Movies: The Expendables 2 — Enough with the Old Men, Let’s Get Some Women Up in Here!

Sitting through The Expendables 2 last week, with plastic surgery-ravaged male faces, gory death scenes and laugh-out-loud (not in a good way), face-palming dialogue, it got me thinking about a recent rumour that there might be a female Expendables-esque movie coming to a screen near you.

While some of the names thrown around—Tia Carrere, Lucy Lawless—are a bit lacklustre, allow me to suggest a few actresses. And seeing as this is essentially a “fantasy football” Expenda-belles exercise, I’m going to be as bold as I can. Feel free to add yours in the comments.

  • Angelina Jolie.
  • The Charlie’s Angels girls: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and especially Lucy Lui.
  • Uma Thurman.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar.
  • Pamela Anderson.
  • Kate Beckinsale.
  • Milla Jovovich.
  • Vivica A. Fox.
  • The ladies of Charmed, but Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan in particular.
  • Michelle Rodriguez.
  • Neve Campbell.
  • Linda Hamilton.
  • And, of course, the Holy Grail of female action stars: Sigourney Weaver.

Now, some of these actresses have transcended being associated with a potential film franchise that originally started out as a vehicle for Sylvester Stallone, written by Sylvester Stallone (Angelina, anyone?). But having said that, I think a lot of them would be up for it. Linda Hamilton has guest starred on Chuck as the titular character’s mother, so she knows how to capitalise on her action heroine status, and Sigourney Weaver made what could be seen as the cameo of the year in Cabin in the Woods, so I wouldn’t rule her out, either. Then there are others—Doherty, McGowan, Anderson, Campbell—who don’t seem to have much else going on in their careers at the moment, so I think they’d be shoo-ins.

My housemate and I were talking about an Expenda-belles effort recently, and he brought up that there would have to be a villain to rival Jean Claude Van Damme’s in the most recent instalment, and a love interest. He came up with everybody’s favourite love-to-hate movie star, Sharon Stone, as the villain, and the non-threatening, token love interest in films such as Miss Congeniality, Benjamin Bratt. If you include Halle Berry, this film is pretty much turning into Catwoman! Well, at least it’ll be better than the original…

Related: The Expendables Review.

Cabin in the Woods Review.

Image via Expendables Premiere.

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods*.

 

For a movie that was shot in 2009, The Cabin in the Woods surprisingly has its finger on 2012 zeitgeist’s pulse. Zombies, The Hunger Games-esque sacrifice, and a Hemsworth brother. But would you expect anything less from a Joss Whedon film?

I will give Whedon and fellow writer Drew Goddard credit for throwing pretty well every horror movie trope at the wall to see what sticks, as Clem Bastow puts it in her favourable review, but I just found it too unreal to suspend my disbelief, if that oxymoron makes sense.

But overall, I thought the premise was a clever one, it just wasn’t executed to my liking (the group of friends I went with all enjoyed it, however). I thought the group of five youths, which we are told are crucial to the story; the spooky setting; and the stereotypical characters (the whore, the virgin, the scholar, the jock and the clown) worked well to lull the audience into a scary movie state of mind. At this point I thought The Cabin in the Woods would be more like Scream; in what way I’m not entirely sure, as I’m still reeling from the violent severing of this idea from my imagination by the second half of the film.

This is where every horror movie villain, with an emphasis on the super natural, comes into play as the characters realise that the “inbred, redneck zombies” aren’t the only terrors they have to deal with: there’s some kind of government body orchestrating the events not just at the cabin, but in similar settings all over the world, whose employees take bets on which villain will be the death of them (head of the operation Hadley has his heart set on meremen. This will later come back to haunt him.) and offer up each fallen archetype as a sacrifice. Any similarities with The Hunger Games (sacrifice! Surveillance! A Hemsworth!) end here, though, when it is revealed that the sacrifices are for anything but the government: they’re to prevent the ancient gods from revolting and overrunning the earth as they did in ancient times.

The voice of reason, Truman (a reference to The Truman Show?), seems to be uncomfortable with his role in the sacrifice, and asks a fellow worker, “Should you really get used to monsters, magic and zombies?” It’s a poignant commentary on our desensitisation to violence: that the government is so willing to offer up five innocent youths as a sacrifice for the greater good is both sickeningly common and, for the sake of the story, noble. This is a sentiment Sigourney Weaver, who makes a fan-boys wet dream surprise appearance as The Director, reiterates at the bitter end.

Proving the virgin stays alive til then (in the vein of Scream’s Sidney Prescott and Halloween’s Laurie Strode, “the virigin’s death is optional, just as long as it’s last” and she—it’s always a she, because women are the ones who should suffer for the rest of their species’ carnal sins, right?—suffers), Dana and stoner Marty (the fact that his pot-smoking cancels out the effect the government’s manipulation has on him could be seen as a pro-stoner statement) piece together the fact that they’re trapped in some kind of “reality show”, and that Dana’s basement reading of a young girls’ diary from 1903 in which her father murders her family was the “choice” the group made as to which villain(s) would come after them. Later, when the two find a loophole and break into the government headquarters, they come face to face with just how many other options they could have “chosen” in the basement.

This is where I think The Cabin in the Woods failed. It was just too much. I loved that they used Anna Hutchison’s Jules as a modern-day Tatum Riley or sorority girl CiCi from Scream and Scream 2, respectively, and Chris Hemsworth, who at the time was a little known Aussie actor, and is now an avenging megastar, as the Janet Leigh or Drew Barrymore of the effort. I also loved that unless the characters “transgress” and buy into the tropes they’ve been manipulated to succumb to, they can’t be punished”. Stoner Marty points this out when he marvels at Jule’s sudden sluttiness and Hemsworth’s Curt’s alpha-male act. I think they could have played a bit more off of this, or the reality TV angle, instead of going the whole hog with government cover-ups, supernatural massacres and ancient god uprisings. Sure, it’s been done before, but I think The Cabin in the Woods had the potential to be the best in this genre. Instead, it’s created a genre of its own. To some, this is better.

*Blanket spoiler alert.

Related: The Hunger Games Review.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism!

Elsewhere: [TheVine] The Cabin in the Woods Movie Review.

Image via IMDb.

Aliens’ Ellen Ripley as Everywoman.

 

From “Sigourney Weaver on the Legacy of Aliens & Her Sequel That Hollywood Won’t Make” by Eric Larnick on Moviefone:

“I feel like Ripley is all of us; I don’t feel like she’s an action hero. She is called to reach down and find the resources to fight in every way possible. To me it’s about all of us. There’s a Ripley in all of us. I think that’s why people love the movie and the series. She’s not a special person, she’s an every-person, and we are put into these circumstances where we have to protect others and not give up…

“What’s so exciting about women in action is that women bring a different focus to the action and it comes from a different source… Every woman you see, in her kitchen or wherever else, has a secret action heroine in her; just wait til something happens to her children or husband, then you’ll see it.”

Women in the kitchen. Hmm…

Elsewhere: [Moviefone] Sigourney Weaver on the Legacy of Aliens & Her Sequel That Hollywood Won’t Make.

Image via Moviefone.