Paul McGuire Grimes from Paul’s Trip to the Movies reviews two movies out in the theaters and has a suggestion for one to watch at home.
RAMPAGE (theatrical release)
Rampage is pure absurdity, but you already know that going in. You don’t go into a movie like this for high art. In the world of Rampage, advanced science has gotten to the point where genetic editing has officially become a weapon of mass destruction. Maybe that’s why it’s sequestered to outer space as the film opens. A space station carrying samples of this genetic code suffers a freak accident and explodes scattering the canisters with the samples all over space with some crash landing on Earth. Dwayne Johnson stars as Davis, a primatologist at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary. He works closely with a white albino gorilla named George using a sign language short hand to communicate with him. When the canisters crashed to Earth they were scattered across the U.S. including one near the primate housing at the Sanctuary. George is infected and starts growing in size and strength destroying everything that gets in his way. George isn’t the only animal infected as a wolf and crocodile pop up smashing everything in site. Davis teams up with a genetic engineer who may be able to create a cure in order to stop George before he and the other monsters destroy the city of Chicago.
-Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Joe Manganiello. The actors know what movie they’re in and have fun with it. They’re able to ride that fine line of playing cartoon-ish characters without overacting.
-Based on a classic arcade video game. King Kong meets Jurassic Park meets Sharknado
-Dwayne Johnson knows exactly what his audience wants and delivers with the pure fun and action that he’s best known for. He doesn’t mind if you laugh along the way with its ridiculous nature.
-Unlike Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, Rampage doesn’t take itself too seriously. The action is easy to follow without being edited within an inch of its life. There aren’t any unnecessary side plots, which helps keep the runtime down. The dialogue is fairly straightforward without being overly campy. The director knows when it’s appropriate to use the slo-mo action shots to play up the absurdity.
-Pleasantly surprised that the script allows for some build in the story as we get to understand the friendship between Davis and George first and escalates to the huge climax, which is what everyone wants to see – the Rock kicking butt with mutated beasts climbing skyscrapers and destroying the city.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Pure popcorn escapism
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
CHAPPAQUIDDICK (theatrical release)
Scandals have always plagued the Kennedy name. Edward “Ted” Kennedy was the youngest of the boys following in the footsteps of his brothers: John, Robert, and Joe Jr. He wanted to set himself apart from his brothers and create a legacy of his own. Unfortunately, that “Kennedy curse” was carried on the night of July 18, 1969. Ted was the Senate Majority Whip and mulling over running for the presidency like his brothers. He decided to throw a party at Chappaquiddick Island on Martha’s Vineyard to thank the women who worked on Robert’s presidential campaign. He had been drinking throughout the party but decided to take a drive with Mary Jo Kopechne in hopes of convincing her to work on his campaign. It was extremely dark with winding roads when his car swerved and drove off a small bridge. He was able to escape fairly easily, but Mary Jo was left in the car ultimately drowning from the incident. To complicate matters, we learn that Ted got his lawyer Joseph Gargan and attorney General Paul Markham to try to rescue her. Their attempts failed, yet Ted never called in the incident. It wasn’t until the next morning when two fishermen found the car and called the local police. The next week finds Ted, his lawyers, and a team of Joe Kennedy’s men concocting a plan on how to spin the story and protect the Kennedy name and legacy.
-Starring: Jason Clarke, Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan, Kate Mara, Bruce Dern
-Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan effectively turn in dramatic performances we rarely see from them. Jason Clarke feels a bit weighed down by the pressure of playing someone with the notoriety the Kennedys had. His accent waivers in and out, and I never felt like he played Ted in a way of hoping the audience understood his perspective.
-Covers the one-week period starting on the Friday of the accident and the week that followed until Ted Kennedy’s televised statement. Does not go on to cover how he turned his life and career around and the political impact he had later on in life.
-Certainly doesn’t portray the Kennedys in a positive light. It’s a pointed film to remind the audience that Ted wasn’t a victim of the Dad’s abuse or his family name. He still made horrible decisions that night and should have been held accountable for them.
-One could draw parallels between Ted and Donald Trump and how they both deal with scandals, public personas, and the fervent off-kilter approach to doing/saying the right thing
-Reminder that America and a big population of voters don’t necessarily care about scandals, regardless of party line. People will vote the way the want to without thinking about the integrity of a candidate’s character.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Important viewing regardless of how you feel about the Kennedy clan.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD (home release)
All the Money in the World is a prime example of a movie that works two-fold due to the scandals presented both on screen and off. The on screen story kicks off in 1973 with 16-year old John Paul Getty III strolling the streets of Italy being propositioned by call girls. Out of nowhere, a van pulls up next to him with masked figures jumping out and grabbing the boy before he can scream for help. John Paul is being used as a pawn with an asking price of a $17 million ransom. The film flashes back briefly introducing the audience to his family’s legacy as he’s the heir to Getty Oil. His grandfather John Paul Getty is considered the wealthiest man of all time due to his oil business, and the kidnappers are out to take a piece of that fortune. It’s a fractured family to say the least, but it’s implied that John Paul had a moderately close relationship to his grandfather despite his parents divorce. His father was a massive drug addict, so he grew up with his loving mother, Abigail. Despite his wealth, Getty was oddly frugal to the point of only investing in collectible art pieces. The news of John Paul’s disappearance travels fast, but Getty seems oddly unfazed by the demands. He has no interest in paying the ransom but sends in his on-staff negotiator Fletcher Chase to deal with Abigail and the kidnappers.
-Starring: Michelle Williams, Charlie Plummer, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton
-Directed by Ridley Scott (The Martian, Gladiator) who re-shot key scenes and re-edited the movie when he decided to replace Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in the John Paul Getty role. He did that all in a matter of nine days in order to keep it’s original release date.
-Christopher Plummer proves he was the right actor all along. Plummer is rich with ruthlessness as Getty and has the history and gravitas to play the disgraceful billionaire. He went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his work
-Scott excels at creating tension and suspicion throughout with one unsettling character after the next. No character goes unquestioned as various theories pop up. It’s a story of wealth and reputation where someone’s name comes with expectations.
-It plays out like a page-turner mystery shaped around a tragic Italian saga. The script has a fairly familiar formula to it starting off with the kidnapping, followed up with a little backstory, and then keeps the rest of the film in negotiation territory. It’s kept pretty lean without opening it up to expand on the Getty family history or how the world and news outlets reacted to the Getty kidnapping at the time.
-The Getty kidnapping seems too bizarre to be true. Scott keeps that mystery alive and present throughout, but doesn’t bother answering all of the questions afterwards. It prompted some research afterwards to learn more about the downfall of the Getty family.