Film reviews: Rambo Last Blood and the Joker

Hey you silly smelly sailors.  It’s been awhile since a film review and since I saw the Joker last week and one of the few who saw Rambo, let’s talk movies.

rambo

Rambo took a beating by the critics and at the box office.  Who fucking cares?  You want someone old as Bernie Sanders blowing up shit for 90 minutes.  And that’s exactly what you get.  Rambo, his niece, and her aunt live on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, Arizona.  Which is somewhere the Bang Bros should a new location to film, what a challenge to find someone walking down the road that’s not an escaped convict.  Rambo’s niece gets word that her estranged dad lives in Mexico and she heads down; despite Rambo’s pleas not to go as the dad was an awful person.  She gets kidnapped by a sex trafficking gang.  Rambo catches word and decides to write poetry to give his angst an outlet.  Just kidding, he hates poetry and general sentence formation.

He heads on down, bent on revenge and uh oh, gets outnumbered and beat up.  BTW, there are people complaining that this film makes Mexican people look bad.  Oh, I guess the SJW forgot about the cartels when they decided to find something to get fake offended on a Tuesday at 11am.  Rambo gets back to America to heal up then back down to Mexico to cast a new version of Menudo.  Just kidding, we already have a new version of Menudo.  He goes back down to start a tickle fight (bloody carnage) and let them know he’s still around.  Well this of course doesn’t strike the Mexican gang’s fancy so they head up to Rambo’s house and that’s when this becomes Home Alone on steroids.  He preps his house and tunnels with weapons, traps and bombs; like he’s going to receive a visit from his in-laws.  The last 15-20 minutes make this film completely worthwhile and at a brisk 90 minutes, it’s a enjoyable watch.  Yes, you’re going to have a few “eye roll moments” but c’mon, we’ve enjoyed those since Rambo 2.  As most of my Italian friends say, it is what it is.  You get what you expect; a lesson or 2 sprinkled in with weak dialogue and action.  And make no mistake about it, this is the last Rambo.  Is it the best sign off for Rambo, John J?  No but you’ll find enough to enjoy of this Viking funeral.

Last Blood 6/10

 
Last time we saw Batman, he was played by Ben Affleck on the tail end of one hell of a alcoholic bender.  And the last time we saw the Joker; he was a tatted up gangster with zero charisma that people rightfully rank him as the worst Joker of all time.  Even worse than Beto O’Rourke.  I mean, who’s taking that guy and his extremely punchable face seriously?  So when DC said, “let’s wash suicide squad out of everyone’s mouth,” we all said sure.  And when River Phoenix’s brother was announced the Joker, it was met with cautious optimism.  Because if a guy that played a gay cowboy can KILL the role of the Joker, we can give anybody a chance.  Anyone except the guy who played the Sherminator in American Pie.

We learn about Arthur Fleck and his tough life: mentally unstable, living with his delusional mother while he tries to make a life out of being a clown for hire as well as standup comedian.  Fleck isn’t respected by anyone; he gets beaten up by kids and manipulated at work.  You truly feel bad for him.  Fleck eventually goes all Bernie Goetz and shoots a few Wall St guys who mess with him on the subway.  Add him bombing on stage at Dangerfield’s (this is the last time you’ll see that place full in awhile) sends him right down the toilet.  And in a counterclockwise motion if you live south of the equator.  He loves watching Murray Franklin (Robert DeNiro) every night and manages to catch Murray’s eye as he plays a tape of Arthur bombing on a comedy show.

I kid you not, I tried to see if I can start getting money in on Phoenix to win as best actor.  He’s nothing short of brilliant and every bit as good as Ledger was in Dark Knight.  He digs in DEEP to this role; I loved the uncontrollable laugh he has and claims it’s because of a neurological disorder.  So many great choices pay off in this film, especially by Phoenix.  He doesn’t try to be Heath’s Joker but it’s just as creepy and boy, is the third act an absolute ball of fire.  His full transformation as the Joker cashes in every set up that director Todd Phillips puts out there.

Obviously, we don’t have any Batman but we do get a couple of Bruce Wayne scenes.  And an Alfred sighting too!  But my biggest (not really that big, nitpicking here) is that they make Thomas Wayne look like an a-hole.  Every story and film has him as a charitable doctor who tirelessly gives to Gotham.  He’s running for mayor here and quite unlikeable so that inconsistency didn’t sit as well with me on that.  It definitely warrants the R rating with some of the violent acts and good for Phillips he didn’t water this down.  And yes, there’s a nod to DK in this film, it’s a can’t miss camera shot in the end of the film.  This film definitely winks to Falling Down, Taxi Driver, and King of Comedy to name a few.  The mental health tone is so loud that Helen Keller’s ghost could hear this.  And being in standup comedy, I see this behavior all the time in the trenches.  Thankfully, some of these frustrated comics didn’t go into a theater and do their 5 minutes.  And then shoot up the place.

Todd Phillips made Road Trip and the Hangover films.  How he made a pivot to such an unknown territory of the greatest villain of all time in comic book history and made it dark with perfectly placed dabs of humor also should put firmly put him as a solid contender for best director.

Love this film and anyone who says otherwise needs a flower squirting acid in their face.

The Joker is a 9.5 out of 10.

Film Review: Black Panther

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Black Panther has taken the world by storm, both the film and the cologne.  To be frank, I had no desire to see this film.  I also had no desire to see Ant Man and Dr. Strange and was pleasantly surprised by both.  I also had no desire to see Batman V Superman and the first 2 Thor films and hated them all.  I wasn’t familiar with Black Panther growing up; he was as tertiary as Ant Man and Dr. Strange so why make an entire film about him?    It opened on Rotten Tomatoes at 99%; which made me afraid that with today’s racial climate, people would inflate their scores to come off as “woke” and not racist.  Is white guilt playing a role in the success of this film?  Is this going to get the female Ghostbusters/Wonder Woman treatment?  Who shot first, Han or Greedo?  Clearly Greedo shot first and missed and any of you who think otherwise is wrong.

Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, his home country in Africa, after the death of his father in Captain America 3.  Wakenda sits on a treasure trove of Vibranium, the same stuff his suit and Captain America’s shield is made of.  They’re a technologically advanced nation although they hide their success right in plain sight to blend in with the other African nations.  T’Challa becomes king of Wakanda and has his family that supports him in many ways.  His sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), plays Q to Panther’s James Bond.  His mother, (Angela Bassett) is queen of Wakanda.  Daniel Kuluuya (Get Out) plays T’Challa’s best friend and solider.  Panther also has an army of kickass women soldiers that protect him, including his ex, Lupita Nyong’o.  We learn that N’Jobu, Panther’s uncle, was killed while stationed on Earth.  Enter Erik Killmonger (Michael B Jordan), Panther’s cousin; who is hellbent on revenge for his father’s death and through military training, will stop at nothing to kill T’Challa and take over as King of Wakanda.  Killmonger wants to supply all suppressed minorities around the world with the Vibranium and technology so they can no longer be the little guy.

Are there nods to any of the other Marvel characters?  Very, very few.  Andy Serkis reprises his role as Klaw, an arms dealer who fought off the Avengers in Cap 3.  Other than that, no other call backs to the other Marvel films except the end credits which I won’t spoil.  Now, for the social themes.  A lot of people are talking about the female empowerment in this film.  Those lady bodyguards do kick ass and it’s not contrived one bit.  It’s completely believable and they’re a welcome mixture of action and comedy.  Director Ryan Coogler does a fantastic job of portraying African rituals and pride while spinning the tale of Black Panther.  I’ve seen a lot of people post on social media this is the best comic book film ever.  It’s not.  I’ve seen some people post that Killmonger is the best villain in a comic book film ever.  He’s very, very good but c’mon, not the best.  Heath Ledger as the Joker will be damn near impossible to unseat and I’ll even throw Magneto, Green Goblin,  and Vulture (Michael Keaton) in that group of untouchables.  Is this film as a masterpiece like others pain it to be?  No.  I felt that it drag a tad here and there.  The action was solid, the plot flowed smoothly, and the jokes worked.  But it’s damn solid and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’ll bet that you will as well.

Score of 7.5/10