Movie review: Behemoth beasts go berserk in 'Rampage'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 17 2018 05:23 PM

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Watching the trailer of "Rampage" does not really leave much more to expect. Again we have this generation's favorite summer blockbuster hero Dwayne Johnson (who seems to be in every Hollywood action extravaganza these days) save the city from the attack of his old pet, a giant albino gorilla. I already sense an old familiar merry mix-up of rehashed "Planet of the Apes" and "King Kong" themes that was not really too promising. 

A major rogue genetic editing experiment by the greedy Wyden siblings of the Energyne company went seriously wrong in outer space. Three capsules containing pathogenic specimens landed in three sites across the US. One landed in the Florida Everglades among alligators. One landed in the Wyoming outback among wolves. One landed in the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, the home of George, an extraordinary albino gorilla who had been taught to communicate by signing by his trainer Davis Okoye. The exposed animals rapidly grew in size, strength and speed at unprecedented rates. 

Okay, it was not just an ape that became gigantic and went on a wild rampage in the city. There was also a humongous wolf and a colossal gator, both of whom grew to even be much bigger and more vicious than old George. Triple the monster beasts mean triple the destructive forces, and triple the brainless violent entertainment. The whole US Army with its whole arsenal could not contain the whole amuck disaster, but apparently a single superhuman primatologist can. 

To add further to the brainless factor, the acting was all so over-the-top comical. We know that Johnson can probably do this genre blindfolded already, and he was so in the zone the whole way. His interactions with the white ape George can be quite funny with the occasional vulgarity. 

Naomi Harris did not really need her Oscar-nominated acting chops (for "Moonlight" in 2016) to play the role of geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell whose brilliant work with Energyne had been misappropriated for evil. 

Jeffrey Dean Morgan played a cool government agent Harvey Russell with a cowboy drawl and attitude. Malin Åkerman was really an outrageous caricature of a ruthless and heartless businesswoman Claire Wyden. I loved the way she met her end in a completely overblown dramatic death scene, even if the size proportions seemed wrong. Jake Lacy was silly the whole way with his portrayal of Claire's idiotic brother Brett. 

This film is director Brad Peyton's third adventure film with Johnson. "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" (2012) also had giant animals and "San Andreas" (2015) had massive urban destruction. I guess it was just a bright idea for them to merge the two themes into one. 

There was something so pristinely mindless about the whole premise, that it actually works within its shallow aims. The whole slambang riot third act was a lot of fun to watch even in all its artificial CGI glory. 6/10

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."