Rampage (2009) Review of the Past

Most cover art for this movie is great!

Most cover art for this movie is great!

Why don’t you make me a Double-Espresso… Macchiato… with extra foam?

Any movie fanatic with interest in video games will know the name. The name that has destroyed most fans hearts. The name we dread to be attached to future video game movies. The name is Uwe Boll. Now before you close this page and look away in horror, or perhaps even throw your monitor out the window. I’m here with a review of a movie that was actually not bad. At least for Uwe Boll standards. The only other movie he made that I got any enjoyment out of was Postal, and that was only down to its complete craziness. With Rampage however, Uwe Boll has made a film I didn’t want to like, had no intention of watching, but I did all those things anyway, and I’m glad I did.

Rampage is pretty straight forward on paper, about a man with a thirst for revenge, he builds himself a full body of armour from Kevlar that looks surprisingly awesome and goes on a killing spree. Sounds pretty straight forward, but, there is much more to the movie than that. The writing and editing of the movie help with this a lot. This is more than just a simple killing spree movie, and the trailer totally gives the impression that’s all your going to get whilst watching it, take it from me though, this is a smarter movie than you may expect.

The main focus of Rampage, the heart of the movie is Bill Williamson played fantastically by Brendan Fletcher. He carries the whole movie on his shoulders and does an amazing job of portraying a likable, yet twisted character, that is much smarter than he may show. This guy literally starts to just kill people, innocent people going about their daily lives. For that, I had a hard time thinking why I would even get behind this character as I knew what he was doing was completely awful. The opening 30 minute of the movie however is just like a day in the life of Bill Williamson, and he is having trouble, both at home and at work. Not to mention all the little things that you feel he buries deep within himself like the lack of extra foam in his macchiato and having his drink spilled on him by a carless fast food waitress. All of this and more, despite how little this justifies going on a killing spree, helps with getting behind the character.

As for the rest of the cast, the acting is acceptable at best, no-one feels as fleshed out as Bill and I get the feeling they’re there to simply dress the scene and help with the dialogue. The only exception is Bill’s friend Evan Drince, played by Shaun Sipos. He may not have a huge presence in the movie, but he does pop up from time to time, whether in a phone conversation or seeing him rant about the world in his vlogs. He’s never explored enough to care for his well-being, but he has a great presence on-screen when with Bill, the dialogue flows naturally between them.

When is said this may was an enjoyable Uwe Boll movie, I wasn’t pulling your leg. This may be his best work, that’s still not the best thing in the world but it’s a step in the right direction. With Rampage he has shown he can write and direct an enjoyable movie that doesn’t have to rely on an existing franchise and fanbase to gain an audience. This may have been back it 2009, but for his sake, I hope he keeps along this path and does more original movies with some great, witty writing.

However the camera work in Rampage is all over the place, there’s nothing new here, but Uwe Boll thought it would have been nice to have a shaky cam during the shooting scenes. Whilst I really liked the look of the camera just sitting behind Bill as he walks the streets, causing all kinds of trouble, it’s not always . Whenever he runs or speeds up, the camera work becomes very sloppy and it’s hard to focus on anything. Anyone with motion sickness will want to stay away. The pacing for a 87 minute runtime is okay at best too. With the opening 30 minutes of building relationships and characters, we have several, few seconds long, flash forwards of the chaos that is to come, this no doubt is the keep the audience enticed, a cheap but somewhat effective technique.

As the violence in the Rampage, there’s quite a bit of it as you’d imagine. Most, if not all of the effects are real too, not something added in with a computer later on. Each bullet wound explodes with a crimson red bang and some of the knife wounds pour crazy amounts of blood. There are even some explosions within the movie and they are done fantastically as well. Sending both people and cars flying through the air, they become a welcome break from all the shooting. Then the writing has that wittiness that Uwe Boll can be known for. He usually lays it on thick in his past movies but here it’s very subtle and smarty done. The acting helps delivers the lines in a more natural manner, but the writing deserves just as much praise as the actors do.

I had ideas in my head as to what might happen at the end.  to be honest I had ideas as to what might happen throughout the whole movie. But it kept proving me wrong and doing something unexpected. As the end of the movie grew near, I did manage to put all the pieces to together, and when I thought about it, it was rather smart and unexpected. Of course, due to the nature of the movie, you couldn’t quite call it a happy ending, but one I found myself happy to watch.

Uwe Boll have delivered a good movie. A small sentence I never thought I’d write. Postal was okay, this is good, and if he keeps going, maybe one day he’ll make his masterpiece. Rampage isn’t for everyone, and it has its problems. But when your set your expectations so low, it’s easy to be surprised by the outcome. I expected a movie of glorified violence, but instead got one that talked about issues that we are facing in the world today, with overpopulation, global warming and low energy resources, it’s all there and it can be pretty scary.

7 Perfectly Good Macchiato out of 10

-ast

RoboCop (1987) Review of the Past

Your move, creep.

Your move, creep.

Dead or alive, you’re coming with me.

After hours of playing around with RoboCop’s amazing pistol in Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon (First Impressions here) and seeing Peter Weller in Star Trek Into Darkness (Review here), I fancied myself some RoboCop. A film I watched quite a lot when I was younger, RoboCop is a throwback to my childhood along with many other movies. I even had action figures which came with interchangeable battle damaged armour. Now I passed up on the trilogy Blu-ray box set not so long ago, but thankfully Netflix had me sorted with the trilogy waiting for my viewing pleasure.

Now the last time I remember watching RoboCop, I don’t even think I was in my teens. So it’s been quite a while. About a cop called Alex Murphy, he falls victim and is killed by a dangerous street gang. Murphy’s body is then reconstructed within a steel shell and given the name RoboCop. By upholding the law, RoboCop starts to clean the streets of Detroit and the corruption within it.

Peter Weller as Alex Murphy/ RoboCop is simply fantastic. As Alex Murphy, he plays a fearless cop and family man. In the short time we get to spend with him at the beginning of the movie, we build up a sympathetic love for the character which in turn, makes his death scene all the more horrifying. Becoming RoboCop can’t be easy, without the use of his eyes to convey emotion, Peter Weller has to rely solely on body movement and his vocal ability. He is able to pull this off fantastically, so when RoboCop is pissed off, you know it.

A great addition to cast is Nancy Allen as Officer Anne Lewis. Playing the partner of Alex Murphy/ RoboCop, it’s great to see a woman in the role of his partner. Being prominent throughout the 80’s and 90’s, cop partners were typically male. So because of that, it’s refreshing to have woman in the role. She does a great job at being thoughtful and sympathetic towards Alex Murphy/ RoboCop. She is a very likable character within the movie. Ronny Cox as Dick Jones and Kurtwood Smith as Clarence J. Boddicker play the villains in the movie. They play very unlikable characters (a good thing, they’re villains!) and become some of Alex Murphy’s/ RoboCop’s biggest threats.

Paul Verhoeven directs the movie that kicked off his career, with many more amazing movies down the line. Responsible for personal favourites like Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, as well as other great movies, Paul Verhoeven has some serious pedigree behind him. RoboCop is a well shot movie, with both car chase scenes and action scenes getting the same amount of care put into them. The pacing of the movie is also spot on. Running in at around 1 hour and 40 minutes, I never found myself bored whilst watching it. The balance of the action to the quieter moments when we get into some character development is perfect. You never find yourself waiting too long for some RoboCop action or the next part of the story to develop.

1987 was a great year for movies, with some classics like Predator, Evil Dead II and The Lost Boys pushing the boundaries of both special effects and visual effects. RoboCop was no different. I love it when people get shot in RoboCop, the way the bullet holes explode and the amount of blood that shoots out. Reminds me of the recent Django Unchained, and the shootout at the end of the movie. To toxic waste deformed criminals, to hands and arms being shot off, the special effects are still believable to this day. However, the design of RoboCop himself is not quite as great as I remember. It’s still iconic and for its time, really cool. I feel if we may have seen RoboCop run around a bit more and be more agile, I would have been more forgiving with the design. The last thing I want, is to see is RoboCop charging towards me, I’d shit my pants.

Not everything is perfect though, not when it comes to the ED-209. A crime fighting mech and the only thing that has a chance against RoboCop, ED-209 is a great design but the use of stop motion was a no go for me. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that building a full mechanical mech was too expensive or maybe not even possible at the time, however using stop motion was not the answer. Having the mech built from lightweight materials and having people movie it around with sticks would have been so much better. With closer camera angles, and using it like a giant puppet, it seems to me like it would have been the best option. If I was director, that’s what I would have done. That’s just me though, I’m not a big fan of stop motion animation.

Despite my disfavour with the stop motion towards ED-209 though, the battle between RoboCop and ED-209 is so awesome. When is seeing two robots fighting not cool? It’s great though because up to this point, we’ve seen that RoboCop is pretty much indestructible. Now, against the ED-209, he struggles during the fight. With high calibre rounds piercing his armour and the overall strength of ED-209, we see a side of RoboCop we never thought we’d see, fear and desperation.

I must say, watching RoboCop was a thrilling trip down memory lane for me. One or two things may not have stood the test of time too well, but overall I enjoyed the hell out of it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 2nd or 3rd movie, so they’re next. Might just do a review of them if they are worth it. In 2014 we will see a remake of RoboCop, early set photos have not been too promising because the new RoboCop suit looks horrible. I’ll hold out judgement though until I see it, maybe they’ll add to the suit in post-production? The way the fans reacted, they may have even changed to suit all together. As it stands though, RoboCop is still badass!

8 Shotgun Blasts to the Body out of 10

-ast