Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: Rambo: 2-Disc Special Edition



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
22 replies to this topic

#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,580 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted May 20 2008 - 03:18 PM


Rambo: 2-Disc Special Edition
Directed by Sylvester Stallone

Studio: Lionsgate
Year: 2008
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 91 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.98

Release Date: May 27, 2008
Review Date: May 20, 2008


The Film

2/5

After successfully resuscitating his iconic Rocky Balboa character for a celebrated return to the big screen, it made perfect sense that director-writer-star Sylvester Stallone would dredge up his other popular series character, John Rambo, for another go-round. Sad to say, where Rocky Balboa was a sweetly nostalgic return to a tried and true formula that still held some allure after years away from it, Stallone’s new Rambo is no advance on the cartoonish Rambo III of twenty years ago. Well, that’s not quite fair. Stallone has taken a tragedy of epic human proportions (the decades-long civil war in Burma) and raised our consciousness about that terrible circumstance before telling his grisly tale against that bloodbath of a backdrop. The film is so unremittingly violent, however, that the information about the sad state of affairs in Burma seems almost exploitive; the main crux here seems to be about killing people in the most creative ways possible. The desperate plight of Burma and its people aren’t the focus.

John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has spent the last twenty years of his life living in Thailand as a snake catcher and wrangler. As before, he’s a man of few words and fewer friends, so when a missionary group headed by Dr. Burnett (Paul Schulze) and his fiance Sarah (Julie Benz) comes to him asking for his help in guiding them to the Burmese interior so they can provide the Karen people with medical help and religious guidance, he at first refuses. Later he relents and they begin their trip up river, but Rambo must massacre a group of Burmese pirates before getting the mission group safely to their destination. Naturally, the pirates have friends, too, and the missionary troupe is later captured by the most savage of the pirate tribes. The church who sponsored the missionaries hires some mercenaries to go in and rescue its people, and the mercenaries need Rambo’s help in getting them to the drop-off point. You can easily imagine what happens next if you’ve seen any of the Rambo films, particularly the second and third installments.

First Blood, the first Rambo film, was a sometimes thoughtful and poignant tribute to fighting men deeply scarred by their Vietnamese war experience. Later entries turned the character into a single-minded killing machine, useful in combat when conventional methods haven’t produced results. Here, Rambo is touched by the innocence and sincerity of Sarah (she has given him a crucifix on a strap which he wears as a bracelet), and it‘s his desire to save her that prompts his involvement. Once there, of course, it’s carnage to the nth degree with all manner of eviscerations, decapitations, and immolations.

One has to respect the pure physicality of this role for Stallone at his age, and combined with his writing and directing chores for the film, the man must be made of steel. Paul Schulze has brought a dry conviction to every role he’s played, and he’s no different here, even at the moment when he realizes that action is necessary even for a Christian man intent on saving lives rather than taking them. Julie Benz radiates the purity that endears her to Rambo, and Matthew Marsden as the most likeable of the mercenaries also stands out from the pack. Graham McTavish and Tim Kang play mercenaries who are more braggadocios than their fellow fighters.

The final action set piece is a blur of activity (though many probably won‘t care as long as there are buckets of blood flowing and lots of body parts flying around; you get plenty of both), and a chase through the jungle that precedes it has been sped up and looks almost laughable. There are some beautiful shots of the jungles (filming was done in Thailand due to the permanent danger of Burma) and some quiet moments on the river on the way to their destination where the steel blue sky and reflective water meet is haunting in its beauty. Most of the film, though, is not beautiful but rather bruising, brutal, and bombastic, all of which wears out its welcome even in a film that runs only an hour and a half.


Video Quality

3/5

The film’s 2.40:1 aspect ratio is delivered here in an anamorphic transfer. Sharpness is not a strong point in the transfer, and color seems smeared in the many vistas on display. Flesh tones are too brown, and the sometimes desaturated look of the image is ugly and unappealing. The film is divided into 28 chapters.

Audio Quality

4.5/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack has music and sound effects and bass galore, but the audio mix isn’t as well rendered as it could have been. Those rear surround channels are basically wasted with very little in the way of effective pans around the soundstage. It's loud, but it's not especially creative in its use of all that noise.

Special Features

4/5

Director-writer-star Sylvester Stallone provides an audio commentary for the film. Though there are gaps when he‘s silent, he takes a serious attitude about the process of making the film explaining choices in plot, casting, editing and states everything clearly.

All of the featurettes and deleted scenes in the bonus section are in anamorphic widescreen with a few caveats.

“It’s a Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon” is the longest of seven featurettes on the making of the film. It’s 19 minutes describing, among other things, the different scenarios for the story which were floated before the final Burma plot was hatched, the difficulties of location shooting, the three months of location work in Thailand, and Stallone’s process of directing himself and the other actors in a scene together.

“A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo introduces us to composer Brian Taylor who planned his score as an homage to the late Jerry Goldsmith who had scored the other Rambo films. This featurette runs 6 ½ minutes.

”The Art of War: Completing Rambo: Editing” gives film editor Sean Albertson and second editor Paul Harb a chance to discuss their hectic work process with the overwhelming amount of footage which Stallone shot, and how they expected an NC-17 rating due to the heavy violence in the film only to be shocked with the R they received. This feature runs 6 ¾ minutes.

”The Art of War: Completing Rambo: Sound” is a too-brief 3 ¼ minutes on Stallone’s ideas for using sound in the movie, especially his wanting to remove music from the final battle sequence and realizing it would be too relentless without it.

“The Weaponry of Rambo has prop master Kent Johnson taking us on a tour of his artillery room and discusses the decisions made for selecting the specific state of the art sniper rifle and armor piercing gun used in the final attack sequence. He also describes briefly the boot camp which was held to get the actors playing mercenaries in shape for the grueling shooting schedule. This featurette runs 14 ¼ minutes.

“A Hero’s Welcome: Release & Reaction” covers the Las Vegas premiere of the film with the actors describing the audience’s visceral reaction both there and in regular engagements they attended the opening weekend. Filmed in both 4:3 and anamorphic widescreen, this vignette runs 9 ½ minutes.

“Legacy of Despair: The Struggle in Burma” is a mini-civics lesson about the horrific conditions in Burma presently and how Stallone and the other film participants hope the film’s showing the atrocities there might increase worldwide awareness of the state of emergency that exists. This feature is also presented in a combination of 4:3 and widescreen and runs 10 ½ minutes.

4 deleted/extended scenes are presented in anamorphic widescreen but reformatted in 1.78:1. They can be played in one 13 ¾-minute chunk or played individually. Though there is no director’s introduction or commentary with them, Stallone mentions each of them in his own commentary track and refers listeners to this part of the DVD.

The original theatrical trailer is presented in anamorphic widescreen and runs 2 ½ minutes.

The second disc in the set offers a digital copy of Rambo which can be downloaded to PCs or Macs in either iTune format or the Windows Media Player.

The DVD offers previews of Hamburger Hill and all of the previous Rambo films.


In Conclusion

2.5/5 (not an average)

The concern over the terrible situation currently in Burma is evident in every frame of Rambo, but the film is first and foremost a search-and-destroy movie. The carnage is as violent and visceral as a hard R rating will allow it to be, so be advised.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   TravisR

TravisR

    Studio Mogul



  • 22,316 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2004
  • LocationThe basement of the FBI building

Posted May 20 2008 - 03:45 PM

I actually think this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
The concern over the terrible situation currently in Burma is evident in every frame of Rambo,
is what stops it from being this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
...a search-and-destroy movie.
I guess Stallone wanted to show how terrible things by jamming your face in horrific violence. Just knowing that all the atrocities shown are probably happening right now kept me from enjoying this on the root-for-Rambo-to-kick-some-ass level.

#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Brett_M

Brett_M

    Screenwriter



  • 1,333 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 18 2004
  • Real Name:Brett Meyer
  • LocationMos Eisley Spaceport

Posted May 21 2008 - 01:38 AM

Thanks for the review.

Personally, I think you missed the point of this flick. This is a violent 1980s-style exploitation film using Burma as a backdrop. It's horrific -- AS IT SHOULD BE. It combines what we love about Rambo (killing machine) with what we don't see anymore -- anti-war satire. I liken this film to something like Starship Troopers (fascist carnage to the point of satire). Neither can be taken seriuously but they are enjoyable action flicks. I understand your point of view but a score of 2/5 is unfair, in my opinion. It's better than both R:FBP2 and RIII for me (and I enjoy both). Setting aside the violence, I think Stallone plays it with the same gravitas we loved in First Blood. His performance is uniformly great. The action sequences are well-choreographed. I would have liked additional character development for the rest of the principals. Like Rocky Balboa, it perfectly bookends the series AND plays as a direct sequel to the original.

I am sorry that the A/V quality is so low, though.
Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it meant to roast in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   BradleyS

BradleyS

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 84 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 23 2005

Posted May 21 2008 - 01:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
Video Quality

3/5

The film’s 2.40:1 aspect ratio is delivered here in an anamorphic transfer. Sharpness is not a strong point in the transfer, and color seems smeared in the many vistas on display. Flesh tones are too brown, and the sometimes desaturated look of the image is ugly and unappealing. The film is divided into 28 chapters.

Seems like you're critiquing the creative choices taken by the director and cinematographer instead of telling us how well the video transfer reproduces the original 35mm presentation. You can't really criticize the film for looking ugly when it's not trying to look pretty.

#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Brett_M

Brett_M

    Screenwriter



  • 1,333 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 18 2004
  • Real Name:Brett Meyer
  • LocationMos Eisley Spaceport

Posted May 21 2008 - 02:36 AM

Looks like a director's cut is coming later. I heard the same with Rocky Balboa.
Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it meant to roast in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Charlie O.

Charlie O.

    Supporting Actor



  • 509 posts
  • Join Date: May 13 2003

Posted May 21 2008 - 05:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett_M
Looks like a director's cut is coming later. I heard the same with Rocky Balboa.


Really? How do you know this? If its true I'll hold instead of double dipping.

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   TravisR

TravisR

    Studio Mogul



  • 22,316 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2004
  • LocationThe basement of the FBI building

Posted May 21 2008 - 05:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie O.
Really? How do you know this?
Over at Aint It Cool News today, they said Stallone mentioned a director's cut.

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Charlie O.

Charlie O.

    Supporting Actor



  • 509 posts
  • Join Date: May 13 2003

Posted May 21 2008 - 06:18 AM

Cool. Thankie.

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

mike kaminski

    Second Unit



  • 262 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 11 2006

Posted May 21 2008 - 07:44 AM

Apparently he's naming it back to its original title, JOHN RAMBO. Which makes sense, seeing as there already was a film in the series called Rambo!

#10 of 23 OFFLINE   TravisR

TravisR

    Studio Mogul



  • 22,316 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 15 2004
  • LocationThe basement of the FBI building

Posted May 21 2008 - 09:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike kaminski
...seeing as there already was a film in the series called Rambo!
No there isn't. There's First Blood, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Rambo III and Rambo.

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   cafink

cafink

    Producer



  • 3,043 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 19 1999

Posted May 21 2008 - 09:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Rambo: First Blood Part II

I imagine this is what Mike means. It has an additional sub-title, but it's still called "Rambo."
 

 


#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,580 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted May 21 2008 - 09:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Over at Aint It Cool News today, they said Stallone mentioned a director's cut.

I guess it's possible, but in the bonus feature on editing, Sean Albertson mentioned that the version of the movie on the disc was the director's cut because nothing had to be removed due to the graphic violence even though they never dreamed the ratings board would give it an R.

In his commentary, Stallone's lamented cutting certain scenes and saying that he wished now they hadn't been cut, but that they were in the deleted scenes section (and they were).

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

mike kaminski

    Second Unit



  • 262 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 11 2006

Posted May 21 2008 - 10:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cafink
I imagine this is what Mike means. It has an additional sub-title, but it's still called "Rambo."

Yeah. "First Blood II" is just a sub-title, to designate the series--the name of the film is still "Rambo." So you have First Blood, and then Rambo (which is First Blood Part II), but then theres no more First Bloods but no Rambo II either, it just goes to Rambo III, then theres another Rambo (without designation as a sequel to First Blood, even though it is), which is now being re-cut as John Rambo.

Posted Image

You can tell how much they planned things out.

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

Andrew Radke

    Screenwriter



  • 1,250 posts
  • Join Date: May 07 2003
  • Real Name:Andrew Radke
  • LocationGuelph, Ontario - Canada

Posted May 21 2008 - 11:41 AM

I tell you, I'd never had as much fun in a movie theater as I did when I went to see this! Between the cheering and the "F**k'em up Rambo" chants from those watching the film, it was definitely something I'd never before experience in a theater. To me, the movie was great, and was definitely something not to be taken seriously. In my opinion, this is the best 'Rambo' flick since 'First Blood'. Can't wait to get it.
My DVD / Blu-ray collection:
 

 


#15 of 23 OFFLINE   DavidPla

DavidPla

    Screenwriter



  • 2,357 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 15 2004

Posted May 21 2008 - 12:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike kaminski
Yeah. "First Blood II" is just a sub-title, to designate the series--the name of the film is still "Rambo." So you have First Blood, and then Rambo (which is First Blood Part II), but then theres no more First Bloods but no Rambo II either, it just goes to Rambo III, then theres another Rambo (without designation as a sequel to First Blood, even though it is), which is now being re-cut as John Rambo.

Subtitle or no.. its proper title is Rambo: First Blood Part II. That would be like saying that the new The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor is actually just The Mummy and now there are two The Mummy movies with the same title. Subtitles ARE the titles. So the new film being called simply Rambo isn't the same title as the second film (but it sure as hell confuses everyone more).

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

mike kaminski

    Second Unit



  • 262 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 11 2006

Posted May 21 2008 - 01:15 PM

Well its not so cut and dry when they changed the series from First Blood to Rambo halfway through but then "First Blood" is actually the name of the first film, "Rambo" the name of the second film, not having Rambo II and then re-introducing the newly titled series in the third film as Rambo III but then making a fourth film twenty years later that for some reason is still called Rambo.

I guess we should just stop trying to rationalise this altogether.

EDIT

Maybe if they make a fifth film, which they are now planning, they can finally call it Rambo II (even though its First Blood V). LOL. But then with Stallone re-titling the film as John Rambo maybe they would have to call it John Rambo II: Rambo V: First Blood Part V. Knowing the way action sequels are marketed they'll probably throw "Judgement Day" or "The Reckoning" on the end of it some where. And then "Extreme" for the DVD.

#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer



  • 11,580 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted May 21 2008 - 03:24 PM

I believe the original title of the film was going to be JOHN RAMBO. On the marking slates you see in the bonus features, that's the title that appears there.

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   DavidPla

DavidPla

    Screenwriter



  • 2,357 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 15 2004

Posted May 22 2008 - 04:06 PM

Any more info in what the deleted scenes are about? Do they warrant being put back into the film as a director's cut?

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   CoreyII

CoreyII

    Second Unit



  • 474 posts
  • Join Date: May 15 1999

Posted May 26 2008 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for the review Matt.

I'm just curious, why do so many of you on this forum use this latest Rambo film to put down Rambo 2 and 3. Rambo 2 was the most successful film of the franchise and for a good reason, it's a damn good action flick. Rambo 2 is the film that made the character the icon that he is today.

If it wasn't for Rambo: First Blood Pt.2, I honestly believe you wouldn't have Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or every other action film in which one specially trained bad ass takes out a bunch of bad guys.

I see so much of Rambo's influence in today's action films that its not even funny. I think some of you are way too hung up on the concept of "keeping everything realistic or believable" there by justifying the first and fourth film as being superior to the 2nd and 3rd films. Many of you seem to have forgotten just how cool Rambo 2 and 3 are.

Rambo III is very underrated, it is a well crafted action picture and personally I give Sly credit for being original and setting the film in Afghanistan, unlike Chuck Norris and Missing in Action films which kept retreading the whole Vietnam theme.

I still love the scene in Rambo III where Rambo shoves the splint out his side and then cauterizes the wound with the powder from his bullet, that's just too cool for school.

I also noticed the public seemed to be really down on Sly for coming back at 60 + years to play Rocky and Rambo, but no one's knocking Harrison Ford for playing a damn near 70 year old Indiana Jones.

#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Brett_M

Brett_M

    Screenwriter



  • 1,333 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 18 2004
  • Real Name:Brett Meyer
  • LocationMos Eisley Spaceport

Posted May 27 2008 - 02:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by CoreyII
Thanks for the review Matt.

I'm just curious, why do so many of you on this forum use this latest Rambo film to put down Rambo 2 and 3. Rambo 2 was the most successful film of the franchise and for a good reason, it's a damn good action flick. Rambo 2 is the film that made the character the icon that he is today.

If it wasn't for Rambo: First Blood Pt.2, I honestly believe you wouldn't have Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or every other action film in which one specially trained bad ass takes out a bunch of bad guys.

I see so much of Rambo's influence in today's action films that its not even funny. I think some of you are way too hung up on the concept of "keeping everything realistic or believable" there by justifying the first and fourth film as being superior to the 2nd and 3rd films. Many of you seem to have forgotten just how cool Rambo 2 and 3 are.

Rambo III is very underrated, it is a well crafted action picture and personally I give Sly credit for being original and setting the film in Afghanistan, unlike Chuck Norris and Missing in Action films which kept retreading the whole Vietnam theme.

I still love the scene in Rambo III where Rambo shoves the splint out his side and then cauterizes the wound with the powder from his bullet, that's just too cool for school.

I also noticed the public seemed to be really down on Sly for coming back at 60 + years to play Rocky and Rambo, but no one's knocking Harrison Ford for playing a damn near 70 year old Indiana Jones.

In my defense, I will again say that I love both R:FBPII and R:III. I agree that they are both cool and that R:III is underrated. R:FBPII was successful and did usher in a new era of action event movies. There is no doubt there for me.

In my opinion, John Rambo is better than the reviews it's been getting. It's knocked around simply because it's so violent. Granted, all of the Rambo films are violent -- but this one is graphically so. It's about as deep as a frisbee, too. Stallone wanted a bookend to the series and I think it fits that mold perfectly. It's lean and mean.

My hope is that Rambo comes back, perhaps in the Troutman role of teacher and mentor. (Or, I 'd love a prequel, showing Rambo's capture, torture and escape from the prison camp in 1970.)
Many Shubs and Zuuls knew what it meant to roast in the depths of the Sloar that day I can tell you.


Back to DVD, Blu-ray & Digital HD Reviews



Forum Nav Content I Follow