Tag Archives: Blockbuster

Rampage

Rampage (2018)

Directed by: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello

IMDB Synopsis

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

*Minor spoilers*

I’ve already said my piece about guilty pleasures and I have nothing to add to that, though this movie is the PERFECT example of what I mean by joyous cinematic experience.

I’m also a sucker for a gargantuan ape and have been ever since I was a kid and I saw the original King Kong (1933). It’s the first film I remember making me cry and has paved the way for a lot of my adult film tastes.

So with that in mind how on earth could I resist Rampage? Based on a video game I only have a vague memory of, it’s pleasantly bonkers and exactly what I wanted to watch on the big screen.

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Former US soldier and member of an anti-poaching unit cum primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) is best friends with George, an albino gorilla. Davis saved George as a baby from the poachers who killed his mother so you could say that their bond is as strong as it could possibly be.

When an experiment conducted in space by evil corporation Energyne goes horribly wrong, George and two other animals are exposed to a pathogen that causes them to grow at a rapid rate. Since this pathogen has something to do with genetic editing, it pairs certain traits of certain species together and this causes our animals not only to grow like nobody’s business, it also mutates them and makes them aggressive as hell.

All of this plays into bitchy CEO Claire Wyden’s Plan B. She lures George and his new friends (a wolf and a crocodile) to downtown Chicago in order to get a sample from their genetically juiced bodies (don’t focus too much on the plot, k?). With her drippy partner in crime, brother Brett (Lacy), Claire (Akerman) plans to get what she needs and blow this popsicle stand so she can continue her genetic editing research and gain back everything lost. But she’s not counting on the power of brotherly love is she? Oh no.

The Rock isn’t about to let George get hurt so he partners with disgraced former Energyne scientist Doctor Kate Caldwell (Harris) to get him back and in the process get his hands on the existing antidote and save the city. Will they succeed before it is crushed to the ground and George is killed too? Well, there’s one real easy way to find out…

Along the way they also form an alliance with Jeffery Dean Morgan’s agent Harvey Russell and honestly, I think Russell is one of the main highlights of the film. Morgan is having so much fun! There’s also a brief appearance from Joe Manganiello (one of my faves) as a mercenary wolf hunter which I enjoyed thoroughly.

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This film was fun with a capital F and doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Dwayne Johnson is so likable that I don’t think I’ve ever disliked him on film – he has so much talent in his over developed body, I’m a massive fan. Likewise, Harris is great but you’d expect that from such a good actress.

The effects are exactly what you’d expect and the creature work is good, particularly where George is concerned. He looks and feels very real.

Unfortunately, both Akerman and Lacy are pretty whack as the evil siblings and that’s probably just about the only bad thing I can say about this adventure. Otherwise, it was a romp I was happy to be part of.

My Rating

4/5.

Pacific Rim Uprising

Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Starring: John BoyegaScott EastwoodCailee SpaenyCharlie DayTian Jing

IMDB Synopsis

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

*Minor spoilers*

I want to add a disclaimer to this review before I start: I abhor movie snobbery. People should watch what makes them happy, be it Adam Sandler movies or dogme 95. Who cares, right? Life’s too short for guilty pleasures and I strongly believe we should all be loud-mouthed enthusiasts. So when it comes to blockbuster season, I am all in.

I live to see giant robots/apes/aliens smashing the shit out of one another while the poor city around them crumbles to the ground. I love action heroes and explosions, prehistoric sharks, Wookies and above all, spectacle. It doesn’t always work and I don’t always leave the theater satisfied but I’m still down for whatever because that’s what film is about: Escapism. Joy. Magic (in no particular order).

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Pacific Rim (2013) was a balls out sci-fi adventure romp directed by Guillermo del Toro, a high octane alien ride of epic proportion starring Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost, the hero of the hour and defender of the universe. And although I realised during the viewing of its sequel that I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it (apart from how Elba filled his uniform), the first movie was HUGE and beloved by fans around the globe. 

Uprising follows Jake Pentecost (Boyega), son of Stacker and all-round babe ten years after the first movie. Oh to keep it that family, eh? (sorry Mum).

Jake isn’t as disciplined as his Kaiju war hero father and is reluctant at times to be associated due to the fact that he doesn’t stack up that favourably in comparison. *Spoiler* Pops sacrificed himself for the good of humankind remember? And Jake’s more irresponsible than that.

When he gets picked up by the feds for nefarious horseplay, he’s given an ultimatum by PPDC General Secretary Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchiwho is also Jake’s adoptive sister: join the Jaeger program as a cadet trainer or face prison. Along the way he picks up Jaegar enthusiast Amara (Spaeny), a scrap yard baby who has single-handedly built her own Jaegar from scratch. Amara is recruited as a cadet for the program too because of course she is.

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Things kick off quickly as the Kaiju return to fuck up Earth and the responsibility of saving the world is once more placed in the hands of a Pentecost. Is Jake up to the task? With the help of his new recruits and old buddy Nate Lambert (Eastwood) you could say he’ll at least give it his best shot.

In other news, Charlie Day’s high-energy Doctor Newton Geiszler is up to his own japes while super-bitch Liwen Shao (Jing) heads Shao Corporation’s drone program, which threatens to overshadow everything the Jaeger program has been working toward. For the good of mankind, can’t they all just get along? Hmmmmm?

This sequel is not great, nor will it particularly stick in the mind. It is what it is in the moment, it’s fun and larger than life. The robot work is excellent and frankly, at least this isn’t as soulless as some of the Transformer movies.

It’s clever to have cast Boyega in the lead, he’s gorgeous, funny and a good actor, just like his father (Stacker) but he’s also very current and off the back of his Star Wars success, probably the best man for the job. Although he doesn’t have a lot of really sophisticated dialogue to work with here, he seems to be having fun and that my friends is half the battle. The other half is the Kaiju themselves obvi.

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I think my forgetfulness relating to the original PR has harmed my enjoyment of Newt’s story line as I didn’t even remember Charlie Day was in it. He’s definitely and understandably the comic relief and he does an okay job. He puts me in mind of a younger Bobcat Goldthwaite but not as accomplised.

Clint Eastwood’s son Scott doesn’t fair well either, though he is uncannily like his father in certain lights. I did also like the females in this movie – it’s good to see equal opportunity on the battlefield and in the laboratories. I thought Tian Jing was good as not-all-bad corporate witch Liwen Shao particularly.

All in all I’m not mad I saw this on the big screen if only to get my Boyega on and to soak up the scale of everything.

My Rating

2.5/5.