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By Jason Apuzzo. • As you probably know by now, The Expendables was tops at the box-office this past weekendyet still didn’t have quite as as big an opening weekend as Angelina Jolie’s Salt (we posted below on this comparison here).

The two films are worth comparing because one features a nasty, anti-CIA plotline featuring Eric Roberts as an ex-CIA drugrunner who waterboards women; Jolie’s film paints a much more flattering picture of the CIA and our intelligence services in general, besides being completely pro-American.

What’s more, The Expendables was supposed to be the film that revived the male action genre that – so the argument goes – has been stolen away, or something, by gals like Jolie.  Yet Jolie on her own managed to outgross Stallone & his many friends (Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Statham, et al) … which effectively puts the nail in the coffin on that argument, at least among men who are secure enough in their own masculinity to enjoy watching women do action movies.  Ahem.

This is also a major wake-up call on the whole matter of who the real stars actually are, nowadays.

Another interesting footnote to the weekend was how badly Scott Pilgrim did (only $10 mil).  Nerdy fanboy fare not playing well these days due to extreme over-saturation in the marketplace.

A deleted scene from "Return of the Jedi."

• The other big news out of the weekend is that Star Wars – the entire film series – is finally coming to Blu-ray in the fall of 2011. [See here and here.]  The Star Wars films will apparently be coming out all at once, in one big set featuring “extensive special features – including documentaries, vintage behind-the-scenes moments, interviews, retrospectives and never-before-seen footage from the Lucasfilm archives.”

This is great news – exactly what Blu-ray was made for.  The announcement was made in Orlando this weekend at Star Wars Celebration V, where George Lucas also showed something really delightful: a deleted scene/moment from Return of the Jedi, in which we see Luke building his new lightsaber … as Vader tries to lure him to the dark side.  It was apparently supposed to be the first image we see of Luke in the film, but was cut from Jedi at the very last minute.  Judging from the audience’s reaction to the clip at Celebration, I think George perhaps should have kept it in!  It certainly gives Luke a darker edge, and echoes nicely in Hayden Christensen’s characterization in the prequel trilogy.  Here’s the clip:

[UPDATE: YouTube has taken the clip down, citing a Lucasfilm copyright claim.  I saw the clip before it was removed: it was wonderful.  Looking forward to the Blu-ray.]

• In somewhat related news, Variety has an article out today about how 3D may save Blu-ray, a medium that many people believe has only had a so-so debut.

To the extent that Blu-ray is having a problem right now, I think it has more to do with two factors: 1) asking the public to undertake a major format shift during a bad econony; 2) the lack of blockbuster films (see directly above) on the Blu-ray format to motivate such a shift.  Blu-ray is still basically a medium for aficionados, but there really aren’t enough movies for aficionados being released at the moment.  Star Wars will be filling one gap in that area, but we need a lot more classics of that variety before people start to switch en masse.

You know what sold me on Blu-ray?  The Searchers.

• In other sci-fi news, James Cameron will (appropriately) be spending his birthday underwater in a Russian lake, he’ll also be helping to plant a million trees for Earth Day, and the new trailer is out for the forthcoming Avatar: Special Edition.  Cameron’s life seems to be a blur of rain forests, digital creatures, underwater dives and green activism nowadays.  Can you imagine how envious Gore must be right now?

• Speaking of which, Obama’s in Hollywood right now looking for campaign money.  [See here and here.]  I’m actually surprised, reading about his visit, how relatively few industry players – particularly of the younger variety – are showing up to see him.  It’s interesting how people are cooling out here right now toward The One, without saying it out loud …

• In what may have been her final interview, actress Patricia Neal lauded Ronald Reagan as a “generous” actor and a “very good” President.  Neal was a class act, and I think The Gipper was her kind of guy – not unlike other strong, masculine co-stars of hers like The Duke and Gary Cooper.  She was the coolest.  She’ll be missed.

Has Brian Wilson's approval.

• I had a very interesting debate in the comments section recently with a reader named Mr. Rational on the subject of Christopher Nolan and his films.  In light of that debate I wanted to mention an interesting piece over at MUBI comparing Nolan’s Inception to the Anthony Mann/Kirk Douglas classic, The Heroes of Telemark.  [The two films share something unusual in common.]  The writer, Doug Dibbern, comes down very much in favor of Mann’s film.  In somewhat related news, we wanted to wish Kirk Douglas’ talented son Michael the very best as he begins treatment for a tumor.

• AND IN TODAY’S MOST IMPORTANT NEWS … the verdict is in.  Legendary Beach Boy Brian Wilson has come down in favor of Katy Perry’s “California Gurls,” which riffs (to some extent) off The Beach Boys’ original classic, “California Girls.”  Btw, the New York Post has a big feature on Perry today, covering her early career struggles in the Christian music scene.  She was actually temping just a few years ago, so good for her.

And that’s what’s happening today in the wonderful world of Hollywood …

[UPDATE: Special thanks to our friend Patrick Goldstein at The LA Times for linking to this piece.]

Posted on August 16th, 2010 at 2:51pm.

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8 Responses to “Hollywood Round-up, 8/17”

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  3. Pong says:

    i always thought jedi was underrated among the OT films. i caught it on spike yesterday… didn’t even notice the ewoks because everything else was so good.

  4. Vince says:

    That clip of the missing Return of the Jedi scene sent chills down my spine.

    I can’t imagine it NOT working in the film. If the opening scene follows Vader into his meditation chamber, and then wipes to Luke’s scene, which I guess would end with him sending off 3PO and R2 to Jabba’s palace, then it would’ve been pretty seamless.

    • Jason Apuzzo says:

      Apparently it was cut at the very last minute after it was already mixed. I agree with you – I actually think it’s a much better intro to Luke than the one in the final cut. Knowing George, don’t be surprised if he slips it into the final cut on the Blu-ray. I suspect Celebration V may have been a ‘test screening’ of that clip for precisely that purpose …

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  6. [...] over at Libertas Film Magazine, my pal Jason Apuzzo has a completely different point of view, finding “The Expendables” entirely wanting, especially when compared [...]

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