Does it look to you like Rambo's sucking in his six pack? I'd wonder what's the point of all those sit-ups if I were him. But the most surprising thing about 1982's First Blood for me was how pretty the first half is.
All this beautiful Canadian wilderness, well shot. Shot in Canada, the story takes place near Portland, Oregon and I was reminded of driving through that area. It made me want to be there, finding my own photographs, wandering, probably not setting crude wooden traps for the local law enforcement. But that was a very entertaining part of the movie, reminding me of playing Arkham Asylum, especially in that the cops hunting Rambo seem to have some unreasonably large blind spots.
Someone wrote in the movie's Wikipedia entry, "The film is notable for its psychological portrayal of the after-effects of the Vietnam War, particularly the challenges faced by American veterans attempting to re-integrate into society." Not many people are willing to talk about the sheriff's departments of small towns staging a full on manhunt and calling in the national guard for lone veterans charged with vagrancy, who manage to take out the cops one by one without killing any of them. You'd think people would want to talk about that sort of thing.
The larger than life quality of the film's story and action are what works best about it, and are what make an emotional breakdown by Rambo at the end seem unintentionally silly. Talking about gruesome memories from Vietnam and the lasting effects they had on him, it's a moment that might have been pretty good in another movie. On the other hand, I wondered if there was some part of the action oriented man-psyche that needed an unrealistic story confirming Rambo's manliness and physical dominance before they could allow themselves to cry. For all I know, the movie could have been a watershed for a certain kind of guy I don't tend to talk to very often.
What was satisfyingly realistic were the effects and the lighting. This scene of Rambo giving himself stitches looks so incredibly real, I have no idea how they did it. You can see the blood coming out of him in a sort of rhythm and the blood isn't the bright, tomato red of most fake movie blood of the time. It looks like a real wound.
And the lighting feels so nicely authentic, especially a scene where Rambo gets stuck in a mine and it looks like the match he's holding is the only light source.
At roughly halfway through the film things start to get less interesting. There's a scene where Rambo hijacks a military truck with shots and bits pulled right out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I can respect a homage, but this felt more like the filmmakers were just running out of ideas. They were doing so well earlier--there was a nice scene where Rambo's hiding behind a tree from a guy in a helicopter with a rifle whom Rambo defeats by throwing a rock, breaking the windshield, causing the chopper to jerk enough to cause the rifleman to lose balance and fall. That's good stuff.
Twitter Sonnet #326
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