Dear Mr. Sylvester Stallone,
Long time fan, first time letter writer. I recently had the pleasure of watching your film, The Expendables, in theaters. Congratulations on an impressive opening weekend, virtually guaranteeing the green light to proceed with a sequel. I welcome another entry into this celebration of action heroes, past and present. Brutal action fun is missing from theaters these days and The Expendables looks to be the cure, much as Marion ‘Cobra’ Cobretti was the cure for the disease of crime.
You’ve shown, both with this film and Rambo that you’re not afraid to let the bodies hit the floor and graphically allow characters to destroy their enemies. I, and many others, applaud this. As rational people who know the difference between fantasy and reality, seeing bad people blown in half brings laughs, not criminal behavior. Seeing murderous rapists eviscerated by .50 caliber gunfire brings whoops of justice, not nightmares.
This letter, however, is not to celebrate these films, as much as I enjoy them. There is one major flaw, present in each film and this is the over-use of CGI blood. Perhaps there is some reason for this, like shooting for a PG-13 rating but changing to an R at the last moment. If this is the reason, I think we can see from the critical and financial success of both Rambo and The Expendables that your movies do very well even when rated-R. In fact, many movies rated-R these days perform extraordinarily well. With your track record, and the record of other R-rated movies, there is no reason to expect, or make, Expendables 2 a PG-13 film. With that in mind, there is no reason to cut back on the violence and gore.
CGI blood is atrocious. It looks terrible. I would rather see no blood than CGI blood. Another team based film from earlier in the year, The Losers, was fun, PG-13, and killed off plenty of bad guys. There was no blood and honestly, it wasn’t missed. The Expendables deserves blood and violence though. The Expendables make both the A-Team and The Losers look like girl scouts.
I implore you, on behalf of all movie-goers, to fix the chief complaint against The Expendables – the sub-par CGI, specifically the blood spurts. I’m assuming there is some benefit to CGI blood – it’s definitely cleaner and perhaps allows you to take fewer takes to capture the action. But it is inarguable that CGI blood looks far, far worse than a practical squib and blood load. These are not expensive or difficult special effects. You’re no doubt familiar with them through your many fantastic R-rated action films. While they may extend filming just a bit, I think the end result is well worth it.
In The Expendables, the practical effects looked great – the fight sequences and the car chase are great examples. When things are done for real, they just look, well, more real. Rather than see some strangely colored awkward blood spray, we could see a wet spray of goo spurt out. I can practically guarantee a 25% increase in cheering if the blood were real.
CGI has a time and place in all movies these days. There are times when it is the best answer. When Terry Crews as Hale Caesar blew a man in half with an AA-12 shotgun, it was digital, and it was bad ass enough that we all cheered. While I would much rather see a practical dummy buddy explode, that is an acceptable use of CGI. Knives punching through chests and blood flying from wounds however, would almost always be better served practically.
So, Mr. Stallone, as a critic and huge fan, I implore you – abandon the CGI blood and go practical in The Expendables 2. To me, that was the only thing that really bothered me about the film. Fix that and you will create perhaps the most amazing and awesome action spectacle of all time – provided you get Jean-Claude Van Damme in there as well! But seriously, Sly, you know it in your heart. Practical looks better. Bring back real blood for any future action movie you do it. Because frankly, when I see CGI blood, I go past my boiling point.
P.S. No, I don’t really expect Sylvester Stallone to read this. This is just a novel way of me expressing my boiling point column about CGI blood in The Expendables. I thought it looked like ass in an otherwise awesome flick. What say you?