September 29, 2014

Podcast Episode 32 - Denny Crane vs. RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2

We've now officially past the halfway mark of our Epic Rambo Rewatch, which is the part where I'm left scratching my head wondering, "Why were these movies so popular?"  As we noted in last week's conversation about First Blood, when people think about the character of Rambo, they're usually thinking about him from Rambo: First Blood Part II.  And yet, this Rambo is kind of...boring.  Stallone is at his best when he's allowed to be just a touch goofy, but here Rambo has become an emotionless cypher of destruction, morosely slaughtering dozens of faceless Vietnamese and Soviet soldiers in his attempt to rescue a group of American POWs.  At least in the first installment Rambo was dealing with some pretty serious emotional trauma, which made his violent behavior kind of fascinating.  Now he's basically a killer robot, which is ironic considering the movie's clear-cut hatred of technology and rigid systems.  Is this really what we wanted from our action heroes in the 80's?   All righteous fury and no semblance of humanity?

And while Rambo is an absolute void of personality, the same can be said of the direction by George Cosmatos.  Sure, you've got plenty of combat, chase sequences and machismo, but it's all fairly perfunctory with no trace of any real joy or style.  Even the part where Rambo obliterates an enemy soldier with his one of those exploding arrowheads feels somehow unremarkable, which might be the film's single biggest crime.  There's no actual tension to any of the action, nor do you ever emotionally invest in Rambo's need to liberate his fellow soldiers.  It's almost hard to believe that this is the same guy who directed Tombstone.  It's very easy to believe that this is the same guy who directed Cobra.

In our latest podcast, Bart and I delve into our disappointment over one of Stallone's signature roles while simultaneously discovering the joy that is Charles Napier's rich and varied filmography.  We also question the likelihood of Ryan Reynolds' long delayed Deadpool movie, chuckle at the cast of Police Academy fending off lava-spewing giant spiders and the marvel at the possibility that William Shatner's greatest role might in fact be Denny Crane.

Next Week: We gird our loins for Rambo III.

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