Blood, gore and violence aren’t kiddie movie fare
Decapitation, evisceration and dismemberment by blade and blast.
An arrow through the skull, ear to ear.
Sexual assaults (pictured or implied) on women and children.
Wholesale slaughter of soldiers and civilians by machine guns and mines.
Yes, the new "Rambo" movie has it all.
Over the years, I have enjoyed a lot of violent movies -- last year's "Live Free or Die Hard" was excellent -- but Sylvester Stallone's exercise in gratuitous mayhem is an obscenity. It makes "Kill Bill" look like "Bambi."
In the inaugural movie, 1982's "First Blood," Rambo had a MacGyveresque resourcefulness and was sympathetic as a war-weary Vietnam vet forced to defend himself against a small-town sheriff. The '08 incarnation is merely cynical and sad as he helps pave the road to hell for well-intentioned missionaries in Myanmar.
About the best that can be said of this cinematic atrocity is that it apparently cowed the small children in the audience into silence.
Yes, a number of parents brought their tots to enjoy the R-rated bloodfest, evidently intent on preparing them psychologically for careers as mercenaries.
Thankfully, none of them asked, "Mommy, what happened to the man's head?"
None of them whimpered -- as I have heard kids do with other gory or scary fare.
For me, just knowing that young children are in the audience is often enough to sour the experience of a good violent movie like "No Country for Old Men," "I Am Legend" or "Pan's Labyrinth."
But it's worse when they squirm or cry.
Some critics might suggest that "Rambo" needs an NC-17 rating.
But most teens can probably handle it.
As for younger kids -- consuming images of carnage along with their mochi crunch, I defer to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
"More than 1,000 scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children and adolescents, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a 'meaner and scarier' place than it is."
In a phone interview last week, Honolulu clinical psychologist Jeanne Hogan emphasized, "The impact is greater with somebody a child can identify with, like Rambo, and they are more likely to see violence as a way to resolve conflict in their lives."
A lot of these kids, barely in school, are too young for video games like "Halo 3" and "Grand Theft Auto," so I guess that's why parents opt to toughen them up via the box office.
As for me, I think I may start reading movie reviews more closely.
Jim Borg is a Star-Bulletin assistant city editor.