Release Date: January 25, 2008

Movie of the Day for Saturday, November 17, 2007
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Aw, look. He's got his very own gang of ragtag misfits.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
50/196 Max Braden The is the meatlover's pizza of war movies.
68/98 David Mumpower This and Doomsday are running neck for the title of Most Pointless, Gratuitous Movie Deaths of 2008.

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Last year, Sylvester Stallone resurrected his most timeless character in the well-received Rocky Balboa. Critics and audiences were pleased because Stallone, as writer and director, took a humble, sincere approach to an age-old icon and fans couldn’t help but cheer.

In early 2008, Stallone brings his other famous character back to theaters, but he’s a far cry from the sensitive, good-natured Rocky. John Rambo, that angry, merciless Vietnam War veteran, returns to kick some butt (and take off a few heads) in the appropriately titled Rambo (it seems Stallone enjoys naming his movies after his main characters).

Originally molded into pop-culture in First Blood (1982), in which Rambo was pitted against man as well as nature, Rambo finds the now solemn action hero trying to save a group of aid workers in the Burmese Jungle (where else?). Surely this will call to mind Rambo: First Blood Part II, and that’s probably what the studio would like since that movie remains the biggest hit of the franchise with $300 million worldwide (in 1985 dollars).

Unlike the PG-rated Rocky Balboa, Stallone (again as writer and director) ups the ante on extreme violence and gore, so much that it makes Rocky look like a wimp. With his signature knife, bow and arrow, and red headband, Rambo enters the war zone ready to decapitate, rip out some throats and annihilate the enemy.

But are audiences are ready? The last Rambo installment will have come out 20 years ago when new one arrives in theaters, and that didn’t perform nearly as well as it predecessors. Plus, do today’s moviegoers even know Rambo?

Also hurting the movie’s chances is its run-of-the-mill plot. Last year, Hollywood saw that audiences don’t necessarily respond to heroes fighting in nature — both The Marine and The Condemned were box office duds. But to be fair, the stars of those movies, John Cena and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, are no Sly Stallone when it comes to selling movie tickets.

Rambo is more well-known, and like James Bond in Casino Royale, audiences enjoy watching tough-knuckled heroes pulverize the enemy with their bare hands. Also like Bond, Rambo speaks his fair share of cheesy one-liners, including, "When you’re pushed, killing’s as easy as breathing" and "Live for nothing or die for something."

Lionsgate either believes they’re cornering the market by giving Rambo a late January release date or they have no faith in it at all. Rocky Balboa had the advantage of catering to families during the busy holiday movie-going season. Rambo, with its hard R-rating and iffy schedule, will have a higher hill to climb. The trailer is catchy but will likely only spark enthusiasm from fans of the original series, and those fans may not be going to the movies any more. Look for Rambo to have a respectable opening weekend but not as strong of legs to match the $70 million take of Rocky Balboa, which could mean Stallone will have to start playing new roles. (Matthew Huntley/BOP)

Vital statistics for Rambo
Main Cast Sylvester Stallone, Julie Benz, Matthew Marsden
Supporting Cast Graham McTavish, Rey Gallegos, Jake LaBotz, Tim Kang, Paul Schulze
Director Sylvester Stallone
Screenwriter Sylvester Stallone
Distributor Lionsgate
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://movies.break.com/rambo/
Rating R
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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