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PCR #410 (Vol. 9, No. 5) This edition is for the week of January 28--February 3, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Rambo"  by Mike Smith
It's True ... The Arts ARE Important  by Paul Guzzo
FX Show 2008, Suzanne Pleshette/Allan Melvin, Star Trek trailer  by Andy Lalino
FX 2008  by ED Tucker
Super Bowl XLII....Presidential Dropouts....Rondo Time  by Matt Drinnenberg
I Was There! .... Never Trust A Ute .... Movie Notes .... Speaking Of Psychotics .... Oops, I Forgot .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1994 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 33 mins

“Paradise Alley.” “Rocky II-IV.” “Rocky Balboa.” “Staying Alive.” These are the six previous films that Sylvester Stallone has directed. All films I enjoyed and, more importantly, films that showed some talent behind the camera. And I’ll always point out how Stallone imagined the outrageous spectacle the Broadway musical of the future would be years before “Phantom of the Opera” and “Miss Saigon” hit the Great White Way. While seven is lucky for most people, Stallone craps out the seventh time behind the camera with “Rambo.”

Thailand. John Rambo (Stallone) now lives in the jungle, catching snakes for the local tourist attraction and fishing on his boat. Meanwhile, up the river in Burma, a civil war that has lasted 60 years continues. One day Rambo is visited by an American missionary (Paul Schulze), who would like Rambo to transport his small group up river in order to bring bibles and medicine to the local villagers. When Rambo refuses it’s up to his pretty blonde sister to make the request. Soon the whole gang is smoothly sailing on Rambo’s boat. Rambo drops them off and gets back to his snake chasing. A few weeks later he is visited by the head of the missionary’s church (Ken Howard). Seems the powers that be didn’t want a bunch of helpful strangers in the village. The church leader has hired a group of mercenaries to find and rescue his group but there’s only one catch: they need a boat to get them up river. Hmmmmm, who do I know with a boat?

It’s been more than 25 years since Sylvester Stallone first played John Rambo. In “First Blood” he was an angry Vietnam veteran minding his own business who got hassled by the local law and snapped. He was a strong character and Stallone’s performance was very intense. A few years later, in “Rambo: First Blood Part Two,” Rambo is recruited to return to Vietnam and rescue some POW’s that were left behind after the Vietnam War. He took on some rebel Afghani’s in “Rambo 3.” Then he took 20 years off. What’s left is a hulk of a man with no emotion and, really, no stake in what he is asked to do. But this doesn’t keep Stallone the director (and co-writer) from putting Stallone the actor, and his on screen missionaries into the most ridiculous of situations. Along the way, we get introduced to the world’s strongest Claymore mine (when I was in the service, the killing range was about 100 meters but Stallone triggers one that not only knocks people down hundreds of yards away from the after shock but has it’s own little mushroom cloud) and enough combat violence and blood to make the first 20 minutes of “Saving Private Ryan” look like an episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.” Arms and legs fly off into the air while heads roll away like bowling balls with each machine gun burst. I sat in the darkness and asked myself, “why did it take 11 people to executive produce this movie?” On the plus side, the photography, especially of the mountainous country, is quite pretty and the musical score borrows a lot from the original scores the great Jerry Goldsmith wrote for the previous films.

I actually had more fun watching the end credits, which include, under catering, “2 European Chefs and Sandwich Maker” and “Mr. Stallone’s Dresser.” I can hear him now: “Please lift your arms to put on this t-shirt Mr. Stallone.” To quote Joseph Bologna in “My Favorite Year,” ‘what a stinkburger!’ Here’s hoping for Sly that 8 is his lucky number. On a scale of zero to four, I give “Rambo”

This week's movie review of "Rambo" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.