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Tag Archive: Kelsey Grammer


Expendables team

Review by C.J. Bunce

What you want to see in a giant ensemble movie is probably different than what you’d expect to see in any other movie.  Above all, you’re probably after sheer entertainment—whatever that means to you—and you’d likely judge the movie using a different standard than what you’d expect to see in the next Academy Award nominee for Best Picture.  These ensemble movies are plentiful enough today that they deserve their own sub-genre in the “Action” tab on streaming Netflix or Amazon Prime (what used to be the “Action” aisle in Blockbuster or Movies To Go).

We’re talking about those movies that crammed in every star that could be found, showcases where studios would show off their current talent, but always big in scope and always a box office draw.  A comedy like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!, disaster movies like Airport ’76, Earthquake, and The Towering Inferno, epic Western films like The Magnificent Seven and How the West Was Won, and biblical efforts like The Greatest Story Ever Told.  Each offered some of the best stars of the day, sometimes full of current stars, sometimes full of has-been stars.

Expendables Ford and Stallone

The Avengers franchise seems to have turned around the ensemble film with its many lead actors in leading roles, or at least reinvented the sub-genre, but they still don’t have the sheer volume as past ensemble cast films.  The Avengers suffers like many past efforts—with so many actors, how can you please every movie watcher with so little time to devote to each actor?  Ultimately it’s all about finding a good balance.  None of these films ever get a nod for filmmaking perfection, and many would hardly even rate a 5 on a 10 star scale, but that doesn’t mean they don’t often result in good, old fashioned entertainment.  Which brings us to The Expendables 3.

Remember the joke about Rambo, The Terminator, The Transporter, Zorro, Jack Ryan, and Mad Max walking into a bar?  Probably not.  It would probably not be that funny.  But it would be fun to see.  It’s that visual that is enough to make The Expendables 3 work.

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TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION

Review by C.J. Bunce

It must be fun to be on the production set watching Mark Wahlberg make movies.  The actor conveys a passionate sense of determination no matter what he stars in.  You can track back through his films and see this–no matter whether the movie was a hit or not, you can see Wahlberg firmly planted in his role and delivering all he can muster.  In The Perfect Storm (2000) you have him responding to a once-in-a-lifetime disaster, in Planet of the Apes (2001) he’s facing an impossible world, and in Rock Star (2001) he’s a devoted fan turned star, poking fun at his former life in Rock ‘n’ Roll.  In The Italian Job (2003), a role that could have been made for a young Tom Cruise, we saw one of Wahlberg’s best roles as lead man of an all-star cast of master thieves.   If the whole world hadn’t noticed him yet, Martin Scorcese’s The Departed (2006) made that happen in his supporting tough guy role.  And whether or not you like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (2008), it’s easy to get sucked in because you believe Wahlberg believes he is running from the strange, murderous, phantom wind.  Who else could pull off performances with such a wacky comedic edge like Ted (2012), Pain & Gain (2013), and 2 Guns (2013)?

So it’s no wonder that one of the two key components that make Transformers: Age of Extinction a complete blast of a roller coaster ride is star Wahlberg.  For all the Transformers movies (Age of Extinction is the fourth in the series) you either buy in to the world of machines-turned-robots or you don’t.  There’s no in-between.  And if you get that far, then the movie is a success only if the actors believe the CGI-heavy world they are performing in.  Wahlberg’s failed inventor and sharp mechanic Cade Yeager lets you know at the beginning of the movie where he stands with the goofy yet perfect line “I think we just found a Transformer!”  From there on you follow this guy because he really wants everything he is after–the truth, protecting his daughter, and defying the law to protect those he sees as innocent.

Age of Extinction IMAX 3D transformers

Transformers: Age of Extinction is now available in an impressive Blu-ray edition that brings the 3D IMAX shots right to your home television, with visuals that demonstrate the leading edge of the medium right now.  As we have mentioned here at borg.com with prior Blu-ray 3D, you can’t beat the landscapes in modern 3D films, and Age of Extinction would be a treat for the eyes for that alone.  Crisp, bright colors and sound and depth filmed with some impressive camera wizardry actually elevate this movie beyond what it might be as seen in its 2D Blu-ray, DVD, or film version.  Finely textured background detail will make you think someone took years to create each frame.  There’s enough to dazzle here that, if you don’t get tired along the way, you may walk away judging this as I did as almost as good as the first Transformers movie.

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Expendables 3 crew

We’ve already chatted them up a few times here at borg.com here and here.  It’s the Expendables team and they’re back again “one last time” for Expendables 3.  You know the crew, but this time we have a full length trailer showcasing something from everyone.  Wesley Snipes actually gets a fair amount of the screen time for this third theatrical preview released for the movie.   We also get to see Kelsey Grammer and the rest of the gang, including star Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, and Mel Gibson.

Without further adieu, here’s the new trailer:

Expendables 3 hits theaters August 15, 2014.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

The Expendables 3

The all-star cast ensemble movie is alive and well (well maybe not “well”) thanks to The Expendables franchise.  It’s a forum for action film stars of the past to tell everyone they think they still have what it takes, whether they really do or not.  You can whistle along to the Colonel Bogey March as you check out the teaser for the third installment due out this summer, The Expendables 3.  We included it as one of our entries on our 2014 “movies to watch” list, with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Jet Li, and Dolph Lundgren back, along with Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, and Kelsey Grammer–and Mel Gibson as the show’s villain.  Wait a second… once of these guys doesn’t fit the action hero mold so much. Then there is The Expendables newbie Harrison Ford. What? Is Ford taking every gig that comes along these days?

Along with plenty of extra-long action sequences you can usually find a few fun scenes between these personalities in these films.

With Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude van Damme, Mickey Rourke, and Chuck Norris in the prior outings, we’re still left wondering one question: Where the heck is Steven Seagal?

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Back in Beginner Computing class in junior high, we learned the BASIC computer language on Commodore VIC 20s.  The first program you learn to write is this:

10 PRINT HELLO

20 GOTO 10

The end result is a loop, printing the word HELLO over and over again infinitely like this:

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO …

It’s an easy way to illustrate a temporal loop or time loop, a recurring story element in science fiction and fantasy works.

In 1905 Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  He didn’t mean this literally.  As science and science fiction would later speculate, repeating the past may be a possibility one day.

It is difficult to determine who first put the literal repeat of history into story form, but it is a recurring science fiction device that is often used to great effect.  Classic sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick used the time loop in his 1975 short story “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts.”  The best and most well known example of this is the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where for for some unknown reason a weatherman’s day is repeated until something happens that is supposed to happen–he gets the day exactly right.

Unlike later uses of this device, in his short story Philip K. Dick did not express the element as a repeat of the actual narrative story, but an explanation of cause and effect.  In his story, time traveling astronauts go on a mission, where destruction of the mission results in a time loop that may or may not result in the preservation of an eternal life for everyone.  We don’t see the result, but hear from the tempunauts they have been there, done that, before.  Over and over.

Usually use of a time loop on sci-fi/fantasy genre tales involves at least one person being able to realize the existence of the repetition.  Bill Murray’s weatherman knows the day is repeating in Groundhog Day.  Yet the other characters are not aware at all.  In other uses, characters get to experience deja vu or even fatigue from living time over and over.

This week’s episode of the Syfy Channel’s Haven, the series based on a Stephen King story, is titled “Audrey Parker’s Day Off,” and is one of the best of the series so far.  The main character Audrey Parker, played by Emily Rose, wakes up to repeat a day after she comes upon a death at a crime scene.  She is in bed with friend Chris, played by Jason Priestley, to whom she must explain a different plan for each new day.  In each new day she tries to figure out how to not cause any death, by changing the variables of each day.  In the context of the mystic “troubles” the town of Haven is dealing with, Audrey as the only person person unaffected by the troubles.  With Audrey the show uses this story device quite well.  The parallels to Groundhog Day are unmistakable, but viewers can’t help but like it when it is adapted in a new way as was done here.

Jason Priestley may be strangely tied to time loops, as he also appeared in a television series entirely about time loops, called Tru Calling, one of borg.com’s favorite series.  In Tru Calling, a graduate student and morgue worker named Tru played by Eliza Dushku is able to relive days in the hope of saving the life of someone who died on that day.  Usually she has several opportunities to do this.  Priestley’s character later in the series comes along as an agent of death to undo the seemingly good that Tru has been doing.  His view is that Tru is interfering with the proper course of events, as if only one timeline is correct, and with him it is the first timeline.

Early Edition was another series focusing on the ability to “do over.”  The loop also occurs in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Life Serial,” on the series Eureka in the episode “I Do Over,” the X-Files episode “Monday,” and the Xena, Warrier Princess episode “Been There, Done That.”

In theaters now is the fifth film in the Final Destination franchise.  This series presents a variant on going back to change the past, without the ability to try again via repeats, although with the character of Clear played by Ali Larter in the first two movies, the repeat effort seems to be there all the same.  In the world of the Final Destination films, an individual lives out a horrible accident, then snaps back in sort of a deja vu state, with only seconds to try to prevent the course of events from happening.  However, like Priestley’s character in Tru Calling, an unseen power, like his agent of death, is set about to return the normal and proper timeline, even if it means the death of dozens.

In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut’s hero Billy Pilgrim similarly becomes what Vonnegut calls “unstuck in time”.  He has no choice, he appears in various stages of his own life, but with the choice of changing events.  This also happens in the episode of Angel called “Time Bomb.”

Captain Picard  (Patrick Stewart) experienced the same problem a few times in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  In  the episode “Tapestry,” John de Lancie’s omnipotent character Q plunges Picard into the past to allow Picard to not only revisit his past, but to change it if he wishes.  With no regrets, Picard changes nothing, even when that means a Nausicaan will again put a pool cue through his heart, resulting in Picard again needing an artificial heart for the rest of his life.  But whereas revisiting the past in story form has been around for centuries–think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol–a temporal loop requires repeated visits to the past.  Luckily Scrooge gets it right after merely watching his past, and Q is just fine with Picard’s choices the second time around.

Actually the best Star Trek representation of the temporal loop is the Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect,” which might as well be an essay on how time loops work.  The episode starts with a poker game between the bridge officers.  The ship then experiences a temporal distortion and a ship comes out of nowhere to collide with the USS Enterprise, resulting in the destruction of both ships.  Then we have a commercial break, and the show appears to repeat again.  I know of at least one person who almost turned off the show, thinking there was something wrong with the network feed.  Brilliantly, the audience must be confused.  What did we miss?  In this story, characters are impacted by the repetition, they feel tired, and they experience deja vu.  Luckily Lt. Commander Data figures out how to leave a subtle clue for the next repeat, allowing him to save the ship before the end of the hour of the episode.  His crew had been repeating the event for mere days, but the other ship caught in the anomaly, the USS Bozeman helmed by a captain played by Kelsey Grammer, has unknowingly re-lived the same day for decades, and the show ends with Picard informing the other captain of some pretty bad news about his lost time.  Breaking a time loop is also the focus of the Charmed episode “The Good, The Bad, and The Cursed.”

Writers use time loops again and again because they are fun, and modern audiences understand them, mostly because of the success of Groundhog Day.  In fact in this week’s episode of Haven, “Audrey Parker’s Day Off,” when Audrey explains all this to Interim Chief of Police Nathan Wournos, his response is “you’re stuck in my second favorite Bill Murray movie.”  When on the following day Audrey has to explain the recurring events yet again, she cuts him off when he is about to repeat the line and finishes it for him.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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