Ah F#!%, They Are Censoring Expendables 3: The Problem With The MPAA

Posted: June 18, 2014 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Sean Gallagher

The first two Expendables movies ranked in loads of cash and despite their aesthetic flaws and god awful acting, they are a fun throwback to the action films of the 80s and 90s that many of us grew up on. The thing is though the action movies from that era which starred the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dolph Lundgren were known for their R rated awesomeness (R rated MPAA). I mean, what would Predator be like without Arnie’s classic “you’re one ugly MF” and gruesome alien kills?  Now the first two Expendables ultimately were released as R rated, featuring light swearing and some blood and gore. But now Sly and the producers of Ex3 are dropping the film down to a PG-13, in order to let the younger generation enjoy the movie, paraphrasing Sly’s press statement. 

Now, PG-13 isn’t a bad thing. Look at films like the Dark Knight trilogy, Bourne Trilogy and Avengers. They are great action films that are accessible to a wider audience. PG-13 is by no means a bad cinematic sin for action films, but when the action heroes of old come together, you would think we’d be watching them for what they are known for which is gritty over the top action with F bombs. I for one think the series will loose some of it’s nostalgia by going down this road and the only reason they are doing this in the end is to profit more. Yup.  PG-13 will let anyone over the age of 13 to go see the movie without an adult where as the original two were only allowed by those 17 and over in the US of A. Now comes the ultimate question, must action fans suffer their nostalgia in order to please teenagers who honestly are too young to know most of these guys back catalogs are? If anything, the plan to let more people in seems to be putting people off and might even draw people away from seeing the film, as is such a response on the web. People who want to see The Expendables want to see it in its R rated glory, the way it was meant to be viewed. Fans of the first two films in the series want to have some level of continuity with the film making I’d imagine. Think how you’d react if Captain America 3 jumped to R rated or if The Hangover 3 ended up being PG 13. It just wouldn’t work as you end up freaking out the audience you earned on the initial release. Remember what happened when Die Hard went PG 13 on the fourth outing? Yeah, the numbers dropped harshly as it isolated the fanbase. No “yippy kai yay MF” was heard in that original cut (it was eventually re dubbed for the DVD after backlash).  Ex2 was orginally suppose to release theatrically as PG 13 but the huge online backlash cause the studio to change it to an R rating in post production, hence the CGI blood squibs. The film may still be good as PG 13, providing the action, editing and choreography are on par or above its predecessors, but there will undoubtedly be something missing and veteran adult action fans from back in the day might be put off by the money searching power play by the studio.

Yet another interesting point to bring up here is the American film rating system is HORRIBLY outdated. Both Expendable films outside of the States generally average a 15+ rating internationally, while being rated 13+ in Quebec. If teenagers really want to watch an R rated film, all they have to do is search for it on the web and they will find it. So why bother restricting an audience who will just go looking for it anyway in this digital age? The qualifications for an R  rating is also pretty outlandish. The 2013 Ron Howard film Rush, about the 1976 Formula One championship was an R rated film in the states for scenes of violence, disturbing images and sexuality. But here in Quebec, the film was G rated with a not recommended for young children attachment (which translates to PG). That’s a pretty huge difference and the film was not shocking or gratuitous but due to a bit of nudity (which Quebec deems as OK since children will see it anyway with their parents growing up) it gets locked in at R, abandoning a large part of a potential market base. In the case of Ex3 (which will be 13+ in Quebec so there is not difference to the local market), the attempt to gain a larger market might be the one thing that isolates the audience as the initial target audience is being substituted for teenagers aged 13-16. It will be interesting to compare the box office results once it comes out. Until then, someone might want to considering reorganizing the film rating system as it is pretty much useless at this point with the exception of restricting the film market. I’m not saying Ex3 will be a bad movie (well, it will be but you know what I mean) and I’m more than likely going to check it out, but I see this move as a weak and greedy move in order to profit more by attracting a market that isn’t theirs.


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