Open invitation for new weekly show co-host!
by Adam M. Wilcox
It is difficult to spoil a movie with an 89 minute run time. As you may have gathered, most of the movie is explained to you by the awesome trailers. I still don’t like to do spoilers, so if some of my descriptions seem vague, it is by design.
What does the trailer tell the audience? Rambo has assimilated himself back into rural society. Some shit goes bad, and there will be Hell to pay. The movie wastes absolutely zero time of it’s 89 minute run time setting up exactly what you would expect from a movie like this. That is both blessing, and a detriment at the same time. Allow me to explain. Stallone has been successful all of these years by being able to come to terms about what he is capable of, his audience’s expectations, as well as the motivations of the characters he has created over the years. Rocky Balboa, is the loser who got a second chance at life, and went against all odds to prove a point, and won over the hears of many as lovable goon with a huge heart, and a winning spirit. Rambo, is a killer Green Beret Vietnam vet who was unable to rejoin society after the war. In a last minute split decision, it was decided not to kill off Rambo at the end of the movie First Blood, and that paved the way for a series of sequels. All of them dealt with his inability to live a normal life. Whether he was killing Caucasian mountain sheriffs, Vietnamese prison guards, Russian military men, or Burmese military, one thing we can all agree on is that Rambo is an equal opportunity murder machine. So why should murdering a group of Mexican sex traffickers be any different? Only the internet seems to know for sure.
I don’t like to read or watch any reviews before I watch a movie, because I often find myself trying to see what others saw in a movie, and now I am no longer looking at it from my eyes, but rather trying to see it from somebody else’s perspective. I hate that I think that way, but it’s impossible to shake, and most of the time I fail to see where others are coming from anyways. So this time I did something different for my review. I ignored the articles, avoided the videos, and just went to the show. However I DID unfortunately glance upon a few headlines on the way out the door, so I agreed to read them on a live stream on my channel as soon as I got home from the movie. I read four separate single star reviews with very outrageously click bait headlines. I refuse to acknowledge, or cite those sources, but I will leave a link to my video below this review. One thing I saw in common among all reviews is that “it’s 2019…(enter any problematic hot spot you wish here)”. So what these critics are telling film makers is that you have to be sensitive now, because 2019 said so. Motherfucker, this is RAMBO, not Creed, not The Shape of Water, not Dora The Explorer either. May I remind you that this whole world existed before 2019, pre-MCU, and action heroes ruled the wastelands of entertainment. Bigger than life heroes doing unrealistic things while spitting out bad one liners faster than you can say “he’s dead tired!”. Many of the people that enjoyed those movies are still in fact alive, and maybe even miss some of that 80’s machismo. Rambo was one of the big ones that dominated that era. This movie is made for THAT crowd, not the hypersensitive cancel culture. Also, don’t mind the 12 thousand robots outside waiting to call my review “problematic”, pay no attention. Don’t feed the trolls. Now that I have got that shit out of the way, let’s move on to an actual movie review.
Last Blood waists no time setting up the third act. If you have seen movies like Death Wish, The Unforgiven, or even Home Alone, you kind of get where this is going. The downside to this, is that other characters that are in this film exist as plot points, and do not actually take on any personality to speak of. There is sadly just no development here. This is where I would have preferred the movie to be a bit longer, at least give us some time to know these people. The good guys, OR the bad guys. We already know Rambo from previous films.
The western vibe that you got from the trailer is a bit of a ruse. He is working on a ranch, and much of the action does take place there. But if you are waiting for a proper western which I honestly was kind of hoping it would be, you would be better to stick with Logan, or The Unforgiven. Like I said, this one is a bit more Death Wish, but somewhat shorter. So pacing is very fast, story is very light, and all of it is only to service the final act.
The final act is where the movie actually pays off. If it has been a long while since you sat with your friends at the latest Friday The 13th sequel to watch the “awesome kills”, then you are in for a shockingly good time. It is at this point where music plays, and I refuse to tell you all what song is playing, but I will give you a hint, it is NOT Drowning Pool’s “Bodies”, but most will recognize it. I recognize that this is the director’s subtle way of acknowledging his true audience, those that came for the kills, so buckle up the ride. And killing is what Rambo does best as he slices, dices, and blows heads off in graphic gory glory. Some audience members were actually laughing at this, and I found no problem with that. This is pure escapism folks. It’s not pro Trump, anti-Mexican, (the focus of the film is the rescue of his very Mexican niece after all), or “toxic masculinity” which I believe is code for 80’s machismo murder boners make me feel icky, so I will call it problematic on the internet. In other words, some of the BS in these reviews is really stretching. Although when you spend 75% of your life bitching on Twitter about all of the alleged “problematic” talking points I listed above of course your going to see these things if you are really looking for them. So what passage in Moby Dick did you highlight today? (Ten brownie points if you get that reference, FUCK I AM OLD!)
So I am saying it’s not great, it’s also not bad. That being said, I can’t cheat myself, or my audience, so my review is going to be a three out of five cheese curds. It is definitely worth a look. It is perfectly serviceable entertainment that actually makes me more excited that Tango And Cash, and Cobra sequels might be coming, so I hope that this movie makes all of the monies in the world so we can get more movies like this. Maybe a trip back to 80’s Machismo is exactly what we are missing in 2019, and Robert Rodriguez is listening folks!
by Arnór H. Wikström
There’s not a lot that hasn´t already been said about this film, so I won’t pretend I have any kind of unique take. I´ll just review it out of my own experience.
I have a nine year old stepdaughter who absolutely loves cinema. Her dream is to become a film maker, and she loves watching movies of all genres. Even horror. Despite her young age, horror films do not scare her much, though she definitely got quite chilled while watching the American remake of The Ring.
The first real horror movie she saw was 2017’s IT: Chapter 1, so as soon as trailers for the sequel started rolling in, I knew she had to see it as her first theatrical horror experience.
Here in Sweden, the age limit for an R-rated film is 15, or 11 in the company of an adult, but when it came time to check our tickets, the usher hardly glanced at her.
So, armed with a giant tub of popcorn, we sat down in the dark to watch a horror film. As this was her first time watching an R-rated film at the cinema, she was completely mesmerized by the trailer that preceded it. Wall to wall violence. She’s never seen a proper action movie, so here she got her first glimpses into a hitherto untapped genre.
IT2 opens with a very brutal scene, depicting very real contemporary hate crime violence, setting a tone of grit that never really returns to the film again. The horror in that scene is not supernatural, but very real and heartbreaking. I have seen some voices be vocal about this scene, saying that, even though it’s present in the source novel, it feels misplaced in this movie.
Well, they’re not wrong. It does feel a bit out of place, but when you look at what Stephen King’s IT is about, and what themes he often strews among his works, it’s very much in the King spirit. The first IT also tells the story of vicious bullying, as the Losers Club are relentlessly harassed by a bully called Henry Bowers. If we look at IT2, not as a standalone film, but as the second part of a long film, the opening suddenly makes much more sense. We are being reminded that Derry isn’t just a cute little town being beset by evil forces; the town itself is fundamentally broken. It’s a dreadful place. An absolute rural American hellhole shitburg, full of awful people that treat each other like shit.
Derry is such a recurring place in King’s work, that the town almost has a character of its own. It’s a cursed place, from top to bottom, be it the monsters that besiege it, or the people living in it, nobody’s happy, and everyone yearns to leave.
The opening scene seems to say to us “Welcome back to Derry, people. This place sucks, with or without cosmic demon clowns”.
And speaking of cosmic demon clowns, if you came to see Pennywise, you might leave the theatre disappointed. Bill Skarsgård’s iconic jester gets roughly 10 out of the films 170 minutes, but that also helps make his appearances memorable, since too much of him could easily prove tedious. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a constant barrage of creepy stuff going on. We must remind ourselves that Pennywise The Dancing Clown is just the favorite form of a much more complex being. An almost omniscient hell-beast that thrives on fear and can take on any form it wishes.
The almost three hour runtime blows past unnoticed, as there is always something going on onscreen, raging from silly to scary to gory to funny to dramatic to sad to heartfelt to empowering to nauseating. Crying baby-faced flies hatched from fortune cookies, and zombie heads bobbing around a fish tank might not scare you, but it sure as hell will entertain you, and the chemistry between the lead cast is so strong it really makes you believe that these are the same kids you saw in the first movie, and that they really know and love each other. Just like in the first movie, the character of Richie Tozier owns every single scene he’s in, whether he’s played by Finn Wolfhard or Bill Hader. James McAvoy can pull off desperately terrified to such a degree that you can’t help but feel for him. Jessica Chastain and Jay Ryan echo their child counterparts remarkably well, which says something about the acting of Jay Ryan, as older Ben Hanscom is purposely meant to not resemble the younger one too much as he’s supposed to have gone through a tremendous physical transformation since childhood. Then there’s Isaiah Mustafa as brooding ringleader Mike, and James Ransone as the hypochondriac Eddie, who sometimes serves as second comic relief to Bill Hader’s Richie.
The movie is full of Easter eggs for the Stephen King diehards. There’s a recurring joke about people generally liking James McAvoy character Billy’s books, but that he can’t write endings, a common criticism directed towards Stephen King, and especially towards otherwise acclaimed source novel IT. The joke is made even funnier when a very special cameo performer gets to take part in it.
The film also recalls The Shining, Christine, Carrie, Stand By Me, and pays homage to other classic works of horror not penned by Stephen King.
The monsters in the film can seem downright goofy, as the character designs seem to take certain details a step too far, and in doing so cross the line from scary to plain weird. This problem was already present in the first film, with the leper and the lady in the picture both being just a bit too off on their details to be completely scary. However, the movie relies heavily on the element of surprise, and you never know just what the hell is going to come bursting out of the darkness next. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The jump scares are not many, but still quite efficient, and I admit that I jumped in my seat on a couple of occasions. I’m usually not a big fan of jump scares, as they often kill the creepiness of a film, but since IT2 has already given creepy up for the sake of weird and extreme, you find yourself being pleasantly startled at times.
As foreshadowed many times throughout the film, the ending is vastly different from the book. This is a good thing, as the book’s ending involves friendly cosmic turles and eleven year olds having a sewer orgy. Even though I found the way they thwarted the villain to be a bit silly anyway, it still plays well with the overarching theme of the movie. A theme of friendship and love, and sticking together as a team. Wholesome stuff. Stephen King is hella wholesome (and over time he himself has also gotten better at writing endings).
I probably enjoyed the movie a bit more than I might have done on my own, since I was also seeing it through the imaginative eyes of my kid. As and adult with plenty of experience watching horror, I could easily roll my eyes all the random over-the-top shark-jumping, but The IT movies play out like adventure movies. A rag-tag group of friends out on a mission to stop a chaotic magic evil. Like a gory Goonies, or an ET full of murders. So if you’re like me, and want to introduce your kid to the glorious world of horror movies, the IT movies are a perfect place to start, and I promise that there’s a lot of fun to be had if you lower your most critical glasses and decide to roll with the punches. It’s (pun intended) the perfect family horror film.
I can’t wait to marathon these movies with my stepdaughter in the near future.
🎈🎈🎈out of 🎈🎈🎈🎈🎈