Sunday, January 27, 2008
Movie Reviews: RAMBO, THE HEARTBREAK KID & SAW IV
Thinking his days of war and bloodshed are behind him, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) lives a peaceful life in the jungles of Thailand. Even when Christian aid workers ask the former warrior to take them up the Salween River into Burma to deliver medical supplies, he refuses because he knows how dangerous a trip like that can be. The missionaries go anyway, and when they don't come back, Rambo crosses the border himself and dispatches Burmese soldiers with his traditional gusto to save the kidnapped innocents.
Cast Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden, Graham McTavish, Rey Gallegos, Jake LaBotz (more)
Director(s) Sylvester Stallone
Writer(s) Sylvester Stallone
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Jan. 25, 2008
Running Time 93 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for strong graphic bloody violence, sexual assaults, grisly images
Sylvester Stallone's Rambo is a gory mixed bag of a mess of a movie that doesn't deliver enough message or action to make it worthwhile. Not as bad a vanity project as Rocky Balbola, Rambo just feels odd throughout, unsurprisingly dated and uneven. Stallone wears pretty much one expression throughout the film and delivers lines without any conviction. The rest of the cast is as forgettable as they are nameless. Mostly they just serve as bystanders during some of the more action oriented sequences. This isn't entirely unexpected as the main draw in a Rambo movie is going to be the gory bloody action. Some sequences do provide some exciting action but are filled with surprisingly bad CG effects being used for gory effects thus rendering the effect meaningless and mute. Stallone seemed to be going for Saving Private Ryan but instead ended up with Pearl Harbor, the extended edition, styled battle. Stallone's script is equally lacking. The characters are given some just god awful dialogue and characters are written with the just slightest of depth, never becoming more than one dimensional. The villain lacks even more depth and isn't really given anything to do than be plain evil. Strangely, Stallone did have some material there that could have made a statement about war and injustices in lawless sections of the world but he misses the point and sends a very mixed message. Let's hope this ends Stallone's walk down memory lane as it's becoming readily apparent that these once beloved characters can't make the leap from the 80's to today.
THE HEARTBREAK KID
Eddie Cantrow (Ben Stiller) is the last single man he knows. But he finally meets a
beautiful woman, Lila (Malin Akerman), who seems like she's his perfect match. But after taking the plunge into marriage, Lila immediately starts acting like the wife from Hell on the honeymoon, where a disillusioned Eddie meets another gal, Miranda (Michelle Monaghan) who might actually be his true soulmate.
Cast Ben Stiller, Michelle Monaghan, Malin Akerman, Jerry Stiller, Rob Corddry, Carlos Mencia (more)
Director(s) Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Writer(s) Scot Armstrong, Leslie Dixon, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Kevin
Status On DVD
Release Date Oct. 5, 2007
DVD Release Date Dec. 26, 2007
Running Time 115 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for strong sexual content, crude humor, language, and a scene of
drug use involving a minor
The Farrelly brothers are 10 years detached from their last superior outing, There's Something About Mary, and it's starting to seem that their time may have passed. They've created a series of increasingly bad movies in recent years and The Heartbreak Kid doesn't fare any better. Going into a Farrelly movie you know more or less know what to expect, gross out sight gags the main character being put through the ringer time and again but he ultimately gets the girl. The Heartbreak Kid follows the typical game plan more or less throughout. Here though it just feels flat and lacks any life, mainly because the characters are all mostly unlikable and never make realistic human decisions. Ben Stiller turns in his typical performance providing his character with very little charm or likeability. Jerry Stiller as Eddie's vulgar father is just odd and doesn't achieve the intended comedic effect. Rob Corddry's supporting role is one of the few brightspots as his scenes provide some of the few laughs in the listless comedy. Aside from Corddry, most of the gags miss the mark badly and a group of running jokes are just silly but not in a particularly funny way. It's a shame that it's been so long since the Farrelly brother have hit the sweet spot comedy wise but if they continue to dole out movies like The Heartbreak Kid they may find that their fan base has moved on to greener pastures.
Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) the serial torturer is dead, and two FBI profilers have arrived to help clean up the mess left in his wake. However, not all of Jigsaw's traps have been sprung, and a SWAT commander (Costas Mandylor) gets caught up in another deadly game.
Cast Tobin Bell, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Costas Mandylor, Lyriq Bent, Justin Louis (more)
Director(s) Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer(s) Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Status On DVD
Release Date Oct. 26, 2007
DVD Release Date Jan. 22, 2008
Running Time 108 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout,
and for language
Saw IV is a mildly better installment than the third turn but it's hardly a classic either. Bloody gory and still trying to convey Jigsaw, history's most prepared horror villain, message Saw IV does give us a more well rounded view of Jigsaw's psyche and motivations. Darren Lynn Bousman does have a fun sense of style in shooting his film, except when he decides to go with the super hyper editing with are series mainstays. Tobin Bell, in flashbacks, gets to open up his performance as we see a pre Jigsaw version of his character and he's fairly solid in giving more life to his ironically dead character. Like the previous entries this movie plays a game with the audience's expectations and delivers a twist at the end. The main problem is that this twist and the gory trek to arrive at it feels vaguely familiar, lacking the originality and effectiveness of the first film. It's been a similar problem with all the sequels to this "Seven light" serial killer series. I've always felt it would have been best to leave the first movie as a stand alone as it progressively getting less and less enjoyable to watch this torture porn tell us the same story over and over again.