By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

Based on a video game of the same name, “Rampage” the movie stars Dwayne Johnson (plus serves as one of the Executive Producers) and is surrounded by a large cast and crew to bring this action packed story to life. Since I have never played the 1980s video game, I certainly cannot state that the story and screenplay are faithful to the game. From reading other reviews, it is not and the film’s story actually becomes the type of film that the game resulted from! The story is by Ryan Engle (“The Commuter”) who wrote the script with Carlton Cuse (“San Andreas”), Ryan J. Condol (“Hercules”), and Adam Sztykiel (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”). I am not sure why four writers are used for a script that does not have an in-depth plot or character development.

The story is obviously not the most original for giant animals taking over cities and military bases, destroying everything in their path, but my biggest beef with this script is that quite a few scenes seem to be a “cut and paste” directly from the film “San Andreas” that Johnson starred in 2015. Brad Peyton is the director for both of the films. “Rampage” is the third collaboration for Johnson and this director, after “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and “San Andreas.” The script for “Rampage” allows Peyton to expand his range as a director with a mix of a disaster from monster horror (in the sky and on earth), and military action-adventure drama.

On the plus side, the story for “Rampage” is enjoyable where Johnson stars as primatologist, Davis Okoye, working at the wildlife preserve in San Diego. After having served in the military, he worked with an anti-poaching unit where he found an orphaned rare albino silverback baby gorilla that he has raised and trained. Their bond is one that viewers will easily accept and root for when things change overnight for the primate who comes into contact with a strange chemical. The script does contain some humorous lines between the two and Johnson’s performance sells the audience on their friendship. This mix of action, adventure and science fiction (“genetic editing”) is certainly the movie to catch at the theater if someone is looking for an escape from work or home duties. It is tough to watch the military try to subdue gentle and funny George who has now become a beast.

Davis has a genetic engineer, Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), join in efforts to save George and try to secure what might be a cure from her former bosses at Engyne, siblings Claire (Malin Akerman) and Brett Wyden (Jake Lacey), who created “Project: Rampage”. My favorite of the supporting characters is “the man in black” government agent Harvey Russell (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It is hard to miss how he struts everywhere wearing a belt with a giant buckle and a huge pistol in the holster. Morgan looks like he enjoyed playing the over the top modern cowboy. The ensemble is composed of familiar faces, but with limited screen time for Joe Manganiello, P.J. Byrne, and Will Yun Lee, along with Jack Quaid, Marley Shelton. Demetrius Grosse stars as Colonel Blake with the military command that is fighting the beasts.

Even though George and two other animals are CGI “characters” created through motion capture and green screen, they have features that are truly scary and reflect how they are “infected.” The team behind the design of the creatures should be recognized for their work – they made me shudder. I won’t elaborate so viewers will be more than surprised at the theater.

“Rampage” opens in some U.S. theaters on Thursday evening, April 12 and nationwide Friday, April 13th. It is 107 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, action and destruction, and brief language, and crude gestures.

Source: Warner Bros

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