Richard Crenna

Richard Crenna

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Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Review


Bad
There are times when I get completely fed up with the arrogance of human beings, forever in their hurry to make money and be a-number one. Petty tyrants in offices preside over minute typographic errors then lash out with tirades against their minimum wage employees, cowering in their cubicles under paper-strewn desks. Sardines pile into the subways breathing each other's coffee and dry animal sweat. It's enough to drive someone mad.

Instead of heading to your local gun shop (or, in NYC, the neighborhood park) to pick up a pair of high powered machine guns and mow a path through thy fellow man, I suppose temporary (if mind-numbing) release can be found through the stupid slaughter of Rambo: First Blood Part II. It's ignorant, but certainly conforms to expectations. It's the Bernie Goetz of Vietnam movies.

Continue reading: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985) Review

Rambo: First Blood Part II (1987) Review


Bad
There are times when I get completely fed up with the arrogance of human beings, forever in their hurry to make money and be a-number one. Petty tyrants in offices preside over minute typographic errors then lash out with tirades against their minimum wage employees, cowering in their cubicles under paper-strewn desks. Sardines pile into the subways breathing each other's coffee and dry animal sweat. It's enough to drive someone mad.

Instead of heading to your local gun shop (or, in NYC, the neighborhood park) to pick up a pair of high powered machine guns and mow a path through thy fellow man, I suppose temporary (if mind-numbing) release can be found through the stupid slaughter of Rambo: First Blood Part II. It's ignorant, but certainly conforms to expectations. It's the Bernie Goetz of Vietnam movies.

Continue reading: Rambo: First Blood Part II (1987) Review

Marooned Review


Very Good
Remarkably prescient, this 1969 drama about astronauts stuck in space, unable to return home due to a rocket malfunction preceded the real Apollo 13 drama by only one year. For its era, the special effects are impressive, though the plot -- which involves a massive rescue attempt that sees not one but two spacecraft attempting to rendezvous with our heros -- is on the far-fetched side. Kudos for impressive realism in its treatment of the effects of the lack of oxygen on the crew and its long periods of quiet frustration, a great respite from typical in-your-face adventure fare.

Body Heat Review


Extraordinary
Cinematic debuts don't get much more impressive than Lawrence Kasdan had with Body Heat, a film that propelled William Hurt and Kathleen Turner into stardom, while setting a reference point for one of cinema's most reliable directors (the execrable Dreamcatcher notwithstanding).

The setup is classic noir that follows the rigid three-act screenplay structure that only a Hollywood newcomer could stringently abide by, and here it works. Body Heat is a reference thriller because it sticks so perfectly in the genre, dutifully throwing in the three twists we require to keep us on our toes, no more and no less.

Continue reading: Body Heat Review

First Blood Review


Excellent
Before single-handedly taking on the Vietnamese army in a handful of dreadful sequels, John Rambo was a tormented Green Beret who only wanted a little something to eat. First Blood, which introduced Rambo to an audience hungry for a "real American hero," reminds me of a time when Sylvester Stallone could be taken seriously as an actor. Remember, he'd taken home an Academy Award for Rocky a few years earlier (not for acting, but it was a feather in his cap nevertheless).

This lean, mean fighting machine strolls down the street, unassuming and weary in his army jacket, having just found out that another of his veteran friends who made it through the 'Nam died shortly after coming home. Guy just wants to brood for a little while. Cut him some slack. A few minutes later, our unlucky hero gets hassled by a mean-spirited small town sheriff (the inimitable Brian Dennehy) who advises him to take a bath and clean himself up. What would you do if a smug local yokel hiding behind a badge told you to get out of town when you didn't even do anything? You'd pull a Rambo and get arrested for... for... for walking back into town. "Okay, now you're resisting arrest!" the sheriff gloats.

Continue reading: First Blood Review

The Sand Pebbles Review


Good
A three hour epic about a U.S. patrol in 1926 China? Minghella and Bertolucci still make movies like this. Back in 1966 the auteur of the day was Robert Wise, who'd just come off of The Sound of Music. and this story of a ship headed upriver in revolution-torn China is as plodding as the engine on its gunboat. Much of the running time consists of engineer Steve McQueen working on the boat and trying to communicate with the local "slope heads," notably including a young Mako as a local co-worker. The last half of the movie has McQueen on the most protracted search and rescue mission imaginable. Wise has no handle on the out-of-control, yawn-inducing scenes, but McQueen helps to keep things generally interesting. Nominated for eight Oscars, The Sand Pebbles ultimately won none.

Rambo: First Blood Part II Review


Bad
There are times when I get completely fed up with the arrogance of human beings, forever in their hurry to make money and be a-number one. Petty tyrants in offices preside over minute typographic errors then lash out with tirades against their minimum wage employees, cowering in their cubicles under paper-strewn desks. Sardines pile into the subways breathing each other's coffee and dry animal sweat. It's enough to drive someone mad.

Instead of heading to your local gun shop (or, in NYC, the neighborhood park) to pick up a pair of high powered machine guns and mow a path through thy fellow man, I suppose temporary (if mind-numbing) release can be found through the stupid slaughter of Rambo: First Blood Part II. It's ignorant, but certainly conforms to expectations. It's the Bernie Goetz of Vietnam movies.

Continue reading: Rambo: First Blood Part II Review

Leviathan Review


OK
Cheesy underwater monster movie that, for some reason, I have a perverse enjoyment of. I won't try to explain or rationalize it.

Wrongfully Accused Review


Terrible
One sad sad spoof (of The Fugitive) that I could have lived without.

Rambo III Review


Weak
Regardless of how you feel about the First Blood series, you have to hand it to Rambo III for pulling off one of the most inventive title switcheroos in Hollywood history. How's that? The movies go from First Blood to Rambo: First Blood Part II, to Rambo III. Shouldn't this be Rambo II? It's enough to make a Vietnam vet's head spin!

In this final entry into the incredibly profitable, gory, and mumbletastic Rambo series, Sylvester Stallone has traded writing partner James Cameron for Sheldon Lettich (of such films as Bloodsport), and his hair is so long he can barely see through his bangs. Good thing he's got that headband to keep it out of his face.

Continue reading: Rambo III Review

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