Expendables Banner Poster

Many of us will remember these posters from the middle of 2010 when Expendables was about to hit the box office. The movie’s cast and supposed return to a simpler kind of action was a hot topic all over the internet. The weekend that it came out in box offices I was at the midnight premiere of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

And it seems I chose right.

The movie was plagued by badly thought out action set pieces which might have been impressive in the 1980s or very early 1990s. But this isn’t a review, reviewing this would be a waste of my time because the movie is two years old and anything that could be said about it has.

Expendables did get me thinking return to the old ways of doing things that people are always trying to push. And it also got me thinking about how large, ensemble casts aren’t very easy to write for. Then it got me thinking about how this could have just been a Jason Statham movie and lost the other yahoos and it might have worked but—stop, I’m not going to review this movie.

When I started writing fan fiction I actually did a massive crossover between anything that was popular at the time. Looking back over it, I’m shocked to see I could keep up with the number of characters I threw into that mess because ensemble casts are really hard. Give me a movie with, say, Anne Hathaway and Sean Connery (where did that come from) and I might be like “that could be interesting.” Give me a movie with Tom Cruise, Sean Connery, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, Matthew Mcconaughey, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Craig and (just for good measure, Ludacris and I start to get worried. Too much star power can be a bad thing in a movie like that and what do you want to bed that one or more of those stars won’t get well represented making their respected fans upset?

One of the first things that I did when I started to rewrite (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite) my manuscript was shorten the cast list down by weeding out the useless characters and consolidating similar roles. The idea of writing this massive cast into a story appealed to me early on, but I hated that I didn’t get to do much with the characters on a more intimate level because there was so many different perspectives to cover. That last issue is actually my problem with the Game of Thrones series.

On the issue of returning to an old way of doing things, sometimes this can work. But there’s a short way to tell if there’s really a reason to write like that. Think back to the reason that the thing you’re going back to changed or may have changed. A lot of the time change is for the better. When I think back on the old style Fantasy stories, I don’t regard them with much fondness because even when they were about redemption there’s still too much of a light hearted, not dark feel to them. I don’t mean darker and edgier just for the sake of it, but it’s kind of how people complain about Superman being a Boy Scout all the time. That’s how old Fantasy makes me feel.

Also, my final not-review, Steve Austin is a good reason to not see a movie. It’s not that he actively does anything to make it bad, I just can’t think of anything good he’s been a part of.


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