Film Review – Rampage


DIRECTED BY: Brad Peyton

STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Joe Manganiello, Marley Shelton, P.J Byrne, Demetrius Grosse, Jack Quaid, Breanne Hill, Matt Gerald, Urijah Faber, Bruce Blackshear and Will Yun Lee

 

SYNOPSIS

When three different animals become infected with a dangerous pathogen, a primatologist and a geneticist team up to stop them from destroying Chicago.

Primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinary intelligent albino gorilla that he has taken care of since birth. One night, rogue genetic experiment canisters lands from space and transforms a wolf, a crocodile and George into raging monsters. As these mutated monsters wreak havoc across the country, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote to not only halt a global catastrophe, but to save his friend in the process.

Rampage is a film adaptation of the 80’s video game from Midway Games. Primatologist Davis Okoye, a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an unshakable bond with George, an extraordinary intelligent albino gorilla that he has taken care of since birth. Meanwhile on a research space station, an experiment goes wrong and leads to the destruction of the station as a crew member escapes in a pod with canisters containing a  pathogen owned by gene manipulation company Energyne. As the pod disintegrates upon re-entry, the pathogen ends up in three locations, where a wolf in a forest, a crocodile in a lake and George at the Zoo he’s staying at, where the creatures are exposed to it and turn into larger, aggressive mutations of themselves. As the monsters wreak havoc across the country, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote to stop the monsters from causing more chaos, while also getting his friend George back in the process.

 

Making a film adaptation of a video game which focuses on monsters smashing buildings and….that’s pretty much it, the film knows exactly how it is and gives the audience what they’re expecting….particularly in the final twenty to twenty-five minutes. The film takes time to bring the audience in on the relationship between Davis and George, unsurprisingly enough their arc is one of the best dynamics of the film. Dwayne Johnson is good in the role of Davis Okoye and undoubtably if it was anyone else in the lead role, I find it difficult to believe that this film would be passable without him. Johnson is at this stage of doing this projects that, besides Baywatch in recent years, he manages to be believable in not only the role but the lines that he delivers. Also worth mentioning Jason Liles, the actor that does the motion-capture of George, does a good job in that department too, especially in how and Johnson establish the relationship between Davis and George in the opening act of the film before he gets infected by the pathogen. The action sequences are kept pretty low-key before the final act, such as a military group attempting to take out the wolf in the forest and George raging out in a plane, I thought these were pretty effective and considering the film has a 12A rating, some of the deaths are pretty gruesome (though of course all the blood…well, most of the blood) is missing to keep it at that kid-friendly rating. While the film features a heavy ensemble, the one that’s a particular highlight is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who literally looks like he’s just walked off the set of The Walking Dead, bringing with him that Negan lean of his and putting on a suit and chewing up the scenery as a government cowboy.

 

The film is based on a thin premise and the story itself is pretty dumb, with characters that are brought in that are either dropped forever (P.J Byrne’s Nelson) or used as canon fodder (one notable name in particular). If you ever wondered what a Team Rocket (yes, a Pokemon reference) would look like in a live-action format, it wouldn’t be too far off the main villains here in brother and sister duo Claire and Brett Wyden. The two absolutely ham it up on screen, they look like they’ve just walked in from a cartoon series because only is their mastermind scheme of bringing the monsters to them an awful idea, it makes absolutely no sense. The special effects for the most part are good (George’s look in particular), though the green screen/special effects does get clunky in the final act. If any film viewers had an issue with the Superman vs Zod fight in Man of Steel because of the lack of awareness of the destruction and body count, then prepare for the monster of all destruction and body counts in Rampage. I felt that Naomie Harris was underused here, mainly because her character isn’t given much to do, in my opinion.

 

VERDICT

Rampage is a B-movie standard popcorn flick with two absolutely terrible villains that can easily be removed from the film and nothing would be lost. The film knows what it is and delivers on the action, particularly in the final act. Dwayne Johnson good here as the lead character and it’s his characters friendship with George the gorilla that gives the audience something to invest in. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is another personal highlight. 6/10

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