Friday, April 20, 2018

Rampage & Isle of Dogs: Nostalgia and Da' Feelz


It was the summer of 1987, the horseflies were biting and the river was cold but I had enough gumption to go out and collect bottles, mow lawns, and pick weeds for a number of houses around the neighborhood. I usually took my cash down to the local video store, rented a movie, had a slice of pizza, and rode my bike home- but sometimes I had a little something extra for the video games in the backroom. Paperboy, some Indiana Jones game, the ever-shifting Pinball machine, the four player dungeon crawl game I forgot the name of, and Rampage. The goal was simple… destroy the city. Smash the buildings, eat the people, destroy the tanks and jets and helicopters, and get more points than your opponents. It was a three player game with a lizard, a gorilla, and a giant wolf. Simple.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in the film adaptation of that game and the simple storyline is given a few zings and whistles regarding plot, but the film remains as simple and as enjoyable as the game itself. He’s the caretaker of an albino gorilla named George, and an accident aboard an orbiting satellite brings a few samples down to earth and infecting three animals with altered DNA. Giant monsters, destroyed cities, and general mayhem.

Look, this isn’t a great movie. It’s actually pretty stupid and the stunts are outlandish, the contrivances are silly, but the movie never tries to take itself too seriously and the action is big enough to satisfy fans of the boom and bombastic. But if you’re looking for Shakespeare in the park, then just go to the park. This is just a fun movie for the sake of a little nostalgia and a lot of silliness.

6.5 out of 10.

Isle of Dogs

I was not in the mood. Wes Anderson’s animated film looked like a sappy love letter to dogs and dog lovers everywhere and I was just not in the mood. My wife picked the movie out of a handful that were showing, and it was the least annoying option for me and so we went to the movies and I sat in a theater and mentally folded my arms with a sad little spoiled pout. The movie started…

Atari is a twelve year old orphan whose Uncle is the mayor of Megasaki, a city of Japan’s near-future. A recent epidemic has stricken the city’s dog population, and ordinance has banished them to an off shore island. This includes Atari’s faithful dog, Spot. The boy makes a daring rescue attempt, aided by a rogue pack of dogs. The five go on a journey to find Spot and, perhaps, undermine the efforts of Atari’s uncle.

Almost two hours later, I had tears in my eyes and an odd smile in my heart. The film wasn’t JUST a love letter to dogs and dog lovers. The movie explored deep feelings of loyalty, honor, compassion, and love- it weighed in on society’s ills in placing trust with a misguided leadership and entertained throughout. The film took daring risks, choosing to allow many of the human characters to speak in their native Japanese with English translators and the rare subtitle. This film was pure joy from beginning to end.

10 out of 10 and a must watch.

PS: I remember the name of the game. And if you guess below you'll win some kind of "no prize" from me. It won't be shipped, it won't be mailed, it won't be of any value, and it won't be a tangible thing you can hold. But you can name the game and be all sorts of big and bad.

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