‘Rampage’ a guilty pleasure

As I have said in the past, video game movies do not really work.

This goes back many a year, even to “The Wizard,” where they tried to give Fred Savage (TV’s “The Wonder Years”) his own chance at becoming a matinee idol.  I think his appearance as the sick kid in William Goldman and Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride” lent more to his credibility as a name to remember.

But, I digress. We are here to learn about “Rampage,” the new based-on-a-video-game tale that looks at George, a gorilla who can actually communicate via sign language.  He was rescued by Dwayne Johnson’s Davis Okoye who saved George many years ago when he was still a baby. George, however, is not the only genetically altered animal on the planet, since there is also a wolf as well as a crocodile.

Adding credibility to this moronic yet fun movie is Naomie Harris.  She was the new Moneypenny in the last James Bond entry, “Spectre.” Her part in “Rampage” is that of a brilliant scientist who was fired from her last job due to some insider shuffling at the top. Harris also supported in “Moonlight,” a Best Picture winner that was not “La La Land” sparking one of the worst debacles in Oscar history.

As far as disappointing movies go, “Rampage” has some weight and gravitas in pooling all of the plot points together. One of the characters thought to be an adversary turns out to be a good guy. Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays Harvey Russell, a government higher-up with some clout in getting things done ASAP.

Akerman’s Claire Wyden is a corporate bigwig whose company helps create the genetically altered creatures that are running amok.  She is a person who does not care about anyone or anything except her own selfish interests.

Johnson’s Okoye acknowledges the ridiculous of the film when he says “of course the wolf flies.”

In a strange twist of irony, both Jeffrey Dean Morgan and supporter Malin Akerman were in Zack Snyder’s superhero tale “Watchmen” in 2009. Dean Morgan was The Comedian while Akerman was Silk Spectre II.

With “Rampage,” director Brad Peyton returns. He steered Johnson to some of his biggest hits, namely “San Andreas” in 2015.  He also directed him in “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” in which he replaced Brendan Fraser.

Other awful video game-inspired tales come to mind when watching the silliness in “Rampage,” namely the ludicrous and awful “Super Mario Bros.,” the 1994 version of “Street Fighter” with Jean-Claude Van Damme” and “Doom” (also with Johnson).

The jokes in “Rampage” are occasionally crass and crude, but that is what the audiences paid to see in this epitome of a guilty pleasure. It is, after all, best to be seen on the big screen so one gets that important immersive experience in the theater.

Facebook CEO faces reality

Facebook CEO faces reality

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress for two days last week in response to a firestorm of criticism involving the social media platform’s data breach with Cambridge Analytica. The 33-year-old billionaire who launched the social media website while attending Harvard University faced the wrath of Democratic and Republican lawmakers during the hearings.

Read More

Literary festival excites audience with readings, color zines

The 35th annual Richland College Literary Festival took place April 3-5. The events included discussions about graphic novels, art workshops, poetry and short story readings by Richland faculty and students.

Some keynote speakers included artist and poet Lisa Huffaker, author Lori Stephens and poet Fatima-Ayan Malika just to name a few.

One of the most interesting aspects of the festival was the “Color Zines” workshop. At this event, students worked with world-renowned multimedia artist Huffaker to create their very own “zines” or self-published books of art and writing.

 Poet and artist Lisa Huffaker, right, talks to students during her “Color Zines” workshop.

Poet and artist Lisa Huffaker, right, talks to students during her “Color Zines” workshop.

The festival elicited emotion from certain sections of the audience. The faculty readings by professors from Richland made the audience laugh, cry and gasp with their inspiring short story readings. Richland students got to present their own writings too.

Richland has always emphasized its love for the arts, holding a festival to celebrate and enjoy literature as well as to acknowledge and honor its faculty and students for their hard work.

Honors English professor Scott Branks del Llano coordinated the event.