Tag Archives: Sylvester Stallone

Potted Film Review: Backtrace (2018)

Starring: Matthew Modine, Sylvester Stallone

I am an unapologetic Stallone fan, but he has made a lot of less than stellar movies. Backtrace – in which he plays a supporting role as a cop still working a case from the best part of a decade earlier – is one of them.

His performance (for what there is of it) is fine, as are those of the rest of the cast, but from start to finish this by-the-numbers crime thriller feels like a movie you would find at the bottom of the bargain bin in your local supermarket. It’s not a terrible movie, or a great embarrassment on anyone’s resume… but it’s just a completely forgettable ninety minutes.

Not Recommended ⇓

Potted Film Review: Rambo – Last Blood (2019)

Rambo_-_Last_Blood_official_theatrical_posterStarring: Sylvester Stallone, Paz Vega, Sergio Peris-Mencheta

The biggest problem with the latest (and hopefully the last) installment in the Rambo franchise is that it isn’t really a Rambo movie at all. Sure, Stallone is in the title role, and he gets to enjoy plenty of gratuitous violence, but with his short, neatly styled hair, he doesn’t even look like the John J. of old. I would argue that this may have worked better if you take the title character out of the story and just make it a generic revenge tale… because that is kinda what it is. In fact, now that I think about it, this would have been more appropriate for the next Expendables movie.

At under 90 minutes Last Blood is a relatively short ride, the first half of which is far superior… which says a lot because the revenge part (the part of the movie you’re really meant to get into) happens in the second half. Yeah, I understand Rambo’s motivation to do what he does, and the blood being spilled when he does it is pretty fun, but this script does not need to have him in it, and it feels a little weird that he is.

Ironically, if you’re a completist then you need to see this as (hopefully) a button on the series, but for the casual action fan there are far better offerings out there. It pains me, but I can’t recommend this as the fifth Rambo movie, and ultimately that’s how I have to view it. Somewhere along the line Stallone lost the essence of the character, and the guy on screen here is only superficially the same person, to the point where I am almost convinced that Rambo was just shoehorned into the plot to add a little cache to the production.

Not Recommended (as a Rambo movie) ⇓

Monday Movie Moments #26…

Rocky IV (1985)

5e8254ecad027cf9daa07b9830d21f1a--rocky-sylvester-stallone-s-moviesThere are not many movies – if any – that I have seen more often than Rocky IV. Did I have a bit of a man-crush on Sylvester Stallone when I was a kid? Yeah, probably. I have fond memories of my ten year old self pretending to be Balboa on my bed. I would sing Eye of the Tiger while using my pillow as the helpless opponent. Listen: it was the eighties, folks. You had to entertain yourself any way that you could!

MPW-65172Rocky IV is far and away the most extravagant movie in the series. It is pure entertainment with only the faintest whiff of a story holding it together. Ivan Drago is the big, bad Russian, so there’s an east versus west thing going on, but that’s very much of the time and feels very dated now. Besides, it’s not subtle in the slightest. But if you don’t take this as a serious boxing simulator, you’ll have a lot of fun with Rocky IV.

Apollo_creed_promoMost of the running time – which at ninety minutes is the briefest of the entire franchise – is a series of montages played out against the (admittedly, rather good) soundtrack, with plot developments happening in between. There are a lot of flashing lights; a lot of glitz and glamour. In fact, it’s a shame that Apollo Creed – one of the series’ most beloved characters – had to lose his life in this superficial entry. Oh yeah, spoiler alert, I guess. But come on folks, you’re thirty years late to the party!

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m the biggest fan of a Rocky training sequence that there is, but Rocky IV takes it to the next level. This is a bone with very little meat on it… perhaps symbolic, because this was Stallone at the very peak of his physical fitness. I mean, just look at those abs.

All right, so maybe I still have a bit of a crush on him.

What’s in a Name…?

It’s no secret: I’m a big fan of the First Blood/Rambo series. But I’m the first one to admit that this is undeniably the most confusingly named collection of movies in cinema. These are the official titles for the four films, in the order they were produced and intended to be viewed:

  • First Blood
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II
  • Rambo III
  • Rambo

So… First Blood is the first film, released in 1982. So far, so good. It is the only entry in the series with a legitimate title.

The first sequel to First Blood was released in 1985 and is called Rambo: First Blood Part II. The series now has the prefix of Rambo attached to it, which is really where all the problems begin. It’s also slightly concerning that the second movie has the suffix of First Blood Part II, instead of Second Blood, which although lacking in resonance, would have been – at the very least – grammatically cleaner.

In 1988 the third film in the franchise is released, and it is simply called Rambo III, which on the surface is entirely acceptable as it is indeed the third film, but completely maddening as there was never (and has never been) a Rambo II. As its predecessor was Rambo: First Blood Part II, the convention would be for the third film to be called, Rambo II: First Blood Part III, but that is a little clumsy, so I can understand dropping the suffix. You could however, drop the prefix instead, and simply call the third entry, First Blood Part III, which is correct by the series’ logic thus far, but as the decision seems to have been to drop the association with First Blood entirely, the only correct chronological way to present the title is as Rambo II, but as you can see, that title is entirely absent from the series.

The fourth and final film in the series from 2008 – the one that follows Rambo III – is called Rambo. And no, it takes place twenty years after Rambo III, so it’s not a prequel (which would perhaps somewhat justify the title), nor is it a remake or a reboot of the second film in the series (which shares a similar name). It is effectively Rambo IV.

Stallone has gone on record as saying he will not be making another entry in the series, but if he did, there’s a fair chance the fifth film would be called Rambo II.

Just sayin’.