When big meets bigger
Everybody likes nice guy Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but we think he should stick to what he does best—beating big-screen baddies and monsters to a pulp—and leave politics to those who are better-equipped for it. Right, Arnold Schwarzenegger?
In Brad Peyton’s over-the-top but entertaining “Rampage,” the actor puts a cheeky spin on the blockbuster action genre that leavens its eardrum-puncturing noise and city-crushing mayhem with “accessible” low-brow humor and a feel-good tale about primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne) and the unlikely friendship he forges with a likable, sign language-“talking” albino ape he calls George.
Like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” the film hews closely to a fan-pandering formula that unabashedly plays to the peanut gallery.
But its message, which is its only saving grace (that cuddly monkey aside), is delivered loud and clear: You don’t give up on friends when the chips are down.
Off the beaten track
There’s something disarmingly unconventional about Louie Ignacio’s “Almost a Love Story”—and we aren’t just talking about the panoramic views of Italy’s southeastern Salento region it captures with sparkling, postcard-pretty clarity on the big screen.
The film isn’t without flaws—it banks on a “crucial” dream sequence (no spoilers here) that plays out more like a tale-twisting filler.
But it’s hard to find fault with the earnestness of its actors—from the excessively giggly but winsome portrayal of Barbie Forteza and the childlike appeal of her appropriately cast screen consort Derrick Monasterio, to the heart-on-sleeve characterizations of Lotlot de Leon and Ana Capri.
Thanks to his fearless and award-winning forays into indie films, Ignacio has another ace up his sleeve: He doesn’t mind taking viewers way off the beaten narrative track, and veering away from mainstream cinema’s exhausting penchant for implausible and awkwardly staged Happily Ever Afters.
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