in progress, editing this post.
I watched "Rambo" over the weekend. The fourth and final film in the John Rambo quartet.
FIRST BLOOD is a film I've watched more times than I've eaten lunch.
I spoke to David Morrell shortly after reading the novel. The book ends grimly and is a lot darker, Rambo dies. There's also a heck of a build-up to when/why he initially blows! He's been kicked out of dozens of towns by local Sheriff's and although I really enjoyed the film, Rambo's explosion into aggression and violence probably makes more sense in the novel.
The novel also builds upon the relationship dynamics between Will Teasle and 'the kid', Teasle is a Korean war vet, and there's a contrast and background to each man's life and war experiences that's much deeper, there's even a father-figure angle.
The films, briefly, are-
FIRST BLOOD - an excellent manhunt film, even allowiing for that car which manages to leap thrity feet into the air and land without causing spinal injuries, we assume. Great performances by Brian Dennehy, Richard Crenna and Sylvester Stallone.
RAMBO, FIRST BLOOD PART II - John Rambo evolves into a cartoon figure. The film is a solid action feast but the 80s aspects, one poll had it as the film that most accurately took the temperature of the decade. It took me ages to work that one through. Reaganomics et al, Russians as Enemy No #1 and the Cold War is continuing to hot up. As well as fighting the Vietnam War all over again and winning this time. It may be harder to grasp all this today, without the climate of politics and a sort of celebratory jingoism.
RAMBO 3 - I've only seen this film once, truly awful if I recall, Rambo is in Afghanistan assisting the rebels, the irony! I'll try and add to this summary, as, well, it's as empty as my recollection of this 'final' film. That was a temporary-final we now know!
I think one of the lessons of the two films following First Blood might be [apart from "don't make sequels" ] that when the politics is so overtly displayed, the film and story suffers, and it dates very quickly. It fails as 'art', because the politics is pushing through, in your face.
but then after a long break, in the recent remake and recycle wave we get:-
The final film is ultra-violent: you get the feeling they said, "the old violence wont do" - it has to be a 1000 times more intense, these guys have seen it all now, and the war-porn of current news station has inured us all to some extent, yes? Worse, with the camera lingering on the mutilations like those shots we're all used to seeing in an Argento horror flick it feels B or even C-flicky at times. I thought, move the shot on.
But I still enjoyed what this film was trying to do, it seemed to be saying, 'if you think you know how bad war is, think again. And by giving Rambo a bunch of disaffected mercenaries to fight with, he kind of gets his old team back, we never saw him with the soldiers who were his friends in Vietnam, but it was one of the more heartfelt aspects to First Blood, this guy who has come home and everybody else, his friends, are dead.
This is why I think you can at least identify with the character in First Blood, even though it has been described as morally ambiguous, but after that, it's all explosions and effects, good story potential, but a loss of empathy on the part of the audience.
There was a chance to get it right in the final film, but the hammy dialogue and much else means, for me at least, it fell apart. It probably doesn't matter, hey, so long as it took a bunch of cash at the BO, it's served its purpose. But you'd think with the money involved in films, the script and editing and characterisation could have been a lot better.
Anybody here a fan of these movies, in particular FIRST BLOOD which has a big cult following I understand . I hear they even turned up last year to see the bridge from the movie demolished, it had become delapidated and unsafe.
Now that's a geek too far for me.