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Did we really need another Rambo movie?

When the character – played by Sylvester Stallone – first graced movie screens back in 1982’s “First Blood,” John Rambo was a relatively nuanced rendition of a Vietnam veteran struggling to reintegrate into American society upon his return from war. But with each subsequent iteration – “Rambo: First Blood Part II” in 1985, “Rambo III” in 1988 and especially 2008’s “Rambo” – the character became more cartoonish and violent, with increasingly nonsensical plotlines and escalating brutality essentially erasing the complexity displayed in that initial film.

“Rambo: Last Blood” continues in that unfortunate vein. With a disinterested and generic script co-written by Stallone and Matthew Cirulnick and bland direction from Adrian Grunberg, this fifth installment in the series brings nothing new to the table. Instead, it seems to exist solely to give Stallone a chance to flail around in his blood-soaked sandbox; it is visceral in its violence and largely absent of anything resembling real connection.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 28 November 2018 14:07

‘Creed II’ an exceptional rematch

The success of 2015’s “Creed” was surprising in a lot of ways. The notion of creating a torch-passing sequel to the “Rocky” franchise seemed like a reach. And yet, thanks to the talents of writer/director Ryan Coogler and great performances from Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson and a shockingly nuanced turn courtesy of Sylvester Stallone, it turned out to be an outstanding film.

After that film’s success, of course we were going to get a sequel to the sequel, which brings us to “Creed II.”

It’s not the same behind-the-camera team – Coogler is gone, replaced by Steven Caple Jr., while the screenplay was co-written by Juel Taylor and Stallone from a story by Cheo Coker and Sacha Penn – but the on-screen talent remains, with Jordan, Thompson and Stallone all returning. And while this new movie doesn’t quite ascend to the same level as the first film, “Creed II” is an excellent movie in its own right, finding ways to ground its titular character in life’s realities while also presenting him with a terrifying new foe.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 06 February 2013 13:16

Bullet to the Head' misfires

Newest Stallone offering clich-ridden, dull

Apparently, Hollywood executives got together and declared the early part of 2013 'Geriatric Action Star Month.' We just had a brand-new Arnold Schwarzenegger outing ('The Last Stand') and we're a couple of weeks away from Bruce Willis in the latest installment of the 'John McLane gets the crap kicked out of him, but eventually murders everyone' saga that is the 'Die Hard' franchise.

And in the here and now, we have Sylvester Stallone getting back to the roots that he's made millions mocking in the two 'Expendables' films.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 22 August 2012 13:28

The Expendables 2' explodes

Action homage/parody full of exciting excess

How many action stars can comfortably fit in a film?

Sylvester Stallone seems bound and determined to find out with 'The Expendables 2,' the second installment in Stallone's ongoing deconstruction of the 1980s action film. The first movie felt like a bit of a novelty, but for this second one to succeed, Stallone was going to have to take things to the next level.

So he did.

Published in Movies

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