On DVD & Blu-Ray: July 17, 2018


Rampage is the happy meal version of a movie. It's cheap and easy and you walk away mostly satisfied even if there was no nutritional value whatsoever. It's a strange world where Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson can still be seen in theaters in his last big-budget action adventure that involves a jungle and then the first time we see the chrome-domed former wrestler in Rampage he just so happens to once again be making his way through a similar environment; it’s as if the star is guiding us out of one movie and into the next. As we are welcomed into this new world of Rampage by The Rock himself we are introduced to his Davis Okoye, a primatologist AKA someone who studies nonhuman primates, who works at the San Diego Zoo and has essentially fostered one of the last remaining albino gorillas to be his own. George, as played through motion capture not by Andy Serkis, but by Jason Liles, is a seven foot tall, five hundred plus-pound primate who can communicate with Johnson's Davis with as much ease as a deaf child might be able to communicate with their hearing enabled parent and who also has a good sense of humor about himself and his circumstances. The one thing Rampage does better than it has any right to do is develop this relationship between the two biggest stars on screen meaning Johnson is really just that good at making audiences believe he is the coolest guy around. Not everyone could make befriending a monkey cool and inspiring as opposed to the weird and off-putting looks most would get, but the guy does it; acting as if it's the most normal thing in the world and oh yeah, he was also part of an anti-poaching military force once upon a time too, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it. And sure, the fact it’s The Rock that is both this intelligent and extremely fit guy who clearly has a streak of compassion with an especially soft spot for animals is part of the appeal in Rampage as it is the ability The Rock brings along with his presence that makes a movie as ridiculous as this work as well as it does…even if it probably shouldn't. That said, and having never played the video game on which this is based, I expected the latest from director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, San Andreas) to be a little more fun than this ends up being. Yes, there are moments of pure outrageous bliss, but they are too few and far between to make Rampage feel like the large-sized combo it was advertised to be. Rather, Rampage is drenched in that Happy Meal feeling from its quick and easy delivery to its processed if not convenient conclusion. Full review here. C-

Isle of Dogs is the ninth feature film from director Wes Anderson and by this point, one knows prior to going into an Anderson film both what they will be getting and whether they're already in the bag for Anderson's style and how he will undoubtedly expand upon it. Needless to say, I was very much in the bag for the auteur's return to stop-motion animation after the delightful excursion that was 2009's Fantastic Mr. Fox. And so, the question then surpasses that of expectation dictating the perceived outcome of a certain film, but rather to be that of if there is already this acceptance of quality due to the understanding of the passion, time, and care committed to a project then just how good is it exactly? Where does it rank among the director's already impressive catalogue? As the credits rolled on the brief feeling, but wholly satisfying Isle of Dogs it became infinitely more clear than it had a moment earlier when still in the midst of the film that while this may be Anderson's most outright imaginative take on a motion picture it is also the one that is most vague in regards to its intentions. Maybe memories of Fantastic Mr. Fox escape me or maybe I missed a thesis that Isle of Dogs states throughout its rather straightforward narrative, but what seems most likely is the fact Anderson intended this to be as simple as it could possibly be so that individual movie-goers might make of it as they please with the filmmaker himself only taking credit to the extent the experience of watching his film brought excesses of escapism and joy. There isn't a single aspect of that previous sentence I would disagree with in terms of how easy it is to be swept up in the world of Isle of Dogs and how effortlessly enjoyable the movie is, but there is no sense of real emotional investment to be conjured either. It's not a mandate that Anderson's films be emotionally involving which is to say the meaning of his movies rarely take center stage, but often times it's hard to avoid such because of the natural investment made in the compelling characters. In Isle of Dogs we have a pack of abandoned canines and a twelve year-old boy who doesn't speak English whom Anderson gives no subtitles and thus there is something of a disconnect, but despite these small quibbles (and trust me, that's all they really are) Isle of Dogs is a meticulously crafted, beautifully rendered, and pitch perfect Wes Anderson movie that positions the water cooler conversations to not be about what the film is discussing, but what the film is; not what it says, but how it makes you feel. Full review here. B

The sixth Final Destination movie I didn't really know I wanted.

Truth or Dare is pure teen horror trash, but it's of the highest order of that genre and will forever remain a staple of the age in which it was born thanks to that ending. Something we don't get often enough these days when horror is often times more of an homage. C











The moment in Super Troopers 2 when we see Farva through heat vision goggles as he casually pisses and farts while yelling at the camera, “I’m still gonna go back and get that butter tart yule log!” is the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time. C














In I Feel Pretty, Amy Schumer plays a woman struggling with her own insecurities who wakes from a fall believing she is the most beautiful and capable woman on the planet. Her new confidence empowers her to live fearlessly, but what happens when she realizes her appearance never changed? I never caught this one in theaters as the wife and I planned to make a date night of it, but never found the opportunity to do so. It seems this will be best served as a rental night this weekend.










Not the 2000 Steven Soderbergh drug drama as this one is spelled with a "K", this Paula Patton/Omar Epps thriller AKA Traffik follows a couple going off on a romantic weekend in the mountains who are suddenly accosted by a biker gang. Alone in the mountains, the couple must defend themselves against the gang, who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.












I was very disappointed when Lynne Ramsay's follow-up to We Need to Talk About Kevin, You Were Never Really Here, never opened in Central Arkansas. It received nothing but strong buzz since making its rounds on the festival circuit last year and I was hoping for a chance to see it on the big screen. Needless to say, I'll be streaming this as soon as possible on whatever app offers the best deal. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix and follows a traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, who tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, this man's nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.






Disobedience, on the other hand, did open at out local arthouse theater for a week or so, but I was unable to make it to one of the showings. The film, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams, is about a woman who returns to her Orthodox Jewish community that shunned her for her attraction to a female childhood friend. Once back, their passions reignite as they explore the boundaries of faith and sexuality.