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Dwayne Johnson fans will love 'Rampage'


There's a good mix of movies at the box office this weekend. Here's what our favourite film critic had to say.

Rampage
This is the movie where a giant ape, a giant wolf and a giant crocodile smash stuff—and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is somewhere in the middle. That’s it. It’s as simple as that.


It’s based on an old arcade game, where you would play as one of these giant creatures and you would go on a rampage, with no goals, no points, nothing to win. So even the video game had no aspirations for storytelling. It was as basic as it gets.


The movie tries to make things more complicated, with this laborious plot about genetic engineering, evil corporate henchman and competing government agencies, and why The Rock’s character has a special bond with this Ape George. But that’s all just to somehow explain how we get to these three specific monsters going on a rampage.


It’s not terribly exciting. Even as far as monsters smashing stuff, King Kong has better moves. I think you have some nice, humorous moments between The Rock and his friendly Ape.
 
Who is this for?
This is for the people who liked San Andreas, which was the last time The Rock and this director Brad Peyton worked together. Both movies are about The Rock watching cities crumble.

It's also for anyone who liked Pacific Rim Uprising, which I know came out three weeks ago, but it’s the same audience that’s gonna go for it.
 

You Were Never Really Here
This is a vigilante kind of movie starring the great Joaquin Phoenix. He plays a traumatized veteran who makes money brutalizing bad men, rescuing young girls and disappearing like a ghost.


The movie is about his fight to rescue a particular girl from a dangerous situation. Now that might sound like the plot of a Jason Statham movie. Like another Transporter sequel. But this is so far away from that kind of movie. Its made by Lynne Ramsey, who has quite a reputation among art house circles.
 
She made a movie where whenever Phoenix’s is about to lay the smack down in blunt, gory ways, she tracks away, watching it from off angles or through security camera. She’s not as interested in the violence he inflicts. She’s interested in the violence within him, his emotions, his memories, his trauma. This is a movie about what makes a man like this tick, and it moves in very dreamlike ways. Or more specifically, nightmarish ways.

It’s a movie that will rattle you and will leave you wrestling with what’s it about. And I think most people won’t love it. But I would encourage people to experience it.
 
Who is this for?
Well first of all, think of Taxi Driver. I’m not the first to make this comparison, and I’m not trying to say this is as great as that. But it is being billed as a sort of 21st century Taxi Driver.


But its also a movie that’s about as cultish and divisive as American Psycho.
 


Indian Horse
So this movie is kind of a big deal for Canada no matter how you feel about it. It’s a movie about the country’s national sport but also about the horrors the country committed through residential schools.
 
Its based on a book by the late Richard Wagamese, and its about a young indigenous boy who is plucked from his family and his heritage, forced into a residential school where he endures so many horrors, manages to grow up to be an up-and-coming hockey star but only to face new forms of oppression when he gets there.


There’s a lot of moments here that made me feel uncomfortable and horrified and really sad. But I feel like there’s a real lack of nuance in the storytelling and it really made me wish they drew from Canada’s incredible pool of Indigenous filmmakers to tell this story, a filmmaker closer to this culture and history who could have drawn more out of the story beyond, “Residential schools, how awful, eh”.
 
Who is this for?
I think this is for people who liked Race or The Man Who Knew Infinity. The Jesse Owens or Srinivasa Ramanujan. Both of those movies had dramatic stories to tell about racism in history. But both were a bit too early-90s for me.