Pointing out the flaws in Hollywood is easy – there are hundreds of them. Unfortunately for the entertainment system, I’m a fan of taking the low road and always pointing those flaws out. After all, it’s not easy to be mad every week without taking a few cheap shots.
A child of the 80s, I’m a big fan of action. Guns, knives, swords, bullets, punches, jump kicks, Van Damme, you name it, I dig it. Hell, I’ll watch the shitty UFC/WWE vehicle movies that go straight to DVD just to see somewhere get punched in the eye socket.
You’d think action movies would be easy to make and send to theaters. Toss in some fireballs, some blood, some roundhouse kicks – easy, right? Apparently not. I mean, sure, we get good action films every now and then, maybe even once a month – but how many more just fall flat? What’s wrong with Hollywood and action movies when one of the best, if not the best, action movies so far is the animated Kung Fu Panda 2?
It says Hollywood sucks. But right now you’re probably thinking to yourself that this can’t possibly be true. Well, I think it is. So, briefly, I’m going to run down the action offerings of the Summer and their shortcomings as compared to Kung Fu Panda 2.
- The Green Hornet. Overall a disappointing movie that only has two real action sequences – both of which are nifty, but short. This flick has fewer fights and is just flaccid overall.
- The Mechanic. While it’s infinitely bloodier than KFP2, this Statham vehicle is passable, but not overly great. The action takes a page from the Transporter franchise, offering nothing new. The short and fast cut action sequences leave something to be desired.
- Battle: Los Angeles. It’s generally agreed that this movie isn’t great, but I liked it. There was plenty of shooting, but a ton of POV shots – something I’m not a fan of. Based on action alone, this is a top pick for summer, but coupled with laughable dialog, the film is average.
- Sucker Punch. Visually stunning but shitty across the board after. Sure, the first fight sequence was awesome, but when they just repeated it a few more times, it lost all its charm. Slow motion flip, slow motion flip, slow motion turn, regular speed, slow motion explosion, cut to disappointment.
- Hanna. A good flick that seemed like it was going to be action packed, but turned out to have a pretty minimal amount. Disappointing on the action front.
- Thor. Pretty entertaining, but it too was struck with the Marvel curse – decent action in the front half with a completely underwhelming climactic battle.
- Fast Five. With less racing than the other installments and more muscle, this film surprised critics who talked it up like it was an A level movie. What we got was B- at best, with a fair amount of shooting but an underwhelming and digitally “enhanced” fight between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson which, contrary to their claims, won’t go down in the history book as one of the great on-screen fights.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. I dug this flick and found it to be fairly exciting – Johnny Depp swinging around on things, jumping over things, and then swinging to things to jump from. Toss in a few more sword fights and this fast paced film moved well and was never boring, but it lacked the fighting action I desired.
Shamefully, I missed Drive Angry in theaters because I’m a bad person, and I’m not counting limited or DVD releases, which knocks out some potentially good films like Ip Man 2 or 13 Assassins. I’m also writing this before the big summer blockbusters explode onto the scene (Green Lantern, Transformers 3, Captain America) because it’s almost fucking June already and there hasn’t been a quality, entertaining action movie on the big screen that can compare to a Dreamworks animated film.
Maybe this says that Dreamworks is just that awesome, but that’s probably not the truth. I did think KFP2 was pretty awesome though. It had a likable cast of characters, a role for Jean Claude Van Damme, and well choreographed action sequences. Sure, a digital panda can do things that a man can not, but the fighting and imagery in the film blows the other movies pretty much out of the water. Again, maybe it’s unfair because computers can pretty much do whatever they want – but apparently what they often want is to look like shit. Kung Fu Panda 2 was entertaining, beautiful, and full of awesome fights. Other action movies this year fail to come close in terms of story or action, sometimes getting close in one category but never both. Strange as it may seem, when an animated kids flick is the best action flick in the first half of the year, that pushes me past my boiling point.