Friday, March 21, 2008

19th March 08 - Rambo

Oh dear. What has the world come to? This week I was reduced to a choice between Rambo and The Other Boleyn Girl. Like being stuck between a rock and a smug place. In the end we went for the rock, in the form of Rambo. A big, solid, faceless piece of rock, that could have elements of useful minerals running through it, but could also be one of those things that look like a rock, but is actually a large stale dog turd.

I’ve never seen a Rambo film before, and I’m neither ashamed nor proud to admit that. I just haven’t. So the thought of a new Rambo didn’t particularly excite or offend me, apart from a raised eyebrow at yet another action franchise being reborn (along with Rocky, Die Hard, Indiana et al) with the same haggard star crumbling out of the woodwork to try and relive their glory days, albeit in a slightly slower, more arthritic fashion.

So. Rambo. Here’s the gist: some Christians want to go to Burma to help out a peaceful community caught in a grisly civil war. They enlist Rambo to get them out there (he’s hanging out with snakes and stuff). The Christians get captured by the Evil Foreign soldier types. Rambo goes out to save them with some good guys, and they slaughter all the bad guys. Then they go home.

That’s literally the entire plot. In fact, the plot stops mid-way through and the rest of the film is one long bloody mash of carnage. Initially the violence is shocking and uncomfortable, especially as it’s very likely to be happening out in Burma in real life right now (no one seems to be trying to stop any of it, though. Pity there’s nothing, um, “valuable” in Burma, eh? Otherwise certain folk would be marching in there, ready to “save“ them…)

But once the blood bath begins, reality goes out the window, probably accompanied by a couple of severed limbs. We see legs fly off, blood gush out of massive holes, arrows shoot through faces, heads actually explode. It is reminiscent of certain deaths in Team America: World Police (they were puppets filled with meat splatting on pavements, if you didn’t know). Duh-duh-duh goes Rambo’s magic gun that makes trees implode. Duh-duh-duh goes the naff heavy metal soundtrack. Duh-duh-duh goes, worryingly, the hearts of teenage fools thinking this is great. Ha-ha-ha goes my laugh, genuinely enjoying it but probably not quite as intended.

I think this has been the funniest film of the year so far. Just looking at Stallone is enough to crack me up. It looks like he’s tried to have botox but used porridge by mistake. His heart-warming revelations about himself (he’s not particularly patriotic. He just likes killing people) are mirrored by the beautiful moment when a Christian learns to leave his prejudices against violence aside, and beats someone to death with a rock. Hurray!

Laughter and enjoyment aside, it is slightly disconcerting that your average tabloid reader will watch this and see horrific acts by foreign looking people against whimpering and ultimately faceless foreigners, and then American and Brit soldiers, all with names and vague personalities waltz in, destroy everything, and waltz back out again in an uplifting finale. Way to humanise the plight of the Burmese, Stallone. You’ve just boxed them into the pleb majority’s heads as “those extras that got blitzed by Rambo’s gun.”

Anyway, I can clamber off my soap-box long enough to debate how on earth to rate this film. On the one hand it was a bloody funny way to pass the time and left me with a huge smirk on my face. On the other it was plotless, pointless, horrific and potentially damaging to the apathetic teenage population. On those grounds I can neither award it points, or subtract, and so it sits comfortable at a CF0. And I’ll say this: it’s a million times better than watching Smug Johansson. Ha!

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