Rampage Movie Review

A genetically deformed gorilla, wolf, and alligator walk into a major metropolitan area and destroy buildings. That was the concept of the video game in which Rampage was based upon and the movie adaptation doesn’t burden itself with over ambition in bringing it to the screen. Throw in Dwayne Johnson and lots of CG effects and what do you get? A fairly middling experience that will probably manage to thrill teenage boys whose fathers spent their quarters on the game at the arcade in the 1980s.

Davis Okoye (Johnson) is a primatologist. He’s great with animals and doesn’t really enjoy interacting with people, as the screenplay incessantly reminds us. He’s developed a particular bond with George, an albino gorilla who lives at the sanctuary where Davis works. They’re practically a comedy team as Davis has taught him tricks like flipping the bird. The duo’s future nightclub act is disrupted when a canister of debris containing genetic mutation material lands near George and causes him to grow into a destructive beast. This nasty stuff is also consumed by the aforementioned wolf and alligator.

I could go into further plot detail on the specifics, but here’s the bottom line. Rampage is all about getting that trio of monsters en route to Chicago where they can flick tanks and helicopters into buildings with ease. Davis teams up with an engineer (Naomie Harris) and an outlaw government figure (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to not only stop the creatures, but prevent the military from overreacting to the potential carnage. And there’s Malin Ackerman and Jake Lacy as the sister/brother duo who run the evil corporation that made the stuff that turned funny George into bad George.

Unfortunately for us, there’s about an hour of filler before Rampage reaches its Windy City destination. That time is a bit of a strain. Since it’s Dwayne Johnson playing a primatologist, it will come as no shock that he’s also ex-Special Forces. We get a bit of his background (including some anti-poaching messages) and same goes for Harris’s character who used to work at the conglomerate that wreaked this havoc.

By the time we arrive at the gorilla and wolf and alligator warfare, we’re greeted with some decent set pieces in the Transformers vein. Yet that even manages to overstay its welcome and the CG, while decent, has seen stronger offerings (it’s nothing compared to the animal work in the latest Planet of the Apes pics).

This is Johnson’s second collaboration with Brad Peyton, who directed him in San Andreas. That was another so-so spectacle that was easily digestible and forgettable. The makers of and actors in Rampage do seem to know this is silly junk food and earn some points for never taking it seriously. And there’s certainly been other video game adaptations that have been way worse. We’re talking faint praise, I suppose, but Rampage can only do so much with the simple concept of “smash building, smash car, and repeat.”

**1/2 (out of four)

Rampage Box Office Prediction

Pairing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with a bunch of CG animals in an adventure flick? If that sounds like a recipe for box office success, that’s because Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle became Sony’s biggest hit at the end of 2017. And next weekend’s Rampage (while it won’t approach the numbers of that franchise follow-up) looks poised to bring in generous earnings.

The Warner Bros release is based loosely on the 1980s video game. It marks Johnson’s third collaboration with director Brad Peyton following Journey: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas. Both of those titles managed to top the century mark ($103 million and $155 million respectively) and this should do the same. Costars include Naomie Harris, Malin Ackerman, Joe Manganiello, Jake Lacy, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Perhaps more importantly, other costars are giant gorillas, wolf’s, and alligators.

The question is whether Rampage falls more in line with $27 million debut of Journey 2 or the $54 million accomplished by Andreas. The former seems a bit low to me while the latter is high. I’ll project a mid to possibly high 30s opening is more the ticket.

Rampage opening weekend prediction: $36.6 million

For my Truth or Dare prediction, click here:


Incarnate Box Office Prediction

The first weekend of December is typically a very light frame for new product and 2016 is no different as horror flick Incarnate is the only new offering. From Blumhouse Tilt (a studio that makes their pics cheap and fast), the exorcism tale stars Aaron Eckhart. It’s been a busy year for the lead actor, as he’s already appeared in supporting roles this fall with hit Sully and flop Bleed for This. Brad Peyton (who made last summer’s San Andreas) is behind the camera and costars include Carice van Houtem and Catalina Sandino Moreno.

Despite a release in European territories last summer, Incarnate has sat on the shelf waiting for U.S. distribution. That’s usually not a sign of confidence from the studio and neither is its dumping ground release date. This should follow the pattern of many other first weekend of December premieres and post extremely low numbers.

Incarnate opening weekend prediction: $1.7 million

San Andreas Movie Review

It’s Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson vs. Mother Nature in disaster pic San Andreas, which gives us impressive visuals of destruction and a screenplay that feels like it was written by a computer program.  With its 90s action score pounding into our heads, this is essentially a near two hours of buildings and landmarks being decimated. The Golden Gate Bridge has a bad day, as has become tradition in these proceedings.

While millions of people are subject to the earthquakes and tsunamis wrought here, San Andreas concentrates on fire and rescue worker Ray Gaines (Johnson), his estranged wife (Carla Gugino), and their daughter (Alexandra Daddario). Their family dynamic (with Ray’s divorce papers having just arrived in the mail) is the stuff of lazy Screenplays 101. Gugino is now dating a stuffy British real estate tycoon (Ioan Gruffudd). The separated couple is still mourning the tragic drowning of their other daughter and if you think the circumstances in which she perished will be presented to our protagonist again, you have seen movies before.

A subplot involves a seismologist played by Paul Giamatti and he gets to yell warnings to his fellow citizens. This is a good thing because Giamatti has shown since Private Parts that he’s terrific at yelling stuff and it’s fun to watch him do it here.

Most of our time, however, is spent with the Gaines clan as they fly, drive, boat, tandem parachute jump, and bad wisecrack their way to finding each other. The daughter is joined in her journey by a British hunk (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his little brother (Art Parkinson) that adds another romantic angle.

Lost veteran Carlton Cuse has sole script credit and I was a bit surprised how lackluster it is. You might find yourself mouthing the predictable lines — “Let’s go get our daughter!!” — before the actual characters utter them. That said, I can’t deny that San Andreas is directed well by Brad Peyton and Johnson is sturdy and dependable as the anchor. This is nothing special but it’s certainly no disaster and is passable enough for a lazy couch day.

**1/2 (out of four)

Box Office Predictions: June 26-28

It’s been a record breaking June 2015 so far and this upcoming weekend looks to keep up the torrid box office pace as three films look to each earn $50M or more. There are two newcomers out: comedy sequel Ted 2 and military dog family drama Max. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each here:



The real question is what comes out on top this weekend? It could be Ted 2, which I have making slightly less than its 2012 predecessor out of the gate (though it could certainly earn more). It could be Jurassic World for the third weekend in a row as it looks to extend its record breaking box office pace. Or it could be Pixar’s Inside Out, which I anticipate having a smaller second weekend decline than Jurassic‘s third weekend drop off. As you’ll see below, I expect it to be a photo finish among all three.

Max should place a distant fourth with Spy rounding out the top five.

And with that, my predictions the weekend’s top five:

1. Inside Out

Predicted Gross: $53.4 million (representing a drop of 40%)

2. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $51.1 million (representing a drop of 52%)

3. Ted 2

Predicted Gross: $50.8 million

4. Max

Predicted Gross: $13.9 million

5. Spy

Predicted Gross: $7.6 million (representing a drop of 32%)

Box Office Results (June 19-21)

Several records once again fell by the wayside this weekend as Jurassic World remained #1 with $106.5 million to bring its total to $402M in just ten days. The dino reboot soared past my $88.3M projection and accomplished the largest second weekend in domestic history. World is well on its way to becoming the biggest grosser of summer 2015.

It may have come in second, but Pixar has much to celebrate with its amazing $90.4 million debut for Inside Out, well above my $71.4M prediction. The critically acclaimed animated feature had the highest opening for a story based on original material, outpacing Avatar‘s $77M previous record breaker. Additionally it scored the second largest debut for a Pixar property after only 2010’s Toy Story 3. It also set the record for biggest debut not to come in at #1 (previously held by the $68M earned by 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow). The only downside is it’s the first Pixar feature not to open on top, but don’t look for Disney to cry into their piles of money too much. Look for Inside Out to continue its impressive run in subsequent weekends.

Holdovers held up better than my estimates as Spy was third with $11.2 million (above my $9.1M estimate). San Andreas took fourth with $8.7 million (ahead of my $5.2M prediction). Their respective totals stand at $75M and $132M.

The only other newcomer, Dope, had a middling premiere with $6.1 million, under my $7.7M prediction.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: June 19-21

Another record could be broken for the second weekend in a row as Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out debuts this Friday. It will take on the sophomore frame of Jurassic World, which exceeded all expectations this past weekend – to say the least (more on that below). You can read my detailed Inside Out prediction post here:


If Inside Out holds to my prediction, it will provide Pixar with its third highest and largest non-sequel debut in its existence. However, that will probably not be enough to get it to the #1 spot considering what Jurassic will make even it drops close to 60%. That means Inside could set the record for highest non #1 opening in domestic history, which is currently held by 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow with $68.7 million.

The only other newbie this weekend is the urban comedic drama Dope, which I expect to open outside the top five with $4.6 million (I didn’t do an individual post on it).

**Wednesday June 17 bloggers update: I have upgraded my Dope estimate after its announced 2000 screen rollout which is higher than I expected. New prediction is $7.7 million.

And with that, my estimates for the weekend’s top five:

1. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $88.3 million (representing a drop of 57%)

2. Inside Out

Predicted Gross: $71.4 million

3. Spy

Predicted Gross: $9.1 million (representing a drop of 42%

4. Dope

Predicted Gross: $7.7 million

5. San Andreas

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million (representing a drop of 52%)

Box Office Results (June 12-14)

In a word… WOW! Jurassic World. No one really saw this coming as the dino reboot accomplished the #1 domestic box office opening… not of the year, but of all time! Its gross of $208.8 million edged out three year record holder The Avengers, which made $207.4M. I predicted a meager $123.5M debut for Jurassic and, was I way off or what?!?!?! So was everyone else. Clearly the nostalgia factor stemming from the 1993 original and the fact that every kid in America wanted to see it (and Chris Pratt and mostly positive reviews) turned this into an event experience. This puts Jurassic World in a position to be the summer’s biggest hit, something everyone assumed Avengers: Age of Ultron would have little trouble achieving. Amazing.

The dinosaur love contributed to pretty much everything else in the top five dropping more than I anticipated. Spy was second with $15.6 million (I said $19.7M) and its two weeks total is at $56.5M. The Melissa McCarthy comedy may just clear $100M when all is said and done.

San Andreas was third with $10.8 million compared to my $12.6M projection and its total is at $119.1M. Insidious: Chapter 3 made $7.3 million in weekend #2 (under my $8.9M estimate) and it’s made $37.3M. Pitch Perfect 2 was fifth with $6.3 million (for a $171.1M total) and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. My #5 prediction Entourage was sixth with $4.3 million, under my $5.7M prediction and its two weeks total is at a weak $25.8M.

And that’s all for now! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: June 12-14

Just like they did 22 summers ago, the dinosaurs shall rule the box office this weekend as Jurassic World should easily dominate. The fourth entry in the franchise looks to score the third best opening weekend of 2015 (following Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 7). You can peruse my detailed prediction post on it here:


With Jurassic being the only new film in release, that leaves holdovers. Current champ Spy should have the smallest decline while Insidious: Chapter 3 is likely to suffer the largest, as horror pics usually do.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

1. Jurassic World

Predicted Gross: $123.5 million

2. Spy

Predicted Gross: $19.7 million (representing a drop of 32%)

3. San Andreas

Predicted Gross: $12.6 million (representing a drop of 51%)

4. Insidious: Chapter 3

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million (representing a drop of 61%)

5. Entourage

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million (representing a drop of 45%)

Box Office Results (June 5-7)

As expected, the critically acclaimed Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy debuted at #1. However, its $29 million take did not match the openings of her 2013 efforts Identity Thief or The Heat and didn’t come close to my $42.1M prediction. This is still a solid opening for McCarthy and it should suffer smallish declines in coming weekends.

San Andreas dropped to second with $25.8 million, just above my $24.3M projection. The hit disaster thriller has amassed $98.4M in its two weeks of release.

Insidious: Chapter 3 couldn’t come close to what part 2 accomplished, but it still managed a commendable $22.6 million, under my $26M estimate. As mentioned above, look for it to fade fast, however.

The film version of HBO’s Entourage had a muted opening with $10.2 million, just below my $11.2M prediction. The five-day gross of $17.6 million (it opened on Wednesday) did just manage to outpace my $16.5M projection.

I incorrectly had Pitch Perfect 2 at fifth with an estimate of $8.4 million, but it was sixth with my $7.5M (its total stands at $160.8M). Mad Max: Fury Road ended up taking the five spot with $7.8 million to bring its cume to $130.6M.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…


Box Office Predictions: June 5-7

As the June box office session begins, we have three new pictures opening in the marketplace: the Melissa McCarthy action comedy Spy, horror sequel Insidious: Chapter 3 and the film version of HBO’s Entourage. You can read my individual prediction posts on each here:




As I see it, Spy (which has received rave reviews) should easily come out of the gate at #1. The battle for second could be fierce between Insidious and current champ San Andreas, which had a larger than anticipated premiere (more on that below). I expect the third Insidious to just make it to the #2 position. I have Entourage placing fourth with Pitch Perfect 2 rounding out the top five in its fourth weekend.

And with that, my top five predictions for the weekend:

1. Spy

Predicted Gross: $42.1 million

2. Insidious: Chapter 3

Predicted Gross: $26 million

3. San Andreas

Predicted Gross: $24.3 million (representing a drop of 55%)

4. Entourage

Predicted Gross: $11.2 million ($16.5 million predicted for its five-day gross)

5. Pitch Perfect 2

Predicted Gross: $8.4 million (representing a drop of 43%)

Box Office Results (May 29-31)

Dwayne Johnson’s disaster flick San Andreas had anything but a disastrous opening with a higher than expected $54.5 million, easily topping my $43.4M projection. The pic was pretty much critic proof and audiences responded with a solid A- Cinemascore grade to give its star yet another hit, not even two months after his participation in the massive Furious 7.

Holdovers dipped further from their Memorial Day grosses than I anticipated as Pitch Perfect 2 was second with $14.8 million (I said $18.5M). The high grossing sequel has amassed $147.5M so far.

The bad news continued for Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland, which has undeniably become one of the season’s early disappointments. It experienced a precipitous drop in its sophomore frame with $14.3 million for third place, below my generous $19.1M prediction. Its two week total is at $63M and it probably won’t reach the $100M mark.

Mad Max: Fury Road took fourth with $14.1 million, just below my $15M estimate for an impressive total three week tally of $116.4M. Avengers: Age of Ultron was fifth with $11.4 million and I incorrectly had it outside the top five. The Marvel superhero juggernaut has made $427.5M at press time.

Cameron Crowe’s critically panned Aloha was DOA for a sixth place debut with just $9.6 million, well under my $18.2M projection. Audiences weren’t impressed with what they saw either with a lackluster B- Cinemascore grade. You can read my review of it here:


And that’ll do it for now, folks! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: May 29-31

For the last week of May, we have two more entries into the Summer Box Office Derby: disaster action pic San Andreas starring Dwayne Johnson and the Bradley Cooper/Emma Stone rom com Aloha. You can read my detailed prediction posts on each of them here right here:



As I see it, Andreas should easily dominate the weekend. The wild card is Aloha, but I have it grossing in the high teens for a fourth place debut. All holdovers will likely experience the typical hefty declines for the post Memorial Day weekend. Current champ Tomorrowland may have the most pronounced dip due to lackluster buzz (more on that below) and I’m predicting all currently released top five dwellers will fall over 50% from the four day holiday frame. It could be quite a tight race for the #2 spot.

And with that, my predictions for the weekend’s top five:

1. San Andreas

Predicted Gross: $43.4 million

2. Tomorrowland

Predicted Gross: $19.1 million (representing a drop of 55%)

3. Pitch Perfect 2

Predicted Gross: $18.5 million (representing a drop of 51%)

4. Aloha

Predicted Gross: $18.2 million

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

Predicted Gross: $15 million (representing a drop of 52%)

Box Office Results (May 22-25)

It was a disappointing Memorial Day weekend at the box office as Brad Bird’s polarizing Tomorrowland topped the charts with a ho-hum $42.7 million, just under my $44.6M projection. The Disney fantasy has received both mixed reaction from critics and audiences alike and its long term prospects don’t look great.

On the flip side, last week’s champ Pitch Perfect 2 continued its truly magnificent run with $38.3 million over the holiday weekend (above my $32.8M estimate), bringing its two weeks total to $125.7M, nearly double what the original made in its whole domestic run.

Mad Max: Fury Road also held up better in its second weekend with $31.3 million, ahead of my $25.5M prediction. The acclaimed reboot has amassed $94.7M.

Avengers: Age of Ultron took $28.2 million (in line with my $26.6M estimate) and the Marvel title’s four week total stands at $411.4M.

Finally, the horror remake Poltergeist had a fair start with $26.3 million, not quite matching my prediction of $29.3M. Look for it to drop quickly, as most horror titles tend to do.

And that’s all for now, folks! Until next time…

San Andreas Box Office Prediction

The disaster flick that was popularized so effectively in the 1970s returns in summer 2015 with San Andreas, opening Friday. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, fresh off megahit Furious 7, stars in a reunion with his Journey 2: The Mysterious Island director Brad Peyton. Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti costar. The $100 million budgeted pic will attempt to break out in a season where most action fare is sequels and reboots.

It could work. The trailers and TV spots have at the least indicated that the budget is up there on the screen. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Johnson has been omnipresent in front of moviegoers with the enormous Furious franchise.

As I see it, a debut above $40 million would be a win for Warner Bros. International grosses should be solid as well. I think San Andreas will just manage to top that number and will look to top the box office frame during May’s final weekend.

San Andreas opening weekend prediction: $43.4 million

For my Aloha prediction, click here: