RAMPAGE—Video Game Translates Well As Movie
The mainstream critics are savaging this movie because of “inferior writing and faithlessness to the source material”. Really? Rampage was a video game. Was anybody expecting Shakespeare from “Mario Brothers the movie”? I thought it was great overall, with an easy-to-follow script/story and dazzling special effects. Next time somebody tells you America no longer knows how to make big monster movies, tell them to go watch this one.
The action opens up with a female astronaut going into a space station to recoup some scientific samples. She finds the station (looking suspiciously like the defunct Skylab) in disarray, its crew dead. turns out the damage was done by a lab rat (just wait till you see it to pass judgement). The astronaut recovers the samples (which are biological genetic experiments) and escapes, but the escape pod is damaged during the escape and explodes, scattering the biological samples to several Earth locations.
As this unfolds we meet Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) a former special forces member and anti-poaching agent who has developed a close bond with albino gorilla George. George gets exposed to one of the space samples and starts growing. This brings in Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), who worked on the original CRISPR (an actual scientific project) designed to alter an organism’s genetic makeup, but was railroaded into creating genetic weapons and falsely jailed for that.
Also in on the fun is agent Harvey Russell of the OGA (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, on loan from “Walking Dead”) who initially rubs Okoye the wrong way, but winds up helping him greatly. He reveals there is also a wolf affected by the samples in the Midwest, as well as an alligator in Florida. The two lead figures for Energyne Industries, Claire Wyden (Malin Ackerman) and her brother Brett (Jake Lacy) are using an antenna on top of a Chicago skyscraper to attract the animals, where they’ll be hopefully killed while they recover DNA samples to sell at usurious prices to the highest bidders.
The wolf and gator have not only grown big like George, but also mutated. The gator has horns and the wolf has flying membranes. Okoye and Kate manage to get the antidote to George, who then proceeds to help defeat the other two monsters. Here is the only spot I found to stretch belief a bit as the gator and wolf climb up the side of buildings the way George does. Throughout the film, Johnson gets to deadpan some cliche lines, such as “We assholes have to stick together” and “of course, the wolf can fly”, but in total, this is a crisp, tight film that rivets your attention. When you can get my friend Kathy to say she enjoyed a monster sci-fi movie, you really got something. George himself winds up being the comic relief at the end in a scene that sums up this romp perfectly.