Friday, March 14, 2008

Movie Review - Rambo 4

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Paul Schulze, Julie Benz

So I sat down and watched the latest Rambo film the other day. That’s right folks, I watched Sylvester Stallone grunt and shoot his was through nearly a hundred minutes of river, forest and blood. Yes, lots of blood. Why review this you might say? It’s going to be predictable and formulaic. Well yes it is, read more to see why it works.

My Rating: 4/5

Rambo 4 has come out at a time where it is morally wrong to upset your enemy’s and their culture. If we still had the mindset of the 80’s then I am sure that Rambo would be killing the Iraqi’s or even the Afgans that he saved in part 3. But as it happens he is now not fighting the enemy of the US, he is fighting the oppressive and demented regime of the Myanmar military, and boy are they demented.
Synopsis: (minor spoilers, sort of)

Without getting into to much detail the film plot is fairly simple. Rambo lives a simple life in Thailand when some church\redcross do gooders want to go up river to the bad area to help people. Rambo says “No, bad idea” they say “we don’t care” he takes them anyway.
The red cross\God people get caught by the bad guys and some get made dead. A bloke then comes to Rambo and asks for his help, he helps.
Rambo and a bunch of mercenaries go to the bad area and fight lot of the bad people. Rambo saves some of them. Some of them die, except the girl who lives. He kills about 9 million people with machine gun which is cool.
Rambo goes back to the US to hang with his family. The End.

(End of minor spoilers)

So that’s the plot. What about the rest? Rambo part 4 is actually very well shot, some of the scenes at night and in the rain really set an uneasy mood. Stallone has done well with this. I actually think that it is his best directed film along with Rocky Balboa. I don’t know if it’s because of age or the team of people he has around him but he has managed to turn what was an 80’s commercial vehicle into gritty and oppressive view of the problems in Burma. It is obvious that Stallone has his own views on the political injustice and this is his way of publicising this.
To say that this film is ultra violent is a major understatement. According to Wiki there are 236 kills which averages out at 2.59 kills a minute, that’s not bad for a 93 minute film. Most of the deaths occur by towards the end of the film by Rambo and his machine gun and it is a mighty impressive spectacle. Bodies are literally torn apart and there is so much blood. Probably one of the most harrowing parts of the film is not the blatant disregard for the lives of the military but the way the village invasion is depicted. No-one is spared, men, woman and children are slaughtered by the Burmese army and it is incredibly explicit. This was almost hard to watch, it is hard to think that these atrocities might actually be happening somewhere in the world.

All up this film works for me. Its violent, full on and dramatic and has made me (if only for a minute) think about the world. I recommend this to anyone that grew up with the old school action films. It will also suit anyone that enjoys the new brand of gorefest film. Nice one Sly.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seven Deadly Sins gets its Sequel.

I am sure that my fellow writer Spankermatic will have something to say about this but I felt I had to add my 2 cents worth also. The Vatican has announced 7 new deadly sins; they are Polluting, Genetic Engineering, Obscene Riches, Taking Drugs, Abortion, Paedophilia and Causing Social Injustice. Read more of the diatribe after the jump.

[edited by Spankermatic who most certainly wanted to have wee tirade about the $$Catholic Church$$]

Does this mean we will get a new directors cut of the film Se7en starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt called 7+7 or 14 or 7-2:Return of the Sins? Imagine trying to make the new sins into a movie. The murderer would have a difficult time finding someone who fit the bill wouldn’t he – no actually, he could probably find every single one of them in the Vatican.

1 - Creating Social Injustice : Look no further than the Catholic Church's track record on using its religion to oppress the masses in whatever century you like. The Crusades ("God Wills it!" said Pope Urban II), the Inquisition (burn the heathens!), the Salem Witch trials (more burning!), exploitation of ethnic populations by missionaries, Anti Semitism, oppression of women, and the big tick for Slavery and stoning disobedient children by the bible. "The pattern is a clear and documented fact: whenever religion has become powerful (Christianity or otherwise) oppression and tyranny has quickly followed." (Kyle J Gerkin)

2 - Genetic Engineering : wasn’t it the monk Gregor Mendel who first proved that specific genetic traits could be selected using breeding patterns in snow peas? He was a pioneer in understanding how evolution using a model of inheritance works, and has contributed significantly to the way we understand genetic selection today. I note from his Wiki page that " After his death, the next abbot burned all his papers he had in his possession." Surprise - not.

3 - Obscene Riches : why is it there are people starving all over the world, and the Pope and his lackeys cover themselves in jewels and velvet robes? What about the whole 'giving your money every Sunday at the meet-n-greet (Mass or whatever its called now)'? The Catholic church is one of the richest organizations on the planet - just check this quote from The Vatican Billions by Avro Manhattan, or this article in Time magazine. "Bankers' best guesses about the Vatican's wealth put it at $10 billion to $15 billion" - obscene? Naw - just play money eh. And here's how this sin and the next one tie in nicely together.

WASHINGTON (AFP) (march 7 2008) - The Roman Catholic church in the United States paid out 615 million dollars (400 million euros) last year for child sex abuse cases involving members of the clergy, or 54 percent more than the previous year, an official report showed Friday.

4 - Paedophilia : One would assume that the Catholic Church could have better spent that money teaching its moronic monks NOT TO ABUSE CHILDREN!! Man, this one of all is the most ironic.

5 - Taking Drugs : with some of the crap that the old Pope spouts he has to be on something. But this one highlights a major flaw with the new deadly sins. They are vague and contrary to accepted wisdom. What Drugs? Alcohol is a drug, but you have wine with the communion. If a person is in pain, would not morphine help ease that pain? If a child who has severe psychological problems because he was abused by the local priest takes drugs to ease the mental anguish, he becomes a sinner? That's fucked up. I personally don't think the taking of many drugs will take you anywhere good, but I am not going to enforce my opinion on someone else. If they want to smoke - go for it. Its their lungs and their body to defile. Good on em. Wanna mainline heroin? Go to it man - just remember that you will get no help from me when your body falls apart from the abuse. Each person should be responsible for their own choices.

6 - Abortion : there’s bound to be quite a few priests who have knocked up the odd nun or two and hushed it up using the convenient Family Planning clinic down the road. But that's not what this ones about. By making abortion a mortal sin, they try to remove choice from people, and removal of choice is a form of control. If you are told by the ones in charge that you don't even have the right to decide what happens to your own body and a small clump of cells nesting within, you are no longer in control of anything.
And this does not even get into the issue that the Catholic Church said, up until as late as 1869 (Pope Pious Prick), that "the fetus did not become a person until late in the course of gestation". This completely contradicts the current position of the Church which says its from the moment of conception. Now since their entire repertoire of jokes is based on one book, how is it that the words in the book changed? They didn't - just like every other time in history, its nothing to do with the teachings of God, Jebus or the FSM - its about small minded bigots in a big building in the middle of bumfuck Italy trying to impose their will on everyone else.

7 - Polluting : every time the pope dies, they burn a fire to create smoke that has no other relevance than to send a signal. Wave a flag? Fire a flare? Open the fricking window and yell "Thar's a new pope in town - better scram you varmints!" Or in this digital age, crack out the PC or Blackberry and send an email or a txt? Nu pope pikd. Gt out glad rags and gitar.

The big problem with new bunch of sins is they lack context and can largely be argued against using any number of historical facts about the Catholic Church. The original seven sins pretty much speak for themselves, and also seem to cover all the new ones as well. Its all about control - do this, don't do that.
And just who decides how people are judged? That’s right it’s the Church. That’s where this whole thing falls over. It seems that by adding things such as abortion, genetic engineering, obscene riches and to a certain degree even taking drugs is in itself social injustice. Yes, abortion is a morally tricky area. Yes, taking drugs can be socially destructive and yes, it sucks that I'M not obscenely rich but all these things need to be put into context. What if a woman is raped and falls pregnant, is abortion acceptable? YES. What if taking drugs helps relieve pain of arthritis, are drugs acceptable? YES. And what if you had built a company from nothing and turned it into a million dollar industry does that mean that you have sinned? NO I think not. Bill Gates is far too shrewd not to have a first class ticket to the big computer shop in the sky.

Not only that but by adding these new sins hasn’t the church just condemned itself to an eternity in Hell? Taking out the one about genetic engineering I think that they have partaken in all of the new entries. That is your social injustice.

Check this - if god created everything then he created our ability to do everything we can. That includes engineering at a genetic level. If God did not want this to be possible then it would not be. It is something that mankind has developed the ability to do, just like being able to fly in a plane and build computers and invent the telephone. All these things were not possible before hand but we made it happen. Woo hoo… Go the human race.

This new list from the Vatican is just another way that the Church is using to control its followers and spread fear. I am sure if Jesus is watching from up high on his cloud he is probably pissing his pants with laughter. I can see it now - "Oh what have those wacky Catholics done this time".

Thanks Jesus and Mo.

Space Shuttle blasts off for ISS

The Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted of last night on another construction mission to the International Space Station (ISS). It is the second mission of six this year and one of the fastest turn arounds in Space Shuttle History. Atlantis returned less than a month ago after delivering the European Labratory "Columbus". STS-123 is a 16day mission and involves installation of the new Japanese module called Kibo and the new Canadian arm. Video of the launch after the jump.

Good luck and Godspeed