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Review: Rampage (2018) — Fun and Frustrating, but Mostly Fun (But Also Frustrating)

Video game movies suck! Is the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson destruction-fest Rampage better than the rest? Luke Miksa tells all:

Based on the classic arcade video game of the same name, Rampage opens with the destruction of a space station, which leads to scattered debris all over the United States. Amongst the wreckage is a mutated pathogen, which comes into contact with a wolf, a crocodile, and an albino gorilla under the care of Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson). As the pathogen mutates these animals into gigantic and violent beasts, Okoye is aided by geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) and Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in an effort to stop them before they turn Chicago to rubble.

Rampage 1

Kinda like Jaws, but with a dinosaur.

Director Brad Peyton and star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have become quite a successful duo in recent years, releasing crowd-pleasing action fare such as San Andreas and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. While not aiming for high-cinema, these films are the perfect kind of entertaining dumb fun which will always certainly have its place, especially when international markets are concerned. Peyton is quickly becoming this generation’s Roland Emmerich, much like Johnson is this generation’s Arnold Schwarzenegger.

At heart, Rampage is an old-school monster mash, full of action and quips. But despite the relatively family-friendly M-rating, Rampage is actually kind of violent. It’s not Predator by any means, but there is a certain scene involving Joe Mangianello and his mercenaries going up against the wolf (dubbed Ralph) that is pretty intense. There’s also plenty of collateral damage to the city of Chicago once the beasts convene there, and these scenes do show plenty of civilian deaths.

(more…)

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Get in the Bin!: The Localised Product Placement in San Andreas

GITB-San-Andreas

Product placement is a long, rocky bridge to navigate. It generally pays for a large portion of a film’s production budget, therefore it is a necessary evil. You can only hope that the product placement is subtle and natural to the story being told. Is someone in a movie using an Apple iPhone, using a Dell laptop or wearing Nike shoes? That’s okay, as these brands are a part of our everyday lives as well.

Award: Converse All-Stars Vintage 2004I even have an award I give out for my movie reviews for bad product placement. It is based on an early scene from the Will Smith movie i,Robot where Smith’s character fetishises over his ‘vintage’ (vintage as the movie was set in the future, but the sneakers were currently available at all major stockists) Converse sneakers. The dialogue was clunky, and the product shilling was apparent, and it is these things that drive a viewer directly out of the movie-going experience. It’s reverse movie-magic.

Bad product placement sticks out as it actually looks like an advertisement mid-movie as opposed to harmonious integration. Wayne’s World perfectly skewers the perceived product placement faux pas by tackling it with comic effect (and no doubt paying some bills at the same time):

It’s up to the filmmakers to not throw in brands so gratuitously that it affects the viewing experience of the audience. Michael Bay can’t do this, and he’s the prime example but he’s not alone.

This is the scene!

This is the scene!

This brings me to the recently released disaster movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, San Andreas. Without getting into the plot too much, Rocky is an air rescue pilot who finds himself swept up in the middle of an massive earthquake that devastates many Californian cities based on the San Andreas Fault line. There is a scene where Johnson and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) crash-land a helicopter into an outdoor goods store. Upon leaving the store we get a hero shot of Johnson exiting the flaming wreck to reveal the product placement that caused my neck to whiplash due to the speed of the double-take: that outdoor goods store was Australian retail chain Ray’s Outdoors. (more…)

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