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.

Advertisements

Film review: Creed 2

Welcome to another sweet spot time for films!  Thanksgiving through Christmas is when Hollywood trots out the better than normal stuff: holiday feel goods, kids films, and comic book films.  Maybe even an academy award film in limited release or 2.  Let’s talk Creed 2 and take it back…do-do, doooo do. Take it baaaaaack.

creed

No, Carl Weathers doesn’t come back to life after his corpse is struck by lightning.  But it sure looks like Sly Stallone did.  Ryan Coogler is out as director as he was busy making billions with Black Panthers.  Stephen Caple Jr has come in from the bullpen to direct the sequel.  So Creed (Michael B Jordan) has risen through the ranks and has become the heavyweight champion of the world.  Meanwhile, in the center of American’s election, Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) is trained by his father, Ivan (Dolph Lundgren). But a hustling promoter (Buddy Marcelle) is watching Viktor smack around Russkies like Russian men knock around their wives.  Obviously, he’s looking to get a fight between Creed and Drago to recreate the fight that their fathers had 30 years ago.  FYI, the Dragos aren’t doing so well.  They’re humping crates around when they’re not training.  Russia has turned its back on Drago.  Brigitte Nielsen left Ivan because he lost to Rocky and then found true love with Flavor Flav.  You’ll definitely sympathize with Lundgren as Ivan Drago.  He lost everything and lived a life of obscurity, being SO CLOSE and missing it.  He is obviously trying to relive the glory days and what could have been through his son.  You’ll also remember he’s an asshole when he needles Creed and Rocky.   

Tessa Thompson reprises her role as Bianca, Adonis Creed’s girlfriend.  She continues to hit it out of the park in this installment.  She’s making strides with her music while fighting through her healing impairment.  And of course, Stallone is back as everyone’s favorite Italian pugilist/trainer.  Now that Creed is champion, Viktor Drago challenges him for a fight.  Cute the multitude of emotions/flashbacks that Creed and Stallone go through from 30 years ago, when we all had to suffer through James Brown’s “Living in America.”  And oh yeah, when Stallone balked at throwing in the towel and getting his best friend killed.  

Fast forward to Creed taking on the fight and getting smoked by Drago.  Except this fight ends in a DQ so Creed still holds onto the title.  We begin to channel Rocky 3 where Rocky gets tuned up by Mr. T and here are where the parallels begin.  Both are questioning their heart and hunger throughout the second acts.  A life changing moment occurs with Creed and he’s debating if boxing still worth it.  Phylicia Rashad appears fresh out of testifying at Cosby’s trial and returns as Creed’s mother.  She reminds him of the obvious that there’s no need to do the rematch  end up like his father but hey, make your own decisions, son.  And of course, what would be a Rocky/Creed film without a training montage?  Creed realizes he can’t go about it the usual way so Stallone takes him to another venue, a la Rocky 4, sans cheesy 80’s music.  No, he doesn’t finish at the top of a mountain while yelling, DRAGO, in a 360 degree shot.  One more parallel?  Sure.  Creed even enlists Tony “Little Duke” Evers, the son of his dad’s trainer, Duke.  Remember him? “Throw in the damn towel!” 

Creed 2 is pretty good.  We even get a nice cameo in this one, I guarantee you’ll have an, “Oh shit!” moment in this theater.  Yes, it’s pretty predictable and yes, there are a ton of obvious similarities to Rocky 4.  But this an enjoyable film and you’ll feel satisfied, not overstuffed, like Thanksgiving dinner.  And let’s cross our fingers that for Creed 3, he fights Clubber Lang’s kid.  And wrestles Hulk Hogan’s son, Nick.  Wait, whoops…

I give it a 7/10