Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Rambo Post.

The Movie: One of the writers of First Blood (the movie, not the book) was also one of the prime movers behind Hill Street Blues; one of the writers of Rambo was one of the prime movers behind High Incident. That kind of says everything, really. That and the lipservice it pays to being serious before bringing on the action - and there's lots of it for sure, but it's kind of uncomfortable to see all the gruesome violence (people getting blown to smithereens, arms lopped off, children shot dead at close range etc)... plus both good and bad guys are so skimpily built up, even for this kind of movie, that it's never particularly rousing; not wanting people to cheer the sight of men dying horribly is a good thing, but this movie doesn't give you much of anything in return (the way First Blood genuinely put humanity above violence) except show you how horrible death is, and we know that already. On the upside, a) this means I'm not part of the audience for Funny Games, and b) at least Sylvester Stallone doesn't take his shirt off.

The Music: Even though Brian Tyler's score not only covers Jerry Goldsmith's guitar-and-brass main theme from the first film in the opening and closing credits but also works in other Goldsmith motifs from the previous movies throughout (such as in ***SPOILER ALERT*** the "final showdown" between Rambo and the evil pederast general (this assumption is based on the fact that at one point he summons a small boy to see him, and lets him go later on. Admittedly we don't see what happens, but judging from the way he caresses his head on entering it's safe to say he didn't invite the lad over to talk about last night's episode of Supernatural) - i.e. Rambo takes him by surprise and guts him, though his knife is incredibly clean very soon afterwards), the only acknowledgement is buried in amongst the song credits as "Rambo: First Blood Theme." Still, at least Goldsmith gets some kind of mention, which is more than can be said for Michael Kamen on Live Free Or Die Hard.

Anyway, Tyler - no stranger to following in Jerry Goldsmith's footsteps, since he wrote a good replacement score for Timeline (which is, however, left standing by Goldsmith's stunning thrown-out score) - tries to stay true to Jerry, even unto writing his own Goldsmithian theme for our hero in a thoughtful line, first heard in the opening with Rambo hunting for snakes. The ethnic drumming is present and correct, but when it comes to the action scenes it's Tyler all the way - the short string stabs from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift come along again, and though it keeps the movie barrelling along (particularly in the scene where Rambo uses a WWII bomb - don't ask - to wipe out a whole load of pursuers) and it's efficient, it's not exactly classic. It doesn't help that the Northwest Sinfonia (conducted by David Sabee) fights a losing battle with the sound effects in the climax, perhaps explaining why that particular cue gets a second chance over the closing credits. But at least no one'll accuse the score of being flag-waving tosh, and it's not nearly as weak as the Omen IV: The Awakening music; just proves yet again, however, that Jerry Goldsmith is a very tough act to follow. His widow Carole and his agent Richard Kraft receive "Music Special Thanks"; album on Lionsgate.

1 comment:

The Archivist said...

I've never seen any of the Rambo movies, but I kind of want to see this one to see what you're getting at.