There Will Be Bloody

He kills because he lovesHey, remember what how surprised we all were that “Rocky Balboa” turned out so well?

Yeah, well, if you were holding out hope that Sylvester Stallone would revive the “Rambo” franchise with the same generosity and warmth, I’m afraid you’re in for a terrible disappointment.

On the other hand, if all you want is 90 minutes of savage violence, lovingly depicted in digitally enhanced slow-motion, you are gonna be so psyched!

Also opening this week, because late January is a time for suffering:

All Hat“: Leonard Farlinger’s middling contemporary cowpoke drama opened in Vancouver last week; now Toronto gets to experience the pretty, vacant tale of an ex-con who comes home to find the family farm threatened by a rich developer. See, it’s all the classical Western themes, only retold for the present day! Nice idea, but boring as dirt in the execution …

Still Life“: Months after its Vancouver bow, Jia Zhang-Kie’s meditative drama about the desolation left in the wake of the Three Gorges Dam project finally opens in Toronto; if you like sinking into movies without worrying too much about where they’re going, this is one of the best of its kind. On the other hand, I can see how some people might be driven mad by Jia’s relaxed pacing and flowing camerawork. It’s your call.

They Wait“: If you’ve ever wondered what “Ringu” or “The Grudge” would have looked like if they’d centered the action in Vancouver and poured the entire budget into three visual-effects sequences … well, you probably work at Telefilm, and you probably greenlit this movie. And I have to say, I really don’t have a lot of respect for you right now.

“Untraceable”: Gregory Hoblit, director of such cracked procedurals as “Primal Fear”, “Fallen”, “Frequency” and “Fracture”, turns in his first real dud with this sanctimonious blend of cyber-thriller and sado-porn about a killer who relies on Web traffic to commit elaborate murders; imagine the “Saw” films with a T1 connection, and you’ve got the idea. Diane Lane clocks in joylessly as the FBI agent in pursuit.

Waiter“: Sick of his endless humiliations, a miserable working stiff seeks out his creator — a henpecked screenwriter — and starts agitating for a better life in Danish writer-director Alex van Warmerdam’s meta-comedy, which would be a post-Kaufman disappointment even if “Stranger than Fiction” had never been produced.

Also opening today: “How She Move”, which Chris reviews here; “The Rape of Europa”, which Rick reviews here, and “Meet the Spartans”, which I’m off to see this afternoon, because — even though I’ve seen the directors’ previous works, “Date Movie” and “Epic Movie” — I evidently lack the capacity to learn from my mistakes.