Monday, May 19, 2014

First Blood (1982) Review:

If there's one character that Sylvester Stallone will always be remembered for besides Rocky Balboa, that's this guy - John Rambo. The character of John Rambo may be an exaggeration of what kind of a struggle many war veterans live through everyday after being combat, but it represents them in a way that allows the audience to have sympathy. No matter how well decorated a war veteran is, if they suffered a traumatic event, it will never leave them. The memory will replay over and over again until their very last day. For most, the event is only strong enough to physically paralyze the veteran leaving them immobilized. However, there are some that suffer from and still can live and move around with it in their subconscious. John Rambo is one these and unfortunately, he gets pushed to far.

Stallone & that young Horatio Caine
After arriving into a small town to visit a war buddy, John Rambo (Stallone) is pressed by the local sheriff (Brian Dennehy) to keep moving and not return. This however, makes Rambo become defiant and return back to the town, resulting in his immediate arrest. Things only get worse once in the sheriff's building, where Rambo is treated like the worst criminal they've had in the last century. To be honest, I think they were bored - but they picked the wrong person to be bored with. With all the instigating, John Rambo is finally pushed too far with many of his memories replaying over and over. It's at this point he breaks free and begins to fight for himself as if he was back in the war.

Stallone's acting is great here. His doesn't say very much for a lot of the movie but when he does, his emotions portray an accurate description of what post traumatic stress victims have to deal with on a daily basis. Also, he gives audiences a better understanding of what it's like to be a soldier and then return to world that's totally opposite from what one is used to and how alienating it can be. Brian Dennehy as the obsessive town sheriff is also convincing because of his stance on drifters. His mindset is understood but his morals aren't up to par. Yet Dennehy's character still isn't fleshed out enough. His motives are given some explanation too but not entirely.

 Attempting to help the sheriff understand who he's up against is Colonel Trautman played by Richard Crenna. One of the best things about Crenna's character is how he understands John Rambo and is able to see anything coming before the rest of the authorities. Crenna also has some very good lines. Let's also not forget (just for a little fun) that David Caruso (Horatio Caine - CSI: Miami) has a small part in here too. He's extremely young and is one of the better cops in the local town. He at least tries to give John Rambo the benefit of the doubt that he’s not some punk off the street looking for trouble.

Dennehy & Crenna (far right)
The action is fun to watch here too. Retaining gorilla warfare is an interesting trait to maintain. Don't forget those survival skills though, he's better than any boy scout I've seen. Adding to that is Andrew Laszlo's cinematography where he captures some very wide angle shots of the mountainous landscape of which Rambo must survive and live off of. Surprisingly though, Jerry Goldsmith's score isn't as prevalent as some may expect it to be. It's certainly constructed better than some of his previous scores, but it still lacks strong action cues besides its main theme for Rambo. It does carry emotion but not a tune that's extremely memorable. It's not bad though. Definitely an entertaining action film.

This is one heck of a survival film. It has big action and respectable performances that portray the psyche of war veterans with a perspective that many people today do not consider.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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