Don't monkey around with Mother Nature!
Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson does battle with super-sized animals in the latest video game to be adapted for the big screen.Rampage is by no means the first, and probably not the last, video game to receive the Hollywood treatment. We’ve had Doom, Resident Evil, Super Mario Bros, Street Fighter… and the list goes on with this year alone already landing us a reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. Here we find that the source material is a 1986 arcade game released by Bally Midway which saw players control gigantic monsters as they fight against military forces in and around various cityscapes.With no less than four writers attached to the screenplay for Rampage, it certainly had the potential to be a somewhat schlocky and slap dash action flick but, perhaps surprisingly, turns out to be a genuinely good movie all round. It's also one of those films that looks like it is going to suffer from being all action and no substance, chock full of cheesy one liners, but while there is the occasional joke that doesn’t quite hit the mark it is still surprisingly good fun, and there is some awesome action.
Reuniting with director Brad Peyton (San Andreas), Dwayne Johnson stars as Davis Okoye, a primatologist who can sign with gorillas and has a special friendship/bromance with an albino silverback called George. The friendship between George and Davis provides a definite level of likability for Johnson’s character and establishes his good nature and sense of humour from the off. It’s when a genetically engineered pathogen accidentally gets released and infects not only George but a wolf and a crocodile, causing them to mutate, grow in size and develop a seriously aggressive streak, that things start to get a but tricky for our hero. Behind this gigantic genetic threat to humanity are the money hungry brother and sister duo Claire (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacy) who head up Energyne - the token evil corporation complete with video panelled office to watch the action unfold and one very self aware easter egg.
Its up to Davis and former employee of Energyne Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who has her own personal beef with the Wyden siblings, to step up to the plate and save the day. Along the way they encounter Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffery Dean Morgan) of OGA (Other Government Agency), who helps them on their quest to prevent the super sized trio of animals from completely annihilating the city.
It’s good fun with some awesome action.
Despite being bit slow to get off the ground, some of the best moments come early on from an impressive opening sequence set in space and the interaction between Johnson’s Davis and George, it does eventually settle into a steady flow. There are moments when it is evident four people have had their mitts on the script with the Wydens’ getting the definite short straw but at the same time Morgan’s supporting character gets some of the best lines in the film. The CG throughout is impressive to watch and easily allows the audience to get fully wrapped up and immersed into the story line. There are elements reminiscent of films like Aliens and perhaps Predator with of course nods to Godzilla and Jurassic Park. The final act of the film is what you’ll have been waiting for and it is worth the wait as the super sized beasts scale sky scrapers and blast their way through city streets flinging tanks left right and centre as well as knocking helicopters out of their way.
Dwayne Johnson is without a doubt the hero of the film and in his own likeable way does well as Davis Okoye, a man who prefers the company of animals to the fellow human. He is of course a former military man and uses this to help things go his way which make for some humorous moments. Naomie Harris’s Kate Caldwell is perhaps given less development and functions mostly as an aid for Davis but she does bring some scientific knowhow to the show despite being given some slightly stiff dialogue. Jeffery Dean Morgan was a delightful supporting character who almost stole the show from Johnson, with his Southern drawl and charming, if not slightly cocky, comedic lines.
Rampage is a fun watch and even though there are some moments that seem a tad stilted or slow it makes up for them elsewhere. It’s not a film for all audiences, but if you can check your brain at the door, buckle up for some good action with a decent story line, a pretty decent cast and some gargantuan animals, this is your ticket.
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