from 1972 indicates Lavelle had White House approval for the stepped-up bombing. Congress was unaware of this at the time and neither did the USAF investigators who learned of the increased bombings and went after the general.

Lavelle was recalled to Washington and relieved of command. He was unable to get a meeting with either Laird or top Air Force officials to defend himself. Lavelle was retired in the grade of major general, two grades lower than the last grade he served on active duty.

In light of the new information, a request was made to the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records for his posthumous reinstatement to the grade of general. Further, the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records found no evidence Lavelle caused, either directly or indirectly, the falsification of records, or that he was even aware of their existence. Once he learned of the reports, Lavelle took action to ensure the practice was discontinued. The nomination to restore his four-star rank was recommended by the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records, the SECDEF Gates and the Secretary of the Air Force.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"As long as the Collars and cuff match!" - Tom Mankiewicz RIP

I regret to announce the passing of screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz known for adapting [and in many cases ignoring] Ian Fleming's James Bond for the silver screen.

Mankiewicz first came to prominence in the '70's and became involved with the James Bond franchise when asked to write Diamonds are Forever. He then followed with the screenplays for Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. He also took an uncredited script doctoring position on The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Mankiewicz also adapted Jack Higgins novel The Eagle has Landed and among his other work after leaving the Bond franchise was Superman and even Superman 2 despite having what he himself called "a hate/hate relationship" with it's producers.

Mankiewicz was no stranger to television as he helped Sidney Sheldon create the smarmiest detectives in the history of Television - Jennifer and Jonathan Hart for Hart to Hart in 1979 and stayed with the show several years writing two but directing more than a dozen episodes.

He died Saturday, July 31, at his Los Angeles home aged 68 from cancer.

Source: Vaughan / IMDB