MCN Columnists
Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt


Running just 80 minutes (the end credits take it to 91),Sylvester Stallone’s 2008 Rambo effectively has no third act, but the first two are more than enough. With CG-enhanced gore littering the screen with body parts, and a basic go-in-and-rescue-the-missionaries plot, the film is not just ideal for endless repeat viewings by action fans, it raises a standard of bullets and blood that had been languishing in the doldrums for a while. Unlike the third Rambo film, the character interplay never feels dumbed down, and the Southeast Asia setting is suitably dense and picturesque. Since Stallone’s character is a stoic’s stoic, his performance need not extend further than shifting his eyes once in a while and never smiling. The more he does it, the more you can’t wait to see him start killing people. Add to all of that an energetic 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack on the Lionsgate Widescreen release, with plenty of distinctive separation effects, and you hope Stallone keeps making movies like this until his hair turns white and he’s got a walker.

The picture is in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The color transfer is solid. One of the reasons the CG gore is so effective is that while it is plentiful, it is also fleeting, so even when it looks a little animated, it has a kind of surreal horror impact that it would retain even if it were absolutely real. There are optional English and Spanish subtitles, and a trailer.

Lionsgate has also released a Two-Disc Special Edition. The second platter contains a copy of the film that can be downloaded onto handheld video devices. The first platter, however, has enhanced EX-encoded 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound, with an even more detailed surround presence. Additionally, there are 18 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes (including some material that really ought to have been left in) and 60 minutes of good production featurettes, going over what it took to get the film off the ground, how the music was adapted from Jerry Goldsmith’s themes in the other films, how all of the crazy weapons were assembled and utilized, and how, when the film opened, kids bought tickets for other movies at multiplexes so they could sneak into the R-rated feature. There is also a satisfying 11-minute look at the real political situation in Myanmar, and what the film did to help raise awareness of its troubles. Stallone supplies a commentary track, talking mostly about the story and the characters, but also explaining how sequences were staged, how much trouble it was to be shooting in a real jungle, and what he was trying to accomplish. On a conversation scene between two characters: “I thought them being separated by a cage like this, with the snake in the center, would kind of like define their relationship.”

July 22, 2008

– by Douglas Pratt

Douglas Pratt’s DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter is published monthly.
For a free sample, call (516)594-9304 or go to his website at

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

The Ultimate DVD Geek

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon