Art by Shelby Pennington
By Reagan O’Farrell
The theater was eerily quiet as the lights went down. Every other seat was occupied, it seemed, by someone who was apparently curious as to just how good or bad this movie was. People were divided either way — a film with big-time actors and a not-so original plot tended to do that.
Rampage, which was released on April 13, has drawn critics and moviegoers to both sides of the line. It was reminiscent of other films like Godzilla or King Kong but attempted to have its own modern twist, being that one of the “bad guys” was actually kind of a “good guy” — this character being the ape itself, an albino gorilla named George.
Upon watching the trailers, people pretty much knew what to expect from the entire movie. For the most part, at least. It was driven primarily by action and comedy — this comedy being a surprisingly unique mixture of absolute childishness and a target aimed directly at adults. Normally, this really should not work. For some reason, it did. This was one of those movies that was almost stupid-funny, whether or not that was that actual intention of the makers of Rampage.
Without its notable actors, however, this movie likely would have been a bit of a mess. Dwayne Johnson played the main character, Davis Okoye, the primary caregiver and best friend of George. Naomie Harris acted as Dr. Kate Caldwell, one of the lead scientists who had a role in incidentally developing the objects responsible for the mutations of George and two other animals. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, recognized for his recent role as Negan in The Walking Dead, played Harvey Russell, a government agent who initiated the attempted capture of George. These are the three actors who prevented the movie from flopping entirely primarily because, despite their poor scripts, they actually managed to somehow pull off their parts.
The plot of the movie, for the most part, was fairly predictable. A genetic experiment gone wrong ends up affecting a few predator species and it is up to Davis and company to fix it. The corporation responsible for the experimentation, Energyne, is corrupt and wants to make money off the disaster — that is, the mutated animals. CEO Claire Wyden, portrayed by Malin Åkerman, is the cool, collected head behind Energyne in contrast with her brother, Brett — played by Jake Lacy — who is a panicky dimwit. While an interesting dynamic, their parts were not written particularly well and it was impossible to take either of them seriously and see them as the threats they were supposed to be. More-or-less, this was made up for in the true threats presented by the mutated animals.
The music behind the film was in accordance with that of any action movie — loud and boisterous for important fight scenes, suave and dark whenever Claire Wyden began to present another aspect of her evil plan, and the likes. It was blended in well enough to hardly be noticeable, but this seemed to be more of an advantage toward Rampage — had the music been more of a forefront, it would have been just another stereotypical action ploy that would have made even the intense scenes a joke.
Rampage has not been getting the best reviews. Despite this fact, it was actually almost worth seeing. The childishness comedy was practically nostalgia, and the ridiculousness of it all was enough to leave a lasting smile on anyone’s face. The actors may not have been casted in an award-winning film by any means, but it honestly looked like they had fun shooting it. It was genuine as much as being genuine was necessary.
Frankly, Rampage was equal parts good and bad, but these dichotomies tied in pretty well to make a halfway decent movie. Really, it was no surprise that the theater was half-full.
It is worth giving Rampage a chance, if only to satisfy one’s own curiosity. From the raw action to the occasionally ill-placed joke, it is a unique film.