Tag Archives: Orion Pictures

Cinema Dispatch: Remembering Rambo – Do the Movies Hold Up?

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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!!

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First Blood (1982)

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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!?

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Cinema Dispatch: The Prodigy

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The Prodigy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Orion Pictures

Directed by Nicholas McCarthy

You know, now that I think about it… I’m a lot more receptive to EVIL KID movies than I would have initially thought!  Sure you’ve got the classics like The Exorcist and The Omen, but I still maintain that The Boy is a pretty excellent horror film and I even enjoyed The Devil’s Due as ridiculous as it was!  Now clearly this movie is trying to ride the horror trend that was set by The Babdook and then buried into the ground by Hereditary, and not only is this obvious from the poster that’s blatantly ripping off the latter, you can see from the trailers that this is the horror film that has AMBITIONS!  The kind of horror film that’s at least shot like something you’re supposed to take seriously, so maybe we have something GREAT on our hands!  Oh wait; it’s a horror film in February.  Let’s uh… dial back those expectations, even if I’m STILL pretty sure I’ll like this more than Hereditary.  Is this the kind of horror film that’ll make the earlier parts of the year that much easier to get through, or is just another bump in the road as we try desperately to make it to the first Marvel film of the year?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with… well a lot of stuff happening.  Sarah (Taylor Schlling) and John (Peter Mooney) are about to give birth on the night that a woman named Margaret (Brittany Allen) manages to escape from a serial killer on the other side of town.  The good news is that she escapes and makes to someone who calls the cops for her.  The bad news is that she didn’t QUITE get away scot-free as the killer managed to take one of her hands before she escaped.  Said killer by the way, Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux), finds out that Margaret escaped and does the only thing he CAN do in that situation!  Run out the front door naked and screaming until the cops shoot him dead!  At the same time this is going on, Sarah has given birth to her son Miles and I’m SURE these two events won’t connect in some fashion!  Anyway, we cut to several years later where Miles has grown to be a super smart yet social awkward eight year old (Jackson Robert Scott) and seems to be exhibiting more and more behavioral issues as the days go by.  He attacks one of his classmates at the super fancy school, he starts saying inappropriate things to his parents, and he even starts to act like a total creeper which is freaking his parents out and each day the fear more and more what he is truly capable of.  Is there something wrong with Miles that can be fixed with counseling and well-regulated medication, or will this problem call for more… unorthodox solutions?  Will Sarah go to any lengths imaginable, and even some unimaginable, in order to protect her son even if he IS acting like a total jerk?  Is it just me, or is this kid trying out to be the next Hannibal Lecter?

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“Tell me about the lambs, Clarice.”     “Geez, you’re parents let you watch THAT movie?  No wonder you need help.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Wish Upon

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Wish Upon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Broad Green Pictures and Orion Pictures

Directed by John R Leonetti

Geez, while everyone else is going to see the new Planet of the Apes movie, I’m stuck watching the horror movie they dumped in theaters to “compete” with it.  Sigh… well, you never know!  We got a fair amount of REALLY solid horror movies last year and while there were a few at the absolute bottom of the barrel (*cough* Incarnate *cough*) even the more average fare was above what was normally expected.  Maybe now that the bad stuff is out the way like The Bye Bye Man (ugh…), we can finally get to some of the better horror movies… right?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows Clare Shannon (Joey King) will soon be the latest victim of some sort of mysterious Chinese wish box that her dad Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe) had found while dumpster diving.  Is that like a job you can make a living off of?  He doesn’t seem to do anything else in the movie.  Anyway, just for a lark it seems, she makes a wish while holding the box and sure enough it comes true!  However, the box comes with a terrible price that she’s not made aware of immediately where every wish ends with someone she knows getting killed in very ludicrous ways, and surely there are MORE consequences to be found if she continues to use it!  Will she manage to figure out the mysteries of this magic box before it’s too late?  Will the new life she gets from making these wishes turn out to be everything she’s always dreamed of?  What if she wishes for the box not to kill anyone, or even infinite wishes!?  WHAT THEN!?

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“I wish that I had the power to grant my own wishes and that you would disintegrate.”     “WHAT!?  SHE SOMEHOW OUTSMARTED ME!!”

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