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article imageReview: ‘Rampage’ delivers on its promise — no more or less Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Apr 15, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Rampage’ is a giant monster movie featuring three genetically-mutated beasts hellbent on destroying a city and a couple of scientists who hope to stop them.
There is something very entertaining about watching giant monsters tear apart famous cities. Whether stop-motion creatures or CGI beasts, it’s often difficult — or even unintuitive — to root for the armed forces attempting to bring them down; this is particularly true when the creature has the potential to be cured/rehabilitated/relocated… alive. Often agitated at no fault of their own, the misunderstood beast acts out destructively. On the other hand, choosing sides in a winner takes all battle between two or more monsters is far easier. Such are the dilemmas faced when watching Rampage.
Dr. Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) is a primatologist who enjoys spending his time with animals more than humans. His best friend is an albino gorilla with a wicked sense of humour named George who resides at the San Diego zoo. When a research specimen finds its way into George’s enclosure, it begins to have strange and confusing effects on the gorilla — and the events are repeated with a crocodile in Florida and a wolf in Wyoming. Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) knows her former employer Energyne, run by power-hungry siblings Claire and Brett Wyden (Malin Akerman and Jake Lacy), are behind this, but none of them may know how to stop it before the giant beasts destroy everything in their paths.
It’s not difficult to imagine why a bioengineered drug designed to make unstoppable monsters would be a valuable weapon of mass destruction. However, the Wydens’ basic disregard for the consequences of creating such a weapon makes them the personification of an evil corporation. There’s no grey area when it comes to their morality, which allows filmmakers to have some fun with their exits. In the meantime, literal cowboy and covert government agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) demonstrates he’s on the side of the good guys — whoever they may be at the time. He shoots straight and doesn’t take kindly to bureaucratic, by-the-book decisions that snub more effective solutions.
Davis and Kate become an instantaneous team, working together to save George — if that’s even possible. And even if they do manage to protect the gorilla from the military (and himself), there’s no indication of what their next steps would be… maybe they harness his size and understanding to help fight crime or terrorists. Maybe he joins the Justice League. All fun ideas for a sequel, but there’s also the easy, obvious way out: George dies saving Davis, becoming a hero and nullifying any questions of “what now?” Both fit the narrative, but it’s up to the filmmakers which way this goes.
Expectedly, the plot elements of the story are pretty thin and generally bring down the energy in between attack sequences. During longer stretches of dialogue between characters, viewers will find themselves wondering when the next monster scene will occur. But no one goes to this movie expecting depth or realism; it promises humongous beasts, action and “The Rock”, and it delivers. Also, keep an eye out for the original “Rampage” video game that inspired the picture.
Director: Brad Peyton
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris and Malin Akerman
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