Rambo Last Blood is such a b movie that the writer of the original book David Morrell has called it degrading embarrassment, and if you’ve read my review you’ll know that I share the same sentiment. Still, the movie may have done one thing right which is make me reflect on the other Rambo films and wonder if this latest movie is truly as much of a departure from them as my rose tinted nostalgia believes them to be. For this reason I’ve decided to rewatch the other four Rambo films and approach them from as much of a fresh perspective as I can manage and see if the good ones still hold up and if the bad ones are even worse than I remember. This is probably gonna be a rough one. Let’s get started!!
First Blood (1982)
Yeah, this one still holds up. Right off the bat, the movie does a great job of setting up the world in which Rambo lives which frankly I kind of have a hard time believing was really the case. I mean considering where we are NOW I might be a bit naïve saying that, but the fact that a cop is profiling a white dude with an American flag on his jacket, well that just seems really odd to me as someone for whom adulation and thanks are the bare requirement when interacting with a veteran. That said, patriotism and worship of the troops has ALWAYS had a two-faced nature to it where the same people screaming about respecting the troops and waving flags are the usually the first ones to trample human rights and backstab veterans who are in desperate need of help, so a small town sheriff using his outsized sense of power to quietly shuffle this guy along isn’t the MOST unrealistic thing, and like I said the movie does a great job of setting up the world in such a quick amount of time. Stallone has a quiet intensity to his performance that belies the rage burning just beneath the surface, and after only three minutes with Brian Dennehy you’d want to torch the town too. This movie excels at the way it escalates tension and how the situation just snowballs as one slight leads to a definite act leads to another sleight and so on. And sure, it does have its cheesy moments. Every time he flashes back to Vietnam it’s only a notch below the ridiculous flashbacks in Meet the Feebles (made even more so by his AMAZING mustache) and some of Stallone’s shouty faces come off as comical, but all those extremes really add to the utter desperation of this character and how despite all his muscles, his movie star good looks, and his unmatched skills at whooping ass, he’s still a complete mess as a person; exemplified by the speech at the end which is both heart breaking to listen to and a little bit funny to watch. What was really solidified for me on this latest watch is that while Rambo himself is an interesting character, he’s more of a symbolic force of nature whom the drama and political commentary revolve around. Heck, I’d wager that in overall screen time we get more of Brian Dennehy than we do of Rambo as it’s his movie first and foremost even if Rambo does eventually take center stage once we get to the aforementioned finale and the rather blunt coda of the movie. First Blood is ultimately a movie more about the time it takes place in than about the characters within it; the man pushed too far by an uncaring system and the ghosts of his past, the cops who abuse their authority under the guise of keeping law and order, even the dipshit gun toting National Guardsmen which may or may not be an accurate or fair portrayal (weekend warriors versus the REAL soldiers), but is definitely there to make a point. With the latest movie, it felt like the incoherent ramblings of a perpetually terrified racist who couldn’t even see the humanity of those who are perceived to be the enemy. To a certain extent, I can see where that sort of extreme flailing of emotions originated in this film with how much of its heart is on its sleeve, but where Last Blood wants to fuel the fires of discord, this movie is trying to draw out some kind of understanding from all of its characters and from the audience who watches it. It’s a bit tone oblivious at points and has some drastic tonal shifts throughout (the comic relief National Guardsmen REALLY stood out for me), but it has genuine heart behind it which is why it holds up so well. Now the only thing I know about the book this is based on is how it ends which greatly diverges from the movie. At the end of the book, Trautman ends up killing Rambo at the police station, and while the filmmakers did shoot a version of this for the movie they ultimately decided to go with the happier one where Rambo lives and goes quietly with the faint hope that maybe he’ll get the help he needs and that the country can do better by others like him. Well that, or they’ll just make a series of increasingly ludicrous and jingoistic movies, but what are the odds of THAT happening!?
Rambo: Last Blood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Adrian Grunberg
Not sure if this counts as a hot take, but I’ve always felt that of the two major Stallone franchises (the other being Rocky), Rambo was the lesser of the two. First Blood wasn’t quite as good as the first Rocky, Rocky had better sequels, and even when it came to deconstructing the franchise I thought that Rocky Balboa was better than Rambo 2008. Now that we’ve gotten to the post-deconstruction continuation for Rocky which did a phenomenal job with both Creed movies, I guess it’s time for Stallone to give good ol’ John one last adventure on the silver screen. Does this latest and possibly last Rambo adventure measure up to the better films of the series, or will this be the movie that finally makes us all realize that Rambo 3 wasn’t ALL bad? Let’s find out!!
Not long after the events of Rambo 2008, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) moved back to his family ranch and is living with what little family he has left; his niece Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal) and her grandmother Maria (Adriana Barraza). It’s now the present and young Gabrielle has grown up while John has started to settle down and has diverted a lot of his negative energy towards building a complex series of tunnels underneath his ranch which if nothing else is better than getting into fist fights in Thailand. As great as this peaceful existence has been, something terrible is about to happen that will change their lives forever!! Gabrielle… is going on a trip! TO MEXICO!! Yes, apparently a friend of hers who lives there (Fenessa Pineda) has found Gabrielle’s estranged father and is inviting her down there to meet him. Rambo however knows that… I don’t know, Mexico is full of bad guys or something, and is about as skeptical of her going to Mexico as Liam Neeson was of his daughter going to Europe. Sure enough, the exact same thing more or less happens as Gabrielle gets taken by bad guys the same day she gets there and Rambo has to save her; presumably without rubbing her nose in it TOO much that he was right to not trust THE ENTIRE COUNTRY OF MEXICO. Can Rambo make it in time to save Gabrielle from whatever horrific fate awaits her on the other side of the border? Will Rambo unleash the beast that has been brewing inside of him for all these years, and is it enough to get him out of one last battle? Can someone please tell me why I’m watching a Rambo movie that’s absolutely NOTHING like a Rambo movie? Can someone point me to who’s responsible for whatever this is!?
“Geez… I’m gonna have to do five more Creed films to make up for this one…”
Angel Has Fallen and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh
I didn’t want to see this movie. Did ANYONE want to see this movie after that horrendous sequel? If anything worthwhile had come out this week I would have seen that instead, but for some reason things are just drying up between now and IT Chapter 2, so I guess I’ll take what I can get even if it’s… this thing. Frankly I would have preferred a sequel to that submarine movie he did with the dude from Black Flag, but no one went to see that one and EVERYONE went to see the one where Muslims destroy London, so once again I find myself at the mercy of mainstream taste when entering the multiplex. Hey, at least it got us the MCU and WAY more Purge movies than anyone could have expected, so it might be worth taking the bad along with the good. Does this movie manage to redeem a franchise after such an abysmal second outing, or will the trend continue downward with such velocity that it buries straight down into the center of the Earth? No I’m not sure what that means, but let’s find out!!
Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is the unstoppable badass of the Secret Service who kicks butt and takes names like nobody’s business in service of the President who is now Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman) taking over for Benjamin Asher. I don’t THINK he died in the last movie so that would mean Trumbull got elected or President Asher died of some other means that Banning couldn’t punch his way out of. ANYWAY! What you may not have expected is that despite this being movie three it’s actually a Rocky 5 because all the damage that Banning has accrued over the movies we saw and the missions we didn’t have started to catch up to him as he has to take pain pills to manage his headaches and insomnia which have only gotten progressively worse. Maybe it’s time to think about a desk job like his friend Wade Jennings (Danny Huston) who runs a PMC that I’m sure will have NOTHING to do with what’s about to happen! While on a fishing trip, President Trumbull is attacked by a swarm of exploding drones that kills EVERYONE there except for Trumbull who is in a coma and Mike Banning who just barely escaped with his life. That’s the good news, but the bad news he’s about to hear is PRETTY bad as FBI agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) has found enough evidence to convict Banning of trying to assassinate the president! Apparently he couldn’t knock him into the water and say he slipped, he had to send out EXPLODING DRONES to cause MASSIVE explosions that he could have easily been caught in and managed to kill everyone EXCEPT his target. Sure. Okay then. Well it’s hardly a surprise that Banning manages to escape custody and finds out that he’s being set up by the only new character introduced in this movie; namely his PMC buddy Wade who is using the full force of his company to try and kill him and any other American citizen in the way so he can cover up this frame job. Mike is gonna need to recall all his skills, his wits, and even enlist the help of his estranged father Clay (Nick Nolte) to clear his name, stop the PMC and save the President if there’s time for that too. Can Mike Banning save the world once again, even if his buddy is the one pulling the strings? What do they have planned once Mike is dead, and are there greater forces at play in this grand scheme of theirs? Out of ALL the people to put the frame on, why would they do it to the ONE person who managed to save the White House AND all of London already? Couldn’t they pin it on Agent Bob or something? I doubt he’s stabbed even HALF as many people as Banning has!
“This is the LAST time I cover for you, Bob! SO not worth the overtime!”
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and all the images you see in this review are owned by Summit Entertainment
Directed by Chad Stahelski
So here we are once again. Now I wasn’t the biggest fan of the second movie, but the John Wick movies have their own sense of style and craftsmanship that’s hard to ignore even when the story begins to fall apart, at least as far as I’m concerned regarding that sequel. Now the time has come for them to hopefully right the ship and bring this franchise back to what made it great instead of the convoluted mess that we got last time. Will we be getting the conclusion to John’s story that will make this whole wild trip worth taking, or is this franchise already too far into the rabbit hole for us to reasonably expect them to dig their way out of? Let’s find out!!
The movie picks up mere minutes after the end of the last one where John (Keanu Reeves) has just been ex-communicated from The Continental for (SPOILER ALERT FOR JOHN WICK 2) killing what’s his face in the last film (Riccardo Scamarcio). Now obviously no one expects John Wick to go down quietly, especially not the owner of The Continental (Ian McShane), and yet a bunch of assassins take a swipe at the guy with about as much luck as you’d expect. However, John’s plan isn’t JUST to kill enough people to clog up the Hudson River; he needs to go and appease The High Table who I guess is in charge of The Continental and all the other Assassin Hotels which apparently was a THING in the last movie that I just forgot about. Now what’s his face that no one liked from the last movie was apparently a member of this table (can’t be THAT great if he got a seat) and so John’s up to his eyeballs in not just hot shots trying to make a quick buck, but basically everyone within the orbit of The High Table. This includes The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) who is there to clean up (i.e. kill) everyone with even a vague connection to John’s recent activities, and Zero the Assassin (Mark Dacascos) who’s band of ninjas have been hired to help The Adjudicator do his dirty work. So while that’s all going down in New York, John is trying to get a meeting with a member of The High Table which is no easy task as he has to cash in whatever chips he has left to get help from his former trainer (Anjelica Huston) and a former colleague who owes him one (Halle Berry); both risking a lot even if whatever assistance they offer is through official channels because The High Table is having none of that crap anymore. Will John find what he needs to in order to spare his life from the wrath of The High Table? What will those back in New York do now that they’ve gotten the ire of the people at the very top of the food chain? Just how many dudes do BOTH sides have to spare over this rather small dispute between the one guy none of them can kill and a dead dude who only got the job like a week ago? Is there REALLY no other way they can solve this!?
I propose a cutest dog competition! I mean really, there’s no other reasonable way to solve this.
Long Shot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jonathan Levine
I love Seth Rogen! Have I mentioned that before? Knocked Up, Neighbors 2, The Night Before, all are great movies that I’ve watched multiple times and showcase just how talented the guy is. Now we’ve got a movie with him AND Charlize Theron, one of the hardest working actors working today with so many great movies under her belt!? Well dang! How had I not heard about this movie before!? Seriously, considering how many times I go to the movies you’d think I’d have seen one trailer but no! I hadn’t even heard of this until about a week ago and I had no idea what it was even about, but hey, when do you watch a comedy for the plot? I’m here to see these two work off of each other and tell some funny jokes! Does this team up manage to knock it out of the park like peanut butter and chocolate, or are we in for an experiment that’s gone more horribly awry than whatever the heck it is Oreo has been pumping out recently? Let’s find out!!
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a journalist with a serious chip on his shoulder who’s had a rough time of it recently and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State who’s had a rough time of it always. Two people from two vastly different worlds who you wouldn’t think would ever meet, but in movie land these two have something of a history as Charlotte used to babysit Fred when they were younger and there was an embarrassing incident between the two of them. Still, fate seems to conspire to bring them back together as Fred loses his job and is brought to an upper class party by his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr) where Charlotte just so happens to also be. They talk for a bit, Fred makes a fool of himself when trying to confront an evil media conglomerate (Andy Serkis) and you’d figure that life would just keep on going from there. However, Charlotte starts to read some of Fred’s earlier work and comes up with a brilliant idea! See, she plans on running for president as the current guy (Bob Odenkirk) won’t be running for a second term to instead make movies and so she needs a speech writer who can write funny and incisive commentary that she can pepper into her usual rhetoric, so going on quite a limb here she hires Fred for the job despite him being… well a boorish man child who can barely even dress himself. Naturally her staff isn’t too thrilled included her top aids Maggie and Tom (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel), but everyone goes along with it and Fred, if nothing else, seems to write decent speeches and the two begin to reconnect once more; possibly with more going on between them than either initially realized. Can Fred be the necessary piece that Charlotte has been missing in her life, and is Fred even capable of being what she needs him to be? What sinister actors out there will try to undermine Charlotte’s campaign, and how will Fred react to the realities of being part of the political machine on such a large stage? Seriously, how did this jacket alone not destroy her political career?
“I didn’t realize the Blue Meanie was getting into politics!” “Say what you will about the Blue World Order, they at least have a sound economic platform!”
Hellboy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Neil Marshall
So… we’re NOT gonna get a Hellboy 3? Okay, just wanted to make sure! Well there’s certainly no reason to just STOP making Hellboy movies just because he’s not gonna make one, so let’s get ready to reboot! I mean when you’ve got a setup as good as DUDE WHO LOOKS LIKE THE DEVIL PUNCHES MONSTERS, there’s no WAY you can go wrong even if you don’t have Del Toro helming it, right!? Is this the next best thing to getting a conclusion to the previous Hellboy movies, or is this a sad remind of what could have been? Let’s find out!!
Hellboy (David Harbour) is your average guy with a decent job and perhaps the beginings of a drinking problem. Okay, he’s also a red demon with a giant arm and horns growing out of his head, but looks are only skin deep, and this guy is just like you and me on the inside; suffering silently in this living nightmare we call life while putting on a tough face to try and cope! Hellboy’s latest reason to cope is that one his pals at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense was turned into a vampire and Hellboy (most likely accidently) had to finish him off before he started ripping out other people’s throats. Not a great way to start the work week if you ask me, but he must solider on as a crisis in London sends him to Europe where coincidentally a legendary monster known as Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) is being brought back to life so as to wreak unholy havoc on the world. Well I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a job for Hellboy and his cast of wacky sidekicks including Alice (Sasha Lane) who can talk to ghosts and Ben (Daniel Dae Kim) who’s basically a living GI Joe action figure who seems to be harboring a secret of his own. Can the BPRD and its leader Ian McShane) who also considers himself Hellboy’s father manage to stop The Blood Queen before it’s too late? Can Hellboy focus on the task at hand when things continually get in his way and remind him of just how unwanted he is in the world of humans? Can someone teach this boy how to comb his hair? It just looks sloppy when you’re supposed to be at work!
“You know we have a dress code.” “Does it look like I care?”
A Madea Family Funeral and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Tyler Perry
It’s Perry time once again and I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER!! Oh who am I kidding!? I cannot keep up the charade any longer! I am definitely not looking forward to this guy trying to make a movie with nothing more than a living room, a couple costumes, and an absolute disdain for the art of editing. I’ve had to sit through Boo 1 AND Boo 2 already! You think I’m proud of that!? Now we’ve got this movie that he’s claiming will be the last time we see Madea (as bad as these are I STILL want to see a Madea movie where she takes on the alt right and punches Richard Spencer in the face) which would hopefully means it’s a culmination of everything he’s learned as a filmmakers after all these years, but I think we all know better than to assume he’s thought that far ahead. Can Tyler Perry send off his signature character with an emotionally satisfying swan song, or is this just like ALL the others which… actually would still be pretty fitting all things considered? Let’s find out!!
Madea, Joe, Hattie, and Aunt Bam (Tyler Perry, Tyler Perry, Patrice Lovely, and Cassi Davis) are doing their own thing at Brian’s house (Tyler Perry again) but what’s ACTUALLY going on is that one of Madea’s numerous relatives is having an anniversary party that all the grown kids on that side of the family are preparing for. We’ve got the couple of the hour Anthony and Vianne (Derek Morgan and Jen Harper), their naïve yet good hearted son Jessie with his girlfriend Renee (Rome Flynn and Quin Walters), their older son AJ who’s a Tyler Perry stock villain along with his rich wife Gia (Courtney Burrell and Aeriél Miranda), and their daughter Sylvia with her husband Will (Ciera Payton and David Otunga) who are… just kinda there. Oh, and also Uncle Heathrow (Tyler Perry AGAIN) who’s the WACKY relative who’s obnoxiously sexist humor everyone just kind of puts up with. Anyway, while the party is getting ready and Madea and co are on their way, someone dies. I’m not gonna spoil who, but what this means is that everyone’s gotta plan for a funeral now which involves Madea taking charge and being SUPER WACKY about it while everyone else who’s actually important to the story start to have their secrets bubble to the surface which could tear this entire family apart. Can Madea pull off a successful funeral with only a minimal amount of mishaps in horror of the recently deceased? What is everyone in this family hiding, and just how much popcorn should we get to watch it unfold? Has any else noticed that there’s ALWAYS drama whenever Madea comes around? It’s like whenever Jessica Fletcher visits a place and someone JUST SO HAPPENS to get murdered, only one of them doesn’t do a darn thing to actually help the situation.
“Look here! I’ve got me some drama bombs and I’m not afraid to use them! I will ruin each one of your lives and make forty million dollars filming it! DO YOU HEAR ME!?”