With the success of 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, it is no surprise that audiences should expect to see a flurry of giant monster films in cinemas. From Pacific Rim: Uprising to the future release of The Meg, these creatures have managed to put all major cities on alert for future attacks. What differentiates Rampage from the rest of the other films on offer within this genre is that it is a video game disguised as a monster movie and has Dwayne Johnson (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) along for the ride. Can The Rock and the great white ape, George, break the gaming curse and deliver a monster hit this season?
Due to a science experiment that proved to have detrimental consequences on an Engyne space station, a bio-hazardous serum has been released into the world. One of the capsules that were ejected from the spacecraft lands in the primate enclosure at the San Diego Wildlife Park. Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson) discovers that this mysterious substance has infected his albino silverback gorilla friend George and has caused the ape to grow at an accelerated rate and to develop a more aggressive nature. After the colossal ape escapes the zoo, the zoologist/bodybuilder must partner with genetic engineer Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to find an antidote before the white ape teams up with other infected animals to destroy downtown Chicago and the Engyne corporation manages to capture his big friend.
Dwayne Johnson partners with San Andreas director Brad Peyton to deliver an over the top monster/disaster film that only the most devoted fans can love. The ridiculous premise and script are all throwbacks to a time when the quick one-liner from the lead actor acted as the key bridge between the special-effect laden creatures battling it out with mankind or one another. The screenplay delivers more groans than laughs and no one will be too surprised by the path of destruction that follows after the ape and his genetically evolved counterparts.
What is curious about the film’s central concept centring on a growth serum is that Johnson himself seems to be suffering from the effects himself. He is a massive cinematic star, but with each new film his physical presence seems to experience a whole new level of growth. Despite his substantial size, an ability to land punches that sound like they could kill Godzilla and still manage to fire weapons that are unable to miss their targets, there is little that The Rock can do to save this film. Even with the talents of Naomie Harris and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead) as strong backups, there is little this team can do to cover for weak writing and plotholes that can only be filled by a massive asteroid.
Those faithful followers of Johnson or the monster film enthusiasts will maybe be able to look past the weaknesses of Rampage and help this adventure tale to scale new heights at the box office. History has proven that there is a place for these films in the cultural landscape, but this extreme manifestation brings nothing new to cinemas. Audiences should take the advice of all of the monster films of the past and run… run for your lives… to another cinema.
REEL DIALOGUE: The problem with the creation trying to be the creator
Why are we fascinated with creating new life or modifying the creatures of this world?
For some it is a means of proving their intelligence, for others it might be exerting their power and for many it is merely a curiosity that must be explored.
One of the answers to this question can be found in the study of the Bible. Based on the premise of the creator God who made all mankind in his image, it is no wonder that God’s creation would want to create. This desire manifests itself in art, food, clothing, housing and even into the sciences. There are a multitude of moral juxtapositions to wrestle through in this consideration of life, but the very desire to create is ingrained in humanity.
The only challenge is that God continues to prove that he is the only one to get it right when it comes to the creation of humanity. So, is the desire to create new life or modify the creatures of this world merely a lesson in futility or too hard to deny? Discuss.
1. What does it mean to be human? (Genesis 1:27, 2:5-25)
2. As a creator, what was God’s purpose in creating mankind?
(Isaiah 43:7, Colossians 1:16)
3. Is God a perfect and flawless creator? (Genesis 3)