As a writer and a movie-lover, I’ve long admired Sylvester Stallone’s brilliant early effort as the writer, star, and visionary behind the first Rocky movie.
Back then, a still-poor Stallone famously held out against studio offers that would have cast a more well-known actor as the lead while lining his pockets with a huge payday. In the end, he got to make the movie he wanted; the result is a moody, realistic, and inspirational film.
In the decades since, Stallone has unapologetically rested on the laurels of his bold, early success. There was one scene, I admit, in the latest installment of Rocky that got to me. But that moment came well before the old fighter stepped into the ring and took his shirt off, where he quickly made Mark McGuire and Barry Bonds look like steroids taste-testers.
Still, I trudged again to the theater Saturday night (I have a friend who drags me to these types of films – I haven’t missed a new James Bond movie in a while). Rambo was a flailing, amoral, directionless, joyless turd of a movie. A turd floating down a muddy river in a stereotypically backwards Southeast Asia.
And the theater was packed, and the people cheered. They cheered for claymore mines, and for gruesome, graphic violence. Blood, bone, and gristle exploded over and over in cagey, high speed battle scenes, and the people cheered over mouthfuls of warmed-up frozen meat products like they were at a taping of the Jerry Springer show. The characters were one dimensional, and unsympathetic, and – worst of all for a pointless action film – unsexy.