Is This Rambo’s Last Blood Fest?

Rambo: Last Blood Poster

 

 

He’s the man with a mug and muscles.  A legendary collection of characters whose stories continue to hold their place in history and face the test of time.  Surprisingly, he manages to continue putting those stars of decades past into the modern times so that they can continue to rake in the attention, fame, and potentially tell a story doing it.  I’m talking aboutSylvester Stallone, the one-man action star who despite the passing years still does what he can to bring the boom. Tonight’s feature is an unretired action legend that decades ago sunk his knife into our hearts, and now years later, he’s trying to do it again with modern tools.  What is in store?  Well that’s where I come in to give some insight as Robbie K is back with another look at:

 

Film: Rambo Last Blood (2019)

 

Director:

Adrian Grunberg

Writers:

Matthew Cirulnick (screenplay by), Sylvester Stallone (screenplay by)  |3 more credits »

Stars:

Sylvester StallonePaz VegaYvette Monreal

 

 

LIKES:

 

Stallone’s character still adapting

Great use of cinematography to get the feeling

Touching Side of Rambo

The Rambo Action Package At The End

Montage

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Lacking Depth

Wasted Characters

Lame Villains

First hour is cliché, simplistic build up

A Little Too Much Focus Of Blood

Inconsistencies in this film’s logic

 

SUMMARY:

 

Rambo has gone through some of the darkest battles and nightmares we only glimpse in films, so seeing his journey of moving past that is always nice to see.  Last Blood’s attempt to push the character to new levels gets a nod of respect, especially seeing the doors to his inner character open to reveal the touching side of Rambo.  Sure, you’ve seen this vulnerability at moments in the past, but for this film you really get an in-depth dive into this new side which will help you appreciate the legend even more.  Much of this is due to the acting, which is okay but works, but I liked the cinematography and use of filming filters and techniques to help bring out that depth. Much of this most aren’t going to care about, so perhaps the use of the film technique is better suited for the carnage that Rambo films bring.  True to the title, there is plenty of blood and gore to bring to the table, as modern technology and focus on violence comes rushing into the last fifteen to twenty minutes of the film.  The loud wet smacks, the red carnage, the screams of agony, and intense focus will give you more than an eye full of Rambo’s tactics to fill you to the brim and really end on an exciting climax.  Note: This is not like the 80s blood so those thinking of taking impressionable minds need to think five times before trekking this.  When all is said and done through and the credits start rolling, the last montage of Rambo’s past adventures will seal up the deal in what may or may not be the last film of the franchise.

 

Now I’ll be the first to admit that a Rambo film is not always the fleshed out, Oscar Worthy pick that will shatter new levels. However, I do recall that at least the first two films had a decent story to drive the adventure and help begin to expand on our… hero.  This film did offer a touching side, but Last Blood’s plot is very predictable, a linear voyage that lacks the depth that other installments do.  To take sixty to seventy minutes of the film and not provide the John Rambo action sooner was well a little disappointing.  This cliché, simplistic build up again had some heart, and is true to the character to some level, but the other characters they introduced were not utilized well.  His family and a potential new friend “contributed”, but they just did not have the same level of involvement his usual supporting characters do.  I would also say the villains did not quite have the same bite. Past rivals to John Rambo had military training, corrupt armies, or inside information for them to abuse. This one though, is just a bunch of greasy looking thugs, who certainly deserve the fight, but lack any bite to them and were quite unimpressive for the most part making the “battle” certainly justice filled, but again one sided and missing that exciting spark.  The bloodlust the director and squad chose this time were a bit more of the plan than actual battling, and Rambo’s continued pushing of the red paint was quite overloaded for me, but may be right up the alley of others.  What also took away from me was the inconsistencies in the film’s logic.  Rambo’s choices in body armor, why they showed almost every grotesque way to kills, but then skip other kills, or even more so why the Mexican Cartel lacked brains in this installment is beyond me.

 

The VERDICT

 

            Overall, Rambo: Last Blood has the same simplistic approach the rest of the movies have done, but they did not quite execute as well for me.  The story elements were sacrificed for superficial components, and the definition of action packed is a little different from my worldview.  Sure, it’s all about building up a justified tale of vengeance, and it does open up the side of Rambo that is outside the rugged stoicism that he loves.  Yet, the modern take of extreme, weak villains, underutilized characters, and focus on the blood took away from the balance the first film did so well.  Still, I’ll agree with my fellow reviewers that if you are a die-hard fan and want the modern technology to blend with it, this fil is for you.  All others, I would hold out for, and for everyone please don’t take those that are too young to this blood fest. 

 

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Thriller: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

I DeCreed This One Powerful Sequel

Creed II Poster

            The legacy of Rocky is an epic one that has etched its way into the hearts of sports movie fanatics until the end of time.  Despite their outdated cinema work, the movies hold such epic bouts of fist flying destruction, brazen masculinity, and surprisingly deep portrayal of sport vs. life.  It has worked super well for years, and with Creed reviving the series with a new, modern edge that showed a boxing movie can still pack the punches.  So a sequel to continue the new boxer’s legacy has emerged to challenge the rest of the Thanksgiving line up in hopes to win the championship of best box office.  Will it succeed?  Robbie K here to fill you in as I review:

 

Movie: Creed II (2018)

 

Director:

Steven Caple Jr.

Writers:

Cheo Hodari Coker (story by), Ryan Coogler (characters)

Stars:

Michael B. JordanSylvester StalloneTessa Thompson

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Character Development: Adonis Creed’s journey was soul searching and inspiring in the first film, and the sequel follows that back in spades. This film is dedicated to the torture of balancing pride of your career while trying to balance the other aspects of life.  Adonis goes through a lot of tough mental burdens, which helps stretch the limits of the character.  Of course Rocky himself still is finding ways to expand his own dynamic, still finding lessons to teach and learn as he himself goes through the throngs with his indirect nephew.  A Rocky films has always been about expanding the character and the traditions continues in the 8thinstallment.

 

The Music:  You like rap, hip hop, and R&B, you’ve got yourself a soundtrack that captivates the essence of the film.  It’s edgy, aggressive beat mixes beautifully with the actions scenes, mirroring the fighting lion that is Adonis in his quest for reaching his goals. Be ready for some hard-hitting beats, with potential aggressive lyrics that can be offensive.

 

Expanded Villain:  Most Rocky movies do a poor job of elaborating on the villainous boxer who wishes to stop our hero.  In this film though, the villains get a small subplot that helps to give them more details and appreciation.  Balancing this tale with the main story, crafts a much better investment in time when it comes to designing the rival boxer that I really liked, especially when even Ivan Drago contributes significantly to the tale.

 

The Rocky Feeling:  Creed II continues the tradition of the boxing movies, by crafting a tale that is all about getting guys in the macho, masculine mode.  Adonis’ next tale brings the motivational force to full light, instilling the testosterone fueled training, hype, enticement, and whatever else you are looking for.  Guys in my showing were hooting in delight, sometimes batting their hands together during the high adrenaline moments.  As for the females, well plenty of shirtless scenes and chiseled bodies to get you swooning if you like that. Past these moments though, classic fans will enjoy the bonds of coach and trainee once again working together to face life gloves up and eyes sharp.

The Final Fight:  We know the series is all about that final match, where contender and titan throw themselves into the ring in all their epic, sweaty glory.  Creed II has the finale you wait for, filled with the high adrenaline special effects, sound editing, high energy shots magic that studios craft.  As the bout progresses the raw emotion of both contenders is unleashed, in a manner worthy of the David Vs. Goliath status they were going for. It is an epic finish to all the buildup and lasts well enough to be worthy of inclusion.

 

DISLIKES:

 

A Little Too Aggressive at Times:  For me the in your face, high adrenaline moments were sometimes perfectly executed. Other times it was a little eye rolling and overdone.  The in your face moments, and fast to action attitude was fine in the first one, but at points in the movie it was a little sadder to watch. This plot point was supposedly conquered in the first one, yet they decided to harp on it as a recycled device. Small dislike, but we go with it.

 

Some Unnecessary Subplots: Creed II has a lot of heart and emotion with it, working to integrate a lot of angles to take Adonis’ life in to help shape the character.  Some of these angles worked quite well for me, and a couple of them didn’t.  I won’t say anything to minimize the spoilers, but there are a couple of tangents they took that didn’t quite add to the movie as much as they wanted.  I would have liked a few other subplots to get some more detail instead, but given the grand scheme of the movie it’s not quite as noticeable.

 

Carbon Copy:  A point that might make or break the movie depending on the audience Creed 2 loses points for originality.  While I understand that the first one wasn’t unique in terms of stories, Creed 2 really modeled its structure quite closely to one of the original Rocky movies, guess which one.  As such, the new coat of paint is quite refreshing, but given how much it follows the original in terms of main plot, it’s a little disappointing given the predictability of the movie that comes with it.  Will you be disappointed?  It really depends on how much you hate carbon copy plots.

 

 

The Verdict:

         Creed II delivers on the attitude the trailer promised long ago. By expanding upon the rivals, portraying more life components with career, and maintaining the feel of a Rocky Movie it’s going to please many fans of the franchise. Yet, the film still suffers from a tad too much modern aggression, some plot devices that didn’t quite need to be there, and a rehashed plot that will make or break the film. Overall though, I liked it and felt it fit very well in the universe and holding quality above a number of other installments.  So if you are looking for the testosterone driven plot line for the weekend, check this film out in spades this weekend, maximizing your experience in the theater. Otherwise definitely get ready for this one when it comes out to the wide public. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sport: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5