Tag Archive: sylvester stallone


Yes, you read that right. After the enjoyable yet unremarkable Rocky Balboa it appears as though it is very likely that Sylvester Stallone is set to reprise the most famous role of his career and bring the underdog boxer Rocky back to the big screen for the seventh time. However, if it does happen, it won’t be in any kind of Rocky VII film, it will be in a spin-off form the franchise. Intrigued?

To date the Rocky franchise has grossed over $1.2billion worldwide

Die hard film fans will have heard of Fruitvale Station (no Rocky connection yet) which is released tomorrow (26th July) in the United States as it has been very well received at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for American Dramatic Film, and Cannes Film Festival where it won the award for Best First Film. Fruitvale Station was written and directed by Ryan Coogler who is only 27 which is quite remarkable when you think about it.

Anyway, it’s Coogler who is planning to bring the next film to the big screen through his passion for the franchise. Coogler will be writing the script and directing the project which will be titled ‘Creed’ and will focus on the grandson of Rocky’s respected rival, Apollo Creed. The story will apparently revolve around Creed’s grandson and his dreams of fighting professionally despite his family’s concerns after Apollo died in the ring (Rocky IV). The young Creed will turn to Sylvester Stallone’s heavyweight champion Rocky to train him and help him become the best boxer he can be.

Left: Ryan Coogler; Right: Michael B. Jordan

The actor set to nab the lead role in the spin-off is Michael B. Jordan who stars in Fruitvale Station and, just in recent months, has been highly touted for some of the biggest films in production. Jordan is probably most famous for his excellent acting skills in The Wire and has also been seen on Friday Night Lights and starred in surprise hit, Chronicle. He has been linked with roles in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the Fantastic Four reboot (it seems like only a matter of time before he plays a superhero and getting this role isn’t going to hurt his chances). He certainly has the acting chops and the likeability about him to pull this role off, but would a spin-off work and is it even a possibility?

At the minute, reports suggest that Sylvester Stallone will come back on board as producer as well as star, meaning that his baby (the Rocky franchise) will still be in his own hands even if he hangs up his gloves after giving Creed its legs. The Rocky franchise is certainly a popular one and in the modern world of remakes, reboots and sequels it seems as though Hollywood would be daft to shoot the idea down without thinking about it. If Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan want to make it then I say we let them; they are both getting praise right, left and centre and the franchise would be in safe hands. It would also be brilliant to see a new summer blockbuster (with potential to be a series of films in its own right) with a black character at the heart of its story, which is something significantly lacking from Hollywood films.

I highly doubt Sylvester Stallone would turn down the chance to play Rocky Balboa once more. Let round seven begin.

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February is looking like a very exciting month over here in the UK for film releases. There’s animation, Oscar nominated performances, big laughs and big explosions. Here’s my rundown of the films to look out for over the next four weeks.

 

Bullet to the Head – 1st February

This looks like the speech-slurring Sylvester Stallone is back to his best as he teams up with Fast Five‘s Sung Kang. A very ordinary storyline but throw in some fantastic action scenes and funny one liners and you’ve got yourself one of the most enjoyable action films of the year.

 

Flight – 1st February

Denzel Washington is a man that always delivers and here he is with his latest Oscar nominated performance as a pilot who’s heroic saving of a crashing plane is soon under investigation as he may not be all he seems. With a supporting cast of Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, Bruce Greenwood and John Goodman this has no choice but to be a fantastic drama.

 

I Give it a Year – 8th February

This is probably the film that I am most looking forward to this month. I can’t remember the last time I saw a trailer that genuinely made me laugh out loud as much as this one does. I Give it a Year looks hilarious and I hope that I will not be disappointed, especially since Simon Baker, of The Mentalist fame, is in it!

 

Wreck-it Ralph – 8th February

Nominated for the Best Animated Film Oscar at this years ceremony, Wreck-it Ralph looks set to be able to rival anything that Pixar have done in the past. Set in the world of video games we follow bad guy Wreck-it Ralph in his attempt to prove to himself and everyone else that he is in fact a good guy.

 

A Good Day to Die Hard – 14th February

The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise promises to be the biggest one yet. And with the introduction of Jai Courtney as McClane Jr it may be a sign that Bruce Willis is ready to pass on the mantle of leading the series, although I highly doubt that!

 

Cloud Atlas – 22nd February

Cloud Atlas‘ narrative structure is one that hasn’t been seen all that often in film and, upon it’s release in America (a good few months earlier than the rest of the world for some daft reason) it instantly divided critics. Despite this, I am still excited to see how the film will play out and really looking forward to seeing how the adaptation of David Mitchell’s epic novel turns out.

Earlier this year Jackie Chan decided to announce that he would be quitting action movies; this appears to be nothing more than a lie. At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur for his latest release Chinese Zodiac he confirmed his involvement in The Expendables 3.

“Sly had invited me to be in ‘Expendables 2‘ but I was too busy filming ‘CZ12‘ and couldn’t make a commitment to the film. But he did extend his invitation to the third movie, which I agreed on the condition that I will be appearing as more than just a minor role with a few scenes,” which is brilliant news! Chan also said that he asked Stallone if the third installment of the action packed franchise could be more of a buddy-buddy movie which means that Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Chan could be a sort of hero and sidekick team in the next film with Jason Statham and the rest taking a bit of a backseat.

I can’t wait to see Jackie Chan join the rest of the action heavyweights on the big screen. I would love to see a big fight scene between Jackie Chan and Jason Statham, or Chan taking on Jet Li. The fans of these films would love to see fight scenes like these!

And another brilliant series that Jackie Chan has involvement with is, of course, Rush Hour and Chan also updated everyone on the film that the world wants: Rush Hour 4. Apparently a script has been written and Chris Tucker is looking over it as we speak. However, Chan has stated it wasn’t written with any intention to be a Rush Hour 4, it is just a buddy cop movie but Chan thought that if Tucker would get on board then it would make a perfect next chapter for one of the most fun trilogies out there!

But Chan has said that if Chris Tucker turns it down then he will look for another actor to star alongside him and it could just be the start of another buddy cop trilogy.

“In a race against time, a crew of art historians and museum curators unite to recover renown works of art stolen by Nazis before Hitler destroys it” – that is the true story synopsis of The Monuments Men, to be directed by George Clooney. Clooney will also be starring in the film alongside a rather impressive cast: Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban. The latest big name actor to join the project is good friend and previous co-star of Clooney’s Matt Damon. Clooney is also co-writing the feature and it is set to start shooting in Europe at the beginning of 2013.

It has long been confirmed speculation, although not actually confirmed, that Jamie Foxx would be playing the main villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Well this week it has been announced that what everyone already knew IS true. Foxx seems very excited to be playing the role and he should make for a good villain. Another piece of casting news was announced this week regarding the sequel and that is that Dane DeHaan, of Chronicle fame, will indeed be playing Harry Osborn. Like Foxx, DeHaan has been linked with the role for a while now so it is good to get some solid confirmation about it.

 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has made a swift return to acting since leaving his post as the governor of California, starring in The Expendables 2 and having an incredible four films slated for release in 2013. However, he will also be returning to Conan for The Legend of Conan. The Legend of Conan will not be a reboot or a remake but a catch-up with the old character, a greater hero story apparently. It will completely ignore the Jason Momoa update that was released earlier this year and absolutely flopped. Sylvester Stallone, a good friend of Arnie’s, has relatively good success when he brought back his famous characters (Rocky and Rambo) to the big screen a few years ago and Schwarzenegger will be hoping to do the same with Conan.

 

And how could I ignore the two posters that were released this week for two of the most hyped movies of the next year: Star Trek Into Darkness and Man of Steel.

Superman Into Darkness

Now, the title of this post may be a little bit controversial and may leave people wondering “what on Earth are you talking about?”. After all, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is one of the biggest franchises in cinema history and Johnny Depp actually received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of one of the most famous characters of all time: the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow. Before I get started, I would like to say that I am a big fan of the character of Jack Sparrow and have previously named him as my favourite role of Johnny Depp’s; I have also stated previously that I believe Johnny Depp to be one of the best actors not to have won an Oscar. So why do I think this?

I honestly think that Johnny Depp is one of the most versatile actors of his generation, or at least he was earlier in his career. He has starred in a number of very successful films and his characters have been very varied throughout his career: from Ed Wood to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, from Alice in Wonderland to From Hell. Time and time again Depp has shown that he can bring his A game to the table at every opportunity. That is until he fell in love with the character of Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack Sparrow was the first (and to date the only) character that Johnny Depp has returned to and played on more than one occasion, four in total with a fifth and sixth movie in the pipeline. So far we have seen Captain Jack Sparrow in Curse of the Black Pearl, Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End and On Stranger Tides. I believe that the choice to play Jack Sparrow is one that, if he wanted to win an Oscar, Johnny Depp should have steered clear from. As the Pirates franchise has got longer and longer the films have got worse and worse; the first was brilliant and quite rightly Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his performance; the second was good; third was very very long, confusing, boring and painful, whilst the fourth received mostly negative reviews and was the first in the series not to gain any Oscar nominations at all. If this pattern continues then Depp will surely become nothing more than simply a forgotten man.

For some reason, Depp’s other films outside the Pirates franchise have been very mediocre, verging on the line between average and bad largely. With the exception of Rango, Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd Depp’s other films have been regularly panned by critics and audiences alike. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Dark Shadows, The Tourist, The Rum Diary and I think it is fair to say that anticipation for The Lone Ranger movie is very low indeed after poorly received promotional shots.

This is not to say that Depp’s versatility as an actor has gone. What I think has happened is that people now can only see Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow because of how iconic the character has become. This is the same way in which people recognise Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator, Sylvester Stallone as Rocky or Rambo and Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Therefore I believe that when people watch Johnny Depp in his more recent films what audiences are actually hoping for is to see Jack Sparrow on the screen rather than Johnny Depp and there is no way that this can ever work in Depp’s favour.

Depp’s taste in suits are almost as versatile as his early career.

I still hold out hope that Depp wins an Oscar one day as I feel that his career really does deserve it, but I do think that the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is a sinking ship and Depp needs to get away from it to further advance his career.

As the success of The Expendables continues to grow and the franchise likely to continue with a third instalment after kick-starting Sylvester Stallone’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career it should come as no surprise that this idea is spawning a sister project (of sorts). There are talks for an all female cast to step into the action boots and make an ‘Expendables‘ type film with the biggest female action stars of past and present. Here are my picks of the women I would like to see take part…

 

SIGOURNEY WEAVER

Sigourney Weaver pretty much changed the face of the female action scene with her role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien films. She has even been names the greatest female character in science-fiction film. Her role in this franchise helped carve the way for plenty of female-led action films in the future so Weaver is a shoe-in in my books. She would definitely have to be the leader of the group, the Stallone among our women.

 

HELEN MIRREN

Helen Mirren is a very accomplished English actress and although she is probably most famous for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen she has recently turned her hand to action films in Red and the upcoming sequel Red 2. She may not be able to keep up with the younger girls in the film but she could definitely fit the Bruce Willis role of the first film with an option for some action scenes later on.

 

ANGELINA JOLIE

Jolie’s film career seems to have waned recently but you cannot dispute the fact that she is an action hero through and through, no matter how serious she tries to be in other films. Tomb Raider, Mr & Mrs Smith, Wanted and Salt have all proven that Jolie has the action credentials to more than hold her own.

 

MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ

Here is one of Hollywood’s most common go-to-girls when in need of a tough female to compete with the action heroes. Rodriquez boasts such credits as Avatar, Fast and Furious and played the rough Anna-Lucia in LOST. I can tell you I definitely wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her, she just looks like she could kick some serious ass.

 

LUCY LIU

Jet Li is the Asian representative for The Expendables and I think Lucy Liu would be the ideal woman to portray a similar role in a female version of the film. She has been in the (albeit not very serious action) film version of Charlie’s Angels but was terrific in Kill Bill.

 

HALLE BERRY

X-Men, Catwoman, Die Another Day have all shown that Halle Berry is capable of being bad-ass at times. She is clearly a talented actress (even though it didn’t show in Catwoman) and I think she could definitely bring something different to the table.

 

MILLA JOVOVICH

She is the star of one of two of the most famous modern female-led action franchises of all time: Resident Evil. The other being…

 

KATE BECKINSALE

Underworld. And as well as here Beckinsale is showing off some action skills in the recent remake of Total Recall.

 

GINA CARANO

Finally, all of the above women have already proven they have what it takes in their long careers so they’re going to need some young blood too. Female action heroes aren’t something you find much among today’s young actresses but Gina Carano is currently making a name for herself, having appeared in Haywire and had a previous career in kick boxing and mixed martial arts. Would you really want to mess with her?

 

CHLOE MORETZ

This is my final choice. The male version of The Expendables focusses on a team of mercenaries and while Moretz may be too young for this the female version won’t be a carbon copy or remake of the original testosterone fuelled action film. Even if Moretz just had a small part as another character’s daughter who had a couple of scenes where she could really let loose that would be great!

 

Anyway… that’s me done. Who would you want to see take action in a female led action ensemble film?

Sometimes, appearing in a huge franchise can make you become a household name across the world and the rest of your career becomes easy, but for some actors (and quite often better ones) are forced to play from the sidelines; consistently being a supporting actor and never the main role, this is the case for Karl Urban. Urban is an actor from New Zealand who, despite having gained critical acclaim for films in his homeland he has never been thought of as a leading man for Hollywood, yet unless you have been living on Mars you will have seen him in quite a few of his films, ones that you could even count among your favourites, but you just might now know.

As I mentioned Urban started out working in his home country of New Zealand and here he started out working in the theatre and appearing on television adverts. Karl Urban then got a break after being seen internationally by appearing on the television series’ Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess in the recurring roles of Cupid and Julius Caesar. After fulfilling his work on television he appeared in an offbeat romance film entitled The Price of Milk for which he received a nomination at the New Zealand Qantas Film and Television Awards; he later appeared in Out of the Blue (2007), a dramatisation of New Zealand’s Aramoana massacre and gained positive reaction and the Qantas Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.

So now lets move on to what I know him for: being a supporting actor in a number of franchises. The first of them, and arguably the biggest of all of his films is Lord of the Rings. Now, Lord of the Rings has a huge cast and story that spreads itself over three films so there’s no doubt that you’re not going to be able to name all of the actors an actresses who were a part of the project, but Karl Urban had a pretty decent role in The Two Towers and Return of the King. Karl Urban played Éomer. Éomer has quite a significant role in the books which is diminished in Peter Jackson’s trilogy but he still plays a part. In the films Éomer is made an outcast but is present at the Battle of Helm’s Deep as he remains loyal to the King of Rohan, he is also responsible for the death of the leader of the Haradrim. After this part in one of the most successful trilogies of all time you could have forgiven Karl Urban for thinking he was going to have a pretty tasty career.

The final chapter of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was released in 2003 and in 2004 Urban appeared in two more franchises significantly differing in quality. First was The Chronicles of Riddick where Urban plays the villain to Vin Diesel’s hero and as such Urban’s character dies in the climatic battle scene. This was a first taste of Hollywood films really and an encouraging start although the film itself didn’t go down well with critics. Despite this, Urban’s next choice was superb. If you missed Karl Urban in Lord of the Rings you may have seen him in The Bourne Supremacy (part of another of the best trilogies of all time). In Supremacy Karl Urban is again the villain playing second fiddle to Matt Damon’s hero who everyone loves; Urban was the Russian agent Kirill who killed Marie but inevitably failed in his mission to kill Bourne himself.

In 2007 Karl Urban got a shot at being the leading man in Pathfinder, a Viking adventure film. The film itself lacks in the dialogue area and replaces it with an emphasis on violence, blood and gore… this was probably a reason for the harshly negative reaction to it, however I don’t mind the film but it certainly didn’t do anything to help Karl Urban’s career.

As a childhood fan of Star Trek Urban actively pursued a role in the 2009 reboot.

In 2009 Urban returned to doing what he does best and decided to hang around in the background of another huge blockbuster: Star Trek. This is probably a role that Urban is most famous for to fans across the globe. In JJ Abrams reboot of the famous science fiction series Urban plays Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy who becomes Kirk’s first (and pretty much only) friend at Starfleet Academy. As Bones, Urban injected (a nice little pun for those who have seen the film) some comedic moments into Star Trek and his performance is held in high regard by fans of the original series.

After appearing in Red and Priest, Urban gets another chance at being a lead man in a big blockbuster this year in Dredd, a reboot of the 1995 film starring Sylvester Stallone, in which Urban will be playing Judge Dredd. The film itself is being hotly anticipated by fans of the comic book character  and it received positive reception at Comic Con which has probably the hardest crowd to please in the world.

At the age of 40 it may be a little late for Karl Urban to make that step to the forefront after being in the secondary roles for so long but it is not unheard of. Urban has a real talent for acting and I have enjoyed every one of his performances that I have seen. In my opinion Karl Urban has not got the recognition or fan base that he deserves but with the Star Trek franchise looking as though it could stretch out easily for a few films then he may get it there or in any upcoming Judge Dredd sequels. He deserves it, that’s for sure.

Here’s a video of Karl Urban talking about his role in Star Trek and just generally being cool. His colleagues seem to love him too!

With The Expendables 2 being released in a couple of weeks I decided that I would watch the first film in preparation. Here’s what I thought of it:

The Expendables is about a team of mercenaries who are given the assignment to take out a corrupt military leader and a rogue CIA operative on a Latin American island. Sylvester Stallone writes and directs the piece which brings together the greatest action heroes of the 80s and 90s (Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger), action stars of recent years (Jason Statham, Jet Li, Randy Couture, Steve Austin), Julia Roberts’ cousin (Eric Roberts) and the hilarious former NFL player Terry Crews. There’s something in the cast to please everyone and just from looking at it you know that it’s a film that is going to pride itself on its action scenes rather than the terrific acting abilities of the cast.

The film, for a return to the old school action movies, takes off on a rather slow start and those hoping for a really memorable entrance from the super team of mercenaries are in for a disappointment. While it is a good way to introduce the abilities and comradery among The Expendables it could have been a lot bigger and better and I thought that’s what Stallone would be going for. It seems as though in trying to get us to like the characters and understand the friendships there the dialogue has been crammed full with what are attempts at wise-cracks and friendly banter which fall a little loose and don’t really have any effect. However, if you can wait half an hour for the story to take off then you are in for a great treat.

There is something incredibly satisfying when you have waited to see Jason Statham fighting to see him finally let loose and take down several bad guys at one time; whether they are a match for him or not. Statham is fantastic and his fight scenes are so well choreographed they look like a work of art, he fights with so much style and finesse it’s incredible. Saying that though, each of the actors in the film have their own moment of fame as Stallone looks to share out the glory among the cast, whether its as simple as Rourke throwing an incredibly accurate knife, Stallone winning the girl or Terry Crews shooting through like twenty people at once and loving every second of it.

The Expendables, it may surprise you to hear, is not exactly a mind bender. It doesn’t challenge the audience or push the boundaries of the action genre; what The Expendables is is a celebration of the action genre and a very stereotypical one at that… right from the hero getting the girl, the girl serving little to no purpose and even the stereotypical name of Jet Li’s character, Yin Yang. But the action is second to none, there are great fight scenes, big explosions and a lot of fun to be had watching.

My Rating: 6/10.

The three biggest action stars in the world… ever.

During the eighties and nineties the action genre was the place to be and many action stars were born. Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren all made careers out of being action heroes. Their films were, most of the time, nothing more than a simple storyline where a hero just got to kick ass and the audience would have fun cheering the hero on while he did so, eg. Die Hard, Rambo. Nowadays you won’t really find that among the big Hollywood films, the genre has evolved over time and action films seemed to get more serious, genres started to merge and the days of the real action genre and action heroes are behind us, I think.

While people like the actors mentioned above are still making films I do believe that the only real action hero we have left is the English born Jason Statham. He is most famous for the Transporter trilogy and his films continue to get a cinema release whereas the likes of Lundgren, Seagal and Jean Claude Van Damme do not, so why is this? I think it is because Statham does have a real talent for acting whereas a lot of action heroes are just there because of their size and physique; Statham has shown before he can manage the acting as well as the action, he seems like a really nice guy which audiences always like and he is still relatively new in his career, having only started out in 1998. It’s been 14 years sure, but actors these days go for a lot longer than that!

The Expendables 2 is coming out later this year and back in 2010 we saw a return to the sole action genre with the original film directed and written by Sylvester Stallone himself. The idea was to bring together a great ensemble cast of action heroes to bring the genre back to the forefront of blockbuster cinema. The cast included Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren as well as a scene that features three stars synonymous with the action genre: Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis. The sequel retains this cast and expands with Van Damme and Chuck Norris. The idea to revive the big action block buster was a good one in theory and went down well with fans as the film opened to huge commercial success across the globe but critics were less favourable as the film received mixed to negative reviews. Despite this, a third film is rumoured to happen and Steven Seagal says he has been offered a part. But it does seem as though the only way to get a big action film back on the big screen is to bring together an ensemble, otherwise audiences are not going to be grabbed.

Asian cinema still features a lot of action films and the very successful The Raid (originally titled Serbuan Maut) was even released in British cinemas earlier this year and went down very well with critics so maybe it is just Hollywood that can’t get it right? I suppose that the nearest thing we have to a pure action film these days is the Fast & Furious franchise but you could hardly say that Paul Walker is an action hero or that even Vin Diesel is (come on, he was in The Pacifier) no matter how much he really likes to think he is himself. The Bourne films are marketed as action films and I guess they could be described as such but this is still an evolution from real action films as it features more in crime and even political genres, however the action does feature a lot. And Matt Damon would not consider himself an action hero I don’t think. Liam Neeson isn’t particularly an action hero yet his film Taken is probably the most successful action movie of recent times and is the only really really good one that I can think of right now.

I would argue that the nearest thing we have to real action films now are the superhero movies. The action heroes have been replaced with those of the comic book world as they appear on the big screen and clearly define the theme of good versus evil and the hero goes on to kick some ass very much like Rambo, John McClane or Frank Martin would do. All the time, trying to keep it fun for audiences.

Over time all genres do evolve as audiences crave something new, something that will break boundaries or challenge them to put the pieces together themselves but I, for one, would like to see more old school action films being made. But none of these rubbish straight to DVD films, I want real action blockbusters with real action heroes in them. All it will take is for one new action hero to step out of the shadows and then a flurry of them will follow as it did for he superhero movies and for the fairy tale films too. So whoever he is, he better step up quick.