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Laramie Movie Scope: Rampage

Lighthearted Godzilla type monster movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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April 17, 2018 – Big monsters smash each other, and tear up Chicago in this unserious send up of giant monster movies, based on a video game series by Midway Games. As far as video game adaptations (I have not played this game) it is not bad, but that's not saying much. A liberal dose of humor and lots of action definitely makes this more palatable than it otherwise would be.

Action film superstar Dwayne Johnson (“The Fate of the Furious”) heads up this cast, along with Naomi Harris (“Moonlight”) and scene-stealer Joe Manganiello (“Justice League”). Johnson plays primatologist Davis Okoye, Harris plays geneticist Dr. Kate Caldwell and Manganiello plays a mysterious government agent, Burke. These are the good guys. The bad guys are played by Malin Akerman (“Watchmen”) and Jake Lacy (“Miss Sloane”) as corporate overlords Claire and Brett Wyden who let the monsters loose on the world for profit.

The film opens at an orbiting space lab where a genetic experiment has produced a menacing giant rat. Canisters containing a pathogen which causes animals to become very large and very aggressive land on the earth after the destruction of the space station. The pathogen affects an alligator in Florida, a wolf in Wyoming and a great ape in a San Diego wildlife preserve.

Claire Wyden activates a homing signal in Chicago to draw the animals there, planning to take valuable genetic samples from them. Military forces attempt to kill the three giant animals, but are unsuccessful. Okoye and Caldwell, with assistance from Burke, try to obtain a counter agent developed by Wyden's company to neutralize the pathogen and stop the rampaging giant animals.

The three main characters, Okoye, Caldwell and Burke are all compelling, with believable motivations for acting as they do. The Wyden siblings are more like caricatures. Brett Wyden is pure comic relief, while Claire Wyden is pure sociopath, if not psychopathic. The giant ape, George, has more of a personality than some of the human characters in the film.

The film's ending, amid massive destruction in Chicago, is a bit of a cop-out, but it is not unsatisfying. This is not a particularly smart or believable film, but it does deliver on its promise of action, heroism and, especially, escapism. I found it entertaining, mainly because of the action, the special effects, and the three main characters. I thought Joe Manganiello gave an especially good performance in this film. He is a real scene-stealer. He comes off as both ruthless and principled, not an easy trick. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2018 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]