Thursday, September 17, 2015

Your Worst Nightmare... Reviewed

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Over the weekend, Izzy & I watched an American treasure… also known as the original John Rambo trilogy. Now, I’ve watched & reviewed the 4th installment a few years ago… but this is the 80’s action movie series that relaunched the career of thespian icon Sylvester Stallone. After becoming an Academy Award winner with “Rocky”, following it up with a few commercially successful sequels, but then not really doing anything else decent… his career was at a turning point. Then the story of a returned Vietnam green beret fallen on hard times comes across his desk (after being passed on by just about every actor alive during the time…seriously, read IMDb but some of the names listed that passed or were considered BEFORE Stallone are Pacino, DeNiro, Eastwood, McQueen, Hoffman, Travolta, Newman, Bridges, Ryan O’Neal, James Garner, Kris Kristofferson, Chuck Norris, Nick Nolte, Michael Douglas, etc.) and he had a poignant story about America’s treatment of its veterans, how they adapt to life after the war, and some great action set against the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
From that… a first movie was made… based off a 26th version of a script adaptation of a novel by David Morell… and originally, the movie clocked in at THREE HOURS!!! That movie… was 1982’s “First Blood” starring the aforementioned Stallone, Brian Dennehy & Richard Crenna (as well as a young David Caruso & Bruce Greenwood in bit parts). Well, the studio didn’t want a three-hour epic… and so the movie was cut in half. How so? Well, apparently the original version went into the whole backstory of John Rambo… probably from high school to being transformed into the “ultimate killing machine” of his days in Vietnam… and even more into the backstory of why the Sheriff of the city of Hope (actually British Columbia but I think it’s supposed to be Washington) resents and hates Vietnam vets… but allegedly they decided that it dragged on too much, was even more depressing & so they start the theatrical version about half way through… where John Rambo is wandering the countryside after learning that the last of his elite team passed away… and he’s just looking for a place to roam & hold onto a job thanks to his PTSD and the nation’s view of Vietnam vets a.k.a. Baby Killers. As he wanders through town, the local sheriff (Dennehy) basically gives him a ride to the edge of town… and tells him to keep walking… and Rambo just turns around and heads back towards town. This infuriates the Sheriff, so he arrests him and takes him to the jail… one asshole officer beats him down a bit while the others watch… and basically he snaps when they’re… trying to give him a shave? Anyway, he snaps, beats some ass, steals a motorcycle, goes into the woods, the police go after him, his former commanding officer (Crenna) shows up to try to bring him in… and sh*t ensues. Check it out! It’s on Netflix… watch it now! Stallone acts his ass off the last few minutes! Death count of this movie? ONE!!! It’s epic though.
Now… that being said… Rambo’s kind of a dick in this movie. “What?” Yeah… and he’s not that bright for being green beret. “How so?” Well, master of strategy that he is… when the sheriff takes him to the edge of town, just turns and walks back to town… right in front of the sheriff. Why? Take a few steps in that direction, sheriff turns around and leaves… and then you go back to town to grab a bite to eat off the main road, maybe grab a cot somewhere. Instead… you’re basically begging this hick cop to take you in. Then again, maybe that’s the cot he was looking for & then the other cops roughing him up was what really set it off. Still… easily avoidable. That being said… why were they giving him a shave? Is that a thing? Was that a thing back in the early 80’s? Shaving guys in prison? It seems really weird… but whatever. The movie is pretty damn good… and I recommend that you check it out. I had only seen the first half-hour and the last ten minutes before… and yeah, I’m glad I checked it out. Again, this movie kinda saved Stallone’s career when he was kind of considered a one-hit wonder at the time… and because it enjoyed commercial success…
They made 1985’s “Rambo: First Blood Part II” which meets up with Rambo some time later working at a prison where they have guys break down rocks… oh, spoiler alert… he turns himself in at the end of the first movie and goes to jail. There’s a sequel. It’s not really a spoiler that he survives. Anyway, his former CO (Crenna) shows up… and he needs Rambo’s very specific set of skills to infiltrate a Vietnamese POW camp & confirm that they have POWs. This movie is directed by George Cosmatos (“Tombstone” & “Cobra”) and also stars the great Charles Napier as Marshall Murdock, the general in charge of the covert operation… who has all the surveillance technology in the world… but needs Rambo’s badassery. Where the first movie was more of a statement movie on the treatment of America’s veterans… this movie basically goes full balls-out action… and a small part for the great Martin Kove (Reese from “Karate Kid”). There’s even a love interest for Rambo along the way… and it’s pretty fantastic. Fun facts about this movie… co-written by JAMES CAMERON!!! Yes, THE James Cameron cowrote this movie… while he was also writing “Aliens” & “The Terminator”. Another one… originally the Russian general in this movie was going to be played by DOLPH LUNDGREN!!! Of course… it was decided that Dolph was going to be Rocky’s rival in the gestating “Rocky IV” movie out the next year… so instead they switched the role out for Steven Berkoff (Victor from “Beverly Hills Cops”). I would suggest watching this movie too… but yeah, you’re going to have to separate your beliefs just a bit with regards to some things to enjoy it. Death count of this movie? 67… and 57 by Rambo himself. If you’re okay with that though, you will enjoy it… and America did… so then there came…

1988’s “Rambo III” which at the time was the most expensive movie ever made at $63 million budget… and apparently $12 million of that was used to buy a Gulfstream jet for Stallone to star in the movie… and I’m assuming about half-a-mill was used strictly on “gun butter” for both the weapons and the arms that Stallone was sporting… and his luscious, luscious head of hair. It’s pretty magnificent. Anyway, this movie picks up a few years after the last one… and Rambo has turned to a life of helping Thai monks build temples & attempt to find peace with his life… so of course, Lt. Trautman (Crenna yet again) shows up with Kurtwood Smith (“That 70’s Show” & “Robocop”) to invite him along on a mission… and he declines of course. Well, Lt. Trautman, a man in his late 50’s / early 60’s & not of the best physical shape, goes instead… and gets captured. So Kurtwood Smith then pops up in Thailand the next day and is like “Hey Rambo, your buddy was captured on that mission we invited you to… just thought you should know…” and walks away. Seriously, at this point, I would’ve been perfectly OK with Rambo saying, “Then why the f**k are you here? I told you I was interested yesterday! You sent an elderly man in a covert operation? That’s f**king stupid!” Instead… he asks to be sent into Afghanistan so that he can join forces with the Mujahideen rebels to get Trautman back. What’s that? Oh… I didn’t mention that this happens in Afghanistan & they’re essentially American forces against the Russians in this movie? I don’t see why that’s important nowadays… back then we were thick as thieves with Afghan resistance forces… and I haven’t been in a high school history class lately but according to the last textbook that I read we still are… right? Fun fact: This movie is DEDICATED to the resistance forces of Afghanistan!
So… they get him into the country (and he of course doesn’t stand out like a sore thumb at all), he meets up with the resistance, and the rest of the movie is shot like “Rambo of Arabia” if they had a $60+ million budget for explosions & Laurence Olivier looked like a yoked-out bodybuilder with a flashdancer’s Jheri curl. It’s pretty amazing in all the wrong ways… and it’s odd to see the full character & story arc that Rambo goes through from the beginning of the first movie to the end of this one… and just scratch your head a bit. I highly recommend it… and all three are on Netflix now, so check them all out immediately! Death toll for this movie? 108 recorded… 221 acts of violence… and probably more implied in a “Man of Steel” kind of collateral damage.
Nowadays though, it’s all about the reboot… and if we were to do that today… who would star in the Rambo Reboot… dare I say RAMBOOT??? Izzy & I had a little discussion… and this is what we came up with. Oh… the story is pretty much the same… well, maybe the countries involved switched around. You know… John Rambo is a veteran of Afghanistan… he tries going back home to Arizona & gets some guff from the local sheriff (and maybe the governor?)… he goes on a journey of self-discovery north… and finds it in the Pacific Northwest… so yeah, the cast of the original story set in Hope, Washington (British Columbia). This is the one that’s going to go for a little bit of that Oscar buzz…
Kit Harrington as John Rambo – While watching the trilogy the other day, we were straining to think who could possibly pull off that head of hair that is John Rambo… and of course we could only think of Jon Snow from “Game of Thrones.” Sure, that “Pompeii” movie wasn’t that incredible… but I’m totally down with Kit Harrington as Rambo. He’s young… he has the baby face… he could probably get ripped for the brief nude scenes while he’s hosed down by the cops and subjected to homoerotic hazing by the bigot cop we’re supposed to hate named Gault (played by Mel Gibson cameo?) and then the movie will go on from there where it’s Rambo vs. the cops & the elements… and then the big Oscar scene. By the way, I was REALLY considering giving this role to future Academy Award winner Channing Tatum in a wonderful wig as John Rambeau & setting this in the South… but yeah, I want to bring Jon Snow back from the death of type casting.
Kevin Costner as Sheriff Teasle – Speaking of Academy Awards, I want Costner playing the role made famous by Brian Dennehy in the original. He’s a decent cop nearing the end of a long career… and in the name of looking out for his town that’s already seen its share of recession-based unemployment, he notices a man whose brandishing a GIANT F**KING KNIFE to the city lines… but he passively resists… so he has to take him in. Then after some of his deputies (again, Gibson cameo as the weathered bigot Gault?) rough him in the holding cell, hell is unleashed in the form of PTSD Green Beret Rambo… and it’s up to Sheriff Teasle to bring him back in & protect his constituents. I like the idea of Teasle doing questionable things for reasons perceived as right in this complex issue… and Costner can act his ass off when given a proper script/situation.
Bryan Cranston as Col. Samuel Trautmann – “And the award for Best Supporting Actor goes to…” American treasure Bryan Cranston as The Man who made Rambo the “ultimate killing machine” during his various tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, wherever he was needed by the government. Now, his monster has been set loose on innocent & not-so-innocent civilians alike. Why Cranston? Because he’s a BADASS!!! “But $teve, Bryan Cranston is too big of a commodity now to be in a big budget movie for only a few minutes of screen time… besides, he’d just act the sh*t out of everybody else & it’d just anger the audience.” Somebody has never seen Godzilla…

Then based on setting all kinds of box office records, there comes a big budget sequel, he’s released from jail to go to a mission in the Ukraine (filmed in British Columbia again?) or North Korea (filmed in British Columbia?) or Columbia (filmed in non-British Columbia?)… but let’s face it, we want the Russians to be the bad guys because of who will be the baddie… and this too shall just be an all-out action royale with lots of explosions & one-liners.
Mickey Rourke as Marshall Murdock – Col. Trautman may have recruited Rambo to handle this covert operation… but it’s Murdock who pulls the strings for the operation… and he won’t let you forget it… and he’s seem some sh*t in his day, so he’s not to be messed with. I like Rourke because he looks like he’s seen some sh*t, is a pretty damn good actor & let’s face it… he can probably throw down & do a few stunts. I’ve seen “The Wrestler” and “Double Team.” This role was played by the great character actor Charles Napier in the original sequel… and yeah, I like this pick… so get used to it.
Eliza Dushku as Mission Contact / Love Interest Cameo – Mila Kunis, Milla Jovovich & Natalie Portman (apparently she’s of Russian descent?) would have been easy… but I like to go HARD Eastern European… and frankly, I haven’t seen her in anything lately… so if she’s game to take on this acting challenge still, I’m game to cast Eliza Dushku, who you may remember from the Buffy & Dollhouse TV Series… or maybe “The New Guy”… or maybe as the teenage girl in “True Lies”. Let’s be honest… if you’ve seen the original… you know it really doesn’t matter who’s in this role… spoiler alert… it’s short-LIVED!!! If she’s retired or something, then maybe I’ll reach out to Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”, “XXX”, “Oblivion”, “Hitman”, etc) to take over.
Dolph Lundgren as the General Drago – Ladies & gentlemen, the Rematch!!! So regardless of the location of the covert op… near the start of the 3rd act, in walks the towering Russian General behind the whole situation… and I’m thinking it’s actually reveals via TANK!!! Anyway, infiltration of base… plenty of explosions… maybe a few hostages are lost along the way (love interest?)… hand-to-hand combat with the big boss… perhaps on top of a MIG… FINALE!!!
So yeah… that’s how I’m rebooting Rambo… and I think Izzy’s along for the ride too… now I just need to check with Mario Kassar & Andrew Vajna (not Vajina) to get them to produce again… and maybe Stallone… I almost wanted him to be Trautman but he can’t hold a f**king candle in the same room as Bryan Cranston. Anyway, gonna try to get a body cold or something that I’ve been feeling since yesterday… in the meantime, have a great weekend everybody!!!

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