Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Rampage and Ruthless Violence: An Analysis

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Director/writer: Uwe Boll.

Director Uwe Boll is mostly known for his film adaptations of video games like Alone in the Dark, Far Cry, Postal and others. However, few know of his stand alone pictures like Tunnel Rats and Darfur, which take on political issues like genocide and the global military Amercanization of the world. In Boll's latest featured, entitled Rampage from Phase 4 Films, this German born director takes on several contemporary issues including the scarcity of resources, overpopulation, and the limiting nature of capitalization. These and other plot devices get treatment in Boll's film. Yet, centrally Boll's Rampage is a film about frustration and violence as one young man takes on a whole city primarily for Boll to rant about the constraints of a modern world.

The film follows character Bill, played brilliantly and stoically by Brendan Fletcher (Hot Tub Time Machine), as he compiles a long list of armaments and body armour. Occasionally complaining about the constraints of society and the admonishment of personal freedoms, Bill goes on a murderous killing spree in a nearby town without some minor provocation while disguised. Few escape his bloodlust, not even friends.

Boll's militaristic ancestry (German) makes near senseless violence geared towards innocents a short stretch and for those looking for a deeper meaning in the film you will be mostly disappointed. Dread Central's Foy Wonder says of the film's message: "a brief and most unwelcome detour into arthouse existentialism...nearly derails the entire film" (Dread). While the message is not nearly that interruptive the film's core message is somewhat convoluted and interspersed primarily in the first and final thirds. On the pluses, the sensationalist violence is over the top and the material will either excite, disgust, or make one at least stop and think about the possibilities of such carnage happening close to home. While Vancouver, B.C. substitutes for small town America, guns are readily available to young men throughout the States much like a pre-war Germany (1933-1939). So, is this social commentary, or entertainment?

The film's confusing message aside, Rampage is simply an exciting yet shocking film which delivers complex plot twists and an open interpretive ending for fans of the genre. No matter how calm you are, seeing average people gunned down in cold-blood will arouse emotions and Boll is not out to appeal to the masses, but to shock. Boll, in fact, knows his target audience and in case you do not Boll's films are made for young male teenagers and young adults where testosterone fuels a need for something unfamiliar and preferably violent. Boll knows this audience and he knows how to entertain them.
An analysis of the bingo scene is required as part of this review. Wonder from Dread Central says of this scene: "the players [are] either too involved in their own distraction or just too disinterested with the world around them to care that a murderous gunmen is walking amongst" (Dread). This is a very good interpretation and shows humanities' general lack of care about the bigger world issues around them. The bingo players go about their lives in complete ignorance of their potential demise and to the larger global issues like water shortages, famine etc. much like the average Western citizen. As well, the statement from Bill towards the bingo players "you guys don't need my help at all," could offer a second alternative interpretation of a satisfied populace who ignores global issues in favour of social satisfaction. Either way, the scene is very surreal and adds a nice break to thirty plus minutes of bloodshed.

If you are in the target audience mentioned above then you will likely enjoy Rampage for what the film is, a violent solution to modern, sometimes frustrating global issues. If you are not in this age group, or fueled by estrogen then likely you will find the violence tasteless and disturbing (generalization of course). Released June 1st on DVD by Phase 4 Films, those with an interest in the unique, or the violent can pick up the DVD now!

Editing/continuity/pacing: 7 (an unconventional start moves along like a steam train during the middle).
Symbolism/meaning/social message: 6.5 (there is an attempt at a message, but this info' is simply not clear).
Directing/control/techniques: 7. (the film has no technical flaws and Rampage is a visceral film with exciting visuals including an explosion produced for the price tag of $350,000).

Overall: 7 out of 10 (other elements like Fletcher's acting, and the unseen ending bring this film's score to at least a 7).

A review of the film at Slash Film:

Rampage Review

A second review at Film School Rejects:

Rampage Review at Film School

And an exceptional review of the film at Dread Central by Foy Wonder:

A Rampage Review at Dread

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Rampage at Phase 4 Films:

More Details on Rampage

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