DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton LEAD CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Åkerman, Jake Lacy, Marley Shelton, Joe Manganiello SCREENWRITER: Adam Sztykiel PRODUCER: Brad Peyton, Beau Flynn EDITOR: Jim May MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Andrew Lockington GENRE: Fantasy/Science Fiction CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jaron Presant DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros. Pictures LOCATION: USA RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 3
CINEMA rating: V14
The Wyden siblings Claire (Malin Akerman) and Bret (Jake Lacy) conduct experiments on genetic editing in a space station to avoid detection by the US government. A lab rat turns into a giant, smashing everything in its path. As the station explodes along with the escape pod, three cartridges containing the pathogens used in the experiment zoom back down to earth. One is swallowed by a crocodile in the Everglades, another is sniffed by a wolf in a Wyoming forest, and the third lands in a San Diego wildlife preserve, home to George, an albino gorilla that primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) has rescued from poachers as a baby. The three animals exposed to the pathogens mutate into aggressive monsters and go on a rampage, killing or eating humans and pulverizing their cities. Davis sincerely believes he can persuade his pet/friend George to stop; he is helped by genetic engineer Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomi Harris) and Agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
The plot is nothing new: scientists who play God botch up an experiment, monstrous animals wreak havoc on the metropolis, good guys come to the rescue, and all ends happily ever after. That much you can expect wherever Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars, anyway. Not that we’re complaining. With a face that spells “harmless” and biceps that inspire you to ponder the theology of the human body, Johnson makes for a likeable hero in Rampage. George the albino gorilla will probably be compared to King Kong, but the CGI here is just right, smoothly done to a degree that advances the story believably and not to craft a movie that looks and feels just like another computer game. With a giant gorilla that is almost human providing the naughty-naughty humor, it becomes easy to close your eyes to certain flaws of the movie and just enjoy the fiction.What saves Rampage is its unwillingness to compete with other films of its genre. It doesn’t try to outdo its predecessors through bigger and better computer gimmickry, perhaps because it wants to underscore its many messages. For mad scientists— stop tampering with nature. About forgiveness—“Even assholes deserve a second chance”, quote unquote. For military men—your guns won’t save you, but common sense might. For everybody—be honest, be humble, and you’d better behave, otherwise the gorilla will eat you. Although its lessons may be good for children, too, the visuals are too scary for minds that cannot separate fact from fiction. (TIP: keep your eyes open for what George does to people in the movie's last few seconds.)