ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson 
Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott 
Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott

Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

THE EXPENDABLES (2010)

Directed By: Sylvester Stallone
Written By: Dave Gallaham & Sylvester Stallone
Cinematography By: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Editor: Ken Blackwell & Paula Harb

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Charisma Carpenter, Terry Crews, Eric Roberts, Jet Li, Dolph Lungdren, Mickey Rourke, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwartzenegger, David Zayas, Gary Daniels 

Barney Ross leads the “Expendables”, a band of highly skilled mercenaries including knife enthusiast Lee Christmas, martial arts expert Yin Yang, heavy weapons specialist Hale Caesar, demolitionist Toll Road and loose-cannon sniper Gunner Jensen. When the group is commissioned by the mysterious Mr. Church to assassinate the merciless dictator of a small South American island, Barney and Lee head to the remote locale to scout out their opposition. Once there, they meet with local rebel Sandra and discover the true nature of the conflict engulfing the city. When they escape the island and Sandra stays behind, Ross must choose to either walk away and save his own life – or attempt a suicidal rescue mission that might just save his soul.


It is hard to believe that Sylvester Stallone has been not only a star but a box office draw and #1 film superstar over 5 decades. Which makes me respect him for his longevity alone. It is hard to believe and remember that when he first became a star with ROCKY which he also wrote, he was considered a serious dramatic actor compared on the same level as Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Now he didn’t really become an action superstar until FIRST BLOOD and has pretty much ran with it ever since.

The 90’s weren’t great for him as he followed that path into the ground with horrible studio action films and comedies that tarnished his record. After many diminishing returns, he decided to branch out again by appearing in indie films and taking a dramatic lead which did show he still could act but it wasn’t the career resurgence he expected like John Travolta at the time so it was only awhile until he returned to the genre he knew best but this time he was more informed and began to return to his iconic roles only this time with him writing and producing the films and as other laughed at him for these decisions it actually proved to be a smart move as the audiences were intrigued and both ROCKY BALBOA and RAMBO were box office hits and surprisingly decent films.

So of course for his first original film since making those films he puts together a all-star cast of action heroes and ex-costars for this film about a group of mercenaries who take on secret covert missions. They decide to take on an unwinnable one to help a land that has been taken over by an ex-cia agent in cahoots with the dictator of the land who is growing drugs to sell but in effect robbing the land and its people of there freedom. So of course Sylvert Stallone and crew take on the mission.

The film is a perfect throwback to 80’s action film with generic Villians and plot, But in it’s own way it is action campy as each of the cast gets a scene to shine. Jason Statham one of the real major co-stars gets a simple side story that is really only there to show off his romantic side and his ass-kicking skills. Nothing in the film makes anyone stretch as an actor. Jet-Li is mostly here to fight Dolph Lundgren in fight scenes.

The rest of the expendables are mostly there in small roles or extended cameos rather than being vital characters. Even early in the film Stallone and Statham go on a mission to check out the land alone and pretty much kick a lot of ass on their own. Only later do they come back with reinforcements.

The only actor who really makes a mark with their role is surprisingly Dolph Lundgren in a role that was rumored to be for Jean-Claude van Damme who turned it down. The action scenes are glorious but nothing special except for the grand scale of them.

There is nothing in the film you wouldn’t expect in this type of film. It falls short in many ways when it comes to my expectations. I was hoping for more surprises. For a top action spectacle. But as an action film that is a homage to the films that made Stallone an 80’s star, it is ok and enjoyable.

The perfect kind of Popcorn movie. It also is missing a lot of Action legends it supposedly is supposed to have Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, The Rock, Jean Claude Van-Damme, Chow Yun Fat, he could have even thrown a bone to some straight to home video action stars for bit roles, Michael Dudikoff, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Thomas Ian Giffith, and Danny Trejo.

Even as more of a guilty pleasure, The film is a satisfying rental

GRADE: C+

ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

ESCAPEPLAN

Directed By: Mikael Hafstrom
Written By: Miles Chapman & Arnell Jesko
Story By: Miles Chapman
Cinematography By: Brendan Galvin
Editor: Elliot Greenberg 


Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Amy Ryan, Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, Farin Tahar, Sam Neill, Graham Beckel, Matt Gerald

Ray Breslin is the world’s foremost authority on structural security. After analyzing every high security prison and learning a vast array of survival skills so he can design escape-proof prisons, his skills are put to the test. He’s framed and incarcerated in a master prison he designed himself. He needs to escape and find the person who put him behind bars.

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RAMBO: LAST BLOOD (2019)

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Directed By: Adrian Grunberg
Written By: Matthew Cirulnick & Sylvester Stallone
Story By: Dan Gordon & Sylvester Stallone
Based on Original Characters created by: David Morrell
Cinematography: Brendan Galvin
Editor: Carsten Kurpanek & Todd E. Miller 

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Adriana Barraza, Yvette Monreal, Sergio Peris-Mencheta, Oscar Jaenada 


Rambo must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission.

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THE SPECIALIST (1994)

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Directed By: Luis Llosa
Written By: Alexandra Seros
Based on The Specialist series of books By: John Shirley
Cinematography By: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Editor: Jack Hofstra 


Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, James Woods, Eric Roberts, Rod Steiger 


 Ray Quick is a bomb expert who worked for the CIA along with a guy named Ned Trent, who’s extremely demented. When they have a falling out, Ray becomes a freelancer who lives off the grid. A woman named May Munro contacts and wants him to kill the three men who killed her family years ago, who work for the Leon crime family. Ray does it and after killing the first one, the Leons need to find the one who did it and it turns out Ned is now working for them and they task him with finding the bomber. The Leons get him to work with the police and he looks for the bomber. In the meantime Ray, while working on getting the others, can’t help but follow May wherever she goes.

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CREED 2 (2018)

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Directed By: Steven Caple Jr.
Written By: Juel Taylor & Sylvester Stallone
Story By: Cheo Hodari Coker & Sacha Penn
Based On Characters Created By: Ryan Coogler
Cinematography By: Kramer Morganthau
Editor: Dana E. Glauberman, Saira Haider & Paul Harb 


Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Russell Hornsby, Wood Harris, Dolph Lungdren, Florian Munteanu, Brigitte Nielsen 


Under the tutelage of Rocky Balboa, heavyweight contender Adonis Creed faces off against Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.


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