Friday, 19 July 2013

Must-See Action Movies: 2008 to 2013

By Zack Mandell

Special effects have changed dramatically since a stop-action technique was used to turn a pumpkin into a stagecoach in the 1899 version of "Cinderella." Advances in technology have enabled breathtaking special effects, which in turn have given rise to a bumper crop of action films.

Action-film star Sylvester Stallone both wrote and starred in the 2010 hit "The Expendables." The story follows a group of bikers and mercenaries from New Orleans who are dispatched to save a group of people held hostage by Somali pirates. The original movie was followed up in 2012 by "The Expendables 2," with the group this time being sent to rescue a hostage in Nepal. "The Expendables 3" is set to premiere in 2014, this time with Jackie Chan joining the cast.

"The Expendables" wound up grossing more than $103 million domestically and $171 million in international markets for a total of just under $275 million. "The Expendables 2" didn't fare as well at the box office in the United States, grossing just $85 million, but it did exceptionally well internationally, ultimately grossing more than $312 million worldwide.

The 2009 film "Star Trek" was the eleventh installment in the popular "Star Trek" movie franchise, and it was quickly followed up by the 2013 debut of "Star Trek Into Darkness." Since the tenth movie in the franchise, "Star Trek: Nemesis," was considered a failure at the box office, the makers of "Star Trek" chose to completely revamp the series to give it a better chance of success.

The studio brought on "Lost" creator J.J. Abrams to direct the film. Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were brought on to rewrite the script, new actors were hired to portray younger versions of the characters from the original series, and the ship's interior and crew uniforms were redesigned. The changes were a success, and the film wound up grossing just under $80 million in the United States and a total of more than $385 million worldwide. The success carried through with "Star Trek Into Darkness," which was ultimately the highest-grossing film in the franchise with total worldwide box-office receipts of $443 million.

The 2008 hit "The Dark Knight" was followed up with the 2012 sequel "The Dark Knight Rises." Christian Bale reprises the role of Batman in this series, which debuted with the 2005 film "Batman Begins." The star-studded cast included Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

The movie was well received by critics and audiences. The movie won a total of 20 awards and garnered an additional 60 nominations. The money says it all; "The Dark Knight Rises" raked in a worldwide total of more than $1 billion, making it the eighth-highest-grossing film of all time in terms of worldwide receipts.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" debuted in 2011, and it followed in the footsteps of its prequels, the 2007 hit "Transformers" and the 2009 sequel "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." What makes "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" notable was the absence of Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, the writers responsible for the first two movies. The writing duo had previously been brought on to revamp the "Star Trek" franchise, so they were well aware that it is very easy for sequels to get stale. In that vein, they turned over the writing reins to Ehren Kruger.

The movie was a phenomenal success. It ultimately brought in more than $350 million in domestic box-office receipts and a total of more than $1.1 billion worldwide. It was the highest-grossing film in Paramount/DreamWorks' history and the highest-grossing third film in any franchise to date.

Marvel Comics hero Iron Man came crashing onto the silver screen in the 2008 hit "Iron Man," which was followed by "Iron Man 2" in 2010 and "Iron Man 3" in 2013. In addition to stunning special effects and an all-star cast, what made the "Iron Man" franchise so successful was the star, Robert Downey, Jr. He managed to keep Iron Man down to earth, injecting humor and a laissez faire attitude that would be almost believable if it weren't for him flying around in an iron suit.

The franchise has been so successful that BusinessWeek ranked Iron Man as one of the ten most intelligent American comic characters, and Forbes actually ranked Iron Man as the wealthiest fictional character. "Iron Man" wound up grossing more than $585 million worldwide; "Iron Man 2" grossed close to $624 million worldwide; and "Iron Man 3" became the sixth Disney film and the sixteenth film overall to actually bring in more than $1 billion at the box office.

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