8:00 PM, 12th October, 2012
The Expendables 2 is, probably unsurprisingly, a sequel to The Expendables where a gung-ho group of mercenaries were hired to free some goodies from the clutches of lots of baddies. It was such a good romp, that they've clipped in another round of ammo and are ready to go again. Barney (Stallone), Lee (Statham), Yin Yang (Li), Gunnar (Lundgren) and co are reunited when Mr Church (Bruce Willis) enlists them to take on what looks to be quite an easy job with a hefty paycheque. But things go wrong and one of their own is brutally killed. This leaves the Expendables with only one option - get revenge in the middle of hostile territory.
The crew cut a huge path of destruction through their enemies, causing chaos and shutting down a plot to utilise weapons-grade plutonium to throw out the balance of world power. Joining the team for this action-filled sequel are none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. And if you haven't decided to come along yet, then you mustn't have read the last sentence. There isn't a lot of brain power needed here, but there's a lot of eye and ear power required to take in the explosions, fight scenes and pure amount of awesomeness that one screen is attempting to contain.
9:57 PM, 12th October, 2012
In stark contrast to the high energy no-need-for-a-plot explosionfest (not that there's anything wrong with that!) which precedes it, comes The Long Voyage Home. Adapted from a series of plays by Eugene O'Neill ("The Iceman Cometh"), this is a tense and dramatic character study of the motley crew of a World War II cargo ship as they struggle with weather, cargo (the ship is full of volatile ammunition), duty and, above all, one another.
These are not the cut-and-dry heroes of an action movie, or indeed of most war films. The cast does an excellent job of bringing full, rounded characters to the screen, with all their failings. Most of the journey here is within the men themselves, the events serving primarily as a backdrop for the exploration of the men and their relationships with one another - for many, their shipmates are the closest thing to family they've had. Yet heroes they are, in their own way.
The film was nominated for 6 Oscars, though John Ford was not among them, being nominated (and winning) instead for his work on The Grapes of Wrath that year. Perhaps the most deserved nomination was for cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane) whose work was ahead of its time, experimenting with angles and techniques that really help to capture the sense of cramped, suffocating fear felt by the men. The Long Voyage Home isn't a feelgood film, but it is certainly an honest one that will leave you pondering the true meaning of heroism.